Exit Interview: Nancy Andrew and the Future of Habitat for Humanity – Choptank

Almost since the Spy began publishing in 2009, we have welcomed the opportunity to talk to long-tenured nonprofit leaders in anticipation of their planned departure of the organizations they serve.  While it’s unfortunate that human resources offices nowadays have somewhat co-opted the phrase “exit interview,”  it does describes the interest and usefulness in capturing these informed leaders reflections on the causes they serve and their analysis of the challenges and opportunity to come.

And that is the case with the Spy’s latest interview with Nancy Andrew after her eight years with Habitat for Humanity – Choptank. Nancy has decided to leave the organization as its executive director at the end of January after eight years at the helm.

And while Nancy acknowledges that her decision to leave Habitat matches her time spent leading Talbot Mentors, another highly respected Talbot County nonprofit, her reflections in her interview with the Spy indicate to her that nonprofit organizations, like any business, go through cycles of development which is not related to periods of time.  Nancy also shares her thoughts on how things have changed but also how the organization’s core business and mission has not during that time.

This video is approximately five minutes in length. For more information about Habitat for Humanity – Choptank please go here.

 

 

Terrapin Security is Habitat Choptank’s Business Partner of the Year

Habitat Choptank has named Terrapin Security as its Business Partner of the Year for 2017. Terrapin Security is a fully licensed and insured security system agency that has been securing the Eastern Shore for over a decade.

Habitat Choptank director of construction Wayne Suggs met with representatives of the company to present the honors. From L-R: Lee Coulby, Suggs, Dale Moore, and Jack Glessner.

“This award recognizes those businesses that are ongoing partners and have provided significant support to our affordable home ownership program,” explained director of construction Wayne Suggs at Habitat Choptank’s recent award dinner.  The collaboration with Terrapin Security started in 2012 when one of Habitat’s home buyer’s lost her job just weeks before the final certificate of occupancy on her new house. With the completed home sitting empty for months while the buyer searched for new employment, Terrapin Security agreed to install a security system to keep the property protected. That home buyer eventually found a new job and she bought the home. “Today she’s making her mortgage payment each month and Terrapin has continued to donate their services. We’re now 17 homes and counting.”

The company installs high quality, non-proprietary equipment which means the home owner can, but does not have to, use them for monitoring of the system. They also generously provide in-home training to the home owners after move in. “Terrapin is a committed partner who asks for nothing in return other than a small sign by the front steps of each home,” said Suggs.

For information about buying a home through Habitat Choptank, to volunteer or to make a donation, visit www.habitatchoptank.org or call 410-476-3204.  Terrapin Security can be reached by calling 410-822-6500 or going online to www.terrapinsecurity.com.

ReStore Presents Big Check to Habitat Choptank

Habitat for Humanity Choptank volunteers, staff and board members celebrated a milestone at their ReStore’s seventh anniversary event.  A ceremonial check in the amount of $669,849 was revealed representing the cumulative net income the discount home improvement center has generated since it opened in October 2010.  Funds raised by the ReStore are invested into Habitat Choptank’s mission and affordable home ownership programs in Dorchester and Talbot counties.

“We couldn’t have done this without such a supportive community,” said ReStore manager Chris Smith.  It starts with the donors – businesses and organizations, contractors and individuals – who provide an inventory of donated goods that changes daily.  Then there are the customers – collectors, crafters and artists, do-it-yourself types, and landlords – looking to improve their properties.

ReStore manager Chris Smith (left, shaking hands) with George Fox, vice-president on the Habitat Choptank board of directors.

And just as important, team ReStore which includes an equally diverse volunteer corps of men and women of all different ages who help with every aspect of the store operation. Smith adds, “our volunteers support the Habitat Choptank mission, help keep good usable stuff out of the landfill, and have fun in the process. I encourage others who want to make a difference in their community to consider volunteering here.”

ReStores are resale outlets run by local Habitat affiliates.  Habitat Choptank’s ReStore accepts donated construction materials, home improvement items and furniture.  These goods are sold to the general public at a fraction of the retail price providing funding to the affiliate for its operating costs which represents about 5-10% of its annual budget. With this unique source of revenue, funding from contributions and grants can be invested directly into the non-profit’s program costs including building homes and preparing the homebuyers.

