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Cabarrus Magazine

Zablotny is Back at Helm of Habitat Cabarrus; Explains Why to 'Up Front' Podcast

Feb 19, 2021 03:53PM ● By Jason Huddle

Episode 92: Welcome Back, Mr. Zablotny!

Years ago, Dave Zablotny, who was the head of Habitat Cabarrus, decided to retire and move out to the west coast. As he road towards the preverbal sunset, we waved and wished him the best on his new season in thankfulness of all he had done for those in need in our community. A few weeks ago, Habitat Cabarrus again found itself without an executive director. So, they call on our old friend to help steer the ship from afar until a permanent replacement can be found. This week, we talk to Dave from his home in Washington state, to discuss the challenges of leading this deserving non-profit from over 3,000 miles away, as well as the needs Habitat has after a rough year.
For more information on Habitat Cabarrus, Click HERE!

Jason Huddle  00:00

After losing their executive director a few weeks ago, habitat cupbearer has called upon an old friend. Dave Zablotny, former director of Habitat Cabarrus and now living in the state of Washington is back at the helm. But can he do it? From all the way across the country?


Dave Zablotny  00:16

My management style is very hands on. I think it's really important to check in with the team everyday. Make sure everybody's doing okay that kind of thing. I used to have to do this from 3000 miles away in all firstly is it's not easy for me.


Jason Huddle  00:32

Today we talked to Dave about his second stint as executive director of Habitat Cabarrus, the difficulties that Habitat faces in this COVID year and the challenges of finding his permanent replacement. That's all coming up right now, on Up Front with Cabarrus Magazine, a presentation of CabCo Media Group and sponsored by Atlantic Bay Mortgage Group, Concord Downtown Development Corporation, Geico Concord Mills office, Level Up Realty and New Hope Worship Center. I'm your host, Jason Huddle. Hello, my friends, and welcome to this edition of Up Front with Cabarrus Magazine. I am your host Jason Huddle and this is Episode 92. I hope you were having a great week as today. We are talking to executive director or should I say Interim Executive Director of Habitat Cabarrus. Dave's Zablotny, now if Dave's name sounds familiar to you, it's because he was once the director of Habitat Cabarrus a few years back then he retired and moved out to the west coast and we wished him well. But a few weeks ago, Habitat Cabarrus found itself without a director and needing someone to fill the gap. So they called Dave up to see if he would be willing to do that from a virtual standpoint and help find his permanent replacement course Dave, being the kind man that he is and semi retired, he decided that would not be a problem. And so he has stepped in to do exactly that. We're going to talk to him about that the difficulties facing habitat comparis the restore what their needs are, we're gonna get into all that right after shameless plug time. Judging from this weekend, many of you are venturing back into restaurants again, which is a great thing for our local economy and of course, our local restaurant owners. And with that comes the need once again to understand where you should and shouldn't be dining based on cleanliness ratings. So this week, look on cabarrus for our monthly restaurant report, which is currently out. So check that out only at Cabarrus Magazine dot com. And hey, if you're interested in sponsoring that feature, please give us a call 704-782-2353 and that is today's shameless plug time. We will be getting to our interview with Dave Zablotny, Interim Director of Habitat for Cabarrus in just a moment right after this break. But before I go there, I just want to put out a little disclaimer, the day that I interviewed Dave, of course he is on the west coast. I'm not sure if it's weather or internet connection, or what was going on, but you are going to notice some digital distortion in his answers. I tried to edit that out as much as I possibly could. But I had to work with what I had to work with. So I'm going to go ahead and apologize for that in advance. But what he's saying is important. So I thought despite the technical difficulties, this interview needed to be aired. We'll get to that interview right after this. Stay tuned.


Commercial  03:40



Jason Huddle  04:28

Welcome back to Cabarrus Magazine. We are joined today via zoom all the way from the state of Washington, Dave Zablotny former and now current executive director of Habitat for Humanity and Cabarrus County. Dave, thank you for joining us all the way from the west coast man.


Dave Zablotny  04:50

Thanks, Jason. Glad to be with you.


Jason Huddle  04:51

So it's been a minute since you were here and served as the executive director before their most recent executive director just left Habitat. And so apparently they called you in this COVID environment, we've figured out that it really doesn't matter where you live, you can work from anywhere. So they called you and said, Hey, Dave, can you can you pinch hit for a bit. So what was that like to get that call?


Dave Zablotny  05:16

It was surprising, for sure. I was not expecting that call at all, we have settled in pretty well out here. We've been here for close to two years now been, you know, settled in, even through the pandemic, you know, are comfortable here and now retired. So, it was surprising to say the least. But at the same time, I felt good about the fact they would feel comfortable reaching out to me at this point, and said a lot to me about me, and that they think I could step in, in this situation help out.


