Site Lines Newsletter | Fall 2021

Fall 2021 Edition

SHARING SCHOOL DAY SMILES

Students are heading back to school and there has been no shortage of smiles at the bus stops especially from these excited pupils.

For some, this is the first time starting school in their new Habitat home. Others are excited to be back in the classroom seeing all their friends after a hard year of learning from home.

No matter how they’re starting the school year, coming home to a safe, affordable home gives them a stable place to learn and study. This is key to being able to succeed in the classroom.

Families who spend too much of their income on housing are often forced to make critical trade-offs. This includes health care, transportation and even saving for the future.

Moving disrupts having an at-home routine, making focusing on homework a difficult task. These kids have a better chance of staying in school, getting better grades, and going on to further education. All this is because of the donors and volunteers of the Habitat community that make it possible. Thank you for all that you do!

FUTURE HOMEOWNERS HELPING OUT

Future Habitat Homeowners Jess and Katie were at the New Garden Farmers Market the other week. They spent their morning helping to educate neighbors on how Habitat helps in the community.

Jess, her husband, and her two children’s lives are all filled with hope after finding the Habitat program. The four of them currently live in a two-bedroom apartment. Jess shared, “While we are so thankful to have a place to live we are so ready to have the room that we need and a place that is ours.”

After her acceptance as a Habitat homeowner, Jess shared her family’s good news with their neighbor Katie. Katie jumped on the chance to be a homeowner after having to move around often. She says “Although I wouldn’t change my upbringing, I’ve always wanted to find a safe, stable place of my own. Having this home will also give me the ability to “switch roles” when the time comes and be able to take care of my mother.”

Jess and Katie are looking forward to the day they can call a Habitat home their own. These two inspiring young ladies share their gratitude for those that give their time, talent, or treasure to Habitat to make life safe and stable for their families.

BUILD STRONG FOUNDATIONS FOR GENERATIONS

Do you hope for a community with healthier kids, greater academics, stronger neighborhoods, and affordable homeownership? Your planned gift to Habitat’s Legacy Foundation creates a lasting impact in all these areas and beyond!

Habitat homeowner partners are strong, stable, and self-reliant. They build on the foundation of homeownership to create a generational impact—passing these experiences and virtues on to their children.

With your planned gift, you’ll join other Habitat friends in supporting a future of homeownership for the community. Your membership provides for quality and affordable homes and supports a positive impact in our neighborhoods for generations.

Legacy giving allows you to customize your giving to leave a lasting impact in a manner that is consistent with your charitable goals and financial situation. There are many options including gifts that cost you nothing now, gifts that make an impact now, gifts that provide financial benefits to you, and more.

With careful planning, you’ll be able to establish a meaningful legacy that provides affordable homeownership for neighbors in need for years to come. We can help you plan your personal legacy in a way that is right for you. Our Development Team can answer your questions on gifts donated over time and can assist you in choosing a gift option. There are many ways to give the gift of homeownership for families to come including bequests, real estate, retirement assets, life insurance, investment assets, and more.

If you’d like to learn more, visit www.hfhcc.org/plannedgiving/. We want to help you build your lasting legacy.

Join our Executive Director, Chris Wiseman, for our Quarterly Update on what’s happening at Habitat. Chris has some big news to share about the future of our affiliate as 2022 quickly approaches. Be the first to learn about big changes coming in the next several months and the impact for families throughout Chester County.

Please register at www.hfhcc.org/rsvp to be sent a Zoom link to attend the meeting. 

Three New Homes Dedicated in Cambria Terrace Development

Habitat for Humanity of Chester County hosted members of the community last Saturday in Coatesville for a dedication celebration that had been anticipated for quite some time.

Throughout the pandemic, three single mothers helped build homes that signified a brighter future for their children. Now, Jen Pursell, Veronica Ortiz, and Sheryl Carter are officially homeowners.

Ortiz and Carter settled on their homes back in December after patiently seeing what the COVID-19 crisis meant for construction deadlines. Pursell settled on her home this month, and with restrictions being lifted, HfHCC was finally able to celebrate the hard work of these women.

