Women Build: "She Values And Uses All Of Her Gifts"

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

At Habitat Montco, we love the phrase “Build Like A Girl!”  Why?  Because it means one thing: it’s time for Women Build Week!

We are so excited to be hosting our Women Build event this October 12-15th Not sure what Women Build Week is?  Women Build is a fundraiser with emphasis on the fun!  For those four days this fall, we will be focused on having the women of Montgomery County out on site and working hard!  This year’s event will be a truly exciting one, as women will be working on our four brand new construction townhomes in Bridgeport.

No prior construction skills are necessary to participate because you will learn everything you need to know right there on site, guided by our Construction Site Supervisors and Women Build veterans.  Regardless of your skill level, our team will help you along the way, allowing you to gain new knowledge of construction.  Women Build volunteers leave their build day with the rewarding feeling of learning something new and feeling confident about offering hands-on help for families in need. 

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An Experience That I'll Never Forget

Posted by Lauren
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By Corinne Odom, Social Media and Marketing Intern

My name is Corinne, and this summer I’ve been working as Habitat Montco’s Social Media and Marketing Intern. I’ve worked to engage Habitat Montco with its digital community via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. While my role might seem fairly straightforward, my experience has been complex and more rewarding than I could have ever hoped for.

On my first day, Liz, our Director of Development and Communications, asked me to try and get a feel for what Habitat for Humanity (International) and Habitat Montco are all about. I sat in front of the computer, reading articles and scrolling through Twitter feeds – trying to become familiar with the organization and all the amazing work it does. Right away, I was drawn in by the scope of Habitat Montco’s impact.

There is a common misconception that Habitat builds houses and just gives them away. This myth could not be further from the truth. In reality, Habitat Homeowners purchase their homes from Habitat, paying a 0% interest mortgage for the home.  Once approved to purchase a house, future Habitat Homeowners work alongside volunteers to construct the places they will eventually call home. In addition to its Home Buying Program, this organization does so much more. Habitat Montco’s financial literacy program, Almost Home, gives people the skills they need to be successful, financially stable homeowners. Habitat doesn’t just focus on individuals and families – it seeks to improve entire communities. Habitat Montco’s Neighborhood Revitalization program takes the needs and assets of communities into account and works to empower community partners, residents, and leaders.

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7 Ways You Can Help Habitat Montco

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

1. Help a future Habitat homeowner build their home:

  • Would you like to learn how to build a home from the ground up? Do you love working with your hands? We invite you to join us on-site at our Bridgeport construction site. We need help constructing 4 new townhomes for Montco families.
  • Are you a seasoned construction professional? We would love for you to contribute your talents at our Bridgeport site as well.

2. Share your expertise:

We have volunteer opportunities that extend beyond our construction sites and ReStore. 

    • Do you have financial expertise? You can become a financial coach for one of the families enrolled in our Almost Home financial literacy program.
    • Do you enjoy event planning? You could join the Habitat Special Event Committee and help organize our major fundraising event to be held in spring 2017.
    • Do you love children? You can become a childcare volunteer in with our Family Services department. You would be entertaining and educating children whose parents are participating in the Almost Home Program.
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Loyalty - What It Means to a Community

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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

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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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