Jason Huddle  05:50

So let me ask you, before we get into Habitat stuff, what took you all the way out to Washington?


Dave Zablotny  05:55

Family, our daughter lives here, our son, our son in law and our grandson. So right before we retired, she asked us to head this way. He didn't have any family in the Charlotte area or son is up on the east coast in Long Island. So she asked if we'd be willing, and you know, we said yeah, it made sense.


Jason Huddle  06:17

So let me ask you was there is there a bit of culture shock when you move to Washington as opposed to Concord? North Carolina?


Dave Zablotny  06:26

Yeah, there definitely is, it's a different place for sure. And we had lived, you know, we lived in Buffalo most of our life. (inaudiable) seven years born and raised in Buffalo before we moved to the Charlotte area, so definitely different but but it I think, living in Buffalo, for those years help acclimate a little bit, not the same as Seattle. But there are some similarities that you probably wouldn't see in the in the southeast and Charlotte area.


Jason Huddle  06:53

So let's get into your responsibilities with Habitat for Humanity. Before when your executive director, you were obviously here, very hands on and it was pre COVID. So we didn't even know what COVID was back then. What a world that was, what a state of bliss we lived in. Anyway. So what are the limitations that you have working from Washington that you maybe could have accomplished? If you were on the ground here?


Dave Zablotny  07:22

I think COVID has, limited a lot of what habitat can do is you know, habitat is a hands on kind of organization, I mean, building houses doing home repairs, as the primary work that's on there, it's hands on. And so that has changed the approach that Habitat has to take, and especially when it comes to volunteers, no, volunteers are very limited right now and need to be but I think for me, personally, it and I've only been doing this about two weeks now. But it's just not being there face to face with people my management style is very hands on, I think it's really important to check in with the team every day, make sure everybody's doing okay, that kind of thing. It's a very hands on style. And to have to do this from 3000 miles away, and all virtually is it's not easy for me. But I think it's doable. Again, we've had to go through this for almost a year now. So I think it's definitely doable based on what we've gone through. I just got to, you know, adapt.


Jason Huddle  08:24

So let's talk about that. You mentioned, as we all know, Habitat is volunteer based, largely, we hope for volunteers to come and help build houses and, and do the projects that needed to be done. But obviously, that's not a possibility right now, it's not necessarily safe for people to do that. And I know that some of the people that you're building houses for you expect them to put sweat equity in and actually help build houses and they're not able to do that, which means that as you mentioned, you guys are having to hire contractors, right.


Dave Zablotny  08:58

In some cases, we Habitat is doing that now. But there are still some volunteers on site, we call our weekday warriors, these other retired folks who come out every week and into a lot of the work that Habitat does, and they are still using families on the site. But again, it's it's a different approach. We're only maybe one family is there at a time putting in their hours and not not a whole group of volunteers with them. So I think they've adapted as well as they can to keep things moving. And it's just again, being a volunteer driven organization. I think it definitely has slowed things down a bit.


Jason Huddle  09:34

That is unfortunate. Let me ask you this. Are you prohibited from going back to the way things were the is because of executive orders? Or is this just out of an abundance of caution?


Dave Zablotny  09:45

I think it's a little bit of both, you know, Habitat Cabarrus is an affiliate of habitat international and and while each affiliate regionally can run the affiliate in a way that fits their needs the best way and the community's needs the best. There are some basic guidelines and directives that each affiliate needs to follow from habitat. So they do put out directives about volunteers and minimizing the volunteers on site. And if you do need them, you know, the protocols to follow and so on. So it is that it's also just being prudent. I mean, we can't put our volunteers at risk. In some ways, you know, any organization.


Jason Huddle  10:24

Is there any specific guideline that habitat international or habitat compares has, that they're looking for? In other words, of positivity rates, infection rates, whatever? Is there something that you guys are looking for, in order to be able to return a normal is that you just kind of take it a day at a time?


Dave Zablotny  10:43

Yeah, I'm not aware of that. Jason, again, I'm only less than two weeks in here. So picking things up, but so I'm not aware of anything like that. And once I get in more, I'll see that.


Jason Huddle  10:56

Absolutely, I tell you what we're gonna cut to a quick break, Dave. And when we come back, I want to talk about the Restore, and also what people can do as we try to get through COVID. All right, you guys stick around. We will be back right after this message from our sponsors.


Commercial  11:12



Jason Huddle  12:26

Welcome back to the program. We are talking today with Dave Zablotny. He is the former and now current executive director of Habitat for Humanity and Cabarrus. County. We welcome Dave back via zoom. He's still in Washington State, but able to maintain his director duties from there. And so they just gave him a call a couple weeks ago. And here he is right back where he started helping people in Cabarrus County get into homes. So they've let's talk about the Restore. Because that is such a vital part of Habitat. How are sales and donations going there? Are there some needs at the Restore, that you would like to tell our listeners about?


