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.

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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.

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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.

Habitat for Humanity Tops BUILDER 100 List for Private U.S. Home Builders

John Burtman Wayne Towers WAH

Dorchester: Construction volunteers John Burtman and Wayne Towers

BUILDER magazine has ranked Habitat for Humanity as the No. 1 private home builder on BUILDER 100, its annual listing of the largest U.S. home builders. This is the second year in a row Habitat’s work across the country has been recognized as a top builder of affordable housing in the U.S.

Each year, BUILDER compiles data from U.S. builders and ranks them by the number of closings for BUILDER 100. With 3,237 closings in 2015, Habitat topped the private home builder list and placed No. 16 on the comprehensive list.

“The homes that we build are the most visible part of our mission,” said Nancy Andrew, executive director of Habitat Choptank. “While we are an affordable home builder, we also bring value to our communities by building quality, durable and energy efficient homes that last. We don’t build a code minimum house.”

Better living conditions with an affordable monthly mortgage cost and with financial education can remove barriers to opportunity that might have been part of a family’s life for years, if not generations. “In healthy, affordable housing, people are empowered to make forward looking choices.”

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Talbot: Construction volunteers Gerry Fairbanks, David Perry, George DeSimone, and Norm Franck

Habitat for Humanity Choptank is one of nearly 1,400 independent Habitat organizations in the U.S. and has worked in Dorchester and Talbot counties for 24 years, helping families achieve the strength, stability and self-reliance that comes from buying a home with an affordable mortgage.

“We are honored to be recognized as the top private home builder on this year’s BUILDER 100,” said Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity International. “This is a wonderful achievement for us and it could not have been accomplished without the support of our donors and volunteers, who help us empower families through shelter in every community we work in throughout the U.S.”

About Habitat for Humanity Choptank

Since 1992, Habitat Choptank has empowered 69 working households from Talbot and Dorchester counties to build a more stable and secure future for themselves through home ownership. Each home buyer contributed 300-400 hours of “sweat equity” in the building of those houses.  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 24 year history. Currently, six buyers are working through Habitat’s multi-step program toward the goal of becoming successful home owners.  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 has grown from a grassroots effort that began on a community farm in southern Georgia in 1976 to a global nonprofit housing organization in nearly 1,400 communities across the U.S. and in over 70 countries. People 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.

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 202 intakes for its home ownership program, qualified 7 new home buyer candidates, finished 3 new homes for a total of 66 homes completed historically, had 3 other homes under construction, and maintained a less than 2% foreclosure rate with only one foreclosure since its founding in 1992.

These accomplishments were made possible by 524 volunteers who contributed 25,757 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 12 full-time employees to generate an equivalent number of hours.

Guests at the event were treated to BBQ by Darnell’s Grill and Catering and to ice cream from Scottish Highland Creamery. The meal was followed by a presentation of volunteer awards.
Dick Codrington, a longtime volunteer on the Tuesday Crew, was awarded the Golden Hard Hat which honors a special construction volunteer. Over the last fiscal year alone, Codrington logged 293 hours of service which equals a nearly perfect attendance rate on the build site. “Dick is a quiet man with few things to say but when he does speak up, we listen,” said construction supervisor Jim Thomas. “He is willing to share his skills and knowledge by teaching the other volunteers whether they are old or new.”

Habitat Choptank’s recent annual volunteer celebration included recognition for volunteers who had served an exceptional number of hours.  Those volunteering 200-499 hours during the last year included (from left to right) front row: Bill Griffith, Wayne Towers, Sandy Holicky, Terri Spence, John Tochko, Steve Clineburg, Herbert Andrew, Jerry Fairbanks, George DeSimone, Dick Codrington and John Burtuman . Back row: Tom Wilson, Claude Maechling, Dick Weaver, Joan Bailey, Mike Allison, David Perry, Steve Martinsen, Dick Deerin, Nancy Lytell, Brad Baker, and Fred Haller. Photo by: Jill Jasuta

