Charlottesville Habitat Meets with White House Social Innovation Team
This month, a Habitat delegation responded to an invitation by White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation to travel to Washington to share its unique approach to neighborhood revitalization.
Foundations poured at new Burnet Commons III mixed-income neighborhood
The first six townhomes at Burnet Commons III: The Park are coming to life on Elliott Avenue in the City. Foundations have been poured and soon passersby will witness volunteers joining new Partner Families in framing up the home of their dreams.
Habitat Heroes: The Midweek Crew
It has often been said that volunteers are the engine that powers Habitat’s quest to transform lives and communities. This month, Habitat is honored to share the stories of a key volunteer group that truly makes the engine run.
Habitat Store Volunteer Spotlight: Tony Waterfield
In just a few short months, Tony Waterfield has logged an incredible 50 volunteer hours at The Habitat Store. Formerly a residential contractor in Charlottesville, Tony was inspired to volunteer with Habitat to help local families achieve their dreams of homeownership.
Kids Connect: Good Neighbors, Good Teachers
The Habitat Kids Connect program has tripled in size during its three years of existence.
Established in 2012 with the help and insight of Partner Family Janet Houchens, who recognized that her children would benefit from Partner Family education and Good Neighbor Training, Kids Connect introduces children of Partner Families to the Habitat mission, helps them to develop the skills needed to be “good neighbors”, and enhances their understanding of their parents’ homeownership goals.
Kids Connect succeeds because so many volunteers are willing to step up and make a difference.
Here are a few of their stories:
Retired school teachers Carolyn Brown and Lucy Burnette have contributed hours and hours of their time to HFHGC as key volunteers for Kids Connect. Carolyn and Lucy work alongside staff and other key volunteers to write curriculum, instruct volunteers, and manage classrooms of children ages 5-18.
Through hands-on, age-appropriate activities, Carolyn, Lucy, and community volunteers introduce children of our Partner Families to the responsibilities and benefits of living in a mixed-income community. Together, volunteers and children practice active listening, problem solving, teamwork, and other skills.
In their eyes, Kids Connect is an important program because it focuses on the next generation, preparing children to live happily and safely in Habitat communities.
“Moving is as big of a deal for the kids as it is for their parents,” said Carolyn. “We try to give children experiences that will help them learn how to be a good neighbor, what property means, and how to take care of it.”
In addition to learning these important skills, by participating in the Kids Connect program, children are also contributing to their family’s required sweat equity hours to help them qualify for a new home.
“There is beauty in using this communal space to listen to the changing life stories that each Partner Family child shares,” said Lucy. “You hear stories that help to form special connections with the families.”
Karen Dolan has been working with Kids Connect toddlers (newborn – four-year-olds) for almost two years, in addition to serving as a Partner Family advocate. She loves interacting with children as they are learning to speak and play with each other, and recognizes that Kids Connect also helps Partner Family parents feel connected to each other, and to volunteers, as part of a greater supportive community network.
“I come back each month for the smiles and the hugs,” Karen said. “When a little one grins from ear to ear, they hold nothing back”.
All of HFHGC’s key volunteers recommend the experience to anyone interested in combining a love for children with a contribution toward ending the affordable housing crisis in Charlottesville. Many thanks to Carolyn, Lucy, Karen, and all other Kids Connect supporters for their good work!
Want to learn more or get involved with Kids Connect? Click here or call Lydia Prokosch at 434-293-9066434-293-9066.