The Role of the ReStore

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By Marianne Lynch, Executive Director

As I was researching this month’s blog, I found all sorts of articles about donating items to charity – the do’s and don’ts, the eight items charities need, how to give to a cause, etc. They were all well-written articles, and as I read them I noticed a theme appearing that certainly resonated with me and the ReStore team.  In culling through them, I found that each author addressed a concern that some ReStore donors face when they call to schedule a donation pick-up.

Habitat is very grateful for those individuals who choose to donate to the store – we know that you have many options. We are very happy to make it as convenient as possible, providing a free pick-up service, convenient drop-off hours and a list of acceptable items on our website and in our brochure. 

At times, when donors learn that the ReStore will not take a particular item due to age or condition, they become frustrated with Habitat for Humanity.  Sometimes they feel that the organization should be willing to take all items offered. In a perfect world, we would, but the reality is that we cannot take everything given – nor should we, if we want to fulfill our mission.

I know it might be a little shocking to hear a charitable organization say this, but please hear me out. Habitat’s mission provides dignity for those in need of housing by creating partnerships that empower people to help themselves. The homes we build are affordable and simply built, but they are also beautiful and functional. This philosophy of providing dignity to those in need spills over to our ReStore as well. We want to honor each customers’ dignity by providing a shopping experience that allows them to find something beautiful and functional to complement or improve their living space.

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Build Futures as a Habitat AmeriCorps!

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By Cara Przybylowicz, Volunteer and Community Relations Manager

From May 22-28, our AmeriCorps members, Maria and Ma-Tenneh got to travel to North Carolina for Build-A-Thon!

Every year, AmeriCorps members and alumni from across the country travel to select cities to help local Habitat for Humanity organizations meet the need for decent and affordable housing in their communities.  This event happens over the course of two separate weeks, in three different states, and these week-long builds celebrating the impact made through Habitat's partnership with AmeriCorps through the Corporation for National & Community Service.  Nearly 100 members come together to build and repair multiple homes in just a weeks’ time!  Our members were able to travel to North Carolina this year, and enjoyed their time building, learning, and meeting other amazing AmeriCorps serving all over the United States!  Participating in Build-A-Thon is definitely a big, and fun, perk of being a part of the AmeriCorps service team with Habitat for Humanity!

What IMPACT does AmeriCorps have with Habitat for Humanity?

Habitat and AmeriCorps:

  • Engages more than 80,000 members annually
  • Mobilizes 3.4 million volunteers annually
  • Leverages $480 million in outside funding and donations each year
  • 800,000 people served as AmeriCorps members since 1994
  • 1.2 billion hours served by AmeriCorps members since 1994
  • Managed or mobilized 4 million community volunteers in just one year

Do you want to help make an IMPACT in Montgomery County?

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The Patience To Win

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By Michelle Spada, Director of Family Services

I was out in Colorado this past week for a wedding and had the opportunity to visit Pikes Peak Habitat for Humanity. I spoke with that affiliate’s Director of Homeowner Services and a theme came out in our conversation—non-violent social change. As she was describing some of their affiliate’s work and challenges, she shared the following quote:

“Non-violence is not inaction. It is not discussion. It is not for the timid or the weak. Non-violence is hard work. It is the willingness to sacrifice. It is the patience to win.” ~Cesar Chavez

When we talk about non-violent social change, images of Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi usually come to mind. But the work we do here at Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery County, PA is also non-violent social change. Last year, we impacted more than 700 families through homeownership, critical home repair, neighborhood revitalization, and financial literacy. But we impacted thousands of more families through advocacy.

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Every Child

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By Liz Bowers, Director of Development and Communications

Every child deserves to live in a safe neighborhood. This is a reality that Habitat Montco is working toward every day through our Neighborhood Revitalization (NR) program, focusing on an eleven-block NR zone of Norristown and a six-block NR zone of Pottstown.