Habitat Choptank’s recent annual volunteer celebration included recognition for volunteers who had served an exceptional number of hours. Those volunteering 200-499 hours during the last year included (from left to right) front row: Bill Griffith, Wayne Towers, Sandy Holicky, Terri Spence, John Tochko, Steve Clineburg, Herbert Andrew, Jerry Fairbanks, George DeSimone, Dick Codrington and John Burtuman . Back row: Tom Wilson, Claude Maechling, Dick Weaver, Joan Bailey, Mike Allison, David Perry, Steve Martinsen, Dick Deerin, Nancy Lytell, Brad Baker, and Fred Haller. Photo by: Jill Jasuta

The Golden Hammer, an award to recognize a general affiliate volunteer, was presented to Bob Wenneson who has served on the Partnership Committee coaching future home buyers for six years.

“After working with Bob on the committee, it became apparent that his attention to detail was a major skill we needed to tap into,” remarked program manager Pat Ingram. Last year, the Habitat Choptank officially adopted a new dual financing policy for mortgages in partnership with the United States Department of Agriculture. This policy is the result of extended inquiry: talking with other rural Habitat affiliates who partner with USDA, reading the guidance from Habitat International, and running the numbers to be sure this change would be affordable for Habitat home buyers in Dorchester and Talbot Counties. “When we first began to explore the USDA 502 loan program, we naturally turned to Bob.” Almost two years later, he has coached the first Habitat home buyers through the USDA loan process. “Our gratitude to Bob is immeasurable.”

The Golden Globe award for outstanding ReStore volunteer was presented to Lynn Leibid who joined the store’s volunteer crew in 2014.

“Since then she has continued to raise the bar for volunteers and staff,” explained ReStore manager Chris Smith. “Every Wednesday, she comes in the doors at the store and hits the ground running.”

ReStore volunteers Rory Callahan, Lew Frizte and Nathan Kish were also honored for each putting in over 1,000 hours during the year. “Team ReStore is fortunate to have dedicated volunteers like these men,” noted Walls. This was an especially busy year for the store which this past May moved to a new location at 8610 Commerce Drive in Easton. “While we just moved down the street, it was a big undertaking and we couldn’t have done it without our hardworking volunteers.”

The 2015 Founders’ Award was given to Steve Clineburg. This award goes to a volunteer who gives time and talent above and beyond expectations, demonstrates creativity or innovation, and inspires others to deepen their commitment to Habitat. Clineburg got involved with Habitat Choptank after retiring as Senior Vice President and Regional General Counsel for Boston Properties and moving to St. Michaels full-time.

“Steve is a tireless ambassador for our mission,” shared executive director Nancy Andrew. Clineburg recently concluded his second term on the Board of Directors. “Over the last six years, he completed two very productive years as president. During that time, he has also helped to lead the resource development committee as well as serve on site selection, executive, finance and nominating committees. “Steve was a huge supporter of the St. Michaels Faith Build, he has sought to bring new ideas to into our organization by networking with other affiliates, and he has reviewed and edited more legal documents than we have time to list. His service has made a difference.”

In closing out the evening’s program, executive director Nancy Andrew reminded volunteers how important they are in helping to educate the community about Habitat’s affordable housing program.

“People volunteer with Habitat Choptank for many reasons. What unites is the life changing impact of affordable housing.” Following a report on the successful conclusion of the nonprofit’s 25 in 5 initiative, which resulted in 31 housing solutions over a five-year period, a new plan for growth was shared. Through “We are Habitat: Building Neighborhoods across Dorchester and Talbot Counties,” Habitat Choptank will be working to increase its annual house production to eight homes per year across four communities, and establishing a Neighborhood Revitalization program in order to offer an expanded array of services in partnership with residents in target neighborhoods.

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Good Stuff: Talbot Bank Employees Donate Funds for Lunches for a Habitat for Humanity Builders

Employees of The Talbot Bank, a member of Shore Bancshares community of companies, contributed funds to provide lunch for each volunteer who lent their time and talents at the Habitat for Humanity Choptank build located at 233 Port Street in Easton, Maryland this past July. Habitat Choptank paired with Pitcher & Basin, a Catholic Youth Ministry who invited the young volunteers to give back to their community.

