Habitat for Humanity’s vision is a world where everyone has a decent place to live and our mission is “seeking to put God’s love into action, Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities and hope”. At Habitat for Humanity of Frederick County, we partner with families who are seeking the strength, stability and self-reliance of affordable homeownership.
Habitat Frederick Builds Back After COVID-19 Related Shutdowns
Devastation from COVID-19 shutdowns was swift and dramatic here at Habitat for Humanity of Frederick County this past March. One Monday we had a staff meeting to talk about various precautions we could take during the spread of the virus, but then things moved so quickly that by the end of that week we were almost completely shut down.
That shutdown included temporary closure of our Habitat ReStore, which shut off a source of consistent operational funding for our organization. Additionally, our home build and home repair programs closed to protect volunteers and clients, the majority of whom are seniors. Without the ReStore revenue, and without programs in operation, we were forced into financial crisis nearly overnight and our leadership was forced to furlough the majority of our staff. Those initial weeks at the beginning of everything COVID were very frightening for us, as I am sure they were for many of you. The number of losses in such a short time really threatened the work we do.
While losses were real, they have been offset by support from you and so many others in our community. It is the local community who has always made the work of Habitat possible in Frederick, and that has never been more true than now. During this crisis, Frederick Habitat received support from local residents, businesses and civic organizations who believe in the mission and work Habitat provides locally. That support included help from Lancaster Craftsman Builders, who took over management of the current home build in Middletown. With the help from Lancaster and numerous other build partners, we expect to complete it this fall for a deserving family. Their work, coupled with the generosity of people like you and emergency funding from various levels of government, has not only sustained us but also positioned us to now build back.
The first stage of this build back was reopening the Habitat ReStore with shortened hours on June 30. During the reopening Habitat welcomed a new ReStore Manager, Mike Boyd, who comes with 25 years of experience in the hospitality industry. He brings a heart for managing people and providing customer service, essential elements of managing the Habitat ReStore as it raises funds for our local work. The Habitat ReStore has been slowly expanding its hours. It will be open 9am-3pm Tuesday to Saturday. We are working towards a full schedule as we rebuild the volunteer base that is critical to staffing the store. Contact Leslie Ajuria at firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to volunteer!
Once the Habitat ReStore was open, we looked toward resuming our programming. As part of this stage, Habitat welcomed another new employee, Evan Owens, as Construction Project Manager. Evan brings 10 years of experience as a General Manager at Anthony Owens Remodeling and Repair, a business that is big on community involvement with a long history of aiding Habitat projects. Evan and key members of our Volunteer Crew Leader team have resumed work in the Habitat Home Repair program, aiding those who had applied for assistance prior to our shutdown and preparing to take on additional clients who are in need of home repairs or modifications that are outside their reach. Due to the recent economic downturn, we predict more local homeowners will be in need of this assistance in the near future as they face unexpected repairs.
Meanwhile, this fall Frederick Habitat will use funding from a state grant to purchase a property on W. All Saints Street in downtown Frederick, which will serve as the site of Frederick Habitat’s biggest homeownership project ever. In 2021, rehab work will begin on the property’s existing buildings, with new construction to follow in the remaining space. When completed, the project will create 10 permanently affordable housing units through our Land Trust program. That means 10 families will experience the stability of a home they can afford for the first time, with generations to follow.
To each of you who have donated or encouraged us through these challenging days, I sincerely thank you. You have sustained us and together we can now build back for the local residents who need the stability of home. Because of you, we can now get back to the work of giving the hope of home to our local neighbors. Thank you!