Welcome Yolanda Ross, MBA, our new Human Resources Generalist

Help us welcome Yolanda Ross! Yolanda joins Habitat for Humanity of Kent County as the Human Resources Generalist.  She brings a wealth of experience with her including an MBA from the University of Phoenix with a concentration in healthcare management and over 20 years of HR experience in the healthcare field.  She also has great leadership experience and is active in the community with her previous terms on the Susan G. Komen board of directors and several committees as a voice for underrepresented populations, and is currently 1st Chair of the WIN (Women In NAACP) and a mentor for young ladies in the Youth Council.

We are thrilled to have Yolanda join our team. Read our short Q&A below to get to know her a little more:

Q: What drew you to Habitat Kent? 

Yolanda: I wanted a change. Healthcare is changing and I wanted to get back to helping those who don’t have a voice and see the pride of new homeownership.  

Q: What are you looking forward to in working at Habitat Kent?  

Yolanda: Watching the affiliate grow and build more homes here in Kent County, and seeing the affiliate reach its goal of 1000 homeowners by 2030.

Q: What are some of your hobbies? 

Yolanda: I’m a DIY queen. I love making home décor, refurbishing old clothes and furniture into new and exciting pieces. Also, my health journey is my number one goal – my health is my wealth. 

Q: Lastly, what’s a fun fact about you? 

Yolanda: I have cliff jumped on almost all of my vacations!

hope + opportunity = stability: annual impact report 2021

“Hope and opportunity are the essence of Habitat Kent. Although we faced many challenges this past year, our commitment to our mission carried us through to achieve great outcomes in 2021.” – Bev Thiel, Executive Director

Read more about the 17 new Habitat Kent homeowners in Plaza Roosevelt, our innovative building practices and programs, and our exciting vision for the future.

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photo credit: Gretchen Mathos

Introducing Abby Langenberg, Habitat Kent’s New Construction & Warehouse Director

This summer we added a new position to our team and are excited to welcome our Construction and Warehouse Director, Abby Langenberg! 

Abby has a diverse construction background and was most recently a Construction Manager for Rockford Construction where she led a team of carpenters in the trades department.  She graduated from North Park University with a degree in Global Studies, Spanish and the GRCC Residential Construction program.   

We recently had a chance to ask Abby some questions to get to know her better: 

Q: What drew you to Habitat Kent? 

Abby: I love building and the construction industry, but the outcomes of projects in the for-profit world are usually only measured in dollars and cents. Habitat Kent offered an opportunity to continue doing what I love, but bringing more meaning to it. When I was in GRCC’s job training program, we built a Habitat house and I got to meet the homebuyer. Seeing the excitement and possibility that she was experiencing had an effect on me that eventually caused me to come full circle.  

 

Q:  What are you looking forward to in your new position? 

Abby:  As Plaza Roosevelt has finished up, it’s almost time to start thinking about the “next big thing”. I am SO excited to be a part of the brainstorming, planning, and execution of whatever this may be. 

 

Q:  Who do you spend your time with when you’re not at work? 
Abby:  I have three kiddos! Brielle – age 11, Sawyer- age 9, and Theo- age 7. 

 

Q:  What are some hobbies you enjoy in your free time? 

Abby:  I love to read, be outdoors, exercise, salsa and swing dance, and do projects around my house.  

Two summers ago, I took my kids on a 6-week road trip out west that included The Badlands, Yellowstone, Zion National Park, and my kids’ favorite- The City Museum in St. Louis. 

Meet Our New Homeowner Services Specialist

Michelle MacNall joined Habitat Kent earlier this summer as a Homeowner Services Specialist. She brings 12 years of experience from the Habitat affiliate in Baton Rouge, LA where she began as an AmeriCorps member and went on to work in the Homeowner Services Department. We are so fortunate and excited to have her on board!

Get to know Michelle by reading our Q&A with her below!

Q: What initially drew you to Habitat as an Americorps member?

Michelle:  After spending a few years in retail and human resources, I wanted to do something that made a difference in the world. I wasn’t sure what that was but I found AmeriCorps and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to try something new. I also wanted to live someplace new and experience a different part of the country. AmeriCorps was perfect for that as well. Habitat interested me because I knew how important it was to me growing up to have a safe, stable home. I wanted to help others, especially children, have that as well.

 

Q: After 12 years of working with Habitat for Humanity, what keeps you interested in this work?