The Habitat Choptank ReStore, located at 8610 Commerce Drive in Easton, is open Wednesdays – Saturdays for shoppers and donations.  The store also operates two box trucks which are available to pick up larger donations with advance scheduling from around the region.

Since 1992, Habitat Choptank has made home ownership possible for 75 families and currently partners with 12 local home buyers. Seven homes are under construction at this time with plans to start at least six more over the coming year. Income qualifying home buyers are offered access to affordable mortgage financing in order to purchase a new construction or rehabbed home from the nonprofit’s project inventory.  After completing “sweat equity” hours, attending pre-homeownership classes, and meeting debt reduction and savings goals, these individuals and families will purchase homes that they helped construct and assume the full responsibilities of home ownership including maintaining their home, paying property taxes and repaying their mortgage over 30 to 33 years. Habitat accepts applications for its home ownership program throughout the year.

For more information about the Habitat Choptank ReStore, to volunteer with the store or to inquire about making a donation, call 410-820-6186, email restore@habitatchoptank.org or visit www.HabitatChoptank.org.

Habitat Choptank Expands Construction Staff to Grow its Mission

Habitat for Humanity Choptank is pleased to announce several staff changes within its construction team. This reorganization is part of the overall implementation of the nonprofit’s strategic plan for growth in Dorchester and Talbot counties. Launched in July 2015, the plan provides a blueprint toward expansion for the board, staff and volunteers. It is the result of a more than 12-month review and planning process involving input from some 100 different stakeholders.

Goals in the plan provide guidance and direction for increasing Habitat Choptank’s traditional self-help home ownership program and for the addition of other housing services in the target communities where it operates. In response to identified community needs, the forecasted growth is both geographic and programmatic. Habitat Choptank will work concurrently in four communities within its two county service area – Easton, St. Michaels, Cambridge and Hurlock; operate at a level to complete at least eight home sales per year; build stronger neighborhoods through quality, sustainable new construction homes and rehabs, and through Neighborhood Revitalization; and develop well-prepared home owners using right-sized financing combined with education, support and relationships pre- and post-settlement.

From L-R, Wayne Suggs, director of construction, Rhodana Fields, neighborhood revitalization manager, Jim Thomas, construction supervisor for Talbot County and Scott Baynard, construction supervisor for Dorchester County. Photo by: Jay Shotel

Since the launch of this plan, Wayne Suggs has joined Habitat Choptank’s staff team as director of construction. This is a new position for the nonprofit. Suggs oversees the pipeline of new home ownership projects including working with site acquisition and managing site development.

Once construction begins, the day to day effort of ordering supplies, working with construction volunteers, and scheduling subcontractors is handled by the construction supervisors. Jim Thomas is supervising new construction and rehab projects in Talbot County. Next door in Dorchester County, Scott Baynard has taken the lead.

Meanwhile, Rhodana Fields has transitioned off the construction team after seven years to assume the role of neighborhood revitalization manager. In order to support area renewal, Habitat Choptank generally works in neighborhoods that have higher incidences of abandoned and blighted properties, as well as homes with significant deferred maintenance, and health and safety concerns.  Working within these target area, Habitat Choptank, like other Habitat affiliates around the United States, has come to realize that ‘we cannot build our way out of the housing problem.’ In response, programming has been expanded over the last three years to include weatherization and housing repairs in partnership with existing low-income homeowners in and around the neighborhoods where Habitat build new homes.

“This talented group is committed to our mission and brings over 100 years of collective experience in construction and project management,” notes Habitat Choptank executive director Nancy Andrew. That kind of knowledge and skill translates into quality workmanship by the staff working in partnership with Habitat’s dedicated construction volunteers. “A key part of making home ownership affordable is making sure the work is durable, that it lasts. Good quality work translates into lower operating costs for the hardworking low-income home buyers and home owners that we partner with.”