Talbot Bank employee Rachel Miles, Teller (far right) and Stephanie Dulin, Assistant Branch Manager (not pictured), served lunch to young volunteers from the Diocese of Wilmington during a recent  build for the Habitat for Humanity Choptank.

Talbot Bank employee Rachel Miles, Teller (far right) and Stephanie Dulin, Assistant Branch Manager (not pictured), served lunch to young volunteers from the Diocese of Wilmington during a recent build for the Habitat for Humanity Choptank.

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Habitat for Humanity Choptank Awarded State Tax Credits

The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development has award Community Investment Tax Credits to Habitat for Humanity Choptank in support of its affordable home building program. Tax credits serve as incentives for individuals and businesses to financially support costs of approved projects while decreasing their state tax obligation. Habitat Choptank’s tax credit allocation is available to donors contributing $500 or more. Funds raised from this allocation help with construction costs at the five-home development on Port Street in Easton. Designated contributions earn state tax credits equal to 50% of the gift amount. This is in addition to the standard deductions on Federal and State taxes for charitable gifts.

“The state tax program has proven to be a benefit for our mission and our donors,” explains Nancy Andrew, executive director of Habitat Choptank. “It helps raise much need funds for our affordable housing program and helps our donors decrease their state tax liability.” The credits can be used by the donor in one tax year or carried out over five years.

For the local community and state government, Habitat’s home ownership program in turn helps to increase local property tax revenues. Habitat Choptank sells its homes for the cost of land, materials and supervision to qualifying working people who are not able to purchase a home through the conventional market. Provided with affordable mortgage financing, these home buyers become tax paying property owners thereby investing back into the community that has helped to make their dream of home ownership a reality. Since 1992, Habitat Choptank has completed 63 homes between Dorchester and Talbot counties. While selling its homes to mostly first time and even first generation home buyers, the nonprofit continues to maintain a less than 2% foreclosure rate with only one foreclosure to date.

For additional information about the tax credits, contact Nancy Andrew, executive director, at 410-476-3204 or director@habitatchoptank.org .

Habitat Choptank has Maryland state tax credits to offer donors contributing to its five-home development in Easton.  The first three homes on the site are completed and have been sold to home buyers.  The two home duplex is now under construction.  Tax credits provide donors with a tax credit on their state income taxes in addition to standard charitable deductions. Photo by: Tim Poly

Habitat Choptank has Maryland state tax credits to offer donors contributing to its five-home development in Easton. The first three homes on the site are completed and have been sold to home buyers. The two home duplex is now under construction. Tax credits provide donors with a tax credit on their state income taxes in addition to standard charitable deductions. Photo by: Tim Poly

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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 76 intakes for its home ownership program, qualified 4 partner families, finished 4 new homes for a total of 63 homes completed historically, had 5 other homes under construction, and maintained a less than 2% foreclosure rate with only one foreclosure since its founding in 1992.

These accomplishments were made possible by over 580 volunteers who contributed 22,979 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 11 full-time employees to generate an equivalent number of hours.

Habitat Choptank’s recent annual volunteer celebration included recognition for volunteers who had served an exceptional number of hours.  Those volunteering 200-499 hours during the last year included (from left to right) front row: Joan Bailey, Sean Callahan, Dick Deerin and Herbert Andrew. Back row: Dick Weaver, Byron Belcher, Mike Allison, George DeSimone, John Tochko, Miles Circo, Tony Passarella, Claude Maechling, and Chuck Weber.

Habitat Choptank’s recent annual volunteer celebration included recognition for volunteers who had served an exceptional number of hours. Those volunteering 200-499 hours during the last year included (from left to right) front row: Joan Bailey, Sean Callahan, Dick Deerin and Herbert Andrew. Back row: Dick Weaver, Byron Belcher, Mike Allison, George DeSimone, John Tochko, Miles Circo, Tony Passarella, Claude Maechling, and Chuck Weber.

