Summit’s Habitat for Humanity chapter unveils Brush With Kindness program
A Brush with Kindness
For more information, visit www.summithabitat.org or call Ed Williams at (970) 423-7445.
The Summit County Habitat for Humanity chapter is taking a two-pronged approach to addressing housing needs in the county in 2015. While the main focus of the organization is to build new houses for low-income families, Summit’s chapter is taking steps to widen the reach of its influence throughout the county.
A Brush With Kindness is a program rolled out by the national Habitat for Humanity organization several years ago. It focuses on homeowners who are struggling with the financial cost of critical home repairs, such as weatherization, roof repair and handicapped accessibility.
The program is a product of Habitat for Humanity’s larger Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative. The goal behind the project is to halt any negative neighborhood trends that might have been caused by events like the 2008 economic downturn. Programs like A Brush With Kindness are one way of taking that on.
“What this allows us to do is work with homeowners in a different way, so we’re able to touch more lives and impact more families through the Brush With Kindness,” said Habitat for Humanity Summit executive director Ed Williams. “What it typically involves are home repairs that are still critical but may be out of the reach of a homeowner currently. It could be anything as simple as landscaping and it can go all the way to things like roofing repairs, HVAC repairs, making homes more accessible for individuals that might have mobility issues. So it really has a much greater range of activity than just simply one thing.”
BUILDING AND BEYOND
The Summit chapter had a busy 2014, as crews worked to complete its latest house build. The first house to be built in 10 years, it was the fourth the chapter has done. Completed in October of 2014, the Breckenridge home is now owned by April Weber and her four children.
“This is the fourth house Habitat has built and it won’t be our last,” Diana Gordon, former president of the board of directors, told the Summit Daily at the completion ceremony last year.
The next house is definitely on the minds of the board, Williams said.
“We are in the process of identifying land right now for future builds,” he said. “In the past we’ve had a bit of a lull, we’ve had a house and then it’s taken us a little bit of recoup time to be able to identify a new project, a new family. This is a way for us to continue being consistent in the community and address needs.”
While in the process of finding a suitable site for the next built, Summit’s Habitat for Humanity wants to continue helping the community.
“Summit has its own challenges and I think that all of the Habitat affiliates along the corridor have their own set of challenges. It is a little bit different than what a municipality like Denver might experience,” said Williams.
“For us, this is a way to address need,” he continued, referencing the A Brush With Kindness program. “It doesn’t mean that we’re not building. We’re still putting plans in place for a build, and that is an ongoing thing, that is the core for Habitat for Humanity’s activities, so this is a way for us to supplement that. While we’re addressing the challenges unique to Summit County and to Eagle County and the surrounding counties, we’re able to make an impact for families going forward.”
PARTNERING WITH LOCAL FAMILIES
The new program runs like a Habitat for Humanity building project in miniature. Similar eligibility requirements ensure that those with the most need are receiving help. And not only are they receiving aid, but they’re also taking a pivotal role in bringing out the aid themselves. Those partnering with Habitat for Humanity are expected to put in hours alongside the volunteers, as well as assisting in future projects.
“This is not charity, it’s helping,” said current board president Walter Briney.
“It’s kind of like a pay-it-forward program with Habitat,” said Williams. “They will become partner families with us; they will be involved in their own home projects as well as future projects.”
Anyone who is interested in volunteering can also be part of the Habitat for Humanity crew.
“We’re always looking for volunteers for these kinds of projects, and volunteers are paired up to what works best for them in terms of their skill sets and interest,” Williams said.
Groups of about 10 to 20 volunteers will take on projects for A Brush With Kindness.
Habitat for Humanity is looking to partner with three families in 2015, Williams said. If possible they will do more projects, but three is the primary goal.
“If somebody has a relatively simple issue going on that we’re able to help with, that might change the number of partner families we’re able to impact,” he said. “If we’re taking on fairly significant projects, it might not be quite as many as that. It’s really about addressing need in the community. Once those needs are identified, we’ll be able to clearly state how many families, but we’re hoping and expecting to partner with three families this year.”
Those who are interested, or think they or someone they know might be eligible are encouraged to go online to www.summithabitat.org or to call Williams at (970) 423-7445.
“This is a great opportunity to reach out to the community and help people in need,” Briney said. “We’re excited about it and we now have the ability to carry out such a program, and we just need to find the people who need our help.”
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