Habitat for Humanity Choptank Honors its Volunteers

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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.

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