CHARITY OF THE MONTH – OCTOBER 2010
HOME REPAIR SERVICES – Builder's Abundance
1100 South Division Avenue
Grand Rapids, Michigan 49507
David Jacobs, MSW
Question: How do builders and remodelers help the Home Repair Services organization?
Answer: Many builders and remodelers, such as Shuart Associates and many others, are finding that they can “give back” to us much of what we have lost in the recession. We don’t get near the funding or the new materials, such as windows, doors and cabinets that we used to receive. Now, we are getting some very good used stuff taken very carefully and lovingly out of houses they are remodeling. How it works is the builder/remodeler will ask the homeowner if they would like to donate the “old” cabinets, toilets, appliances, or fixtures/hardware, and they will then remove these articles and bring them down to the Builder’s Abundance Store. The Store will assess the value and charge about 20% of what they believe the “street value” would be. The client then will receive some very good cabinetry or other home accessories for a price they can afford. This gives them “the push” they need to get them started on doing their own remodeling or repairs. Extremely good for their self-esteem and for society, in general…a win-win situation!
To go even a step further, Home Repair Services will take four homeowners a year and have a Resourceful Homeowner of the Year Award program where they actually celebrate with these people who take the materials and services offered and do great things on their own in their own home. They will profile the four different homeowners, get them up on stage and announce the number one winner, who then receives a gift certificate from a local hardware store for $500. The other three receive $200 certificates.
Q: What do you do with the money you receive for the materials you sell?
A: Even though we have about fifteen regular volunteers (more during different programs offered…see below*), there are also thirty paid staff members. Also, the Repair Team is often required to buy products to do their repairs. Not to mention, a large facility that houses all the donated materials to maintain.
*It just so happens that one day a year, the Grand Rapids Home Builder’s Association sponsors a Community Repair Day, where they supply about 80 volunteers and this year, on September 11, they built 12 wheelchair ramps for needy people. This is the 19th year that the HBA has done this Community day.
Q: Along with donated materials, do you receive any cash assistance?
A: Yes, we receive approximately 53% of our funding from federal, state and local funds. In addition, we receive 22% from financial contributions, 13% is from small payments from the clients themselves and 12% from donated goods and services.
Q: How does Home Repair Services differentiate themselves from other organizations, such as, Habitat for Humanity, for instance?
A: Habitat for Humanity, Good Will and other programs like these are all wonderful but the difference is this: they sell through a thrift store setting hoping to use the proceeds to fund another good program, such as building houses. It’s like the Christian schools that have thrift stores where they use the proceeds to fund the schools or decrease tuition. Our organization, #1, is not a thrift store. We’re not open to the public. You need to be registered with our program to buy our supplies. And, #2, we sell our donated materials at a very affordable price to the lower-income homeowner and we don’t use the money/donated materials to fund another organization like many of the other programs do. It cost about double of what we receive to run our Builder’s Abundance Store because we sell things at such low prices. If you read our Mission Statement (see below+), you’ll see why we do what we do.
Q: What are some suggestions to our readers that would be of help to you and this wonderful organization?
A: I’ll give you three suggestions:
- If you, or someone you know, are remodeling a home, please consider donating your old cabinets, appliances, hardware, toilets, sinks, fixtures and anything else that’s still got some life in it, to our Builder’s Abundance Program. We will even pick the stuff up, if need be. The amount of people we can stimulate to do things on their own is directly related to the amount of materials donated.
- Spread the word about our free classes. There are 20-25 classes taught a month and some people come to more than one, while they’re working on their homes. Many of the classes are also taught in Spanish as well as English. The Tuesday night classes are the focus right now because they are concentrating on ways to make your home more energy efficient for the upcoming winter. These are such good classes with four different topics, one each Tuesday of the month. The Saturday classes respond to a need; for instance, if someone wants an electrical class, we’ll find an electrician who will teach basic electrical systems. In the last 12 months, there have been about 550 people who have attended at least one class.
- The third thing I want to emphasize is that we all know people who are trying to hold on to their homes in the face of a foreclosure. Please encourage that person to come and speak with one of our six foreclosure experts. It doesn’t take long to get in for an appointment and it’s a free class. Many people try to navigate their way through the maze of mortgage companies and finance and sometimes they make it but most often their best bet is to have an advocate that knows what they’re doing. We’re here for them. This class is open to the general public. There are so many people in to or close to foreclosure in Kent County. So spread the word on this; that would be extremely helpful.
+The Mission Statement of Home Repair Services:
“To build value and dignity by equipping lower-income homeowners and their families for successful, sustained homeownership, thereby strengthening neighborhoods and our community.”