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The President & CEO's Blog

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

2017: A Year in Review

As I reflect on the achievements of 2017 and look with anticipation for the opportunities to advance our mission in 2018: providing families with decent and affordable housing solutions, I remind myself that progress is not always linear.  We will have some ups and downs.

From fiscal year 2009 through 2013, our affiliate served 125 families through construction of new homes, rehabilitation of vacant properties, and repair of owner- occupied homed homes.  We continuously checked in with our strategic plan developed in 2014 to assure that we stayed on track.   For the period of FY 2014 through FY 2017, we served 149 families in the Metro Maryland area.  Internationally, we served 59 families through our Tithe program.  We are now in the last year of our five-year strategic plan and we are optimistic about adding an additional 40 families who will benefit from our work.

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Our ReStores are approaching nearly $2 million in annual revenue.  In addition to that, the ReStores, located in Rockville and Silver Spring divert over 1,500 tons of material from the area landfill when they accept items for resale in the ReStores.  Another good use of our ReStore trucks occurs with our partnerships with big box retailers.  In most cases, some large retails donate items to ReStore because of limited space or policies that prevent them for selling returned items.  Furniture or household items are sold at a discount in one of our ReStores.  Food or perishable items are dropped off at a shelter.

All of this good work requires orchestration and dedication.  We are fortunate to have a dedicated Board of Directors that provides governance and strategic oversight.  We have an amazing staff that that assures that the plans are activated.  Our work is particularly focused on housing solutions for working families, seniors, and veterans.   We all understand the goal: not a “hand out” but a “hand up.”

And, like most not-for-profit organizations, we rely heavily on volunteers. Volunteers inspire us because they show up every day without the expectation of anything other than to help us in our mission.  And “help us” they do.  We host nearly 5,000 unique volunteers every year.  They come to us from area businesses, from faith groups, and from fraternal organizations.  Volunteers are eager to join us in our work, because they care deeply about members of our community who need safe and decent affordable housing.

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Like everyone, we have many challenges to the success of our work.  And yet, I am confident that with the support of individuals like you, we will continue to stay true to our mission:

Build strength, stability, and self-reliance through provision of shelter.  

 Wishing you great joy and good health in 2018…

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Freddie Mac builds with Habitat affiliates

On a recent gorgeous day, employees of Freddie Mac’s corporate office in McLean, VA gathered to construct walls and other materials for homes to be built for low income homebuyers in need to decent and affordable homes. Habitat affiliates in Washington DC, Metro Maryland, and Northern Virginia collaborated on this event that was staged in Valo Park, which is adjacent to Freddie Mac’s offices.

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In addition to beautiful weather and the constant beat of hammers, employees and Habitat staff enjoyed live music and boxed lunches. A short program during the lunch break stressed the importance of volunteering in the community. Volunteers play an important role for Habitat for Humanity and make it possible to fulfill our mission of providing strength, stability, and self-reliance through shelter.

Come and volunteer with us.  We need your help!

Contact our Volunteer Services Coordinator, Monet Mason, at 301-990-0014 Ext. 18, or at monet.mason@habitatmm.org. You can also visit our website at http://www.habitatmm.org/volunteer.

Habitat Partners with Silver Spring Village, Inc.

Silver Spring Village, Inc. is a nonprofit organization that offers needed services and programs for adults who wish to “age in place” – to remain as long as possible in their own homes, amid familiar people and surroundings, and engaged in the community.

Through a pilot program with Habitat for Humanity Metro Maryland, two homeowners in the “Village” will receive home modifications worth up to $15,000 each, to improve safety and accessibility plus a one-year membership in the Silver Spring Village.

Adele, one of the applicants to the pilot program, has been living in her home since 1984. She had a career with the NSA when she was diagnosed with MS. That was about 40 years ago. Two years ago Adele’s husband passed away suddenly. She wants to continue living in her home because she has good neighbors who look in on her, and she can attend church services where she once sang in the choir. Despite her limited mobility, Adele practices yoga, and volunteers at Shepherd’s Table when she can.

