Happy New Year! 1,346 Families Served.

Dear Friends,

July 1 marks a new fiscal year for Habitat, and we are looking forward to a new year working in partnership with you to help change more lives in Washtenaw County. It is also a time to take a minute to share what you helped us accomplish during the past 12 months:

  • 18 homes renovated and sold to 18 hardworking, low-income families in Washtenaw County
  • 10 homes built for families in Guatemala and Haiti through our International commitment
  • 100 families received healthy home kits (smokeless stove, latrine, and water purification) in Guatemala through our International commitment
  • 3rd consecutive year that we sent a team of local volunteers to Guatemala to build houses for Guatemalan families in need
  • 101 additional families served, either by critical repair/weatherization or furnace replacement
  • 946 additional families assisted with a new, energy efficient refrigerator, a test and tune-up to their furnace or an exterior home improvement to their home
  • Numerous community development activities coordinated, engaging over 730 residents and 345 volunteers contributing over 1,500 hours in revitalizing neighborhoods
  • 75 families received individualized credit counseling
  • 96 families attended financial education classes and seminars
  • 775 tons of waste diverted from the landfill by our ReStore
  • $306,267 in taxes paid by Habitat homeowners in Washtenaw County last year alone

The numbers are astounding. But as with anything in life, it’s not only the sheer volume that matters, it’s the individual experiences that really drive home the great work we are doing.

It’s the mother at her closing that told me how proud she is to be able to provide a stable home for her daughter. She grew up moving from apartment to apartment, changing schools, packing up, making and losing friends, over and over. It was her goal to secure a home before her daughter started first grade, and Habitat helped her achieve it.

It’s the many, many people that we speak with on the telephone that are grateful we were able to help them tune up or replace their furnace, an expense that they were unsure how they were going to afford, until they heard about Habitat’s program.

It’s the young couple that applied to purchase a home through Habitat and found that they needed to work on reducing their credit. They were determined, and worked with our credit counselor to improve their debt to income ratio so that they could afford to purchase a home through Habitat.

There are so many individual moments throughout the year, so many times every week, nearly every day, where I am struck anew with what a great privilege it is to be involved in this work and how grateful I am for all of the people like you who truly make this work possible.

Thank you for your role in the success of the organization this year and for your commitment to the great work ahead of us.

With gratitude,


Sarah Stanton

At Habitat, We Do So Much More Than Build Houses!

[Blog by Sophia Williams, Development Associate, Special Events & Marketing]

Habitat’s Exterior Home Improvement Projects help homeowners with exterior improvements to their home that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford or do themselves. These projects consist of installing gutter guards, trimming hedges, putting in mulch, cleaning up existing plants, trimming trees, weeding, and any other exterior clean-up that volunteers are able to do. We recently had volunteers Bryan and Japeth, who are brothers through Big Brothers Big Sisters, volunteer on these projects!

Japeth and his ‘big brother’ Bryan volunteered on Habitat’s Exterior Projects in June. When they arrived, Japeth was apprehensive but as soon as he saw the tools they were using, he was ready to jump right in! Japeth was especially excited about the bigger tools they were using to chop down trees and large shrubs. He likes being outside and is a very active young man so it is no surprise that he enjoyed the exterior projects.

Japeth lives in the same neighborhood where he and Bryan were volunteering, just a few blocks over from the exterior project they were working on. Bryan said this was one of the main reasons he chose to volunteer at Habitat – he wanted Japeth to get involved in his own neighborhood and make connections with the people they were helping.

“I’m into the idea of community and Habitat really builds this. You can come with different skills and it doesn’t matter. People are brought together that might not otherwise know each other,” said Bryan.

Japeth and Bryan are both very active, and volunteering with Habitat gave them an activity that will improve the community they live in, as well as strengthen their bond.

Salieta Jenkins was one of the homeowners that received exterior work on her home that day. She worked alongside volunteers to mow her lawn, tighten shutters, put in new mulch, and install gutter guards on her home.

“Everything was so wonderful. My place looks so much better,” said Salieta.

Having the homeowners work with volunteers connects our community and bridges the gap between people in our neighborhoods.

