With its vision of “a world where everyone has a decent place to live,” Monroe County Habitat for Humanity (MCHFH) focuses on home preservation. It serves homeowners of lower incomes who can’t afford to make necessary repairs on their homes to keep them safe, warm and comfortable.
This year, the organization will complete 30 home preservation projects. Home owners are eligible if they meet qualifications like income requirements; being up-to-date on mortgage payments and property taxes; and having homeowner’s insurance.
Volunteers are always welcome to help with painting, lawn work, construction, window installation, siding and clean-up, or by serving on various committees including marketing, event-planning, public relations and faith relations. Besides volunteering one’s time or donating to the cause, MCHFH also accepts cars (no matter what condition) through their “Cars for Homes” program.
Executive Director Kelly Kemmerer talked with Local Flair about what keeps the organization ticking.
Local Flair: When and why did you come to work for MCHFH?
Kelly Kemmerer: I started volunteering at Monroe County Habitat for Humanity in 2011 while completing my Master’s in Leadership and Public Administration at ESU and was hired in July of 2013. I liked Habitat for Humanity’s mottoes of giving a “hand up, not a hand out” and “neighbors helping neighbors.”
MCHFH requires the families that we partner with to contribute sweat equity (volunteer hours) and they receive 0% interest loans from MCHFH to pay us back for their homes or the materials used in repair projects. All volunteers are the Monroe County neighbors of the homeowners who are partnering with MCHFH for services. Habitat for Humanity focuses on neighbors helping neighbors get a hand up to better living.
Local Flair: Do you have a waiting list for home repair?
Kelly: We do not have a waiting list and we are currently accepting applications.
Local Flair: What is the most common demand for home repair here in Monroe County?
Kelly: Of all our home preservation projects, about a third include a roof repair. Many residents have been forced to put roof maintenance on the back burner because they don’t have savings or equity in their homes to obtain a home equity loan to afford these costly repairs. By the time MCHFH is notified about the repair, the roofs are often in critical need of repair.
Local Flair: Do you have any major fundraising events through the year?
Kelly: We held our First Annual “She Nailed It!” competition at Memory Town USA (Mt. Pocono) this past July which was a lot of fun and a great success! We plan to hold this event again in July of 2018 and are currently looking for teams.
Our golf tournament is held annually in September at Buck Hill Falls golf course.
We also hold an annual Volunteer Appreciation Event in August or September. Anyone who has volunteered even for one day during the past year is invited to come to this event and enjoy food, music and relaxation.
Local Flair: What happens between now and year-end?
Kelly: Our home repairs will be scheduled throughout the winter. Some are inside jobs such as floor repairs, painting and plumbing, which can be completed when the weather is bad. Outdoor projects may also be completed during the winter months if the weather allows. But we don’t stop working at any time during the year.
Local Flair: Do you have examples of interesting renovations?
Kelly: We recently completed a small addition on a home in Mount Pocono with a handicapped-accessible bathroom for a family with an adult daughter who is disabled. Before the renovation, the family was struggling to bathe her in a traditional tub where she would sometimes get stuck and couldn’t easily be removed. The completion of this repair enabled her to be bathed more safely and efficiently.
Another recent repair involved replacing a walkway for a disabled senior woman in Stroudsburg. She uses a walker and was in danger of falling over her cracked and uneven sidewalk whenever she left her house. We also made a repair to an inside sliding door that had been broken for years. The homeowner was so happy with the repair that she insisted the job supervisor watch her demonstrate how she could now open and close the door effortlessly.
For more information on donating or volunteering visit www.habitatmc.org or call (570) 216-4390.