For over three decades now, the Coastal Empire Habitat for Humanity has provided affordable housing for well over 100 families. The organization has been leading the effort to provide stable housing for children in Savannah, and those efforts have resulted in dozens of the children they’ve helped graduating from college and even earning advanced degrees.
This year, Habitat is aiming to raise enough funds for seven new houses in the city - a goal that Front Porch Improv is ready to help achieve. On Sat., March 30, the popular local comedy group will headline Raise The Roof, a night of comedy, storytelling and BBQ (from Skeeter’s Southern BBQ) at Ghost Coast Distillery that will benefit Habitat and contribute to this incredibly important cause.
“The focus, of course, is affordable housing in Savannah. We have a big affordable housing issue in town. There’s a particular focus in the Garden City area, but we also are working within the city of Savannah,” Habitat’s Dr. Heather Bilton, who is also the Director of Employment for the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System, tells Connect.
“We have a high transient population in our lower income schools, and most of that is due to housing. They may be in two or three or four schools during the course of the year, which is insanely disruptive to their educational opportunities.”
Front Porch’s Brianne Halverson says that it was an easy decision to get involved and help Habitat reach their goal.
“It’s had not to be excited about being involved with an organization that does this kind of work,” she says. “These shows are all about hearing people’s stories firsthand. Could there be anything more powerful than stories that involve home? They can be funny, and they can be heartbreaking, but they really connect us. For us, that’s a no-brainer.”
There, of course, will be “levity and fun” at the upcoming event, with Front Porch set to top the night off with some of their signature brand of improv comedy.
“I just think that whenever people are sharing stories and adults can be playful, that’s a pretty good evening for people feeling connect to the community. And then when you bring in BBQ - there’s something about sharing a meal together, too,” Halverson says.
Some of the speakers slated to tell their stories at the event include Connect’s own Rachael Flora, Chatham County Safety Net’s Vira Salzburn, and the Midtown Pickers’ Dean Burnette. There will also be a set of live music from Andrew Sovine, who’s perhaps best known for his stint as guitarist for Ashley McBryde.
Raise the Roof is sure to be a unique event for an important cause, and both Bilton and Halverson see some parallels between Habitat and Front Porch that make the partnership a perfect fit to help rally the community.
“I think laughter provides people with resiliency,” Bilton says. “One of the things that we do in Habitat is help family have stabilities and resiliency and humor - all of the things that bring hope to people. I just see it as a great connection of community spirit and resiliency.”
“I think that’s so beautifully put,” Halverson adds. “One of Front Porch’s main goals is connection. The housing issues here in Savannah are pretty serious issues, but if you can connect and find ways to enjoy each other while you’re addressing a problem - that’s pretty special.”