“It was nice to have a face to connect with the home that we are helping,” said Bryan.

We are so grateful for volunteers like Bryan and Japeth who dedicate their time to making a difference in our community. We hope to see you again, Bryan and Japeth!


Mother Finds Strength in Homeownership

[Blog by Sophia Williams, Development Associate, Special Events & Marketing]

I feel like it’s one of my biggest investments in myself and my family. It’s not just for me; I’m doing this for my girls. I want them to carry on and see that you can do anything. You don’t have to limit yourself – if you want something, go for it!” LaKeisha Riggs, Habitat Homeowner

LaKeisha Riggs is a hardworking mother of two girls, La’Kya, 13 years old, and La’Naysha, 8 years old. She recently closed on her Habitat home, 1222 Clarita St. in Ypsilanti, on June 28, 2016. Her daughters are both thrilled to not share a room anymore. Living in town homes they were never able to have their own space because of the high cost of rent.

“Having a teenager and a younger child sharing the same room is a challenge. So with them having their own space where they can express themselves more and just be themselves is pretty awesome to me,” said LaKeisha.

LaKeisha comes from a close knit family that has their faith as a strong drive in their lives. Her home was sponsored by the ‘House of Faith’ which is a group of churches that come together every year to provide the volunteer and financial support for a Habitat home renovation.

“My girls and I pray together day and night and we know that each day we are given is a blessing. Being a part of the Habitat family is definitely a blessing for us,” said LaKeisha.

LaKeisha heard of Habitat through SiDonna Boswell, a Habitat homeowner that closed on her home back in 2004. Knowing how important homeownership was in her own life, SiDonna pushed LaKeisha to stay on top of her sweat equity hours and to keep pursuing her dream of homeownership.

During her sweat equity hours, LaKeisha said she learned how to do things she would never even think of. Being the only girl with two brothers, she is used to calling them or her Dad to help with maintenance. Now, LaKeisha is empowered to fix things on her home without having to call them!

“Habitat has definitely been a great experience and I think anyone that wants a home and is looking at homeownership should try and be a part of this program. It is so worth it,” LaKeisha continues, “My dream has always been to own my own home and always take care of my family. Just the thought in itself is so amazing, a place to call my own HOME. Wow – that even sounds wonderful!”

Congratulations and welcome home, LaKeisha, La’Kya and La’Naysha!

Thank you to all of the congregations that were part of the House of Faith. It is because of your continued sponsorship that we are able to provide LaKeisha and her daughters with a safe and stable place to call home.


Googlers Habitating

[Blog by Sophia Williams, Development Associate, Special Events & Marketing]

Every year, Google dedicates the month of June to giving back to their community through their program GoogleServe. Google in Ann Arbor chose to spend one of those weekends swinging hammers at Habitat! This dedicated bunch were hard at work starting at 9 a.m. sharp on Friday, June 24. By this time they already knew the drill from volunteering the day before. Even though it was early, these Googler volunteers jumped right back in to demo work inside a future home while Hayley Turner, the head Googler of the group, was wrapping up their waiver forms outside.

“As soon as we had enough employees to participate in GoogleServe we got started. We want to make a difference in our community,” said Hayley.

GoogleServe is a program through Google that offers employees time off from work to give back in their own community. As a company, Google also matches the employee contributions of both time and financial support to charitable organizations.

Google’s first day volunteering at Habitat was all demolition work. They spent the day ripping out all the interior walls, all the dry way, and even learned how to use a sawzall to cut metal pipes out of the walls and floor. They also put down plywood to prep for the hardwood floors.

“We were cutting the pieces of plywood so they would fit, and would line them up a certain way so we could glue and screw them down. I did not know what I was doing but luckily, Dave, the house leader for the day, was extremely helpful!” said Hayley.

Working as a team with Habitat, Google gets to know the people they are in the office with every day but don’t get a chance to interact with. Volunteering at Habitat gives them this opportunity while connecting them with their community.

“We are just very happy to be here and hope that we can continue volunteering with Habitat in the near future,” said Hayley.

Thank you, Google! We are so grateful for you!

 Are you interested in getting your company, church group, or community group out to volunteer with Habitat?