8 Things to Donate to the ReStore When Renovating

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By Elizabeth Hefner, Director of Development and Communications

8 Things to Donate to the ReStore When Renovating

With the weather getting warmer and spring now in full swing, I recently started putting together a list of different projects I can do this month to spruce up my home. Home improvement projects are fun, but they always produce so much trash! Still, even when it feels impossible to get rid of everything I don’t need without adding to my renovation expenses, I know I can always turn to ReStore Montco — they make it a breeze to complete my home improvement projects on a budget and get rid of the old items that I no longer want to keep.

Donating leftover project materials to the ReStore keeps functional — and often times, desirable — home renovation items out of landfills. ReStore Montco resells your donated home improvement goods and uses this money to help build homes hardworking families in Montgomery County can purchase for an affordable cost.

By donating your used or new home improvement goods, you contribute to your community in many ways. You allow other home renovators to get the materials they need for their projects at an affordable cost, and you help others achieve their dream of stable housing.

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Habitat Montco Welcomes A New Family Services Coordinator

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By Caitlyn Farrell, Family Services Coordinator

I am so excited to have recently joined Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery County as the Family Services Coordinator. I recently graduated from college. During my time in college, I worked with families at a crisis nursery and survivors of intimate partner violence. The families and survivors showed me that it is possible to have great strength and resiliency, while undergoing tremendous struggles. Working with them also helped me to identify the need for and lack of stable housing.

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4.3 "The Skinny Budget"

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 4.3 "The Skinny Budget"

By Marianne Lynch, Executive Director 

The current proposed U.S. budget includes a 7 billion dollar cut to Housing and Urban Development (HUD). For those of you who are unfamiliar with this department, it oversees the housing voucher system (formerly known as section 8), provides support for the HOME grant, the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), provides loans through programs like SHOP and FHA, oversees fair housing laws, and much more. HUD touches many areas of American life, particularly for those who are low to moderate income.

The proposed federal budget would completely cut the HOME program, CDBG, SHOP and significantly impact the voucher program. For Habitat, the loss of HOME, CDBG and SHOP would be devastating to our ability to provide homeownership opportunities to families we serve and the absence of vouchers will put an undue burden on our many partners, as well as the communities themselves. Each of these programs provides positive economic investment to the communities they impact, creating significant concerns about how the cuts will affect an already stressed affordable housing market.

That being said, I would like to share with you, our stakeholders, how these programs positively impact our local economy. Right now, Habitat Montco is building four new townhomes in Bridgeport, due in part to funding from the HOME program, through Montgomery County. These funds are by no means the only source of investment in this project, but they have provided the key resources to encourage buy-in from our major project sponsors. When complete, the Bridgeport homes will appraise for market value and the families that live there will pay a mortgage that will help Habitat Montco to continue to build homes in more communities around the county. They will also pay taxes back to the community, providing much needed income to keep up essential services and maintain a vibrant, strong school system. In addition to taxes paid, these families will use their purchasing power in Bridgeport, patronizing local shops and restaurants, and also buying items needed when moving into a new home. Overall, the economic impact of building new homes in Bridgeport is well in advance of 1 million dollars…This return on $400,000 provided by HUD through the HOME grant, seems like a good investment at a 60% return. This is just one way HUD investments create stronger communities.

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2017 Collegiate Challenge With Assumption College Students

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2017 Collegiate Challenge With Assumption College Students

By Cara Przybylowicz, Volunteer and Community Relations Manager 

For me, personally, Collegiate Challenge is always a time when I reflect on how I got my start with Habitat for Humanity.  In college and for two years after I graduated while working at my University, I was a part of four Collegiate Challenge trips. This summer, I will be a part of my 5th trip with an Alumni group! The Collegiate Challenge is always a great opportunity for college students to travel out of state, explore a new area, and work hard to help someone in need.

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Coming Together for a Community Meeting

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Coming Together for a Community Meeting

By Saroj Chettri, Neighborhood Revitalization Manager

At Habitat, our community meetings are the most important component of the Neighborhood Revitalization Program. They are the avenue which allows us to serve a maximum number of families by responding to the community as a whole. Alongside community residents, civic organizations, educational institutions, faith groups, private organizations and other local agencies, we work together through our revitalization initiatives to build a stronger community and encourage a sense of hope. 

