Jamie Caperton announced her resignation last week as the executive director of Teller County Habitat for Humanity. Five years ago, Caperton rescued the nonprofit, taking it from an organization on the verge of nearly shutting down to one that has provided homes for 42 families.
“Caperton’s leadership has been amazing, with far-reaching tentacles,” said Rick Sanford, president of the Habitat board of directors. “We have our work cut out for us. But the board is absolutely united in making sure that the good work started by Jamie and her team continues.”
In just five years, Habitat completed significant projects: Las Casas in Woodland Park, a six-townhome project in Forest Edge. In Cripple Creek, with volunteers, staff and recipients, Habitat moved and refurbished four old mining homes and built a duplex on lots at the entrance to the town from Colo. 67. In Divide, Habitat built two homes in Sherwood Forest.
But perhaps the most dramatic accomplishment, one that thrust the organization into the public eye, was the Clock Tower Condos project in downtown Woodland Park.
Once a hotel that had been vandalized and trashed, Habitat transformed the place with renovations to include nine condominiums, two of them transitional housing in partnership with the Woodland Park Community Church. The project attracted volunteers from Home Depot as well as Americorps.
Caperton, whose resignation is effective the end of May, leaves the organization with a project on the table: a 24-townhome complex in Cripple Creek.
The modular homes are two-and three-bedroom and fill gaps in workforce housing for police officers, firefighters and teachers, for instance. “These folks are typically having a hard time finding a house anywhere in Teller County,” she said, adding that more than 30 percent of Cripple Creek employees commute from Colorado Springs, Cañon City — and even Aurora.
“By doing the project, we build that sense of community among all of these families and that’s what we want to do — have a community inside of a community,” Caperton said. The townhomes will include a playground area and green space.
Estimated at $5 million, the project is a partnership among Habitat, Park State Bank & Trust and Champion Homes. The partners expect the entire project to be completed by 2020, with 12 townhomes opening this year.
Caperton’s resignation was not entirely unexpected. “In October we began to look at succession planning,” she said.
Because of Caperton’s background as a consultant for nonprofits around the world, the board has initiated a nationwide search for a replacement.
In the meantime, Sanford vows to keep moving ahead. “We will do our best not to miss a beat,” Sanford said. “We are laser-focused on the project in Cripple Creek.”
The loss is felt around the state and internationally with Habitat organizations, Sanford said. “Ms. Jamie is a pillar, and Habitat Colorado is already engaged in helping us make sure we find the right director,” he said. “Frankly, the programs this affiliate has been involved in are some of the leading programs in Habitat International.”
Caperton has accepted a position as the community engagement officer for Hot Springs Village, a multi-generational community in Arkansas. The village encompasses 26,000 acres with 14,000 residents who live in single-family homes, townhomes or condos. The village also includes two assisted-living facilities.
Caperton will oversee nine golf courses along with 200 clubs in the village, which has six lakes. “If someone has a problem, my job is to go in and fix that,” she said. “I’m a fixer.”
The Capertons, Jamie and Ben, who initiated the Vino & Notes festival in August, plan to return to head up the event while bringing some of the Village staff along as volunteers.
Caperton was close to tears while talking about leaving Habitat, but cast a positive note on the move.
“Yes, there is a change in leadership, and there are strategic steps taken by the board and both organizations to make sure we find the best executive director possible,” she said.