Since 1992, Habitat Choptank has partnered with 214 local households to improve a place they call home. Of those, 139 have been served through weatherization and repair services since Habitat Choptank initiated its neighborhood revitalization program in 2015. Seventy-five individuals and families have purchased new or rehabbed homes from the nonprofit.

Currently, 12 local home buyers are working through the home ownership program. Seven homes are under construction at this time with plans to start at least six more over the coming year. Income qualifying home buyers are offered access to affordable mortgage financing in order to purchase a new construction or rehabbed home from the nonprofit’s project inventory of durable and energy efficient homes. While selling its homes to mostly first time and even first generation home buyers, it continues to maintain a less than 2% foreclosure rate with only one foreclosure over its 25-year history.

Habitat accepts applications for its housing programs throughout the year. To donate, volunteer or apply, visit habitatchoptank.org or call 410-476-3204.

Habitat Choptank ReStore Celebrating Seventh Anniversary

The Habitat for Humanity Choptank ReStore, located at 8610 Commerce Drive in Easton, just off the bypass near Target, is preparing to celebrate its seventh anniversary with an open house on Saturday, November 11th from 9 am to 4pm.  Shoppers and donors will enjoy food, special discounts, and a wide variety of merchandise.  At 10:30am, store volunteers and staff will gather to reveal the total proceeds that have been generated to date to support Habitat’s affordable home ownership program.

The resale shop opened its doors in 2010 based on a business plan put together by a group of volunteers who saw this as an additional way to serve the community and raise other funds for the Habitat mission in Dorchester and Talbot Counties. In 2015, the ReStore relocated to a larger facility just a few doors away from its original location. “With great support from the community, we continue to grow and grow,” says ReStore manager Chris Smith. “Since our doors opened, we’ve been receiving wonderful donations of quality used and even new home improvement items, appliances, and furniture, and offering a one of a kind shopping experience to the public.”

Store inventory changes daily. The now-familiar ReStore trucks makes a couple dozen pick-ups per week, collecting donated goods from individuals, retailers and builders all over the Mid-Shore. Hundreds more items are brought right to the ReStore by donors every month. Drive-up donors are greeted by a crew of dedicated volunteers who prepare a receipt that can be used for tax purposes.

“We work with a lot of commercial donors as well as receive donations from the general public,” Smith says.  “Our single biggest department in terms of sales is furniture, which comes almost entirely from individual donors.”

The net proceeds from the ReStore are invested into Habitat Choptank’s self-help home purchasing program.  Since its founding in 1992, the nonprofit home builder has made home ownership possible for 75 qualifying home buyers in its two-county service region. Seven homes are currently under construction with plans to start at least six more over the coming year. Income qualifying home buyers are offered access to affordable mortgage financing in order to buy a new construction or rehabbed home from the nonprofit’s project inventory.  After completing “sweat equity” hours, attending pre-homeownership classes, eliminating debit and meeting savings goals, these individuals and families will purchase homes that they helped construct and assume the full responsibilities of home ownership including maintaining their home, paying property taxes and repaying their mortgage over 30 to 33 years.

For more information about the ReStore, to shop, donate or volunteer, call 410-820-6186.  Information about Habitat Choptank’s ReStore, its affordable home ownership program, and other volunteer opportunities, can be found at www.HabitatChoptank.org.

Habitat for Humanity Choptank Honors its Volunteers

ReStore volunteer Jay Shotel (left) received Habitat Choptank’s Golden Globe award from store manager Chris Smith. Photo by: Jill Jasuta

Local Habitat volunteers, supporters, home owners and future home buyers came together for an evening dinner at the Easton Volunteer Fire Department to celebrate Habitat for Humanity Choptank’s progress over the last year and to mark the nonprofit’s 25th anniversary.  Over the last fiscal year, the nonprofit home builder screened 261 intakes for its home ownership program, qualified 11 new home buyer candidates, sold 3 new homes for a total of 75 homes completed historically, had 6 other homes under construction, and completed 80 weatherization projects through its expanded housing services.

These accomplishments were made possible by 528 volunteers who contributed 26,642 hours of service working in construction, helping at the office and tackling special projects, serving on committees and the Board, and volunteering at the ReStore.  It would take 13 full-time employees to generate an equivalent number of hours.

