News about our volunteers, supporters, and partner families
Spring Break in … rainy Whatcom County?
This month, two separate groups of college students have visited to volunteer with Habitat over their spring breaks as part Collegiate Challenge. Impressive, no? Instead of traveling someplace sunny where they could park themselves on a sandy beach for a week, these students chose to come to Whatcom County and help us build strength, stability, and self-reliance through shelter.
Collegiate Challenge 2017
A couple of weeks ago the group from Carnegie Mellon (pictured above) spent their Spring Break putting up siding at 7535 Leeside Drive. This week, a group from the University of California, Berkeley (pictured below) is doing prep work for a community garden just outside of the Birchwood warehouse. Enthusiastic and eager to learn, both these groups are leaving us better off than they found us.
Thank you, Collegiate Challenge volunteers! We hope your trip to Whatcom County was as rewarding for you as your visit was to us.
Book Our Community Room!
Over the summer, volunteer Bill Brausieck led a remodeling project in the store to give office staff a place to work. He did a beautiful job, and we’ve finally settled into our new digs … which include a community room! We use it for staff, committee, and board meetings, but we’re excited to offer it up for public, non-commercial use as well.
Make Yourself at Home with Habitat
We want everyone to feel at home at Habitat. And we’d like to support our community in whatever way we can. That’s why we’re excited to share this space for use by:
- community action groups
- study groups or educational seminars
- hobby groups/club meetings
- nonprofit board, staff, or volunteer meetings
- support groups*
*Note: the community room is within our suite of offices and we therefore cannot offer you strict privacy during office hours.
Volunteer at the Habitat Store!
One of our most steadfast, dedicated store volunteers is leaving us next month. A military veteran, Carmen approaches her job in our receiving department with the kind of thoroughness and inexhaustibility one might expect from a former member of the armed forces. We are sorry to see her go but very grateful for all she’s given us.
Train with Carmen
Carmen works Tuesday through Saturday from 9am to 3pm. We don’t expect to find one person to replace her, but if you’re interested in helping out at Habitat and are available for a regular shift sometime within Carmen’s working hours, let us know! Carmen will be leaving us mid-January so new volunteers who start soon will be able to train directly with her.
Get Started Today!
If you’ve never volunteered with Habitat before, you’ll need to:
- Fill out a Volunteer Interest Form
- Complete a liability waiver
- Schedule an orientation with Janet, our Volunteer Coordinator, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 360.715.9170 ext. 1016
If you’ve already completed your orientation, paperwork, and background check, contact Janet to sign up for a shift. Carmen will be happy to show you the ropes!
Washington Federal Supports Telegraph Townhomes Project
Josh Guthrie, Branch Manager of Washington Federal’s Cornwall branch, stopped by yesterday with a quite a gift … a $1000 check to support our Telegraph Townhomes project! “Affordable housing is a passion for us,” he said, adding that it’s also a particular passion of his, having personally experienced the impact a safe, decent, affordable place to call home can have on families. He came into our offices to personally deliver the gift – from the Washington Federal Foundation – and wish us luck with the project, which will create affordable housing opportunities for 24 local families.
Thank you, Josh, and Washington Federal for helping to build strength, stability, and self-reliance through shelter. We are grateful!
Habitat Hero: Bill Brausieck
In these uncertain and troubled times, we at Habitat feel extra lucky to witness generosity, humility, and concern for the welfare of others demonstrated daily by our volunteers. Bill Brausieck, for instance. A retired engineer, these days Bill gets paid zero dollars and zero cents to help working families in our community achieve independence through affordable home ownership. And he does it with the same regularity that the rest of us work paying jobs. Now more than ever, folks like Bill are heroes to us.
“A Blessing for Me”
Bill headed up the Haxton Way project last year, helping the Van Dyken family construct a safe, decent home and helping the volunteers have a positive and productive experience on the build site. Easily a full-time job, but Bill did it all pro bono. “I look at Habitat more as a blessing for me,” Bill says, “because it gives me a place to put my energy for wanting to build things and help people. I get to feel partly responsible for the happiness of others.”
Cause for Hope
For 6 years we’ve had the good fortune to be Bill’s blessing and we hope to retain the privilege for as long as he’ll have us. With folks like Bill around, our community will always have cause for hope.
Progress on Leeside Drive
We’re making real progress out in Birch Bay, thanks largely to the generosity of our supporters. On Monday, Mike Peetoom – owner and operator of Mike Peetoom Construction LLC – brought one of his earth movers out to the site and got to work. He scraped grass and topsoil and dug the trenches for the foundation. A lifelong Whatcom County resident, Mike was happy to be able to help. “I’m a dirt guy,” he said, grinning. “If you want me to swing a hammer, I’m worthless.”