Upon qualifying Adele for the work that needed to be done in her home, Habitat staff did a Scope of Work audit and determined the health and safety issues that needed to be addressed. Once the priorities were established, Habitat staff created a budget and determined funding sources for completing the work.

With Habitat’s professional staff and volunteers, the work began in earnest, including the installation of an Aluminum ADA Ramp to the front entrance of the home, new roof and gutters, replacement of the refrigerator and stove, grab bars in the bathroom, door knobs changed over to levers, kitchen faucet and utility sink replacement, minor electrical repairs, and weatherization of the home including insulation, air sealing, ventilation improvement and installation of a dryer vent to the outside.

We are grateful to organizations who helped provide the funding for this project, including AARP, Weinberg Foundation, and the Montgomery County Council’s allocation for seniors living in Montgomery County Villages.

For more information about Habitat’s repair and weatherization program visit our web site at www.habitatmm.org

Habitat’s Global Impact Continues

Sarah Reddinger, Director of Program Services, Habitat for Humanity Metro Maryland recently led a global village trip to Armenia. Here is an excerpt from her journey:

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Smbat and Lida acquired their house in the late 1960s. As they raised their son and two daughters (now ages 20, 17, and 14), they frequently made renovations. While they were able to convert extra space into a kitchen and bathroom, and create a two-bedroom addition, there were projects too big to finish. Their roof was one of these big projects that became worse and unsafe as time went on. Supporting the family by raising crops and cows, it was tough to make ends meet while allowing room in their budget for home improvement. The family learned about Habitat for Humanity Armenia, and were amazed that a team would come to restore their walls and ceilings, repaint doors and flooring, and fix their roof. Smbat said, “I can’t believe that this is the case. Why would anyone travel all that distance to help someone they do not know and probably will never speak to again. But it is true and we got selected.  We are so very happy that this is happening. Now we are going to be able to complete our roof and complete the bedroom we have been putting off because of the amount of work it will take. The Habitat team is coming here and they will perform the labor to finish our house of 50 some years.”

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Sarah brought a team to the home which is located in a small village called Sers in the region of Vayots Dzor (Southern Armenia). This team consisted of 10 people from across the US: Maryland, Georgia, California, Florida, Nebraska, and Hawaii. They patched interior walls, which were made of mud and straw, hung and finished drywall, then plastered the walls in preparation for painting. Sarah comments, “This family was just so unbelievably generous and welcoming. They seem to live each moment with such joy, they taught me a lot about community and reminded me to just enjoy life.”

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Check Presentation by Farmers of Salem

Habitat recently accepted a donation from Steve Gomez, president of Gomez Insurance, Silver Spring, MD. Gomez Insurance is an agency partner of Farmers of Salem. Here is an excerpt from their press release:

“For the third year in a row, New Jersey based property and casualty insurer, Farmers of Salem recently partnered with its independent agent network to raise awareness and donations for Habitat for Humanity. As part of their annual second quarter 2017 “Earn More, Give Back” contest, agents were offered the opportunity to support Habitat for Humanity with Farmers’ donating $15 per policy written to the agency’s local Habitat affiliate. The donations, which totaled $10,000, were made in the name of the agency, in partnership with Farmers of Salem. Presentations of checks will be made to various Habitat for Humanity affiliates in Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.”

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Kim Lorenzini, VP of Marketing and Business Development for Farmers of Salem said, “A big part of being a good corporate neighbor is giving back to the local community. Habitat for Humanity does important work right in our backyards. Our expert independent agents and generous staff of employees really got behind this campaign to help Build Homes, Communities and Hope. Our agents were very excited to participate in this annual quarterly charitable drive and appreciated the opportunity to help their local customers while helping Habitat for Humanity and the community at large.”

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