URGENT: Childcare Needed

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By Michelle Spada, Director of Family Services

Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery County aims to break down barriers to families’ housing stability and financial stability. One of the biggest challenges that our families face is quality, affordable childcare!

Currently, Habitat Montco is running an 8-week financial literacy program called Almost Home, focused on helping families take control of their finances. Classes are Tuesday and Thursday nights now through May 19th from 6pm to 8:30pm at the OIC in Norristown (1101 Arch St.).

Habitat is currently working with 13 families and 25 children. While parents are in class learning about budgeting, credit, employment opportunities, legacy planning, legal issues, and housing options, the children need attentive, creative individuals to provide quality childcare. If you have a passion for working with kids and are looking for a way to give back, this is a great opportunity!

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Habitat Montco is More Than a Homebuilder - We Repair Homes Too!

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By Elizabeth Bowers, Director of Development and Communications

In an effort to serve more families in Montgomery County, Habitat MontCo started the Critical Home Repair Program in 2013. Habitat MontCo’s Critical Home Repair Program provides low-cost home repairs to residents of Montgomery County who make between 20% and 80% of median household income.

Repairs address critical needs impacting safety, security, and/or accessibility. Repairs typically consist of roof repairs, HVAC system repair/replacement, plumbing systems repairs, accessibility modifications, and electrical system repairs. The average cost of a critical home repair is $7,500 with smaller repairs (accessibility modifications) averaging $5,000 and larger repairs (multi-system repairs) costing up to $15,000. These repairs are completed on a sliding scale so that the homeowners contribute a maximum of 30% of the repair costs, while HFHMC and collaborating organizations pay the rest. Homeowners pay a portion of the cost of their repair based on a sliding scale and also perform volunteer “sweat equity” in partnership with Habitat MontCo.

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New Beginnings!

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By Marianne Lynch, Executive Director

It’s spring – finally! Even though it’s been a warm winter, it feels like spring has taken its time to arrive. At Habitat Montco, we have anxiously been anticipating spring’s arrival for many reasons. For us, spring is a time of new beginnings, lots of activity, and great ways to get involved.

Tuesday, March 29 marks the beginning of our second eight-week session of Almost Home. Our newest program, a financial literacy and life skills class based on Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, Almost Home will help 15 families on their path to financial stability and perhaps one day, to homeownership. With 15 families participating, we’ve outgrown our meeting space here at 533 Foundry Road and will be hosting the spring session at the OIC in Norristown. If you are interested in learning more about the curriculum, becoming a financial coach, or helping to support the families with meals or babysitting as they commit to these eight weeks of classes, please contact Michelle, our Director of Family Services, at mspada@habitatmontco.org.

April is an active month for construction and Neighborhood Revitalization here at Habitat. We are kicking off Neighborhood Revitalization in Pottstown focused on the 300 and 400 blocks of Walnut, Beech and Chestnut Streets with a Rock the Block community repair and clean-up day on Friday, April 15. The event is modeled after our Rock the Block event held each September in Norristown, and Habitat has partnered with 11 organizations as part of the Pottstown CARES day. We will be cleaning, painting, repairing and feeding the community that Friday. If you would like to volunteer, we still have a few slots open and would love to have you!  Cara, our Volunteer and Community Relations Manager, would be happy to help you sign up to volunteer for Almost Home or at Rock the Block - contact her at cara@habitatmontco.org.

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The Impact of a Week with Habitat

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By Cara Przybylowicz, Volunteer and Community Relations Manager

Last week, Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery County, PA hosted our annual Collegiate Challenge Trip.  Collegiate Challenge is a week-long trip during spring break in which college students dedicate their entire week to serving with Habitat Affiliates all across the country.  For the past 10 years, Habitat Montco has been hosting Assumption College from Worcester, Massachusetts. 

Thankful for this long-standing tradition, we did a little digging to find out what keeps Assumption coming back year after year.  Assumption College first began coming to our affiliate because of the close connection they had with the Assumption sisters in our area.  “We continue to come back because it seems to be a really nice fit for us,” said Vincent Sullivan-Jacques, Assumption College’s Campus Ministry leader.  “The affiliate is very accommodating and easy to work with year in and year out, and there are also a lot of great opportunities in the area, especially being so close to Philadelphia.”  This year, the students worked in our ReStore for one day, and on Habitat construction sites for three days, leaving them one day to explore Philadelphia’s history.

