The Black Hat Foundation last month donated $30,000 to Habitat for Humanity of Tuolumne County.

The funds will be used to purchase doors and windows for the next four homes to be built at Parrotts Ferry Village in Columbia. Parrotts Ferry Village is Habitat’s affordable, workforce housing development.

The Black Hat Foundation raised the funds at its 26th annual Black and White Charity Ball held May 6 at Black Oak Casino Resort Hotel. The ball is the foundation’s major fundraiser. Recipients are selected through a competitive grant process.

Past recipients have included VNA-Hospice, Special Olympics, Sonora and Summerville high school music departments, Tuolumne County Search and Rescue, Infant-Child Enrichment Services, Smile Keepers, WATCH, 4-H, ATCAA, Sierra Repertory Theatre, Interfaith, Meals on Wheels and many others.

The Black Hats were founded in 1991 to support the Tuolumne County Visitors Bureau’s Wild West Film Festival and other local nonprofit causes. Since then, they have raised more than $580,000 for local causes.

The name “Black Hats” was chosen because so many celebrities spent much of their careers playing villains who wore black hats. The name showed that “guys that have black hats can be good guys too,” said member Barbara Martin, of Sonora.

The festival eventually faded away, but the foundation continued on and formed its own nonprofit group.

Today the Black Hat Foundation consists of about a dozen couples who spend the year planning the charity ball.

Habitat for Humanity of Tuolumne County began in 1999 with founder Frank Smart and other local citizens and has continuously built affordable homes for the Tuolumne County’s workforce. The organization’s vision is to eliminate substandard housing and promote sustainable and transformational development through the building of affordable housing. It’s mission is to build strength, stability and self-reliance through shelter.

With community support, Habitat for Humanity of Tuolumne County has completed 14 homes in Parrotts Ferry Village since 2011.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held June 10 for two more homes, and Habitat plans to break ground on another two in October.

When complete, Parrotts Ferry Village will have 35 safe, energy-efficient homes purchased by hard-working Tuolumne County residents.

Families who purchase Habitat homes often come from unsafe, overcrowded, unaffordable, substandard housing.

Eliminating substandard housing and building affordable workforce housing has measurable, positive outcomes for the homeowner and the community.

Successful homeownership has a direct correlation to the health and success of children and parents in the family. Health improves, grades at school improve and emotional health improves dramatically. Parents often return to school themselves and later apply for better jobs.

By providing affordable housing to the working people of Tuolumne County, these employees are more likely to stay in Tuolumne County.

According to the US Census Bureau, there were 41 building permits taken out in 2016 in Tuolumne County and, of those, four were by Habitat for Humanity (or 10 percent). Habitat is the only builder of affordable housing in Tuolumne County.

Habitat for Humanity of Tuolumne County is supported through individual and corporate donors, volunteers, its ReStore and community sponsors, like the Black Hat Foundation.