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Habitat Kent Blog

Seeking to put God's love into action, Habitat for Humanity of Kent County brings people together to build homes, communities, and hope.

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In case it’s slipped past you (we’ve been publicizing it a bit), we’re celebrating our completion of the Building Blocks Campaign: helping 200 West Side families in 2 years. It’s been humbling to not only partner with “200 in 2” but also witness volunteers and donors rally behind a cause that is more than the construction of a house- but a revitalization of a community.


“It’s been an honor for us at Gordon Food Services to sponsor a home and help a family,” remarked Tim Fatum, Senior Manager of Human Resources at Gordon Food Services. “But on top of that, it was truly a moving experience when I realized that we’re volunteering for a whole community.”


In a recent interview on the WGVU Morning Show with Shelley Irwin, Jon Hankins, Corporate Relations Specialist at Habitat Kent explained the high impact goal of Building Blocks and how we “seek to break the cycle of poverty for our families.” For a further understanding of how we combat poverty, here are some economic statistics from Building Blocks.


  • 40 new homeowners and 160 homes renovated and repaired in 5 West Side Neighborhoods- These efforts helped to increase property values around the neighborhood and put money into the tax system. Residents are then motivated to fix up their homes and deepen roots in their neighborhood.

  • $4.9 million was raised/gained to benefit the local economy during the building and selling of homes.

  • $7 million will be produced to local government, businesses, and employers over 10 years. Vacant or blighted properties that hinder neighborhood development will be transformed and utilized to benefit the community, both socially and economically.

  • 89 local jobs were sustained. Stability in the home allows for more stability in employment and education for families.

  • 12,000 hours of sweat-equity achieved by our hard-working families. These work hours increase the sense of ownership for homeowner families.


What’s most beautiful about these numbers and statistics is that there’s a story of hope behind each one. Thanks to you, we can continue to impact lives and go #BeyondTheHome in Grand Rapids.   

Building Blocks newstory on WZZM 13

Shelley Irwin Radio Interview with Jon Hankins, WGVU

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Nancy Mack understands the power and importance of a home. She had moved 14 times and lived in six different states before moving to West Michigan several years ago.

 

Like so many of our Habitat homebuyers, Nancy was longing for a place to put down roots, a place to belong. And for her, just like our homebuyers, that meant owning a home of her own. 

 

Naturally, when she bought her first house, she made that investment a priority. Again, just like a Habitat homeowner, she paid her mortgage early and often.

 

“It was the first entry in my checkbook every month,” she remembers. “I didn’t always want it to be first, but I knew it was something I had to do.”

 

Nancy’s commitment paid off, of course. She closed out her mortgage years ahead of schedule, freeing up that first line in her check book for whatever she wanted.

 

And Nancy knew exactly what she wanted. She wanted to keep paying her mortgage — to Habitat, that is. On the one-year anniversary of her final mortgage payment, Nancy filled out a check for the same amount and sent it to Habitat Kent. “I wanted others to experience the same thing I did—that sense of community, that sense of belonging,” she says. 

 

“It stayed in my mind all year. I had a sticky note, but I didn’t need the reminder. It was a celebration for me that I could share by helping others.

 

We’re blessed to have such wonderful partners who consider having and owning just another chance for giving. Thank you, Nancy, for your generosity!

 

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Thanks to you, we're dreaming big this Christmas. We're dreaming of our new home, which we just started building with Habitat.

And thanks to you, our new neighborhood is full of people touched by Habitat's work: the veteran across the street whose home Habitat repaired, the Habitat family moving in next door, and so many more.

Because of you, families like us are building a stronger community.

This Christmas, we pray you will be blessed just as you have been a blessign to us, and in this season of giving we hope you will continue to support Habitat's mission.

Your gift will build a hopeful future for so many families like us!

- The Mata Family, Habitat homebuyers

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Debbie has lived in her house for 26 years. She and her husband moved in shortly after they married. They raised their kids there, watching them turn into adults and move on to their own homes. Debbie so many memories built into her home. She loves it.

But when her husband recently passed away, she didn't know how she could maintain it. "I just haven't had a way to keep it up," she said. The chimney started leaning. ("I was afraid it would just fall off," said Debbie.) The porch and the siding needed to be repaired. Debbie didn't know what to do.

But then she learned about Habitat Kent's Brush with Kindness program, which helps people like her, who already own a home, complete repairs and renovations to keep the home in good shape. Two ABWK volunteer crews helped remove the chimney, repair the siding, and renovate her porch. And Debbie was right there with them, learning the tools and skills and pitching in on her own repairs.

Debbie had to fight back tears as she explained just how much ABWK has meant to her: 

It's huge. I can't express how grateful I am that everyone has come here to help. They've all been wonderful. They've all been amazing. These people are so giving and kind.

 

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The daughter of a Women Build homebuyer sent us this note, complete with illustration:

I like how many people helped mommy build my habitat. I liked when every one hammered. It is ok if you did it wrong. My favorite part of my habitat is my kitchen and my big room. I'm happy [site supervisor] Troy helped my mommy and the other people build my habitat.

The mother also shared her reflections (though without a drawing):

Becoming a Habitat homeowner has changed my life and given a whole new meaning to the word 'home.' I never have to worry about where or when I have to move. My daughter had lead poisoning from our old apartment, but now I don't have to worry about whether my home is safe for her.

When I applied to be a homeowner at the age of 18, I didn't think I had a chance. Being accepted was the best thing that could have ever happened. I am so happy that Habitat for Humanity provided this opportunity to have safe, stable housing for my family!

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HABITAT FOR HUMANITY OF KENT COUNTY

CONTACT US
616-774-2431
425 Pleasant Street SW
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

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