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It Takes A Village

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By Michelle Spada, Director of Family Services

The Family Services Department at Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery County runs four main programs: Homeownership, Critical Home Repair, Neighborhood Revitalization, and Almost Home Financial Literacy. In 2015, these programs impacted over 500 families. This week, I want to take the opportunity to say thank you because the success of these programs hinges on a large community of passionate volunteers and advocates. We could not possibly do this work alone.

My first thank-you is for Ma-Tenneh Sampson, the AmeriCorps member who serves as our Family Services Coordinator. Ma-Tenneh has a depth of character and resilience that she formed by overcoming severe obstacles. She has brought passion to her position and impacted the lives of each and every family that we serve. It is an honor to work alongside her every day. Happy AmeriCorps Week, Ma-Tenneh! Our team, our families, and our communities greatly appreciate your commitment.  

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Why ReStore?

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By: Elizabeth Bowers, Director of Development and Communications

I am getting ready to move into a house that is twice the size of my apartment.  My new home has more space, quirks, and just a dash of charm.  I am excited about this move, but I am not excited about the orange carpet in the bathroom or the tiny 17 inch wide avocado green oven that cannot fit a cookie sheet.  Fortunately, the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Montgomery County is there to help me through my renovations.  In the last few weeks, I have purchased beautiful tile for my bathroom floor and a professional series gas range for the kitchen.  I bought both at 75% off their retail costs.

The Habitat ReStore sells new and used furniture, housewares, appliances, tools and building materials to the public at discounted prices. New items come in daily and there are great sales every week. Every purchase made at the ReStore provides the resources needed to build, rehab and repair homes in Montgomery County. ReStore accepts donations from individuals and businesses.

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The Art (And Diplomacy) of Real Collaboration

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By Marianne Lynch, Executive Director

There have been lots of articles written lately about the power of strong collaboration in the business world. Articles like the one I recently read in Forbes state that “Collaboration is not a “nice to have” organizational philosophy. It is an essential ingredient for organizational survival and success.”

The same is true in the non-profit world. Gone are the days when we can operate in silos, serving only a small sliver of those in need and trying to hold on to our very small piece of the resource pie. Just as in business, non-profits that are making huge community impact have discovered the secret to success – true collaboration. They use it to energize their stakeholders, partners, community members and even their own teams. New ideas are born out of collaboration – ideas that look at some of the same old problems in new, solvable ways. Collaboration can create a change in attitude and behavior where it may not have been possible before. Also, collaboration helps people at all levels embrace a shared vision for the common good. It uses resources more wisely – both funding and people. Collaboration is essential for non-profits wanting to make significant and lasting change with their missions and across multiple sectors.

At the same time, true collaboration is not easy. When people are passionate about a position or a cause, emotions can flare, and sometimes derail plans or even the collaboration itself. The trick to real collaboration is not to completely agree, but when disagreement happens, to handle it respectfully, in a way that allows for all to have a voice. The best collaborations disagree, but out of the disagreement come new ideas and solutions.

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Spread The Love

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By Lauren Cartlidge, Development and Marketing Associate

A couple of years ago, I was an adult leader for a high school retreat, and I was amazed when I heard one student leader, KJ, tell the whole room about the selfless giving of his friend Brian, another student in the room.  One such instance of this giving spirit was that Brian had suggested that he and his friends should volunteer at a soup kitchen on their day off from school – certainly not how most teenagers first think to spend a day off.

I found it so inspiring that I wrote my future self a letter to be opened and read for Valentine’s Day.  The letter’s contents are like this:

“Remember that love can be found and shared everywhere.  Regardless of whether there is romantic love in your life right now, you can find ways to spread love in the world.  Volunteer at a soup kitchen or local charity, surprise friends or family with a treat, or do an act of kindness for a stranger.  Valentine’s Day doesn’t need to be focused on the idea of a significant other.  Use the love in your heart to cultivate a culture of positivity for those who may be feeling lonely, forgotten, or lost.”

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