Michael Cappelletti, HfHCC’s Board President, led the event and invited Pastor Dan Krewson of Calvary Lutheran Church in West Chester and Patrick Bokovitz, Director of Chester County’s Department of Community Development, to share a few words. Representatives from companies that partnered financially with Habitat to complete these homes were also invited to speak.

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Carolyn Wilt and Terri Seamen of Thrivent Financial spoke of their pride in partnering with HfHCC and congratulated the homeowners on their achievements. Vernita Dorsey also congratulated homeowners as the representative from WSFS Bank, which has partnered with the nonprofit for more than five years.

Stephen Briggs of Wells Fargo presented HfHCC with a check for $20,000 to go toward continuing to build strong foundations in the Coatesville area. Also, Mike Smith from The GIANT Company made a lasting impression when he presented the new homeowners with bags of pantry staples, free delivery of their groceries for a year, and $3,500 for food shopping.

“I’m local; I’ve been at the Thorndale GIANT for 20 some years and recognize some of the faces here,” Smith said. “You’re my friends and my neighbors, and I’m honored to be here today.”

Other local dignitaries included Coatesville City Council President Linda Lavender-Norris, as well as Coatesville City Councilman Donald Folks. Charles “Chip” Houston, who served as HfHCC’s Executive Director for 17 years and is now Coatesville’s Assistant City Manager, was also in attendance. Former Board Presidents Michael Leader and Andy Signore also came out to show their support.

It was more than the completion of three houses that made the day special; it was what having a home means for the families and the building of community.

Habitat homes are not free, and in addition to an affordable monthly mortgage, each homeowner completed at least 200 hours of “sweat equity” in helping to build their home. These houses were also built completely by volunteers in the community. Dedicated individuals continued to come out to the construction site through the pandemic to help raise walls … and hope. Despite the restrictions, they always followed guidelines to help keep construction moving forward.

HfHCC is currently accepting applications for homes in the same Coatesville development. The application and qualifications can all be found online.

Better Money Habits Courses Provided by Bank of America

Bank of America is offering multiple Better Money Habits Courses free to anyone that is interested! Below are the dates and descriptions of each class being offered.

Budgeting and Banking Basics – August 3rd – 6:00 to 6:30
  • How to Manage Debt
  • Banking Basics
  • What an Emergency Fund Should Cover
  • How to Budget
Financial Safety – August 12th – 6:00 to 6:30
  • Fraud and Identity Theft
  • How to Protect Yourself
  • What To Do If It Happens To You

Income and Paychecks – August 17th – 6:00 to 6:30

  • Understanding Your paycheck
  • Making the Most of Your Paycheck
  • Benefits and Resources Available

Spending Money – August 26th – 6:00 to 6:30

  • Spending Plan Worksheet
  • Planned Spending
  • Actual Spending

    Bank of America is offering multiple Better Money Habits Courses free to anyone that is interested! Below are the dates and descriptions of each class being offered.

    Budgeting and Banking Basics – August 3rd – 6:00 to 6:30
    • How to Manage Debt
    • Banking Basics
    • What an Emergency Fund Should Cover
    • How to Budget
    Financial Safety – August 12th – 6:00 to 6:30
    • Fraud and Identity Theft
    • How to Protect Yourself
    • What To Do If It Happens To You

    Income and Paychecks – August 17th – 6:00 to 6:30

    • Understanding Your paycheck
    • Making the Most of Your Paycheck
    • Benefits and Resources Available

    Spending Money – August 26th – 6:00 to 6:30

    • Spending Plan Worksheet
    • Planned Spending
    • Actual Spending

    Registration is closed for the events but thank you for your interest!

    Site Lines Newsletter | Summer 2021

    Summer 2021 Edition

    THE PURSELLS ARE MOVING IN THANKS TO YOU!

    “I felt very stuck” was Jennifer’s depiction of life before starting the Habitat program. She was so excited to get started and learn more about building the home she would eventually live in that she completed her “sweat equity” hours in record time. Even her children participated by coloring Thank You cards to send to you, the amazing donors and volunteers, that made this dream a reality. Her driving force to tackle any obstacle was that she wanted better for her children, and she has done just that and more.

    “I cannot wait to show my kids their new home, where they will be raised until they’re grown while creating memories that will last a lifetime.”

