My ReStore Basement Renovation

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By Marianne Lynch, Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery County

Last January, my basement backed up with raw sewage, destroying a small den, our laundry room and a small bathroom – yuck. As a reader, you might say “what does this have to do with Habitat for Humanity?” Actually, quite a bit. 

When we were trying to decide what to do in order to repair our space, particularly in light of the slim insurance check we received, Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery County's ReStore became an instrumental part of the planning process. Because I had this resource in my community, I knew that I could do a fantastic job remodeling on a very tight budget. We were able to get a window, ducting, lumber, stair railing, light fixtures, trim, cabinets, paint, couches, an armoire, a credenza and so many other items from the ReStore that I saved more than $4,000. This made my project affordable and the end result beautiful.

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The Hard Work is Worth It

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By Marianne Lynch, Executive Director

Last week, as I watched our Construction Director, Chuck Weiss, hand Brian, our newest homeowner, a tool box filled with the tools to tackle home maintenance, I began to reflect on the path that led to the moment of Brian’s dedication. Habitat’s journey has not been an easy one in this community, or even with rehabbing this house.

When Habitat started construction back in November, we discovered a lot going on behind the walls, including a broken beam and fire damage stemming from the other side of the building. With lots of experienced help, we were able to overcome those obstacles and make Brian’s home a beautiful one that he and his family will enjoy for many years to come.

Brian was also working hard to overcome obstacles to own his home; making the time in his busy schedule raising his three children to come perform his sweat equity, working with our staff to manage his budget, understanding the mortgage process and grappling with the reality of being a homeowner.

At the same time, Habitat was working diligently in the neighborhood to overcome so many of the obstacles that the residents have in making Cherry and Chestnut streets beautiful, safe, amazing communities. Habitat was trying to acquire some of the blighted properties on the street, deal with the trash and the dilapidated park, and empower the residents to find their voices of change.

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The Habitat Dollar

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By Tina Barber, Development and Communications Director

Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery County, PA has been working for 25 years to make the dreams of homeownership a reality for low income families in Norristown, Pottstown, Upper Dublin, and Hatfield. We have built 59 homes and impacted over hundreds of Montgomery County residents. Each and every gift that is made to Habitat changes families. Your shared dollars transforms lives by building hope, uniting communities, and inspiring impact. To get a better understanding of just how far your gift to Habitat Montco goes, we wanted to give you a glimpse into what a typical Habitat Day looks like!

7:00 am: A dedicated construction volunteer arrives at Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery County, PA to load up a truck with hammers, nails, lumber, tools and coffee — his job every build day is to make sure that each of our construction sites have the tools and materials needed to work. By 7:30 am he’s out the door, making a stop at each site some days in Norristown, Pottsgrove, Ambler or even Elkins Park.

8:30 am: The Habitat office opens, the Director of Family services begins to sift through her voicemail messages. Today there are 15 new inquiries about our Critical Home Repair Program, families in need, hoping that we will be able to repair their roof, a single mom who needs a wheel chair ramp, an elderly couple living on Social Security in need of new plumbing so that they’ll have heat this winter.

8:45 am: The Habitat ReStore team prepares to open the doors to the store; orienting teams of volunteers to what is expected to be a busy sales day. Prices tags are checked, sales flyers are distributed, register tape is refilled and donations assistants are prepped.

10:00 am: ReStore Montco is busy! Customers are hunting for unique treasures in the furniture room, DIYers are planning restoration projects, and local folks are selecting paints, stains, flooring and tile--looking to keep up with their home maintenance

11:30 am: Habitat Montco’s Neighborhood Revitalization Committee meets to discuss home repair applications and review notes from several recent home visits. Together, the NR Committee and Habitat Construction Team sift through Critical Repair applications, visit homes to check out the work requested, meet the families and assess the viability of the projects.

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Finding Exactly Where You Need To Be When You Least Expect It

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By Michelle Spada, Family Services Director*

Yesterday, I was walking along Cherry Street in Norristown with Brian, our newest partner family, who will move into his house this June. We were eating water ice, handing out flyers in our expanded neighborhood revitalization zone and talking about how interesting life can be. Life often hands you what you least expect. For Brian, that means moving back into the neighborhood he grew up in and owning a home for the first time as a single dad. For myself, that means moving back to the United States and working in the community that shaped and molded me as a young woman. The ease with which Brian and myself were able to connect and relate doesn’t shock me because I have come to learn, in my first month at Habitat, that this type of connection is at the core of the work and mission of Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery County.

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Feel the Love

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By Nicole Pender, Volunteer and Community Relations Manager

Volunteers are the backbone of any philanthropic based organization. Fortunately, Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery County has been blessed with the best! There’s much to be said about anyone who consciously donates their time towards a cause that betters the lives of others, there’s more to be said about our group here! Of course, I am completely, absolutely, certainly 100% bias, but I truly believe that the volunteers who come our way are heaven sent.

 

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Celebrating 25 Years

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By Marianne Lynch, Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery County

Even though the temperatures have been hovering around 20 degrees, I assure you, Spring is coming. With it, Habitat for Humanity will be celebrating its 25th anniversary – quite a milestone for a small community organization!

 To properly mark this occasion, we are hosting a fundraising “Block Party” at the Elmwood Park Zoo in Norristown on Thursday, April 23rd at 6:30PM.

 Why the Zoo? We believe a community is only as strong as the organizations that enhance it. The Zoo is one such organization, providing a valuable resource for the families of Norristown. Habitat also provides a resource to Norristown, so the partnership seemed to be a natural extension of our focus on revitalizing this wonderful community. The Zoo has a fantastic space, complete with a living roof and a fireplace, just in case we can’t shake this winter chill…

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Build Like A Girl

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By Marianne Lynch, Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery County

This week is Women Build, one of my favorite activities during the year!  It’s a chance for me to get out and work on-site with a group of fantastic ladies who are passionate about our mission. While I am on-site, it always strikes me that I know very little about construction. Sure, I’ve tiled a bathroom and put up drywall, but to build a house is something else entirely

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Blessings

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By Marianne Lynch, Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery County
One of the things I love most about my job is that I get to be part of our homeowner’s lives long after the keys are exchanged. Because Habitat holds the mortgages on their homes, we get to hear about the ups and downs of life and everything in between (sometimes for as long as 30 years!). Normally, this is reward enough for the work that we do, but every once in a while I will get an extra blessing from our connection with our partners. Yesterday was just such a day...

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