Loyalty - What It Means to a Community

Posted by Lauren
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By Marianne Lynch, Executive Director

Recently, I was signing a letter thanking one of our long-time supporters who has invested so much into our families. As I was thanking her for her continued investment, I had a bit of an epiphany in terms of what that support has truly meant to the families we serve.

This investor gives $100 per month consistently and has done so for more than 10 years. Just some quick math on that – That is $12,000!  Consistent funding from such a very generous and thoughtful giver has helped us in so many ways that I almost can’t list them all, but I will try:

In 10 years, we have:

  • Built more than 40 homes, in 4 communities, housing more than 150 people
  • Launched a ReStore
  • Started a critical home repair program
  • Started neighborhood revitalization in two communities, impacting more than 700 residents
  • Created a more comprehensive approach to financial empowerment: our Almost Home program
  • Completed 52 repair and preservation projects.
  • Moved to a larger space to accommodate the organization’s growth
  • Hosted 9 AmeriCorps members

This incredibly loyal and generous investor has supported this growth with her consistent gift every month. Because Habitat received her gifts faithfully, we believed that we could accomplish much…and we did.

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We Love Our Regulars

Posted by Lauren
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By Cara Przybylowicz, Volunteer and Community Relations Manager

What is a “regular”?

Well, we have a group of dedicated volunteers that come out to volunteer with us regularly, so, they are known around the office as our “regulars”!  They are comprised of a group of folks who are dedicated to the mission of Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery County, PA, and are truly passionate about helping the Montco community. 

The regulars are out on Habitat build sites a few times per week, and have most recently been a huge part of our rehab of 52 W. Basin Street in Norristown.  These volunteers did the demolition, bricked in two windows, completed some miscellaneous repairs, did the electrical work, installed new windows, and framed the home. They have served long days on Basin Street, and because most of them have an extensive background in construction, they have been able to complete an immense amount of work!

Our regulars have allowed our construction staff the ability to focus on the bigger picture of work throughout the county, while still feeling confident that great work is being done on this home in Norristown.  Paul, a dedicated volunteer who has been with Habitat Montco since this affiliate opened, has taken the lead at 52 W. Basin Street, acting as a site supervisor so that our staff can focus on other tasks and jobs as well. 

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Veterans

Posted by Lauren
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By Michelle Spada, Director of Family Services

Poverty, a lack of support from groups and networks, substandard housing and a lack of affordable housing put over 1.4 million veterans at risk for homelessness. As of January 2014, the number of homeless veterans in America was estimated at 49,993. More than 40,000 of these homeless vets receive compensation or pension benefits each month, but that’s not enough to find affordable housing. Returning veterans are twice as likely to become chronically homeless compared to other Americans.

These statistics show the critical challenges that veterans face with homelessness and finding stable, affordable housing. Through generous funding from the Home Depot Foundation, Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery County has begun to work more closely with the veteran community through two programs: homeownership and critical home repair.

Through its homeownership program, Habitat Montco offers a 0% interest mortgage with a $500 down payment and 200 required hours of sweat equity. Habitat Montco currently has a new construction home available in Bridgeport specifically reserved for a veteran. Veterans will need to be honorably discharged and make between 30%-60% of median income for Montgomery County. Applications opened June 1, 2016 and the property will be available May/June of 2017.

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Take The Opportunity

Posted by Lauren
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By Ma-Tenneh Sampson, AmeriCorps Family Services Coordinator

Life so often takes us by surprise. We each can reach a peak of struggle in life that leaves us feeling helpless and hopeless. At this point, crucial decisions can either make or break the outcome of our current situations. I believe it’s our destiny to get back up, push forward, and to succeed.

It was me, pushing through my hardest times before coming to Habitat as an AmeriCorps.

It’s a single mother striving for change in the environment where her children will grow – a mother dreaming for a safer place to raise her kids and wanting to give them stability for a successful future through Neighborhood Revitalization.

It’s a family of three, determined more than ever to get a stable, affordable home through our Homeownership Program - a family who despite being rejected from the program at first, kept working hard and has finally been approved to buy a Habitat home after completing our Almost Home Financial Literacy course and reducing their debt.

It’s a 65-year-old senior calling every day, seeking an update on the status of his Critical Home Repair project to provide safety, security, and accessibility to his home.

Confidence.  Resilience. Hope. For the past several months, I’ve seen more than just average courage; I’ve seen fighters overcoming what life has thrown at them. This is a beautiful and encouraging sight to see.    

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Every Brick

Posted by Liz
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By Liz (Bowers) Hefner, Director of Development and Communications

I recently took a trip to Acadia National Park.  One of my favorite things about this park were the bridges across the carriage roads.  Each bridge was different, with each stone hand-carved and carefully placed. The bricks were nestled together with just enough mortar to keep them in place and ensure the bridges’ strength.  As I stood for a few minutes looking at these bricks, I realized that they show a great picture of teamwork and collaboration, the same kind of collaboration that happens at Habitat MontCo every day.  The bricks that make up these bridges have stood strong for nearly 100 years, and look like they will last for at least 100 more. The strength of a bridge comes from each brick leaning on another with the support of the mortar to keep things in place. Every brick is a building block.

Families are facing an affordable housing crisis across this country.  Habitat MontCo is a bridge for families on their journey to homeownership. We share with them the tools and resources they are looking for, and they share with us their hopes, dreams and goals. Drew and Val Ricciardi have shared with us their hopes and dreams for their son Josh.  Malak Labeeb and Mariam Girgis shared their goal of long-term stability.  Each family’s dreams, goals, and hard work are the building blocks for a foundation of stability. Every family deserves a safe, decent, affordable home.

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The Role of the ReStore

Posted by Lauren
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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

Posted by Lauren
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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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