Dave Zablotny  13:10

Again, I'm still wondering, getting updated on a lot of those things, Jason, but I think as you said restore is critical to the bottom line for Habitat, a lot of the revenue generated for the affiliate comes through the door. So they did closed down for a few months early on in the pandemic and reopened in the June July timeframe. And they put protocols in place to to make it safer for employees and shoppers as well. So I think the best support that can be provided by the community is through donations. We sell there and most everything we sell is a donated product. So that is really critical to maintaining a revenue stream from the store.


Jason Huddle  13:51

Let me ask you are there certain and I realize your two weeks and and you don't necessarily deal directly with the restore? But are there specific kinds of items that are seem to be in greater demand or something that moves pretty quickly through the store that you could suggest that people donate?


Dave Zablotny  14:10

Yeah, I think appliances would be number one, those frigerators stoves, washers, dryers those are really important. Those sell quickly. You know, they need to be in working order but they sell quickly and there are in demand for appliances that would be at the top of the list I think and then furniture is a huge seller in the store as well as things like building supplies and so on. So I think those are probably the most important.


Jason Huddle  14:37

moving away from the Restore day. What are some other needs that Habitat Cabarrus has as we try to move out of COVID and the infection rates start to dip down.


Dave Zablotny  14:50

Ultimately it will be volunteer help. Once those infection rates drop and be feel comfortable opening up to volunteers again on a broader scale. Volunteer help for sure. I think there will be some pent up demand, especially groups. So we get church groups, school groups, and so on. So I think there will be once they feel comfortable, they will want to come back and help us. That's one thing. And then obviously donations, whether it be restore financial donations, those are critical to fund for that.


Jason Huddle  15:25

Absolutely. How many projects right now do you currently have going in Cabarrus County? Do you know that?


Dave Zablotny  15:31

There's two homes currently under construction that are nearing completion. From what I've heard, it looks like we should close on those in the month of March. And then there will be another one started. Soon another new home build. And then there's always repair projects going on. Last month was a really good month once in January, and repair projects were completed.


Jason Huddle  15:55



Dave Zablotny  15:56

Which is a great number we're well ahead of schedule for the year to date numbers is a really important type of work that's been done by Habitat Cabarrus.


Jason Huddle  16:05

Wonderful. Well, Dave Zablotny former and current executive director of Habitat Cabarrus, thank you so much for joining us today. Welcome back, sort of just when you think you're out, they pull you back in, right.


Dave Zablotny  16:21

It's okay, I love I love Habitat. I've been involved in one way or another almost 30 years now. So I love it and just glad to help.


Jason Huddle  16:31

Now, is this a temporary Interim assignment or is this


Dave Zablotny  16:35

This is interim temporary, I'm working a part time role about 20 or so hours a week I'm trying to keep it to. And until we hire a new director, so I'll also be helping to serve me in choosing a new director.


Jason Huddle  16:52

Wonderful. Well, Dave, thank you so much for being willing to step back in. And of course, your service to our community in years past and now again, and also for the work that Habitat Cabarrus is doing in our area. Thank you so much.


Dave Zablotny  17:07

Thank you. Thanks for having me.


Jason Huddle  17:09

Absolutely. You guys stick around, we will be back to close out the program in just a moment. Stay tuned.


Commercial  17:15



Jason Huddle  18:00

Welcome back to the program. As we close out today, I wanted to just remind you that and I've said this before on this program, despite all our needs, and every one of us have them especially right now and in a time like this, we tend to get very self centered, we tend to say, Look, I've got to look after my own household first. And then I'll worry about other people when we come out of this. The problem is if we all do that, then nobody is helping anybody. And that's one of the reasons why I wanted to have Dave on today who I do appreciate coming on to the program. And I certainly appreciate you. I know there was some technical difficulty there as I prepared you for at the beginning of the show. So I appreciate you still being here with us at the end of the program. But I did just want to take a moment to remind everybody to please take some time to help other people. Even if you don't have the time to volunteer for organizations like Habitat Cabarrus, there is still something you can do. Even if it's as basic as opening the door for somebody or helping somebody across the street or carrying their groceries to the car, whatever we can do to help each other out. I think we all need a boost and our belief in humanity. And little things like that can go a long way. I was explaining to a group of fourth to sixth graders not too long ago, the concept of paying it forward. They had never heard that term before but when I told them, they completely understood it and got inspired to do exactly that. So I encourage you go out there and pay it forward this week. That is all the time I have for today I want to remind you that you have been listening to upfront with Cabarrus Magazine. It is hosted and produced by yours truly Jason Huddle and presented by CabCo Media Group. We are also sponsored by Atlantic Bay Mortgage Group, Concord Downtown Development Corporation, Geico Concord Mills office, Level Up Realty, and New Hope Worship Center. Until next week, find somebody to help you.

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