Guests at the event were treated to BBQ by Hot Off the Coals and to ice cream from Scottish Highland Creamery.  The meal was followed by a presentation of volunteer awards.

Sandy Holicky and Terri Spence were each awarded a Golden Hard Hat which honors special construction volunteers. While they live in Queen Anne’s County, Holicky and Spence have been regular volunteers on Wednesdays and Thursdays with the building crews in Cambridge for over five years. During the construction of the Women Build House in 2016-2017, the two added another build day to their schedule in order to be part of that special project. Most notably, Holicky and Spence were recognized for their welcoming spirit. “When they arrive on the jobsite, Sandy and Terri are quick to grab a task and a less skilled or totally new volunteer and head off to make that task appear on the completed list,” said construction supervisor Scott Baynard. “I haven’t seen a time when they didn’t have a smile on their faces and they make everyone else smile.”

The Golden Hammer, an award to recognize a general affiliate volunteer who serves in more than one role, was presented to Skip Wrightson. Wrightson is a longstanding and faithful member of the Thursday construction crew. He also lends his time and support to Habitat Choptank’s building and safety committees. “Skip offers sound suggestions for our construction planning and procedures while bringing his personal experience of safety implementation to our affiliate,” explained Jim Thomas, construction supervisor in Talbot County. “Also on the jobsite, he has joined with a few others in leading Morning Prayer helping to keep God at the center of our mission. While this is not a requirement of any volunteer, his involvement is appreciated.”

The Golden Globe award for outstanding ReStore volunteer was presented to Jay Shotel who joined the store’s volunteer crew in 2013. “This gentleman is the true definition of patience,” said ReStore manager Chris Smith. Jay is a regular member of the ReStore Tuesday Crew serving as a leader of the 10-12 shift. “He works side by side with our community outreach volunteers. They absolutely adore him and so do we. He keeps the whole crew motivated.” He also keeps the staff and volunteers fueled. “His wife bakes us the most wonderful treats and he makes sure we all sit down to enjoy lunch.”

Fellow ReStore volunteers Rory Callahan and Nathan Kish were recognized for the exceptional number of volunteers they contribute annually. Each serves over 1,000 hours per year helping with the store operations

Habitat Choptank welcomed four new directors onto its volunteer Board. From L-R, new directors Eric Lowery, Paul Brandt, Larry Neviaser, and Phyllis Rambo with Board president Charlie Bohn. Photo by: Jill Jasuta

The program concluded with a mortgage burning celebration. Three home owners made the final loan payments on their homes during the last year. Reverend Dartanyon Hines, of Scotts United Methodist Church in Trappe, led a special service to honor the occasion. One by one Glenda Dawson of Easton, Lillie Mae Mundy of Bellevue, and Mickey Hynson and Rasheme Chester of St. Michaels stepped forward for the ceremonial lighting of a copy of their original note.

Since 1992, Habitat Choptank has partnered with 214 local households to improve a place they call home. One hundred and thirty nine of those families have been served through weatherization and repair services since Habitat Choptank initiated its neighborhood revitalization program in 2015. Seventy-five individuals and families have purchased new or rehabbed homes from the nonprofit and currently ten local home buyers are working through the home ownership program.  Seven homes are under construction at this time with plans to start at least six more over the coming year. Income qualifying home buyers are offered access to affordable mortgage financing in order to purchase a new construction or rehabbed home from the nonprofit’s project inventory of durable and energy efficient homes.  After completing “sweat equity” hours, attending pre-homeownership classes, and meeting debt reduction and savings goals, these individuals and families will purchase homes that they helped construct and assume the full responsibilities of home ownership including maintaining their home, paying property taxes and repaying their mortgage over 30 to 33 years.  While selling its homes to mostly first time and even first generation home buyers, it continues to maintain a less than 2% foreclosure rate with only one foreclosure over its 25 year history.

Habitat accepts applications for its housing programs throughout the year. To donate, volunteer or apply, visit habitatchoptank.org or call 410-476-3204.

