The Executive Director's Blog

From John Paukstis, Habitat for Humanity of Metro Maryland, Inc.

Singing with Bruce in Baltimore!

Last week, I joined my son Greg and my grandson Brett for the Bruce Springsteen concert in Baltimore.  Anyone who has been to a Springsteen concert knows what a powerful experience it is.  Bruce is an amazing musician, singer, song writer, social justice activist, and humanitarian.  He has a deep connection with his fans as they sing along in harmony.  Bruce gives time and treasure to many non-profit organizations including Habitat for Humanity, joining President Carter for an appeal to rebuild the Jersey Shore after Superstorm Sandy.

Whenever I visit Baltimore, I think about all the great work being done by Habitat’s Chesapeake affiliate in and around Baltimore  I was privileged to know Allan Tibbels, founder of Sandtown Habitat for Humanity.  The Sandtown-Winchester community is located in West Baltimore where over 300 houses have been rehabilitated by Habitat and sold to lower-income homebuyers in need of decent and affordable housing.  The Sandtown and Chesapeake affiliates merged in 2014.  Allan passed away in 2010, but his legacy lives on.  Allan often used this quote by Howard Zinn: “We don’t have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change.  Small acts when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.”


-Allan Mark Tibbels, 1955-2010


Kickoff event for National Women Build Week 2016

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The kickoff event for National Women Build Week 2016 was recently hosted by Loretta Sevier, Vice Chair of Habitat for Humanity Metro Maryland’s Board of Directors.  The kickoff event for all Team Leaders, team members, sponsors, and women Crew Leaders learned more about Habitat’s work in Montgomery and Prince George’s County and heard remarks by a future Habitat homeowner.  Sixteen teams of 10 women (and men) have signed up to fundraise and volunteer on construction projects from April 23 through May 7.

The mission of the Women Build Program is to enable U.S. and International Habitat for Humanity affiliates to recruit, educate and nurture women to build and advocate for decent and affordable houses in their communities.

“This is our first year opening up Women Build to include this many women (and men!) in the community. These volunteers have taken Women Build Week by a storm and have collectively committed to over 128 volunteer hours and $50,000 for HFHMM’s projects. I am blown away and so grateful for each and every participant in this year’s National Women Build Week.” – Shannon Haughey, HFHMM Special Events & Community Engagement Coordinator.



Montgomery Sister Cities Celebrates Habitat’s work in El Salvador

Habitat for Humanity Metro Maryland (HFHMM) celebrated a four year project to build homes in Morazán, El Salvador at a recent Sister Cities event at the Silver Spring Civic Center.  County Executive Leggett established a Sister City relationship with Morazán, El Salvador in 2011, and since then HFHMM organized 15 trips to the rural community of El Burial in the mountains of Morazán to build 24 new homes and repair 18 others.  Local Habitat affiliates raised $425,000 for the project.

Montgomery Sister Cities, Inc. was established to connect Montgomery County to the world by encouraging and fostering friendship, partnership, and mutual cooperation through educational, cultural, social, economic, humanitarian, and charitable exchanges between the people of Montgomery County and people from various nations around the world.

In addition to Morazán, El Salvador, Montgomery County established sister cities relationships with Gondor, Ethiopia, Xian, China, and Hyderabad, India. Learn more about Montgomery Sister Cities here:

sister cities1sister cities 2

During our celebration, we had the opportunity to be photographed with Mari Carmen Aponte, United States Ambassador to El Salvador.

Mari Carmen Aponte is a Washington DC-based attorney who is currently serving as U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador, a position she first held from August 2010 until December 2011 and then from June 14, 2012, until present. Prior to that she was serving as a member of the Board of Directors of Oriental Group, a major financial and banking services enterprise in Puerto Rico. President Obama also nominated her as the United States’ Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States.



Habitat for Humanity Holds ‘Home for a Hero’ Community Partnership Event

Ceremony Held to Celebrate the Revitalization of a Local Veteran’s Home


A lot of people talk about trying to help Veterans and we are doing it. But, we need to do more. It feels good to help a Veteran who has served, he’s a good person trying to keep his life active and help other people. This is about community; all of us helping each other and being kind to each other and making our lives as full as we can.

On Saturday, March 26th, 2016 Habitat for Humanity Metro Maryland and its project partners held a community event to celebrate the completion of a major repair project that revitalized a local Veteran’s home. The repairs to the home included replacing the windows, doors, floors, walls, cabinets, appliances, as well as the hot water heater, furnace, and air conditioning unit. This was HFHMM’s most extensive repair project to date. HFHHM’s Director of Program Services Sarah Reddinger gave the opening remarks for the event, where she spoke to the group of the extensive work that HFHMM preformed on the home. She also spoke of the impact that the homeowner, Fred, has made on his community both through his military service, serving a tour in Germany during the Vietnam war and later as an instructor at Ft. Gordon GA, and now as he works to better the lives of other Veterans. HFHMM’s Executive Director John Paukstis thanked those who helped to bring the project to life, including HFHMM’s financial partners and dedicated volunteers, noting that there are countless other Veterans like Fred who are in need of community support. Fred then told his inspirational story and spoke of how the work on his home will transform his life. When asked what he was most excited for with the project’s completion Fred responded, “Honestly, enjoying a stove, there hasn’t been a working stove in this house for over ten years”. The program concluded with a ceremonial raising of the American flag by the homeowner and members of Team Rubicon who volunteered on the project.
HFHMM sends special thanks to its community partners:
- TW Perry
- Home Depot Foundation
 -Team Rubicon
 -CRC Cares

A society is judged by the way they treat seniors.


Msgr. Ralph Keuhner (Father Ralph, as he likes to be called), received the Catholic University Alumni Association achievement award in recognition of his tireless efforts working for social change.  He was honored for being a teacher, an administrator and interfaith activist, who helped to establish numerous programs for the poor, the homeless, immigrants, the elderly, prisoners, caregivers, victims of discrimination, and victims of domestic abuse.

Fr. Ralph was a co-founder of SOME (So Others Might Eat) and helped establish Victory Housing, which offers affordable rental housing for seniors.  He is a long-time board member of the Fair Housing Council of Greater Washington and the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington.


“I started looking for housing after I retired, but couldn’t find any places that were affordable. I was looking for that place where I would be comfortable. I knew what God’s plan was for me, so I waited and eventually found Victory Housing.

I’ve met many wonderful people here and we’ve done many wonderful things together. It’s almost like being in my own home, that’s how close we are.  I moved-in in November 2013 and it’s been really wonderful, but I started worrying about others finding affordable housing; there is a shortage here in Montgomery County. I started working with AIM (Action in Montgomery) and the Montgomery Housing Alliance to advocate for more affordable housing in Montgomery County, so that others can find a place that they can afford and be comfortable in.”  –   Yvonne Brooks-Little

Core members of the Montgomery Housing Alliance include Victory Housing, Montgomery Housing Partnership and Habitat for Humanity Metro Maryland.  The Alliance advocates for additional funding and opportunities to create affordable housing.


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