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The President & CEO's Blog

From Jeff Dee, Habitat for Humanity of Metro Maryland, Inc.

Call to Action: Bend the Curve Towards Equity and Justice

The coronavirus doesn’t discriminate, but the world we occupy does.  The virus has illuminated in stark reality a grave social injustice.  It has struck more viciously and with greater force in minority communities.  What will we do about it?

“Let nobody give you the impression that the problem of racial injustice will work itself out.  Let nobody give you the impression that only time will solve the problem.  That is a myth, and it is a myth because time is neutral.  It can be used either constructively or destructively.  And, I’m absolutely convinced that the people of ill will in our nation – the extreme rightists – the forces committed to negative ends – have used time much more effectively than the people of good will.  It may well be that we will have to repent in this generation, not merely for the vitriolic works and violent actions of the bad people who bomb a church in Birmingham, Alabama, or shoot down a civil rights worker in Selma, but for the appalling silence and indifference of the good people who sit around and say, “Wait on time.”  Somewhere we must come to see that human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability.  It comes through the tireless efforts and the persistent work of dedicated individuals.  Without this hard work, time becomes an ally of the primitive forces of social stagnation.  So, we must help time and realize that the time is always right to do right.”  – Jim Wallis

Habitat for Humanity Metro Maryland is a member of the Montgomery Housing Alliance (MHA), a coalition of organizations focused on increasing the rate of preservation and development of affordable housing in Montgomery County.  MHA has issued a Call to Action – COVID -19 CRISIS: BEND THE CURVE TOWARDS EQUITY AND JUSTICE.  Read more here.

Advocate for Action by contacting:

Marc Elrich, County Executive, 240-777-0311 or @marcelrich

Sidney Katz, Council President, 240-777-7906 or @sidneykatz4mc

Women Build 2020

I am thrilled to report that our annual Women Build kicked off last week with a team from Brown Advisory Group. 

“My team had a great day on the construction site.  I give the day an A+ because of Sandy (Volunteer Coordinator) who did an amazing job with safety protocol.  The team felt safe and having Sandy there was the key.  There were many reminders to wash hands and to use double masks when they were doing a task that required them to be closer.  Our team did build some fencing and we were happy with the amount of work we were able to accomplish.”

                                       Susan Traver, Brown Advisory Group

For more information about Women Build click here.   

Love in the Face of Adversity

These are challenging times.  We recently sold a home to a mother of two children despite the COVID pandemic, economic crisis, and blatant racial discrimination in our country.  We are committed to decent and affordable housing for all – no matter race, color, gender or belief.   We believe that kindness, compassion and love is part of our core values at Habitat for Humanity, and we will not back down from those who would divide us.

Crystal’s Story:

Crystal says she was truly overjoyed when Habitat called. “It was the manifestation of an answered prayer.”  She is the mother of two children.  Her daughter, an 11 year-old entering Middle School, is a competitive cheerleader, whom Crystal describes as positive, hopeful and a true champion on their journey.  Crystal’s son is six years old, entering First Grade, and was born extremely prematurely and has complex medical needs.  Despite his many challenges, Crystal shares that he has a loving spirit and a smile that lights up a room.

Needless to say, the family exhibits continued strength, perseverance, hope and positivity on their journey to their “new normal” as Crystal describes life now.  “When I learned about the Habitat affordable homeownership program and that they were building Universal Design homes in Prince George’s County, I knew this would be perfect for my family.  Purchasing a home that is both affordable and accessible is life-changing for my family and provides a level of long-term security that we did not have before.”

“I am excited about the hands-on opportunity to build our home alongside volunteers, family and friends.  We are ready to put in the “sweat equity” as this is truly a blessing for my family and a labor of love.”

Crystal did work hundreds of hours to help build her home.  And, it certainly was a labor of love.  Our professional construction staff of Preston and John did a great job of completing the home during the pandemic, maintaining physical distancing and strict safety protocols throughout.  Thanks to our many sponsors including Women Build and material donations by TW Perry, Thompson Creek Windows, Whirlpool, Bartley Concrete, Ruppert Landscape, and American Custom Contractors.