You Don’t Have to Swing a Hammer to Help Build a House
Like Mike, John Paradis of Umpqua Bank, supports Habitat generously. He served on our Board of Directors for 10 years and now serves as the Co-Chair of our Homebuyer Selection Committee. “I believe in what Habitat’s doing,” he says. “I’m all about affordable housing. And we’ve got some really great [homebuyers] we’ve been able to work with.” Today he presented us with a $4000 check from the Umpqua Bank Charitable Foundation for the Leeside project. Women Build and Youth United Build teams will soon begin constructing the Ortiz-Mendoza home with the family.
Celebrate Progress with Us
Join us on Sunday, October 30th at the Habitat Store from 2 to 4pm for a Permit Party to celebrate the progress we’ve made so far. We’ll have plenty of cake and inspiration to fuel us for the next phase of the project … building a house!
Local Business Owners Illustrate That Giving Is Building
In Whatcom County, 42% of residents earn less than the basic cost of living. The average wage here is not enough to afford a 2-bedroom apartment. These circumstances set the stage for families living in overcrowded, substandard conditions. At Habitat for Humanity in Whatcom County, we’re trying to do something about that. We work with qualifying families to build safe, decent, affordable homes and lives beyond the oppressive grip of poverty. But we can’t do it alone. And there are so many different ways to help us build.
When You Give, You Build
Paul and Linda Teater, relative newcomers to Whatcom County, exemplify the neighborly spirit of our community. They’ve long been generous promoters of the welfare of others and their gifts to Habitat continue that tradition. Owners of the local Budget Blinds franchise, they outfitted both the Van Dyken and Gutierrez homes entirely in blinds at no charge. Additionally, they’re covering our office windows here at Habitat – again, at no charge. Money we don’t spend to cover our office windows goes towards building shelter. Money the Van Dyken and Gutierrez families don’t spend to cover their windows is freed up for health care, education, and basic needs. This is the impressive impact of the Teaters’ gifts.
What Will You Build?
With the Leeside project nearing the construction phase, 3 other new builds in the works, several repair projects, and Telegraph Townhomes just around the corner, we need more help than ever to continue building strength, stability, and self-reliance through shelter. Call (360) 715-9170 and help us build today!
Bob Matthes: Changing Lives with Habitat
A retired engineer, Bob Matthes has volunteered with Habitat for Humanity in Whatcom County since 2009. Prior to that, he volunteered with Habitat affiliates in Missouri and Iowa, primarily on the construction site. He enjoys working in the store here, though, because there’s plenty to do year-round, rain or shine. He loves the fact that the store is able to use those perfectly good materials that might otherwise end up in a landfill. He also appreciates the employment opportunities the store provides.
Bob dedicates a good amount of his time to us – the equivalent of a part-time job – and has done so for many years. When we asked him, “Why Habitat?” he had this to say:
Safe, decent, affordable housing is indeed tangible … and definitely something to celebrate!
Bob would like those considering volunteering with Habitat to know that there are plenty of opportunities beyond the build site and that, “This is really a chance to change people’s lives.” Thank you, Bob, for changing lives with us.
Today we received the very sad news that our Office Manager and Bookkeeper, Becca Bell, passed away from a very short and unexpected illness.
Becca’s was not the loudest voice at staff meetings but it was one of the most influential in helping shape decisions about knotty problems. She was a quiet but powerful force. Her commitment to Habitat, to common sense, and to her unerring compass always helped us decide on what was the right thing to do. Becca remembered everyone’s birthday and employment anniversary and made sure we celebrated in the most caring way. Whether your favorite treat was Ben and Jerry’s ice cream or locally sourced, organic vegetables, she had you covered on your special day.
For the last five years we have come to take excellence in our accounting and internal controls for granted. No one could have done a better job.
She will be missed, not only as a co-worker, but as a decent human being whose ethics and compassion we should all emulate.
Our condolences and deepest sympathy goes out to all who knew her. We were the blessed ones to be in her presence and now feel the emptiness of her leaving this world.
God bless, Becca!
A Good Day for Golf and Giving
We had a great time at Whatcom County Association of Realtors‘ (WCAR) annual golf tournament! Each year, WCAR hosts a tournament at one of Bellingham’s beautiful courses to benefit a local non-profit organization. It’s a lot of work and we’re grateful that WCAR chose to make Habitat for Humanity in Whatcom County the beneficiary of that work this year.
A Good Day for Golf
Janet, our Volunteer Coordinator, and Fred, our Resource Development Manager, spent the afternoon at hole #3, enjoying the sun and meeting the golfers as they passed through. The competitors were in good spirits and everyone seemed to have fun.
A Good Day for Giving
All said, about 75 golfers showed up to play. In doing so, each one gave of their time and their pocketbooks to help build safe, decent, affordable shelter for Whatcom County residents. We got to do a little giving of our own with a couple of drawings for $25.00 gift certificates to the Habitat Store. We notified the winners yesterday and hope they’ll find something they love on our sales floor.
Thank you to WCAR and to every golfer who came out for the tournament … we’re so grateful!