AFL prides itself on “making connections possible.”
On Tuesday, Sept. 5, the Duncan-based global manufacturer of fiber optic products connected one Upstate mother and her five children with their future home in Spartanburg County.
AFL, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Spartanburg, hosted a wall-raising ceremony for Crystal Thompson and her family at the construction site of their four-bedroom home at 182 Bon Air Avenue near Spartanburg Medical Center.
“AFL has a number of core values — nothing more important than giving back to the community,” said Kurt Dallas, executive vice president of cable and connectivity for AFL. “We are honored to participate with Habitat for Humanity of Spartanburg.”
Thompson, who currently lives in Chesnee, works in the cafeteria at Westview Elementary School in Spartanburg County School District 6.
She said the outpouring of support from AFL and its employees, as well as the Spartanburg Habitat affiliate, was more than she “ever even dreamed.”
“First of all, I’d like to thank the Habitat family,” Thompson said during the ceremony. “My sponsors AFL, I appreciate you guys so much for helping my dreams come true. I really do. My mother and brother is here who has always been my support system. I love you guys… Most of all I’d like to thank God for making this happen.”
When complete, Thompson’s home will be the 14th new dwelling constructed by Habitat Spartanburg and its partners during the past three years in the small neighborhood located on the fringes of the city’s Northside community.
The homes have been built on properties on West Centennial Street, and Pierpont and Bon Air avenues that were either gifted to Habitat by Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System or acquired by the faith-based nonprofit.
Lee Close, executive director of Habitat Spartanburg, said the new homes and their residents have helped revitalize an area that had become debilitated by blighted properties and crime, including prostitution and drug activity.
Close said the organization hopes to build at least five more homes in the neighborhood.
Thompson’s home is being built on an empty lot beside an existing residence not built by Habitat. A Habitat home will be constructed on an adjacent vacant lot on the other side of Thompson’s home.
“Habitat for Humanity is all about partnership,” Close said. “Our mission is to make sure deserving families have good homes to raise their children in.”
Lynne Shackleford, director of development and marketing for Habitat Spartanburg, said each home the organization builds represents a $70,000 investment and requires about 2,500 volunteer hours to complete.
Homeowners are selected based on meeting certain criteria, including their need for assistance, financial stability, and willingness to provide “sweat equity,” such as helping with the construction of their home or other community involvement activities.
Mortgages vary, but loans are typically interest free with low monthly payments, according to the organization’s website.
Habitat homes are Energy Star 3.0 Certified, which means utility costs are typically cheaper compared with traditional homes.
Thompson’s home is the 127th build for Habitat Spartanburg since its inception in 1987.
Close said to-date, AFL’s sponsorship of Habitat Spartanburg amounts to about $100,000, including Thompson’s home and the large metal container the organization uses for on-site storage.
In 2014, AFL, which is a subsidiary of Japan-based Fujikura Ltd., sponsored its first Habitat Home in Greer in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Greenville County as part of the celebration of the company’s 30th anniversary.
About 240 of the company’s associates volunteered to help build that home during a four-month span, according to AFL’s website.
AFL engineers, manufactures, and installs fiber optic products for customers in more than 120 countries.
The company said it has about 4,500 employees at several facilities around the globe, including 900 associates in Spartanburg County.