Site Lines Newsletter | Spring 2021

Spring 2021 Edition

BUILD A HOUSE…BUILD A DREAM CONTEST A VIRTUAL SUCCESS

First place winners Remy D. and Naish L. from Barkely Elementary

Second place winners, Camden B. from Garnet Valley Elementary and Dylan W. and Bennett S.  from Media Elementary

Third place winners, Chandler S. from Charlestown Elementary and Faridah I. from K D Markely Elementary

This year’s 18th Annual “Build a House … Build a Dream” contest for fifth-graders was held virtually on March 20th. In the prior 16 years, the event had been held in person, with hundreds of attendees joining the organization to celebrate the students’ creativity and hard work. This year’s virtual event hit a new record with more than 200 students registered to participate, with 108 submitting photos and videos of their 3-D dream homes.

In this competition, students from more than 200 area schools were invited to work individually or in pairs to build their own three-dimensional, model dream home. Contestants then submitted photos or videos of their projects and a description explaining their inspiration behind their design and aesthetic choices.

This year’s creations included homes made of shipping containers, homes stacked with multiple floors to take up less space on the ground, and multiple houseboats, one of which even floated. An in-house judging process selected the top 16 dream home architects to be virtually interviewed by a panel of judges. All of the participants’ submissions were displayed in an online presentation with a special welcome message from NBC10 meteorologist Bill Henley, who ordinarily emcees the event.

The contest is free for participants, but thanks to local businesses, the event is one of the main fundraisers for Habitat throughout the year. Founding sponsor Fox & Roach/Trident Charities has championed the event from the beginning. “In the past 18 years, we have helped raise over $500,000 to support Habitat’s mission to build strength, stability, and self-reliance through shelter,” said CEO Larry Flick. “This is one of our favorite events. Over the years, more than 6,000 fifth-graders from 750 schools have used their ingenuity to build their incredible dream houses.”

Other sponsors that supported this year’s event included Bentley Systems, Eadeh Enterprises, Citadel, Martin Architectural Group, Saint-Gobain, RKL LLP, E.B. Walsh and Associates, McMahon Associates, Great Valley Racquet Club, JBC Associates, and Home Depot. Through these generous donors, the event raised more than $17,000 to support Habitat for Humanity of Chester County.

The goal of “Build A House … Build A Dream” is to introduce elementary-age students to Habitat’s crucial mission of building affordable, accessible housing. Volunteer opportunities start at age 15, making it challenging to share Habitat’s mission with younger students. This event is a fun, creative way to remind the students that Habitat doesn’t just build a home; it builds a dream for a family in need.

Visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xbuqThC40h to see all of the participants dream homes!

DONOR SPOTLIGHT: JOHN SPURLINO

   

John Spurlino has been an active part of Habitat for Humanity of Chester County for over 19 years, joining the board in 2018. “The idea of giving people a hand up, not a hand out struck a resonant chord with me,” he said. “By involving people in the work of building a community, they learn valuable skills in home maintenance, a sense of accomplishment and evolve the spirit of community.”

When the Spurlinos moved to Chester County, they were surprised at the high cost of living. “What would be a solid middle-class income in many areas is barely enough to provide housing.” Realizing the burden this causes for so many families; he started looking for the best way to help.

“As a donor, I met with the HfHCC team and saw what a tremendous job they were doing to create affordable homeownership opportunities. Chester County’s rapid growth and commitment to preserving open space make it a wonderful place to live but also expensive. The chance to work on the board to help HfHCC deliver more homes to deserving families offered a great opportunity to do more.” 

“We need to leave the world better than we found it. My father taught me that everyone needs to work to improve the community in any way that they can. Habitat offers one of the critical necessities, affordable quality housing. Providing hope for everyones’ improved lifestyles is important because it enables people to improve lives for generations to come.”

We are incredibly fortunate to have such a caring, skilled, and dedicated director on our board. Thank you, John and the Spurlino family, for your continued support of Habitat’s mission and for all you do to make it possible.

WISHING JACK M. WELL ON RETIRING

WISHING JACK M. WELL ON RETIRING

Jack Monaghan started volunteering in 1990, helping to build HfHCC’s fourth house.  Soon after, he was recruited to chair the Building Committee to oversee construction, a position he held for five years. Jack continued to volunteer on-site as a crew leader throughout the 1990s, lending his skills and construction expertise.
 
In the early 2000’s Jack was subcontracted to roof several homes before joining HfHCC as a staff member in 2005. His tenure was short-lived as he moved to Florida the following year but returned to the staff in late 2009 until his retirement this past February.
 
As a volunteer, subcontractor, or staff member, Jack had a hand in helping more than 100 families become Habitat homeowners. We wish him and his wife, Robin, a happy retirement in Florida!

UPDATES FROM THE CONSTRUCTION SITES

Cambria Terrace Development | Coatesville

After eleven years at this construction site, we have broken ground on the final three homes with hopes of completing the project entirely by next spring. We currently have five families helping to build their future homes.

Fuller Meadows Development | West Grove

The first five homeowners settled into their new homes in December. We have broken ground for the next five homes and have five future families accepted into the program and starting their sweat equity. We are still accepting applications for anyone interested in a West Grove home!

The world as we know it has changed over the past year, but Habitat’s resolve to continue our mission to build homes, community and hope remains steadfast.

We will be hosting virtual quarterly updates with Executive Director Chris Wiseman and members of the Habitat for Humanity of Chester County’s board of directors. Friends of Habitat are invited to join as we discuss current and future projects and new program initiatives on the horizon. 

