Every Child

Posted by Lauren
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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

Posted by Lauren
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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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Everyone

Posted by Lauren
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By Marianne Lynch, Executive Director

I was just reading about an Urban Institute study that found that in every single state in the US, there is not enough affordable housing to meet the needs of extremely low, low, and moderate income households.*  In Montgomery County alone, there are 22 units available for every 100 low-income families seeking housing.  This means that there are 78 others who do not have a safe, decent, affordable place to call home.

That is a fact that has weighed heavily on my mind in recent days…As I think about Habitat’s long-term strategies to serve more families, I sometimes despair over the number of homes needed for an ever-growing gap of families trying to find and afford a place to live. For me, this conversation becomes personal, as I think about how their kids struggle in school because they have to move from place to place, and how the places themselves might not be habitable and decent since demand far exceeds supply.  I think about how families who are already struggling to get by have an added burden of unaffordable housing costs, often leading to stress and discord within the family unit. I also start thinking about the number of homes Habitat will provide to future homeowners this year (3) and how many we will repair to keep families in their homes (21) and I feel a little overwhelmed.

How can one small, local Habitat for Humanity make a difference in the face of such daunting numbers? How can we provide enough homes to help these low-to-moderate income families out of this vicious cycle?

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Small Things With Great Love

Posted by Lauren
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By Maria Nappo, AmeriCorps Construction Site Leader

There are a lot of small things that go into building a home, and during my year of service as an AmeriCorps, I have truly seen the words of Mother Teresa come to life: "Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love."

This past September, I began my  year for AmeriCorps with Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery County with the construction team. When I arrived, the rehab work at 130 Wayne Avenue in Norristown was still in the beginning stages. It’s hard to believe that Annette is moving on May 21.

 

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Our Work Wouldn't Be Possible Without Volunteers!

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

April 11-17 is National Volunteer Appreciation Week and we could not be more grateful for our volunteers!  The role that volunteers play in our organization is huge and we enjoy working with them every day.  Our wonderful volunteers help in a variety of capacities including Construction, ReStore, Family Services, and in our offices!  Do any of these interest you?  Let us know, and get involved, as we are always looking for more volunteers!

We have had volunteers continue to come back year after year and we truly appreciate all of the hard work and effort that they have put in to help Habitat Montco continue to grow and push the organization forward.  Our volunteers continue to amaze our staff with their loyalty, flexibility, generosity, and by the amount of work they can do in such a short amount of time!

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