Lead gift builds strong foundation
The challenge gift – just over $100,000 – was given by Tom Montgomery, chairman of the board of SAW Habitat for Humanity and CEO of Old Colony Construction, and sets a standard in giving to provide resources to rehabilitate homes, restore communities, and build a 25-home community.
Last year Montgomery was chosen to lead the organization’s Financial Resources Board. The organization embarked on a series of interviews of 100 leaders in the community. The goal was to assess how SAW Habitat could best meet the homeownership needs of low-income families in Staunton, Waynesboro and Augusta County.
“We quickly realized that Habitat’s traditional model of house building – buy a lot and build a house for a family, would not meet the needs of our clients or the needs of the community in the future,” Montgomery said. .
We have since expanded our vision to partner Habitat with localities, non-profits and families to create homeownership opportunities through planned developments, rehabilitated communities, and home repairs.
Those goals are best accomplished by bringing awareness of the “What Will You Build” vision to focus hope, help and homes. A program about the vision is available through the Habitat speaker’s bureau, chaired by Mike Harris of Waynesboro. It you would like to schedule a talk /or/program about Habitat’s future for your group or meeting, please contact Barbi Moon-Theado, program assistant, at (540) 886-1944 ex. 106.
SAW Habitat Executive Director Rhonda Howdyshell noted that Montgomery’s $100,000+ gift provides a challenge to others in the Habitat’s “What Will You Build” campaign and inaugurates the Platinum Hammer Club for donors giving $20,000 a year for five years.
Habitat’s program of providing decent housing, with caring community members to increase homeownership and not be a “give-a-way,” has been a winning solution in the area for 19 years. SAW Habitat and its partners have built or rehabilitated 51 homes locally while providing homes for 74 families in World Missions.
Housing studies show consistently that homeownership increases community vitality and reduces crime. It creates healthier families and improves test scores for students who have a decent environment to study in. The program does not give the home away; instead families must work to build their home. As homeowners, they pay taxes, insurance, and an affordable mortgage while becoming stakeholders and a vested part of the community in which they live.