Habitat for Humanity Fredericton (Spring Grant 2018)

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Habitat for Humanity Fredericton is a non-profit charitable organization bringing communities together to help families build strength, stability, and independence through affordable homeownership. An affiliate of the larger global housing organization, Habitat Fredericton believes that mobilizing volunteers and community partners to build affordable housing is a means of breaking the cycle of poverty. At 800 St. Mary's Street in Fredericton, the organization operates ReStore, a discount renovation center. The center accepts donations of new and gently used furniture, appliances, building materials, doors, fixtures, and more, with all of the its proceeds going towards supporting future Habitat Fredericton home builds and related projects.

 

HABITAT FOR HUMANITY FREDERICTON

For the past 10 months, Scoullar Street in Oromocto has been a hub of activity. At the Habitat for Humanity Fredericton build site at 563 Scoullar St., construction materials, equipment, vehicles, and many enthusiastic groups of volunteers have been constantly coming and going from the neighbourhood. The construction of a home for a Habitat partner family has been ongoing since September, relying completely on the efforts of volunteers and professional tradespeople. Alongside them are the new homeowners: a deserving single mother and five of her children, all of whom are onsite to lend a hand. The kids work alongside the volunteers, helping to measure and carry materials; pieces of lumber and drywall are passed from room to room by many hands, all collaborating to ensure that the project is a success. Practically all elements of the home - from the roofing to the natural gas to the hot water pump - were generously donated by local businesses and sponsors.

Since their establishment in 2000, Habitat for Humanity Fredericton has successfully built or renovated 34 homes for low-income families in need. The organization serves approximately half of the province, with their territory encompassing Fredericton and areas of western and northern New Brunswick. Habitat Fredericton relies on grants and donations from local businesses, individuals, government, and community funding organizations in order to fund affordable housing projects for partner families in those regions. A database of over 1200 volunteers pitch in to help with the organization's various initiatives throughout the year, including home builds, fundraisers, at the discount renovation center, or on international Global Village teams.

Last year, Habitat Fredericton was able to achieve a massive goal: housing ten new partner families within that year. This year, they aim to meet the same outcome. Their motto is to give families a ‘hand-up’ rather than a ‘hand-out’, meaning that partner families buy their homes via an interest-free mortgage. In order to be eligible to apply for a home, a family must meet certain criteria, including currently living in substandard housing; having a reliable source of income and the ability to pay a mortgage; and being willing to partner with Habitat Fredericton to advance their mission (if you know a family who would be eligible to apply for a Habitat home, they can be directed to the application link at http://habitatfredericton.com/apply/). Perry Kendall, CEO of Habitat for Humanity Fredericton, explained that being able to provide a safe, affordable home for a family at the end of the building process is unbelievably rewarding: "When families get to jump in, get involved in the project, and then [start] getting ready to move into their new home, their first home of their own - it's huge, it's really exciting."

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OUR CONTRIBUTION

Aside from their home builds, Habitat Fredericton also operates ReStore – a discount renovation center where all proceeds go towards supporting the organization’s future builds and projects. At its new location at 800 St. Mary’s Street in Fredericton, the center gladly accepts donations of new and gently used building materials, furniture, doors and windows, fixtures, appliances, and much more. Once items are brought to the store – either directly by donors or through Habitat’s volunteer-operated pick-up service on Thursdays – they are sold discounted and tax-free to customers. This initiative not only reduces waste by diverting material that would otherwise end up in a landfill, but helps to raise money to continue building homes for families in need of an affordable place to live.

Currently, the Habitat Fredericton ReStore uses a manual tracking process for donor registration and the logging of product; however, due to the immense number of volunteers at Habitat and the various steps that this process involves, it is often easy for things to go wrong. This spring, the Fredericton Community Foundation was able to provide the Habitat for Humanity Fredericton with a grant of $1,868 to be used for hardware for a new point-of-sale and donor management system at ReStore.

The proposed new system will be able to clearly label all donations with a barcode tag that tracks data such as donor number, price, department, and date, allowing ReStore staff and volunteers to follow the full life cycle of a product. Specifically designed for stores who sell second-hand products and rely on volunteer labor, the implementation of this management system will provide staff and volunteers with insight on best-selling items, stale inventory, an effective pricing in a user-friendly format. Kendall described how a new system will be extremely beneficial for ReStore and allow it to operate much more efficiently: "It's a way that we can really accurately keep track of our individual donors and local business donations and be able to […] thank them for the great donations that they're making to our store and to our projects." With the assistance of this new technology, Habitat Fredericton will be able to issue tax receipts easily to all of their contributors at year-end, as well as receive feedback about donor and consumer experiences. Kendall shared that, hopefully, this new level of data management and organization will also result in the growth of product sales, allowing Habitat Fredericton to continue impacting the lives of deserving families in the province.

 

GET INVOLVED

There are countless ways to contribute to Habitat for Humanity Fredericton's efforts and help provide affordable housing to working families in need. Whether it be through helping at a build site, volunteering at ReStore, or donating used furniture, check out how you can make a difference with this impactful organization:

- Financial donations can be accepted online at: https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/7950 , as well by mail or by phone (for contact information, see the Habitat Fredericton website: http://habitatfredericton.com/)

- Donate items to the ReStore at their store location at 800 St. Mary's Street, Fredericton! To see a complete list of the donations that Habitat Fredericton is able to accept for their ReStore, click the following link: http://habitatfredericton.com/donations-we-accept-sell/

- Volunteer during a Build! Whether on an individual, group, or corporate level, volunteers are always welcome to join Habitat crews for the day to hammer, paint, lift, and more. You can also donate your time by acting as a Crew Leader or a Site Host.

- Other opportunities to volunteer with Habitat Fredericton include with fundraising events, at the ReStore, or on year-round committees. Call Habitat at 506-462-4881 to inquire.

Lauren Sieben