Written by Lori Boatfield
Photos by Steve Babin

Jeremy Foulks is the Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity of the River Valley. He has served with Habitat for 19 years starting as the Family Services Coordinator, Family Services Manager, Director of Operations and this past September was hired as the Executive Director. Jeremy has lived in Huntsville since 2001, after graduating from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He is married to his wife Ashley of 19 years and has two children, Mackenzie and Grayson.

Are you a Huntsville native?

I am originally from Memphis, Tenn. I grew up mostly outside of Atlanta in Marietta and Powder Springs where I lived with my father. In 1993, I returned to Memphis where I graduated from high school in 1995. My original plan was to go to college, get a degree, and join the military. In 1998, while a student at UAB, I suffered a knee injury during an ROTC field exercise and had to change paths.

How did you get involved with Habitat for Humanity?

My path to Habitat started in 2003. One of my responsibilities [in my previous job with Aids Action Coalition] managing a transportation program for patients living in north Alabama. I went to pick up a client living in a rural trailer park. Every trailer had tarps covering the roofs and holes in the walls. I was deeply moved by what I saw and asked God to give me the opportunity to serve people in this situation. A week later, I got a call from an acquaintance about a job at Habitat. God is amazing. If it was not for that acquaintance calling me to tell me about a job, I would never have had this opportunity.

What is it about Habitat that motivates you daily? How do you feel Habitat of the River Valley is fulfilling the vision of “a world where everyone has a decent place to live?”

Habitat gives me the opportunity to serve. I love the fact at Habitat it does not matter your race, financial situation, politics, faith, gender, neighborhood, nationality or what you are carrying on your shoulders. I want my kids to see that for every bad thing they see or hear about in the world, I can show them a hundred amazing things that happen every single day. I love the opportunity to meet and work with people from all walks of life. At Habitat, you get to see God and Him working through our community.

I think with the volunteers, staff, donors, and partners we have we are doing a good job to serve those in need with the resources we currently have. We work diligently to be good stewards of the resources from our donors and community. But we are far from fulfilling our mission. We have nearly 600 people in Madison and Limestone County who are waiting for an application to apply for our program. That is 600 families, and the list continues to grow every day. Our community is facing a crisis in affordable housing. Families are being forced out of their apartments and

homes because rent is getting more expensive. We get calls every day from families who are making difficult decisions about whether to pay their car note, insurance, gas, utilities, put food on the table, or be forced out of their homes. Those are sacrifices.

What challenges does the organization face at present?

The cost of construction has grown significantly. Our cost of a three-bedroom home, even with the use of volunteers, has risen from $85,000 in 2019 to $137,000 in 2023. The team at Habitat is working to grow relationships with vendors and contractors to help reduce the cost. In one of our most recent builds, our team was able to reduce costs by $15,000.

How can people help? What sort of volunteer opportunities exist for individuals and groups?

Our critical needs are financial support, advocacy, and partnership. We are looking for individuals, businesses, churches, civic organizations and others who want to make an impact in our community by sponsoring a home build. We need our community to join us to advocate for ways to lower the cost of construction, make land available, and support funding initiatives for housing on every level. Finally, partner with us by volunteering on builds, being on a committee, following and sharing our stories on social media, or one of my favorites, come donate and shop at the Habitat ReStore – which takes gently used donations of furniture, lights, doors, windows, flooring, sinks, and so much more. These items are sold at a bargain (and tax free!) and at the same time you help support our mission at Habitat.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

One of my hobbies is cooking. I love making jambalaya, pastas and trying new things!

Outside of work, I love spending time with my wife and kids. When my kids were younger, I used to coach them in sports. They still play soccer, and nothing gets me more excited than coming out to their games. My daughter is HUGE sports fan. I love watching college football or soccer games with her and seeing her excitement. My son loves to share “did you knows” at dinner or when we are in the car. You never know what kind of fact he will say. My wife has recently started volunteering in our ReStore. We will come down on the weekend and work together on a piece of furniture and give it new life for the ReStore to sell. I get a lot of joy working alongside her on a project.

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