Habitat for Humanity Choptank Honors its Volunteers

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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.

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