Our first quarterly update will be on April 22nd from 6:30 pm-7:30 pm. Topics to be covered during the update include:

    • An update on construction happening on our final homes in the Cambria Terrace Development
    • More on our progress of the next five homes being built at  the West Grove Development
    • An in-depth look at our plans, including critical repair  initiatives and renovations

Please register at www.hfhcc.org/rsvp to be sent a Zoom link to attend the meeting. Registration closes Sunday, April 18.

COVID-19 Resources | Keeping the Community Connected

The pandemic continues to make life difficult for our families, friends, and neighbors. Habitat for Humanity of Chester County is committed to keeping our supportive community connected with information to help with mental health, vaccine distribution, and other support resources.

Facts about the vaccine in Chester County

Chester County is currently administering the Moderna vaccine which is approved for use in individuals age 18 and older. Chester County and Delaware County CANNOT administer the vaccine to anyone ages 16-17.

The health department only schedules vaccine appointments on a weekly basis, based on the amount of vaccine they have actually received. They are also allocating enough of the vaccine received to ensure second doses will be available to all those who received their first dose.

You can pre-register at https://www.chesco.org/4822/COVID19Vaccine. For those in Chester County without access to the internet or who need assistance with registration, you can call 610-344-6225. If you live in Delaware County, the number is 484-276-2100.

In need of a referral for accessing services or other resources in Chester County? Please call 2-1-1 for free, confidential assistance that is available 24/7.

Wellness and Support Resources

Resources directly from Chester County for keeping spirits up through quarantine, self-isolation, and social distancing.

If you have been laid off, the Economic Transition Grant might help you. It provides money for training and funds to cover housing, food, transportation, childcare, and more.

Video resources to help with worry, anxiety, sleeplessness, relaxation, and more.

Attend free virtual wellness classes from Chester County Hospital including how to prevent heart disease, planting an herb garden, or attend a session on better sleep for better health.

Executive Director Update – December 2020

Gratitude. Joy. Tears. Those are the reactions that I shared with our newest homeowners at Habitat for Humanity of Chester County. In the past month, we welcomed 7 new families home. Handing them their keys, being in that moment, you could feel the impact of lives being changed. The beauty of a journey that comes from hard work, focus, and shared effort. The end product of a community of volunteers, donors, and staff working together to give others a hand up.

Looking forward to next year, we are on a path to hand those keys to more families than any in our history. The impact of the work you support radiates out from the family to the community and beyond. The growth of Chester County is directly linked to the ability of individuals to live in high-quality, affordable homes. I often tell small business owners that “you create employment, we create the employees”.

Finally, let me say how incredibly grateful I am to all of you that give of your time, talent, or treasure to support the mission of Habitat. We simply could not do it without you. I included some additional information below about how you can have a greater impact on a year-end gift to Habitat based on CARES Act.

Thank you and see in you 2021!


Chris Wiseman
Executive Director

Year-End Gift
For the 2020 tax year only, the CARES Act provides two new tax benefits for charitable giving: 1) allowing donors an income tax charitable deduction for cash gifts of up to 100% (up from 60% in previous years) of their adjusted gross income and, 2) for non-itemizers, an “above-the-line” deduction of $300 for individuals ($600 for married filing jointly). Also, although required minimum distributions from retirement accounts are suspended for 2020, donors who are 70 ½ and older may still make a qualified charitable distribution to charities like Habitat for Humanity of Chester County.

Executive Director Update – October 2020

Executive Director Update – October 2020

Stability through shelter

That’s at the heart of Habitat’s mission. Stability is the foundation that allows for growth. Without it, we are unsteady and unsure. Our vision shrinks to only see the risk in front of us and hinders our ability to plan for the future.

Now more than ever, our homes have become a shelter from the storms raging through our country. Safety from the spread of the disease, a space for families to talk about the social injustices in our society and a place to learn and work. At Habitat for Humanity of Chester County, we are working to bring shelter and hope to everyone in our community.

Shelter is the foundation and Building Strong Foundations Starts with You. This month we are reaching out to the community to ask for your help in securing the funding needed to place 16 families into new homes this year. It takes the generosity of donors, volunteers, and advocates to make that goal a reality. Please visit our website, www.hfhcc.org, to learn more about the incredible work Habitat is doing in the community and how you can help.

Sincerely,

Chris Wiseman
Executive Director at Habitat for Humanity of Chester County

Executive Director Update – September 2020

Executive Director Update – September 2020

How do you measure impact? We often get this question as we apply for grants or ask donors to support our work. Is it simply the number of houses we build? Is it the number of families that realize the dream of homeownership? Is it in the number of volunteer hours or donations to the Restore? How do you measure the change in the trajectory of a family’s life? How do you measure the impact of a safe, affordable home for a child who has had neither?

We are close to completing 5 new homes in West Grove and 3 in Coatesville. We are reviewing applications for families as we plan to build 8 more homes in the next year. When the final nail is hammered in, we will have completed 16 homes in a single year. We will have built 170 homes since Habitat for Humanity of Chester County was founded.

I was blessed to sit with two individuals who had fulfilled their mortgages and now fully owned their homes. With a safe place to raise their children, living in a community with shared values, and through hard work and determination, they had each overcome challenges to fully realize the dream of homeownership. How do you measure impact? Is it the number of homes and families, or in the tears of joy and laughter and hugs? It’s all those things.

To all of our volunteers, donors, homeowners, and continued supporters, we send you all well wishes during these continually challenging times. Take care of yourselves and each other.

Sincerely,
Chris Wiseman
Executive Director at Habitat for Humanity of Chester County