Guests at the event were treated to BBQ by Darnell’s Grill and Catering and to ice cream from Scottish Highland Creamery. The meal was followed by a presentation of volunteer awards.

Tony Passarella, a longtime volunteer on the Thursday Crew, was awarded the Golden Hard Hat which honors a special construction volunteer. “Tony always has a smile and nothing is too demanding or difficult,” said construction supervisor Steve Thomas. “He’s happiest when his hands are busy.” Tony’s dedication is also evident in his care for what he does. “He has a keen eye for detail and is a craftsman at everything he undertakes.”

The Golden Hammer, an award to recognize a general affiliate volunteer, was presented to Chuck Weber. Weber is a regular construction volunteer and assists as a Crew Chief, serves on the Faith Relations Committee and has been a leader with the Dorchester County Ecumenical Build. The Dorchester County Ecumenical Build is a partnership with area churches which has raised over $90,000 and provided hundreds of volunteer hours for the construction of the Habitat home being built on 501 Edgewood Avenue in Cambridge.

“Chuck came on board as a construction volunteer shortly before he retired,” remarked construction supervisor Rhodana Fields. His career as an engineer has served the jobsite well. “And his faith, sense of humor, and work ethic are contagious.”

The Golden Globe award for outstanding ReStore volunteer was presented to Bill Griffith. If the ReStore truck has come to your home or site to pick up a donation on a Saturday, odds are, you’ve met Griffith.

“He joined our team in 2012 as a fill-in driver but he quickly became a go-to guy,” explained ReStore manager Chris Walls. In the last two years, Griffith has taken only two Saturdays off. “He has a full-time job and still every Saturday he stays with us until close to make sure we have enough hands on our busiest days.”

ReStore volunteers Rory Callahan and Nathan Kish were also honored for each putting in over 1,000 hours there during the year. Callahan volunteered 1,767 hours and Kish invested 1,371. Last year the ReStore generated over $131,592 in net proceeds to support Habitat Choptank’s affordable home ownership program. “Rory and Nathan help make this success possible,” noted Walls.

The 2014 Founders’ Award was given to Jennifer Swann. This award goes to a volunteer who gives time and talent above and beyond expectations, demonstrates creativity or innovation, and inspires others to deepen their commitment to Habitat. Swann, a principal with Venture Title Company, is the chair of the mortgage servicing committee and has been volunteering with Habitat since 2000.

“Jennifer traverses the fine line of professionalism and compassion,” remarked program manager Pat Ingram. Swann’s company provides settlement services for all Habitat Choptank closings. She guides each new homebuyer through the settlement process. “Jennifer also works hard each month to see that our home owners stay on track with their mortgage payments even when life challenges get in the way of their best intentions.”

In closing out the evening’s program, executive director Nancy Andrew reminded volunteers how important they are in helping to educate the community about Habitat’s affordable housing program. Findings from a feasibility study completed during the year revealed that while an overwhelming majority of community members have a “positive” or “very positive” impression of Habitat Choptank, the operational details of the housing program – the need for it, how it works, and its impact – are not widely understood. “Each of you see firsthand how hard our home buyers work for the opportunity to purchase a home. The hundreds of hours of sweat equity they invest plus saving thousands of dollars for settlement, paying off any outstanding debt to become debt-free, and completing education seminars,” said Andrew. Habitat home buyers purchase their homes with a 30-year mortgage and are responsible for repaying that loan. “We need you to talk to your friends and neighbors so they understand how we are empowering our working neighbors to build better futures for themselves through home ownership.”

Jennifer Swann (center), the current chair of Habitat Choptank’s Mortgage Servicing Committee and a volunteer with Habitat since 2000, was presented with the 2014 Founders Award by executive director Nancy Andrew (right) and program manager Pat Ingram.

Jennifer Swann (center), the current chair of Habitat Choptank’s Mortgage Servicing Committee and a volunteer with Habitat since 2000, was presented with the 2014 Founders Award by executive director Nancy Andrew (right) and program manager Pat Ingram.

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