Gault Village residents come together to revitalize their own community.

[Blog Post by Sarah Teare, Community Development Director]

We use the word “Community” a lot here at Habitat. The Washtenaw County community is very supportive of our work; we renovate homes in several communities within the county; Habitat volunteers are a community of people committed to changing lives. With the many ways that word is used, there is one definition that resonates with me. Community: a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals. We see this definition of community in the way that volunteers bond with each other when working on a home, in the relationships between Habitat homeowners as they work together to reach their goals, and in the creative and innovative ways that staff and board members challenge all areas of the organization to grow and succeed. And, in the Gault Village Neighborhood in Ypsilanti, the residents are living out this definition of community by strengthening relationships with each other around common interests.

In 2013 Habitat facilitated two Community Planning meetings to bring Gault Village neighbors together to discuss the assets of their neighborhood and to find out what would make it an even better place in which to live. Through fellowship time with each other, neighbors came up with ways to get to know each other better and ideas to improve the look, feel, and pride of their neighborhood.

Here are some of the common interests that turned into actions!

Neighborhood Walk-Abouts: Once a month a different street in Gault Village is highlighted, and residents on that street agree to be “Hosts” and be outside their homes with a small treat and/or information to share with other neighbors who are encouraged to “walk about” the neighborhood and get to know their neighbors better!

Yard & Garden Club: Gault Village has several amazing gardeners, and they are sharing plants with other neighbors and offering tips on how to keep lawns and gardens beautiful. Members of the club attended Growing Hope’s Garden leadership Training Institute, they designed a brochure to promote their efforts, and held their first plant sale in June to raise funds for neighborhood entrance gardens and signs.


Partnering with Erickson Elementary School: The first annual Fall Clean-up Day was held in November with over 35 students and residents raking leaves in the neighborhood. Monthly Yard & Garden Club meetings and the plant sale are held at Erickson, and the club has helped the school with gardens and plantings.

While Habitat helped bring people together to start the discussions, it is the Gault Village Community that is dedicated to being the change that enhances the quality of life for those who live in their neighborhood.

So, how do you fit into the notion of “Community” within Habitat? We’d love to hear from you! Email me at steare@h4h.org or 734.677.1558, ext 130.




Habitat is a community of dreamers.

[Blog Post by Maggie Porter Kratz, Development Director]

Habitat is a community of dreamers. We believe that we can change the world by opening doors for hard-working families who desperately want a better life for their family and are willing to sacrifice to make that happen. We believe that opening those doors and setting those folks up for success starts a ripple effect in their lives, and in the entire community.

Habitat’s community shows that they believe it by putting in long days on work sites, donating to our ReStore, and writing checks to make sure we can buy the supplies to renovate homes. I’m blown away by the generosity that surrounds us.

But the amazing thing about giving, is that when you give, you are rewarded more abundantly with the joy you have fostered. I get to visit families after they’ve been in their home for a year, or two, or 20, and the excitement that families radiate on the day they cut the ribbon at their dedication is still there. It shines through as they show you their kitchens, and their gardens, and share about the comradery with volunteers who worked on their home.

My job at Habitat is to make sure that we have the funding we need to meet our goals and help the number of families that we’ve promised. I’ve been tasked with strengthening our base as we grow to help more families.

Right now we need more dreamers who want to be part of this great joy. We need you.

We especially need folks who will join our HopeBuilders and give monthly, and we need folks who are interested in committing to a significant, multi-year gift.  Please email me at mporter@h4h.org or call me at 734.677.1558, ext 119 to discuss how you can be involved. 




12 friends, a grill and…Habitat? Bachelor Party Build Day!