Sammy is three years old; he lives in the Norristown NR zone. He loves playing at the Cherry Street Park, especially going down the slide. Now that it is warmer, he keeps asking…”go outside now?” Fortunately, his mom and sometimes his aunt take him to the park. This park hadn’t always been so well taken care of, but Habitat Montco’s Neighborhood Revitalization program made it the focus of its work in Norristown. Now, after two years of improvements, both Sammy’s mom and his aunt feel that it is a safe playground and are happy to take this adorable boy to Cherry Street Park to play.

Habitat Montco started Neighborhood Revitalization in collaboration with community residents to improve their safety and quality of life. The goals of the program include empowering residents to reinvest in their own neighborhoods and inspiring local businesses, community groups, and government leaders to come together for the betterment of the community.

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The Roller Coaster

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By Marianne Lynch, Executive Director 

My favorite ride at any amusement park is the Roller Coaster. I am particularly fond of the old wooden ones that make your teeth rattle and your back ache.  I like the anticipation of waiting my turn, pulling the bar down, starting with a jerk and then the long, slow ascension to the top. During that part of the ride, I am always a little excited, a little scared, and a little unsure of what path the car will take on the way down.

I feel like my time at Habitat has been a little like that first part of the ride…standing in line, waiting for others to get in the car with me, anticipating the route the car will take, and finally, making that long climb up the hill. The climb has taken the better part of three years, but Habitat is finally to the top, paused, ready to roar down the course with fearlessness and a few ups and downs along the way.

During that climb, our affiliate’s leadership has been creating a strong strategic plan, addressing four key areas of the organization and the community that need support so that we might make a true impact on substandard housing. The four areas identified by our leadership include program growth, capacity building, ReStore growth, and financial stability.

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11 Ways to Volunteer

Posted by Lauren
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At Habitat for Humanity, our volunteers are at the core of what we do.  Without you, we wouldn’t be able to serve the many families in need in the community.

You may think volunteering with Habitat means picking up a hammer or paintbrush, but we need volunteers in many more roles and functions. Don’t think you have the skills we need? – Think Again!

There are multiple ways you can volunteer at Habitat Montco; just look at our list:

  • Construction
    • Our construction team is currently rehabbing homes in Norristown and Pottstown, and is preparing for work on four new construction townhomes in Bridgeport. As a volunteer in construction, you could be framing, hanging drywall, installing insulation, painting, and more - as an individual or as a team!
  • Critical Home Repairs
    • Have skills in the construction-related trades? – This may be the volunteer position for you! The objective of our Critical Home Repair program is to provide low-cost, major repairs to prevent low-income homeowners from being displaced.  This work includes minor exterior work to improve curb appeal, or extensive work (roofing, plumbing, electrical, etc) to alleviate issues threatened safety, security, or accessibility.
  • ReStore
    • Customer Service – you can be a part of the customer experience by helping our guests move purchased items to their cars, helping at the register, or moving furniture to create a better overall atmosphere in the store.
    • Truck/Donations Assistant – you can be a part of the donor experience by going out with our staff to pick up donations throughout the county.
  • Family Services
    • Kids Club – We are always looking for people who can teach lessons and help out with the kids. Kids Club is held on Friday evenings at Gotwals Elementary School to help children learn more about what we are trying to accomplish where they live through our Neighborhood Revitalization program – this is also a nice way for the kids to hangout in a good environment where they learn a lot, feel safe, and get to interact with their peers.
    • Almost Home - This is a no-cost, 8 week financial literacy and life skills course that meets twice a week for 2 hour class sessions. Classes take place from 6:30pm-8:30pm on Tuesday and Thursday nights.  These courses will be hosted three times per year in the fall, spring, and summer. 
      • Financial Coaches – We need financial coaches for participating families. Financial coaches will spend a total of 9 hours with the families, about 4 hours during the course, and 4 through continued check-ins at certain intervals after the course’s conclusion.
      • Childcare – Volunteers are needed during class sessions to provide childcare for the parents who are participating in the course
      • Teachers – Experts in the following fields are welcomed to teach a class session: career advancement, student loans, resume writing, legal issues, retirement planning, and goal setting
  • Internships
    • We currently have 3 internships available through Habitat Montco:
      • Impact – this intern will work closely with our Director of Family Services to measure the impact of Habitat Montco’s programs on families and communities in Montgomery County.
      • Social Media Marketing – this intern will be helping with our social media campaigns, taking photos of volunteers and construction, writing blogs, and creating awesome content for our website
      • Volunteer Retention – this intern will be ensuring volunteer feedback after each interaction, work with the Volunteer and Community Relations Manager to create a formal volunteer retention program, and will help to communicate directly with our volunteers.
  • AmeriCorps
  • Lunches
    • We are always looking for lunches to be donated, and volunteers help us in this way to be cost efficient, yet provide delicious, hearty lunches for our volunteers on the worksite! -- If you are interested in providing lunches for up to 15 people on any given day, please let us know!

