News from the Noteworthy
Building Homes, Community and Hope
Habitat for Humanity of Otsego County is one of the local chapters, called affiliates, of Habitat for Humanity International. Our official mission is “seeking to put God’s love into action, Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities and hope” with a vision of a world where everyone has a decent place to live.
In the early 1970s, on a community farm outside of Americus, Georgia, Linda and Millard Fuller developed their idea of “partnership housing,” in which those in need of adequate shelter worked side by side with volunteers to build decent, affordable houses. Thanks in no small part to the personal involvement of former President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn and the awareness they have raised, Habitat now works in all 50 states and in more than 70 countries. The key to Habitat is partnering with potential homeowners. Partner families actively participate, actually wielding hammers and drills to build their own homes.
Habitat for Humanity of Otsego County offers services to residents of Otsego County, building houses and helping people partner to purchase them. Habitat Otsego was established in 1989 and have built more than 30 houses in neighborhoods all across the county. Habitat Otsego has been building one home a year for a long time, but the pandemic limited the number of volunteers allowed together inside the houses and discouraged people from volunteering. That is turning around now with a renewed interest in volunteering. Not everyone has to be a house-builder. There are other opportunities for volunteers such as helping to manage finances, fundraising, or providing support to the partner homeowners.
Another way to help is to join the governing Board of Directors who are also all volunteers with widely varying talents and expertise. Habitat for Humanity of Otsego County is one of just a few all-volunteer chapters. Most Habitat affiliates have paid staff for administration. The only paid position at Habitat Otsego is the part-time building supervisor, a retired contractor who shows volunteers how to do it all so the houses are superbly well built.
During the pandemic, not only did the pool of volunteers shrink, but construction materials, like everything else these days, suddenly became very expensive and hard to find. As a nonprofit organization, funds for house construction come strictly from donations and grants. Most of these are small, personal donations by individuals but a collection of church groups and charitable foundations also support the effort. Another source of support is construction firms and other local businesses who contribute their services at a favorable price for a good cause. Thank you, Otsego Ready Mix, Alpine Roofing, Unique Builders, and Parker Excavating, for example.
Habitat Otsego will finish its 37th house this summer and is already well underway with house number 38 next door. If you wish to join in this effort, the houses currently being built are on McFarland Road, off NY Route 205, about a mile north of the turnoff to West Oneonta. If you’re interested in volunteering, or just want to learn more, please call 607-432-7478. Leave a message because there is no secretary, but the phone messages are checked by the affiliate President! Alternately, contact them by sending email to HabitatOtsego@gmail.com. Visit Habitat Otsego’s website for more information at HabitatOtsego.org.