[Blog Post by Carmen Gillespie, Development Associate]

One of the things I love most about my job at Habitat is meeting and getting to know so many different kinds of people. As the Construction Volunteer Coordinator, I meet wonderful people from all walks of life who, somehow, have one thing in common: the desire to give back to their community.  It always amazes me (although I’m not sure why, since I believe the majority of people inherently want to do what they can to make the world a better place) when I hear from individuals and groups that want to give up a day of their own free time and come out and volunteer with Habitat. Waking up early, braving the extreme cold or heat, being asked to work on a construction site when, more often times than not, the tasks at hand are completely foreign to them…ON A SATURDAY?! Sounds crazy, but people do this all the time. And they love it. And it’s awesome.

I was recently contacted by a guy who said he was interested in scheduling a group volunteer day for his brother’s…wait for it…Bachelor Party! (How awesome!!  I thought to myself, I want to be friends with these people.) Things went along as usual when scheduling groups; we worked together to find a date that was mutually available between our construction team and the Bachelor Party participants, I sent him all of the important details to know about a construction volunteer day, and then we both went on with our lives.

Saturday, May 31, 2014…the day of the Bachelor Party Build Day arrived! 10 men and two women pulled up to 1169 Lexington Parkway in Ypsilanti at 9am, donned in matching green t-shirts that read “Drew’s Bachelor Party: May 31, 2014” just below a sketched image of Drew….there was no mistaking who the Bachelor was! Dave, the Habitat Houseleader, began going over the tasks for the day, and quickly realized about five of the participants were skilled in construction! Bonus! The day began, and things were going great. Lunch time arrived, and our construction team (brilliantly) had the idea of bringing a grill…Drew’s brother came prepared with a full cooler stocked from Knight’s Meat Market here in Ann Arbor. After lunch, the crew continued (with full stomachs) their tasks and the day wrapped up around 4pm, having completed more work than planned and more fun than expected. Success!










When I asked Scott, the Bachelor’s brother, whythey decided to volunteer with Habitat in lieu of a more traditional Bachelor Party, he explained, “My brother is not really a Vegas kind of guy, so I asked him what he wanted to do, and he said a Habitat project!  It turned out to be a big hit with the whole crowd. My little sister Allison overcame her trepidation and learned to operate a large nail gun.  It was a big win.”

Well, Scott, it was a big win for us as well. The first rule on a Habitat construction site is to be safe, but the second rule is always to have fun. Who knew Habitat could be fun? Just ask any of Drew’s Bachelor Party guests, and I’m sure you’d get the same answer…we did! Thank you to all of the Bachelor Party participants, and to everyone who volunteers with Habitat. We truly could not change lives without you.

Regardless of your age, skill set, background, or any of the many reasons that make us all different, we have a place for you at Habitat. I’d love to get to know you, and help you get out on site to volunteer…and have some fun! E-mail me at carmen@h4h.org or give me a call at 734-677-1558 ext 121, I’d love to hear from you.

25 years of changing lives in Washtenaw County: A note from Sarah Stanton, Executive Director

This year we celebrate 25 years of building and renovating in Washtenaw County. More than 150 families and 377 children now have a home of their own. We’ve been sorting through old pictures and compiled some of these awesome memories into a video for our recent Bid to Build: Gala and Auction, where we celebrated 25 years of changing lives in Washtenaw County (click here to check out a few of the pictures and some of our history). In addition to the tube socks, short shorts and big hair, there are several images that have struck me in looking back at our history.

Habitat started out building new houses, one house per year, slowly growing to three, four and five houses per year. As we have scaled up our operation to serve more families, there are many more similarities to our early work than there are differences. In 1990, just as now, we relied heavily on volunteer labor. Today, approximately 2,000 volunteer hours go into every home renovation, and the relationships built on the worksite are core to our sustainability. While 25 years have passed and we are now renovating 17 homes this year, there are familiar faces of volunteers and families who are still very much vital to our daily work in 2014. These past 25 years would not have been possible without so many of you who have supported Habitat in many different ways – thank you for making these past 25 years great. We look forward to partnering with you for another wonderful 25 years! Interested in learning how we got to where we are today? Click here for our full history!