Spy Eye: Looking Back at Habitat for Humanity Choptank at Twenty-Five

There was an exceptional and historical moment at the Easton Volunteer Fire Department’s meeting hall last Tuesday evening. A distinguished group of founding board members and volunteers of Habitat for Humanity Choptank gathered for an hour-long forum, moderated by Spy columnist and Habitat volunteer George Merrill, to talk about the organization’s extraordinary twenty-five years in building homes in both Talbot and Dorchester Counties for

This conversation was part of a much larger celebration that Habitat was sponsoring to mark the occasion when hundreds of volunteers and donors met to enjoy barbecue and fellowship to celebrate this extraordinary community achievement.

Founders and volunteers Ed Colaprete, Michelle Friend, Jo Merrill, Larry Neviaser, Phyllis Rambo and Winslow Womack, traded memories and anecdotes about the early years, recounting the challenges and successes of the organization after a quarter of a century of service to the community.

The Talbot Spy was there to share some of those precious memories.

This video is approximately nine minutes in length. For more information about Habitat for Humanity Choptank please go here

Sweet: Habitat Choptank Sells Homes 74 and 75

The United Voices of Scott’s United Methodist Church provided music for the Templeton family’s home dedication. Templeton, a member of the congregation who also sings in the choir, bought the rehabbed house on Port Street after meeting Habitat Choptank’s partnership requirements for sweat equity, education classes, savings and debt elimination.

The back to school season was even more exciting this year for two local families who partnered with Habitat for Humanity Choptank to buy homes in Easton. Kristan Green and family moved into a new construction house on Hammond Street in Easton. Green is employed with Wal-Mart in Easton. Over on Port Street, Lakeisha Templeton, who works at Harris Teeter, purchased a rehabbed house as the new home for her family. Both of these houses were completed using durable materials and with additional energy efficiency features so that the finished homes are affordable in both purchase price and in long-term operating costs.

Habitat Choptank construction supervisor Jim Thomas presents Kristan Green with the keys to her family’s new home. Green invested her own sweat equity in the construction of Habitat homes and has now purchased the Hammond Street house with an affordable mortgage.

With the sale of these homes, Habitat Choptank has created a total of 75 new home ownership opportunities since concerned community members began organizing around the local need for affordable housing in 1992. That effort continues as six more Habitat homes are in progress now between Dorchester and Talbot Counties. These houses located in Easton, Cambridge, and Hurlock are a mix of new construction and rehab projects.

Habitat home buyers are hardworking people who cannot qualify for conventional financing but who earn enough to assume the responsibilities of home ownership when provided with ‘right-size mortgages.’ Homes are sold with no profit to Habitat. Each house must serve as the buyer’s residence during the life of the mortgage.

Following settlement, each buyer assumes the full responsibilities of home ownership: repaying a mortgage over the next 30-33 years, maintaining the home, and paying home owner’s insurance and property taxes. With these responsibilities, also come joy and a sense of accomplishment for Green and Templeton, both first-time home buyers, who have now achieved the dream of home ownership.

In keeping with Habitat tradition, a home dedication celebration was hosted at each home. Both families expressed appreciation to Habitat Choptank volunteers, staff and donors for their support.

“I remember being asked at one of the Habitat education workshops what am I most excited about in becoming a home owner,” Green said. “I answered space, comfort and stability. Thank you Habitat Choptank for giving my family a brighter and more secure future.”

Since 1992, Habitat Choptank has empowered 75 individuals and families from Talbot and Dorchester counties to build a better future for themselves through affordable home ownership. Each home buyer contributes 300-400 hours of “sweat equity” in the building of those houses, attends education classes, saves $4,500 for costs at settlement and eliminated any outstanding collection debt for the opportunity to buy a home with an affordable mortgage. While selling its homes to mostly first-time and even first-generation home buyers, Habitat Choptank continues to maintain a less than 2% foreclosure rate with only one home foreclosed over the 25 year history. Currently, 10 buyers are working through Habitat’s multi-step program. Additional applications are welcomed. For information about home ownership, to volunteer with Habitat Choptank or to make a donation, visit www.habitatchoptank.org or call 410-476-3204.