Universal Design homes provide accessibility because they provide space for wheelchair, walker, or motor scooter use throughout the living space.  These homes are built with Energy Star features including spray foam insulation, toxic free materials, and water efficiency.

Remembering John Lippincott

John Lippincott, second from the left, with golf buddies

John Lippincott, Chair of our Golf Committee died recently after a battle with cancer.  John began volunteering with Habitat for Humanity Metro Maryland in 2009 as a member of the golf committee.  I think it is fair to say that John always had a servant’s heart, volunteering at his church over the years and helping the community by leveraging his relationships at Giant Foods, where he worked as an executive for 18 years.  He left Giant to join Mill Creek Residential where he met Chip Bay, founder of our annual golf tournament.  True to form, John offered to help Chip and the Habitat team because he felt that he could grow the event by bringing in additional sponsors and golfers, and he certainly did do that.

John knew that airline tickets would be difficult to obtain as a donation, however, he began calling airline headquarters until he reached the right person and persuaded them to care about Habitat as much as he did and for several years Southwest Airlines made significant donations to the silent auction.  John also attended a celebrity event, and because of his sincerity, persuaded Payton Manning to sign a jersey to be auctioned at our golf event.

When Mill Creek Residential was working on a large project in Virginia a few years ago, he made a point of thinking about our golf tournament and secured donations from Harris Teeter that continue to today.  John and his wife, Kathy, made a yearly practice of donating concert tickets for the auction.  John believed that if donations were worthy enough, golfers would return and they did, year after year.  Thanks to John’s commitment, the golf tournament raised over $1.5 million dollars since its inception fourteen years ago.

John’s support of Habitat wasn’t limited to the golf tournament, he also worked to introduce people to our staff that can help with ReStore donations or who have connections to potential land opportunities that can convert to affordable housing.  John was awarded the Glynn Mayes Award for outstanding volunteer service to Habitat for Humanity over the years.  

My memory of John will always be his generous heart and warm personality.  John was always eager to give and never expected anything in return for his service. 

To read more about the life and legacy of John, please click here: https://www.barberfhlaytonsville.com/obituary/John-Lippincott Provided by Roy W. Barber Funeral Home, Laytonsville Maryland.

Earth Day Celebrates 50 years!

What is the history of Earth Day? 

Source: earthday.org       #earthday2020          

Earth Day was a unified response to an environment in crisis.  Oil spills, smog, rivers so polluted they literally caught fire.

On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans – 10% of the U.S population at the time – stormed college campuses and hundreds of cities to protest environmental ignorance and demand a new way forward for our planet.

The first Earth Day is credited with launching the modern environmental movement.  It is now recognized as the planet’s largest civic event.

The End of Trash – really?

There is a good article in the March, 2020 edition of National Geographic magazine titled, The End of Trash.

Many countries around the world are taking the initiative to convert trash into energy and recycle metals, clothing and plastic.  What can you do to recycle, refurbish, reuse, or repair?   

It was recently reported that we are producing over 300 million tons of plastic every year, of which 50% is for single-use purposes, that may be utilized for just a few moments, but could be on the planet for at least several hundred years.  We have developed a “disposable” lifestyle and estimates are that around 50% of plastic is used just once and thrown away.

What can you do?

Restrain yourself – fly and drive less.  Eat all the food you buy.  Wear the clothes you already have, and avoid single use plastic. 

Repair and reuse – buy fewer, higher quality products and repair them when they break.  Donate the clothes you don’t wear.  Especially, clothing that hasn’t been worn for the past year.

Recycle everything – Compost food waste, repurpose whatever you can – and lobby for more recycling.

Donate to the ReStore – Shop at the ReStore!

Recycling and repurposing stuff is a high priority at Habitat for Humanity.  We established ReStores to repurpose gently used furniture, appliances, cabinets, home goods, lighting fixtures, tools, hardware, and more.  We also get donations of new furniture and appliances as well.  We opened our first ReStore in 2006, and our business has grown dramatically every year.  We proudly state that well over 1,200 tons of material is diverted from the land fill every year. 

Our ReStores are temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Please check our web site www.habitatmm.org to get updates on when we will be ready to accept donations, and when our stores will be reopen for business.

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