On March 1, 2017, Habitat joined with the Pottstown community at The Victory Christian Life Center for our first townhall-styled meeting of the year. We were pleased to have about 25 residents attend the meeting, and used our time together as a platform to identify the needs of the community and create short and long term goals to better address these needs in the future.

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Who are the People in Your Neighborhood

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Who are the People in Your Neighborhood 

By Marianne Lynch, Executive Director

On Friday, our staff took a day out of the office to gather at the Bridgeport site. We had a great time acting as volunteers, helping frame much of the third unit and some of the garage interiors as well. I personally love operating the miter saw and making the cuts (measure twice, cut once is always a good rule of thumb!) and since I’ve had a recent knee repair, I wasn’t much help at anything else. We have lots of moving parts these days operating four programs and a ReStore but still, it is always good to get back to our core and do some team building at the same time. As wonderful as these experiences are, Friday’s event was particularly profound for me.

Two home-buyers joined us to put in their sweat equity on Friday as well - Dustin, a vet injured in Afghanistan and Malak, an immigrant from Egypt who has lived in the US for more than 10 years. These two will be neighbors, living at 935 and 933 Green Street respectively. On Friday, the two of them framed the walls of Malak’s house together. I watched them throughout the day, methodically choosing wood, moving back and forth between the saw and the house, almost in a kind of dance of determination. They worked together quietly, with little talking, but it was clear that they were communicating with each other perfectly.  At one point, I asked them if they needed any additional help and Dustin told me that they both were skilled in construction and had a system down so that they worked very quickly together and clearly enjoyed each other’s company. 

As I was driving home that evening, I thought about what I’d witnessed. These men, who came to Habitat from two very different places, will be living side by side with their families in a matter of a few months. Looking forward to the time after home dedication, I realized that there will be this incredible bond between the two families that other neighbors never get to experience. They have literally built each others' homes. They will know each wall stud, each outlet and every floor board because each of them had a part in placing it there.  Through the home buying process, they have become friends and through homeownership, they will build a strong, diverse community.

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Bridgeport is Underway!

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 By Cara Przybylowicz, Volunteer and Community Relations Manager

Now that we have officially started working at our Bridgeport location, we have had some great volunteer groups out on site, and even more great groups to come!

We started out with back to back weekends of Villanova volunteer groups. First was their wonderful Alumni group which was spearheaded by our very own Joe Catuzzi who is a member of Habitat Montco's Board of Directors!  The following weekend we had their current Campus Chapter out on site. This group works with us frequently and is a great partner group to have out on site, as they are such a hard working bunch of students. Coming up we will be getting our Habitat Montco staff out of the office and on to the work site to give it a go at something new for each of us!  We also have a few Build Days coming up for individual volunteers that just want to work hard on the construction site!

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An Interview With One Bridgeport Home-Buyer

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An Interview with One Bridgeport Home-Buyer

By Megan Briggs, Family Services Director

 

While the construction team is working hard to build the houses at Bridgeport, our families are just as busy preparing for the big transition.  I recently caught up with Veteran Dustin Grey, one of the four Bridgeport Home-Buyers who along with his family, will be moving into their new home late this Spring.  During our conversation, I had the opportunity to learn a little more about how his family feels about the transition.

 

MB: How does seeing the construction of your house make you feel?

DG: Happy!

MB: How is your family preparing for the move?

DG: Well, you know, we are consolidating things, figuring out what really is not worth the move, and what we could give away to other families who might need things. We are thinking about the new transportation routes, too.

MB: What about your kids? Do they see the construction happening?

DG: Yeah, they actually go by it on their bus route, so they see it most days. They really know more than me -- they know every detail. They are excited.

MB: What are you looking forward to from the neighborhood and other families there?

DG: Barbeques! You know, spending time with my neighbors and I imagine barbeques and everything.

MB: During your sweat equity volunteer hours, is there anything you are hoping to learn?

DG: My family are all contractors, so I grew up with that stuff, but I’d like to learn about electric.

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