Habitat for Humanity Choptank and Lowes Host ‘How To’ Construction Clinics

Habitat for Humanity Choptank and longtime national partner Lowe’s are hosting a “how-to” construction clinic for women volunteering during the 10th annual National Women Build Week. Taking place May 6 through 14, National Women Build Week encourages women to devote at least one day to helping families build a decent and affordable place they can call home in their local community. Habitat Choptank will be hosting Women Build Days in Cambridge and Easton.

“We look forward to working with Lowe’s for the 10th year of National Women Build Week and the opportunity to engage women in our work,” said Nancy Andrew, Executive Director of Habitat Choptank. “We invite women of all skill levels to join us on the build site and take the clinic hosted by Lowe’s to learn valuable construction skills.”

Similar clinics are taking place across the country and are open to women interested in volunteering at a local Women Build site during National Women Build Week. The local clinic will be held at Lowe’s of Easton at 501 Glebe Road on Wednesday April, 26, 2017 at 6pm. Participants will learn How to Safely Use Hand and Power Tools and How to Finish Interior with Paint and Trim.

To sign up for the clinic, volunteers should contact Habitat Choptank at 410-476-3204 or info@habitatchoptank.org.

Lowe’s helped launch National Women Build Week in 2008, and each year provides the support of Lowe’s Heroes volunteers and conducts how-to clinics at stores to teach volunteers construction skills. This year, Lowe’s contributed nearly $2 million to National Women Build Week. Since its partnership began in 2003, Lowe’s has committed more than $63 million to Habitat and helped nearly 6,500 families improve their living conditions.

About Habitat for Humanity Choptank

Since 1992, Habitat Choptank has empowered 72 working households from Talbot and Dorchester counties to build a better future for themselves through affordable home ownership. Habitat buyers complete financial education, help build their houses, and pay an affordable mortgage. While selling its homes to mostly first time and even first generation home buyers, Habitat Choptank has continued to maintain a less than 2% foreclosure rate with only one home foreclosed over its 24 year history. Currently, eight buyers are working through Habitat’s multi-step program which includes completing 300-400 hours of sweat equity, saving $4,500 for costs at settlement, attending education classes and eliminating any outstanding collectible debt toward the goal of becoming successful tax paying home owner. Additional applicants are welcome.  For information about home ownership, to volunteer with Habitat Choptank or to make a donation, visit www.habitatchoptank.org or call 410-476-3204.

About Habitat for Humanity International

Driven by the vision that everyone needs a decent place to live, Habitat for Humanity began in 1976 as a grassroots effort on a community farm in southern Georgia. The Christian housing organization has since grown to become a leading global nonprofit working in nearly 1,400 communities throughout the U.S. and in more than 70 countries. Families and individuals in need of a hand up partner with Habitat for Humanity to build or improve a place they can call home. Habitat homeowners help build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage. Through financial support, volunteering or adding a voice to support affordable housing, everyone can help families achieve the strength, stability and self-reliance they need to build better lives for themselves. Through shelter, we empower. To learn more, visit habitat.org.

About Lowe’s in the Community

Lowe’s, a FORTUNE® 50 home improvement company, has a 50-year legacy of supporting the communities it serves through programs that focus on K-12 public education and community improvement projects. Since 2007, Lowe’s and the Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation together have contributed more than $250 million to these efforts, and for more than two decades Lowe’s Heroes employee volunteers have donated their time to make our communities better places to live. To learn more, visit Lowe’s Open House digital newsroom or follow @LowesMedia on Twitter.

Habitat for Humanity Choptank Honors its Volunteers

Local Habitat volunteers, supporters and future home buyers came together for an evening dinner at Trappe United Methodist Church to celebrate Habitat for Humanity Choptank’s progress.  Over the last fiscal year, the nonprofit home builder screened 236 intakes for its home ownership program, qualified 5 new home buyer candidates, finished 3 new homes for a total of 69 homes completed historically, had 8 other homes under construction, and completed 38 weatherization projects through its expanded housing services.

golden-hard-hat-steve-martinsen-rhodana

Construction volunteer Steve Martinsen received Habitat Choptank’s Golden Hard Hat Award from neighborhood revitalization manager Rhodana Fields.