    After a long year of waiting, Jennifer finalized all her settlement paperwork and is moving her children into a safe and stable home. These life-changing moments are only possible because of the generosity, compassion, and selflessness that comes from you; the amazing people that give back to Habitat.

    On behalf of the Pursell family and the HfHCC team, thank you for changing the lives of families in our community!

    Determination Runs in the Boggs-Jennings Family

    Crystal Boggs-Jennings has lived in her Habitat home since 2015. This mom of two keeps in touch with the Habitat team to share her success stories and continued gratitude. This month Crystal shared photos and the wonderful news of her son AJ graduating from The Episcopal Academy. AJ was the recipient of the Jefferson Shiel prize, awarded to the student who has shown the most growth from 9th to 12th grade. AJ was also awarded the J. Wood Platt Scholarship and plans to further his academic and athletic career at Dickinson College.

    Crystal’s daughter Amaya is finishing her freshmen year at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. This rockstar student graduated high school as a member of the National Honor Society, senior class secretary, a peer mentor, and with a full-tuition scholarship. She currently majors in hospitality management and is excited to start her sophomore year.

    It seems like yesterday when Crystal found out she was going to be part of the Habitat program. After a year of working towards sweat equity hours while battling health issues, the motivation from her kids and the staff at Habitat helped her to cross the final finish line. “My children sat down and thanked me because they said they realized just how hard I worked. I told my children, it’s easy when you are able to recognize when a blessing has been bestowed upon you.” The photo on the right was taken with AJ and Amaya back in 2015.

    We are thrilled to see the Boggs-Jennings family thriving and are proud of all their accomplishments. Congratulations to the two graduates and to the hardest working, kindest, proudest mom out there. Congrats AJ, Amaya, and Crystal!

    There are so many ways to stay in touch these days. One of our top priorities is to keep our supporters as up-to-date as possible in the way that works for them. We’ve created a short survey to check in to make sure we are meeting your expectations. The survey also gives you a chance to let us know what pieces of Habitat you’d like to know about and how you’d like us to keep in touch.

    If you have any questions, please email info@hfhcc.org or call 610-384-7993 ext. 19.

    Partners Amaz Floors of Exton share the benefits of sustainable hardwood floors in your home

    We, your neighbors at Amaz Floors in Exton, believe that affordable houses can be built with sustainable materials that will improve indoor living environments for families. Real hardwood is the safest eco-friendly flooring option for residential homes, so it’s our goal to show builders and homeowners why wood floors are worth the investment. To kick-off the launch of our new flooring collection, we have donated Solid Core Engineered Peruvian Teak to Habitat for Humanity of Chester County because healthy communities start with healthy homes.   

    Amaz Floor’s new Solid Core Engineered Hardwood is a FSC 100% certified product that captures the essence of Peru through seven artisan colors of Peruvian Teak, which was legally sourced and responsibly harvested from the Amazon. This beautiful Peruvian Teak hardwood naturally shimmers with exquisite grain and shades that give every piece character—and a bit of luxury.

    Our prefinished wide-plank flooring is formaldehyde-free with no volatile organic compounds, meaning no odors or harmful vapors are released into the home. The new engineered floor line features a thick wear layer and a durable solid core, which was made from recycled hardwood. 

    We encourage interior designers, architects, builders, and homeowners to build with wood flooring because it’s a carbon-neutral product that helps improve indoor air quality. Installing wood floors can help residents who have allergies, or other respiratory issues, breathe better because wood doesn’t harbor microorganisms, allergens, or pesticides. It also minimizes the accumulation of dust, mold, and animal dander, which is great for families with children and pets.

    We had a wonderful turnout for our first Quarterly Update with our Executive Director Chris Wiseman. Our second meeting is scheduled for July 22nd from 6:30pm-7:30pm. This quarter’s meeting will focus on our plans to begin the Critical Home Repair and Rehabilitation programs.

    Chester County is one of the most in-demand places to live in all of Pennsylvania which makes it even more difficult for low to middle-class families to afford living here. Our mission to give everyone a chance at homeownership is more important now than ever before. As land becomes more difficult and more expensive to come by, we are looking to move into different programs to help families be able to stay in their homes.

    Join Chris Wiseman and Board member Elliot Flick as they share their thoughts while hearing more of yours!

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

    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.