2017-10-12 / Front Page

For the love of home

Habitat for Humanity spends summer ‘painting the town’, remains focused on community

Volunteers with the local Habitat for Humanity – Hiawathaland have spent the summer “Painting the Town”. The initiative has given many area homes renewed curb appeal. 
Courtesy photos Volunteers with the local Habitat for Humanity – Hiawathaland have spent the summer “Painting the Town”. The initiative has given many area homes renewed curb appeal. Courtesy photos MANISTIQUE – Volunteers with Habitat for Humanity – Hiawathaland have spent the summer working to transform the aesthetic of the city and assisting homeowners with repairs. The organization’s recent “Paint the Town” initiative, along with the countless other efforts it undertakes each year, has solidified its status as a philanthropic mainstay within the community.

According to HfHH Office Manager Ann MacGregor, the local branch of Habitat works with a small group of community volunteers, as well as traveling volunteer groups, to complete projects.

“A lot of people don’t really know what’s in this (Habitat) building,” she explained. “We have our offices and our ReStore on the main floor and our upstairs is a volunteer center. We have two dorms, we have shower rooms, and we have a recreation room for them to use, plus they use our kitchen as a dining facility. We have volunteers in the building all summer long.”

MacGregor noted that volunteer groups usually stay for approximately one-week, working on whichever project is underway at that time.

“We have groups back to back – we’ll have one leave and another one come in right away,” she said. “We have a little gap now because we’re at the end of our season … we have coming on Sunday … and that’s the last scheduled one for this year.”

While the majority of projects must be completed in the summer months, as they involve the exterior of occupied family homes, MacGregor said the organization does other work throughout the winter.

“We have three houses that we currently own that we’re rehabbing,” she explained, adding that any groups visiting outside of the summer works assist in these projects. “Some of the groups also work within our building to help improve the building for other groups.”

Once the three Habitat-owned homes are rehabilitated, they are used in one of two ways.

“If they meet the guidelines for Habitat … we will try to place a family if we have a qualified applicant,” MacGregor explained. “Otherwise, we sell the house and then we use the proceeds from the house to put into our programs to do repairs on houses for other people.”

Assisting with the rehabilitation of the three homes is the Manistique High School’s building trades class.

“We have a partnership with them,” said MacGregor. “They’re currently working on our house at the corner of Alger (Avenue) and Center Street. We hope to have that for sale by spring.”

Macgregor noted that Kevin Brown, Delta-Schoolcraft ISD Building Trades teacher, also happens to be the HfHH board president and the 2016 volunteer of the year. He was recently presented with a plaque at the annual HFH awards banquet in Lansing and will also be honored by Congressman Jack Bergman Oct. 18.

This summer, HfHH used its annual Women Build Day to kick off the “Paint the Town” project.

“We have served more families this summer in our service area than this affiliate ever has in the 22-year history, and we hope to surpass that next year,” MacGregor said. “We helped nine families in a major way. We helped some (other families) in a smaller way, but as far as doing whole-home painting, window replacement projects, siding replacement, stuff like that, we’ve had nine major projects this summer.”

The organization is currently accepting applications for the program in 2018 and hopes to surpass the number of homes completed this year, MacGregor said.

In total, HfHH had 12 groups stay and volunteer in the area this summer. Between local and visiting volunteers, more than 250 people donated their time to the projects of HfHH in 2017.

“Our Women Build Day had nearly 20 volunteers from Schoolcraft and Delta counties which included several women from Paul Mitchel the School in Escanaba,” MacGregor said. “We hosted our third annual Graymont Build Day in which Graymont employees and spouses are invited to work with us. We had 11 participants and they were able to complete a couple of projects for us.”

The organization also recently enrolled in Thrivent Financial’s Thrivent Choice program. By directing Choice Dollars, eligible Thrivent members can recommend which nonprofit organizations they feel should receive charitable grant funding from Thrivent.

Any resident who has Choice Dollars available to direct is asked to consider directing them to HFH HiawathaLand.

To learn more about Thrivent Choice, visit Thrivent.com/ thriventchoice or call Thrivent at (800) 847-4836, and say “Thrivent Choice” when prompted.

HFHH is also branching out this fall and hosting Haunted House.

“We’re doing the concessions at the drive-in triple feature and trunk-or-treat Oct. 28, and then we’re going to do the Haunted House on Oct. 29 and 30 here at Habitat,” she said. “We are seeking some assistance with the Haunted House – we need a few items or monetary donations to get these items and possibly some help with setting up.”

For those interested in donated or volunteering for the Haunted House, contact the HFHH office at 341-7437.

As far other volunteer opportunities, MacGregor said there are plenty of choices within the organization. Currently, the group is seeking a few long-term volunteers available on a weekly basis.

“(We’re) looking for a couple of people … to sit in our tool room,” she explained. “They would do some repairs a couple hours a week … stuff you can do at a work bench.”

For more information about HfHH, volunteer opportunities, or upcoming events, call 341-7437 or visit www.hiawathalandhabitat.com.

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