Michelle:  I continue to be involved with Habitat because of everything I’ve experienced over the last 12 years: Homeowners who have gone back to school because the work they did with Habitat made them feel empowered to do more; children that grew up in Habitat homes and went on to be the first of their family to go to college; grandmothers crying tears of joy as they get the keys to their very first home. Seeing how something as simple as a home can make such a huge difference in a person’s life.

 

Q: What are you looking forward to in your work with Habitat Kent?

Michelle:  I’m excited to be back in my home state and helping homebuyers in Michigan. I look forward to working on my first closing here and learning how that process works in this area.

 

Q: What do you like to do outside of work?

Michelle:  I love to travel! I’ve been to 23 countries and 25 states. I also love to swim. I’m hoping to get scuba certified next year. I’m a big foodie so I’m loving exploring all that Grand Rapids has to offer.

 

Q: What else should we know about you?

Michelle:  I have a three-legged rescue dog named Miggy. We both loving walking around and exploring Grand Rapids.

Ask the Expert: How to Upgrade Curb Appeal On a Budget

In our first installment of “Ask the Expert,” Tom Poll, Habitat Kent’s Warehouse Supervisor, shares affordable, easy-to-do tips and tricks to upgrade the look and feel of your home.

 

Q: What is “curb appeal”?

Tom:  Curb appeal basically means, how attractive your home is from the street. When someone first looks at your home, what do they see, how do they feel about it, and what point are you, the homeowner, trying to make with the way your home looks.

Basically, it’s the first impression someone has about your home. The idea is the curb appeal of your home is an extension of you.


Q: What’s an example of something simple to improve curb appeal?

Tom:  Outdoor lighting is a great way to give your house an extra boost or pop.  Simply changing the light by the front door will change the appearance of your home.

Solar-powered lights along the sidewalk to your front door will give a warm, inviting look.  Solar-powered spotlights shining into the landscaping or on the house will give a new look as well, especially if you use colored lights – that will really make a statement!  There are many exterior lighting options available that are very inexpensive, including the fun holiday lights that project snowflakes, pumpkins, stars, or other fun items onto your home.


Q: Ok, so where should I start to help my curb appeal?

Tom:  One of the easiest things to help with curb appeal is to eliminate any clutter that’s in the front yard.

Keep garbage and recycling bins somewhere else, put away kids’ toys when they’re done playing, and keep the front yard free of litter that may blow in from the neighborhood. This is a constant problem I have because I live on a busy road.


Q: Are curb appeal projects expensive?

Tom:  Talk with a contractor and you could be looking at thousands of dollars in projects. Thankfully, there are many things you can do for under $100.

One of the first things someone sees is the front door. A really simple and expressive way to show off your house is by changing the color of your front door. A gallon of exterior satin paint for this costs about $35 or less.

You can also change the color of front posts or railings. Depending on the amount of railing and posts you have and the material they’re made of, changing the color can be as easy as painting. You can also change materials, but it’s more expensive.


Q: What if I don’t want to change any colors?

Tom:  Some subtle things that really show your personality are putting up a fun mailbox or special house numbers.

Q: How can I incorporate plants or flowers?

Tom:  If you’ve been in your home for a long time, it might be time to replace overgrown shrubs. Planting new shrubs or flowers is an inexpensive way to change the look of your home. You can go minimalist with just a couple of accent plants, or make it look like a jungle to create a buffer with the street. This is especially helpful if you live on a busy street as I do!

Attaching flower boxes under the window for annual flowers or a couple of flower pots along the sidewalk or on the front steps adds colors that will last all summer and fall. Just remember to water them! Flowers and plants not planted in the ground need more water.

Homeowner Newsletter June 2021

Inside: Homeowner Story: Karen’s most influential woman in her life; 2020 Homeowner of the Year; Ask the Expert; Things to do this summer for the whole family; and more!

June 2021 Homeowner Services Newsletter

March 2021 Habitat Happenings

In this issue: Innovative Housing Solutions; Material Recover Services for your Home Remodel; Home for the Holidays Review; and more!

Habitat Kent Happenings, March 2021

Homeowner Newsletter March 2021

Inside: Homeowner Story: Wendy’s Poem Brings Warm Memories, Advice for Selling or Home, Pet Pantry and more.

March 2021 Homeowner Services Newsletter

Habitat Kent Happenings: December 2020

What to do when a pandemic keeps you from having home dedication celebrations?

Hold a car parade! We celebrated 17 families who are now Habitat Kent homeowners in the Roosevelt Park neighborhood on the southwest side of Grand Rapids.

Read the  Newsletter

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