The President & CEO's Blog

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

Veterans Need Housing that is Affordable

Serving our county is an honor and a privilege.  To serve in the military is to live (and sometimes die) with a sense of purpose.  Service in the military can be dangerous work, even in times of peace.

Men and women who serve our country by enlisting in military service, do so for various reasons.  Some want the opportunity to travel, get in shape, save money, take advantage of the GI Bill to further their education, get experience for a civilian career, or perhaps honor a family tradition of military service.

Hopefully, discharge from military service means returning to family, friends, and a community that honors veterans.  However, military veterans can experience uncertainty and nervousness about financial security, employment prospects, and an opportunity for stable and affordable housing.  Veterans with disabilities face enormous challenges when returning to civilian life.  It may be that disabled veterans have mobility issues that can be challenging when living in multi-story homes.

That’s why Habitat for Humanity Metro Maryland is building Universal Design homes with zero step entry, wider doors, and walk in showers.  Accessibility includes space provided for wheelchair, walker, or motor scooter use throughout the living space. For more information on Universal Design homes:

We are celebrating the sale of our first Universal Design home to a combat veteran.

Gilmore working on his home
Accepting his new home key from John Paukstis

A US Navy Veteran has been selected to purchase Habitat’s first Universal Design Home.  Originally from Dominica, Gilmore became a United States citizen in 2010 after joining the United States Military and his last command was at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

With his four year old son, Gilmore lived in an apartment that had pest infestations, poor air conditioning and heating, as well as no place for his son to safely play outside.  “My rent increases annually, yet the living conditions are not addressed.”

When Gilmore was told that he had been approved for homeownership with Habitat for Humanity, he was ecstatic.  “I was somewhat speechless but excited and elated to share the news of being selected.  Everyone is happy for me because they know how much I’ve long to become a homeowner.  Owning a home will provide a better level of financial independence.  I’m most excited about the improved quality of life for my family and I hope to have my disabled mother move in with us permanently.”

After Gilmore completed the required financial education workshops and sweat equity to build his home, Habitat for Humanity provided him with a 30 year, zero interest mortgage, with 1% down payment, and settlement costs rolled into the 30 year mortgage.

We are proud to provide veterans with the opportunity for housing that is affordable.

Remembering James Offord


We honor the life of Jim Offord who died recently. Quoting from his memorial service on November 9 at Colesville United Methodist Church “After a distinguished career in federal government, retiree/volunteer Offord went on to make significant contributions to bettering human relations within Montgomery County. Specifically, Mr. Offord’s contributions to fair and affordable housing, civil rights and political/civic activism, have served as a positive impact upon bridging the social, political and economic differences of diverse groups of people with Montgomery County.

Over the years, Mr. Offord has diligently served as an active member and officer of these non-profit organizations: Board of Directors – Tamarack Triangle Civic Association; Treasurer and Board Member – Great Hope Homes, Inc.; Board of Directors – Suburban Maryland Fair Housing, Inc.; Editorial Advisory Committee – Montgomery Times; Member of Congressman Albert Wynn’s Scholarship Committee – Colleges and Military academies; President and Board Member – Montgomery Habitat for Humanity, Inc.; Housing Chairperson and member of the Montgomery County branch of NAACP, and elected representative on the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee, Legislative District 14. As the former Executive Director of Suburban Maryland Fair Housing and past Board Director of the MD chapter of the SCLC, it was evident that Mr. Offord’s strong commitment to bettering human relations was paramount.”

“James C. Offord’s words, deed and actions, on behalf of human relations principles and practices, are in the best tenets of the goals, hope and aspirations of ALL groups of people in our County. Jim Offord truly walked as a “drum major for justice” here within Montgomery County, in the spirit and substance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.”

It was my privilege to meet Jim, but briefly. His presence was, to me, filled with the joy that only a person living with the wholehearted joy that comes from giving can convey. What he gave Habitat for Humanity was not only a commitment for advocacy for affordable housing and social justice, but a strong example to follow.

Volunteer Recognition 2019

Our annual Volunteer Recognition and Awards event was held recently.  Every year, over 4,000 unique volunteers donate time on the construction site, in one of our ReStores, or  on a committee.  The great thing about our society and our local community is that so many wonderful people take the time to help.

Volunteers serve on various committees including our Annual Affordable Housing Benefit Breakfast, Family Services, Faith, Finance, Golf, Polo (yes Polo, but you don’t have to play), ReStore and Women Build.

Over 34,000 hours were contributed, and all of these efforts saved Habitat for Humanity in excess of $871,000 in Fiscal Year 2019.

Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze Awards recognized volunteers for extraordinary service and commitment to the mission and work of Habitat for Humanity Metro Maryland.

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The R. Glynn Mays Volunteer of the Year Award was presented to Mimi Brodsky Kress for outstanding volunteer service to Habitat.  Mimi is the co-owner and COO of Sandy Spring Builders.


The Harry & Lutie Semmes Award honored Robyn Motley for outstanding performance by a member of the Habitat for Humanity Board of Directors.  Robyn is the Senior Vice President of Revenue Optimization and General Manager for AARP Media.

Check out the full program for bios and award recipients.


For more information about volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, please visit our website at


An Interview with a Home Repair Client

I am very delighted to introduce you all to a very special client – Ms. Joan.  What makes Ms. Joan special is that she is the first client to benefit from all of the Home Repair Services that HFHMM has to offer. Ms. Joan has been served through the Montgomery County Homeowner Energy Efficiency Program, Weatherization Program, Home Repair Program, and our newest the CAPABLE Program.

Ms. Joan

Ms. Joan moved into her Montgomery County home in 1996 after leaving her native home in British Guyana (a country located in South America) and since then has retired from a long and fruitful career in accounting. These days, you can find Ms. Joan at home enjoying life with her daughter, growing plants, and taking daily walks throughout her neighborhood.

Ms. Joan first came to Habitat through the Montgomery County Homeowner Energy Efficiency Program where she received appliance upgrades at no cost to her. She received brand new energy star certified clothes washer/dryer and refrigerator and attic insulation and fan! But the work didn’t stop there – she also applied for our CAPABLE program so that she could work with an Occupational Therapist and a Registered Nurse and receive accessibility modifications. We were also able to provide larger repair/weatherization items because Ms. Joan qualified for our traditional Home Repair and Weatherization Programs. Examples of the work include:

  • Replacement of faucets with lever style handles
  • Installation of grab bars in the bathroom
  • Installation of a railing along the exterior wall by her driveway
  • Replacement of her boiler, chimney liner and thermostat
  • Gutter replacement
  • Air sealing measures

We asked Ms. Joan if she wanted to share what her experience was like throughout this process and here is what she had to say:

“The repair and weatherization program was very helpful financially, since I am retired and have a limited income.  I also appreciated the safety features, such as the grab bars in the bathrooms and the handrail along the driveway.  The CAPABLE Program was informative in the prevention of falls and helpful with health issues.  I am very thankful to Habitat for Humanity for making it easier for me to remain in my home as I get older.”

If you or someone you know is interested in receiving any of the services mentioned above, please visit our home repair services website and see what program works best for you!

Aging in Place

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Elias (our very first CAPABLE client) at his home in Kensington, MD. Elias is an older adult with high energy, a fun personality and many interests/hobbies. He was born on the border of Israel and Lebanon, has traveled and lived in various countries and can fluently speak in 5 different languages. Elias worked for the DC government for many years and now spends his time doing what he loves – studying different cultures and languages. He is currently studying Hebrew! These days, you can find Elias enjoying lunch every day at the Holiday Park Senior Center.


Elias has been living in his home for over 20 years now. His home was built in the early 1950’s and needed some work which is why he reached out to Habitat and we were glad to help! Habitat performed a home visit and a whole home audit to identify, create, and prioritize health and safety related repairs. 

Habitat performed numerous Weatherization Services, Home Repair Services, and accessibility modifications in Elias’s home which included:

  • Replacing 13 door knobs with lever style handles
  • Installing carpet treads on the interior steps to prevent falling
  • Installing a single handle shower valve in Master Bathroom
  • Installing a brand new garbage disposal in the kitchen sink
  • Installing grab bars throughout the master bathroom
  • Installing two Panasonic Whisper Bath Fans
  • Installing a Window Security Grill for the back door entrance
  • Installing exterior hand railings
  • Insulating the attic
  • Air sealing the home

Elias 2


If you or someone you know is interested in receiving services through our CAPABLE program, you can download the application HERE or contact our Repair Client Coordinator Rebecca Arce for more information at (301) 990-0014 x 19.

HFHMM CAPABLE is a supplemental and/or stand-alone program which serves older adults experiencing challenges with Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s) by providing a more holistic approach to the idea of Aging In Place. With the CAPABLE program, income qualified older adults are paired with an Occupational Therapist and Registered Nurse, both of whom will conduct a series of visits in order to assist in the identification of challenges, setting of goals, and outlining of action plans for those goals. Within the parameters of the program, Habitat for Humanity is able to provide minor home modifications per the recommendation of the occupational therapist, which are geared toward improving independence.

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