Amanda Pinson
Stephen Gross/The Anniston Star

Amanda Pinson is the operations director for Habitat for Humanity of Calhoun County. Originally planning to be a nurse, Pinson discovered a passion for helping the community in a different way when she discovered Habitat for Humanity in college. The 21st annual Lobsterfest benefit for Habitat for Humanity of Calhoun County is Saturday from noon-7 p.m.  

How did you become involved with Habitat?

I originally became involved with Habitat for Humanity as a volunteer while I was in nursing school. Then I worked part-time through AmeriCorps, which is like a domestic version of the Peace Corps. That enabled me to receive more scholarships to continue college, and I was hired on as a staff member at the end of that term.

What led to your interest in becoming a nurse?

It was always a passion, but, you know, it is funny how life works. I always had a drive to help people, and my life led me down a different path of helping people when I joined AmeriCorps and became involved with Habitat for Humanity. I worked as a nurse for a short time and went back to school for an associate’s degree in business.

Why did you decide to join AmeriCorps?

It was an opportunity that came about when our local affiliate hosted the Jimmy Carter Work Project in 2003, and we built 36 houses in one week. My primary duty at that time was to help select and educate the families who were approved for those houses. I would also volunteer on Saturdays at the worksite to help build the homes.

Had you heard of Habitat before becoming involved through AmeriCorps?

No, I had not heard of Habitat, and I was very unaware of the housing need in the community. I learned that there is a great need for housing, a need that has continued to increase.

How does Habitat meet this need?

There is an ever-growing need for shelter in our community, and Habitat works to improve that by building and renovating homes. We also have a program called “A Brush with Kindness” where we do minor home repair; it started as a program just for families with Habitat homes, but we are hoping to open it up to other homes this spring during Collegiate Challenge.

Is there a set goal for the number of homes Habitat builds annually?

That is dependent on funding. This year, we have closed on two homes we renovated, and we will be finishing a third in October. In the beginning of 2018, we start construction on a home in Oxford: the Phil Webb Square Foot Challenge Home. Phil Webb is donating a third of the cost to build the home, and we are raising the rest of the funds.

How can the community donate?

They can visit habitatanniston.org; there is a link to donate at the bottom of the webpage. They can contact our office if they would like to make a larger donation and receive some publicity for it. They can also mail donations to P.O. Box 1135 in Anniston.

What is Lobsterfest?

Lobsterfest is a festival-type event that benefits Habitat for Humanity of Calhoun County and includes lobster, arts and crafts vendors, musical entertainment, children’s activities, a bake sale and more at Grace Episcopal Church in Anniston (1000 Leighton Ave.). The lobsters are flown in fresh the night before the event. There is also a concession stand run by our Habitat homeowners that has hot dogs and hamburgers if you would like to contribute but do not like lobster. This is the 21st annual Lobsterfest; Grace Episcopal Church has raised over $175,000 for Habitat for Humanity of Calhoun County during that time.

How much are tickets?

Attending Lobsterfest is free, but tickets for the lobsters and lobster dinners are available through a link on Grace Episcopal Church’s website until 2 p.m. Thursday. You may order a live or cooked lobster for $18, or a dine-in or to-go lobster dinner (lobster, slaw, potato and bread, plus tea if dining in) for $24.

Why is Habitat for Humanity important?

In my eyes, this is a program that provides families access to the American dream —  homeownership — and it is done in a way where the families work for it through sweat equity hours and educational workshops.

Faith Dorn is a freelance writer in Anniston. Contact her at faith.h.dorn@gmail.com.