These accomplishments were made possible by 506 volunteers who contributed 28,364 hours of service working in construction, helping at the office and tackling special projects, serving on committees and the Board, and volunteering at the ReStore.  It would take 13 full-time employees to generate an equivalent number of hours.

Guests at the event were treated to BBQ by Hot Off the Coals and to ice cream from Scottish Highland Creamery.  The meal was followed by a presentation of volunteer awards.

Steve Martinsen was awarded the Golden Hard Hat which honors a special construction volunteer. Over the last four years, Martinsen has volunteered at least three days a week between jobsites in Cambridge and Easton. “Steve’s standards are high,” said Rhodana Fields, neighborhood revitalization manager. “Stop by the house at 441 Oakley Street in Cambridge to see the columns he built for the front porch. There are over 20 pieces on each column and they add a craftsman touch to the home.” Martinsen is also an enthusiastic teacher always willing to share his knowledge with first-time construction volunteers. “To skills, commitment and love of teaching, I will add that Steve’s generosity and good cheer make him a one of a kind volunteer,” Fields added.

The Golden Hammer, an award to recognize a general affiliate volunteer who serves in more than one role, was presented to Mike Allison. Allison is a longstanding and faithful member of the Tuesday construction crew. “While active in construction, when talk of opening a ReStore began for our affiliate, there was Mike ready to lend a hand by visiting other stores, searching for a facility and finally preparing to open,” said Nancy Andrew, executive director. Allison eventually became chair of the ReStore committee and helped the store relocate to a larger facility in 2015. “Mike’s willingness to get involved, to be part of our community, and to further our mission, make a difference,” noted Andrew.

golden-couplinghildenbrands-nancy

Fred and Lynn Hildenbrand were presented with Habitat Choptank’s inaugural Golden Couple award by executive director Nancy.

The Golden Globe award for outstanding ReStore volunteer was presented to Cathy Beam who joined the store’s volunteer crew in 2011. “You can find this beautiful woman at the store every Wednesday afternoon like clockwork smiling at our guests from behind the register,” explained ReStore manager Chris Smith. She is also one to happily fill extra shifts for her fellow volunteers many of whom she helped to train. “Her creativity and energy make her a joy to be around every time she is with us.”

The final award was presented to Fred and Lynn Hildenbrand. “It’s an honor to present Habitat Choptank’s inaugural Golden Couple award to a pair who have been helping to further the Habitat mission and living out their faith for the past 22 years,” said Pat Ingram, program manager. Lynn serves on the partnership committee. She is currently coaching her fifth home buyer on the journey to home ownership. Meanwhile, Fred is a dedicated Thursday volunteer at the ReStore, where he has been helping out since the store opened in 2010. “Their commitment to Habitat is clear and they are certainly God’s hands and feet on earth.”

The program concluded with a mortgage burning celebration. Joanne Stanford, an employee on the campus of the Calhoun MEBA Engineering School, purchased her St. Michaels home in December 1995. This was a home that she helped to build alongside Habitat volunteers. Habitat Choptank funded the construction of the home and provided the mortgage financing taking back a no-interest loan at settlement. Over 20 years, Stanford has made monthly payments including the principal repayment and escrow for her home owners insurance and property taxes.

The Reverend Duke Dixon, of the Presbyterian Church of Easton, designed and led a special service to commemorate the occasion. At the close, all those gathered joined in singing “This Little Light of Mine” as Stanford put her loan papers to a candle flame.

Now in its 24th year of service, Habitat Choptank has one to two home owners achieve this milestone annually. While the dream of home ownership is complete with each family’s final payment, the responsibilities of ownership continue. Education and support are core components of Habitat’s self-help housing program. Volunteers from the mortgage servicing committee lead an educational workshop to help the home owners who are paying off their 20-year notes to make sound financial and home maintenance plans for the future.

For more information about Habitat Choptank, to buy a home, volunteer or make a donation, call 410-476-3204 or visit www.HabitatChoptank.org.