 

Did any of these opportunities grab your attention?Do you think you can do it?  We do!  Please join us in volunteering any way that you can!  We would love to have you!  For more information, or to volunteer, please contact our Volunteer and Community Relations Manager, Cara, at cara@habitatmontco.org

The Impact of an Internship with Habitat

Posted by Lauren
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Our spring Impact Interns took some time to reflect on their services with Habitat Montco. Check out their thoughts below, and click here to see our current internship and AmeriCorps opportunities!

"The word IMPACT is often used when referring to something quite powerful. I am just another twenty-something-year-old looking for my place in life, so when I stumbled across this word on a volunteering website, it immediately caught my eye. This word gave me hope, and the promise of something meaningful. I signed up to become an Impact Intern with the Family Services Department at Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery County, and I truly can’t think of a better word to describe my experience than “impactful”.

My time as an Impact Intern has been a blessing because of the people I connected with. One of the most passionate people I met was a young man from Habitat’s Kids Club who expressed to me some of his struggles in life. This youth used his love for basketball as a way overcome some of what life has thrown his way, so every week that I attended Kids Club, this young man and I would discuss and play basketball. After a couple of weeks, the conversation turned to school, life goals, nutrition, and home life. Others who left me with an everlasting image of impact were the volunteers at the Rock the Block event in Pottstown. Over 100 people took time out of their schedules to come and perform free home improvements to residents in the area. Their ages varied from high school to retirement-age, and I remember thinking how incredible it was to see such a large gathering of volunteers eager to make a positive impact on the community. That kind of dedication to improve a stranger’s life was a demonstration of unselfish behavior and I was honored to share it with all of them.

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We Need Your Help to Bring Josh Home

Posted by Lauren
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By Liz Bowers, Director of Development and Communications

Josh is eight years old.  He is curious, inquisitive, smart, and loves to play.  Josh is like a lot of kids his age, with one big exception.  He has moved more times than most of us will in our entire lives. We have great news…Josh only has to move one more time.  His parents, Drew and Valerie Ricciardi, are Habitat Home Buyers. 

The Ricciardis’ path to homeownership has not been without struggles. When Drew and Valerie first applied to purchase a Habitat home, they were financially unstable and not ready for the responsibility of a 30-year, 0% mortgage.  Rather than becoming frustrated with this news, the Ricciardis asked our staff what it would take to qualify. Our staff began working with this family to help Josh have a stable place to call home.  In October 2015, the Ricciardis enrolled in Habitat Montco’s Almost Home Financial Literacy and Life Skills program. This course transformed Drew and Valerie’s understanding of money, debt, and their future.  They were active in the 16 two-hour classes, and were paired with a financial coach who gave them one-on-one support.  Within three months of completing the program, Drew and Valerie paid off some of their debt, began an emergency fund, and were able to qualify to purchase a Habitat home.  Soon, they will be able to give Josh his own room, in a house his parents own.

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