Annual Cornerstone Society “Coming Home” Donor Event: Thank You!
At Habitat Chesapeake, our mission relies on bringing people together. That hasn’t always been easy – especially in the past year.
Between the COVID-19 outbreak and ever-increasing construction costs, Habitat Chesapeake has been faced with a unique set of challenges in the past year. Our homebuyers and communities rely on having safe, comfortable homes in times of crisis – something Habitat couldn’t do without the generous and consistent support from a collection of volunteers, donors, institutions, and individuals.
On October 14th, we celebrated all these people who make Habitat’s mission a reality at the annual Cornerstone Society Coming Home donor appreciation event. Held at the historic Clifton Mansion in the heart of East Baltimore, the event brought together donors, volunteers, sponsors, and staff for an evening of reflecting on the past four decades of Habitat’s impact.
Because of you, we are equipped to impact more lives, bring more people together, and continue to pursue our mission of building homes and hope.
– Gregg Mitchell, Chief Advancement Officer
Habitat board and staff were also joined by two Habitat homeowners, Britney and Staci, as well as HabiCorps graduate James, who spoke about the impact of the program on their lives.
“Before the program, I was in a little lost place. I lost everything. I needed some kind of direction. I had no skills, no hope,” said James. “I became a member of the HabiCorps program and I learned how to fix a house from top to bottom. I also learned how to work with a team, and it was like a family. Habitat taught me that no matter how lost you might be, you can find a way. It saved my life.”
The HabiCorps workforce training program, as well as the homeownership program, are only made possible by the efforts of an array of volunteers, staff, board members, institutions, and supporters. Thanks to these efforts, Habitat Chesapeake can celebrate 480 constructed homes, 2500 family members served, 35 workforce trainees equipped for success, thousands of first-time homebuyers trained, and 19 neighborhoods improved through community efforts. Thank you!
As Habitat Chesapeake reflects on its past year of service and the ways it tries to bring people together it invites a look to the future as well. Habitat Chesapeake CAO Gregg Mitchell reflected on the challenges to come, looking at the next decade of service: “Our important work over the past four decades would not have been possible without you. But this is a time of celebration, not for rest. We will be able to continue strongly, only with your partnership.”
Habitat Chesapeake would particularly like to thank the honorees of this year’s awards for their outstanding contributions:
Steven Buck Committee Volunteer Award: Walt Whitlow
Walt assumed leadership of the construction committee as the team designed a new, highly efficient plan that can be built as a single family house, into duplexes, or into historic row houses. He also managed the construction of the first newly constructed home in a series of 45 new homes that will be built over the coming years. He did it with subcontractors, who donated time over a 7-month period during a pandemic. Even while building that model house, Walt built strong working relationships with the homeowner family and members of the community. He has heard, first-hand, many stories of hope and struggle that continue to aspire us in this work.
Faith Partner of the Year: North Baltimore Presbyterian Faith Coalition
This year’s Faith Partner of the Year is a group known as the North Baltimore Presbyterians, a coalition of churches in North Baltimore with a special commitment to revitalizing community and supporting our neighbors. The Coalition Partners have sustained involvement in the Woodbourne-McCabe neighborhoods for over a decade. They have also funded the restoration of 504 McCabe Avenue, as well as work on a home in Pen Lucy. We are pleased to award this year’s Faith Partner of the Year Award to the North Baltimore Presbyterians.
In-Kind Supporter of the Year: LiveGreen Landscape Associates, LLC
In March, LiveGreen Landscape Associates of Reisterstown mobilized its resources – donating materials and labor to transform a desolate lot on McCabe Avenue into a beautiful neighborhood site with professional landscaping. The company also donated landscape design services to plan a walkway connecting additional vacant lots with a fine interior parkland to help create a family-friendly neighborhood. We recognize that making time for this volunteer work during the pandemic was especially taxing for all construction-related business, so we are especially appreciative and thrilled that LiveGreen made time for our beloved Woodbourne-McCabe neighborhood.
Individual Donor of the Year: Carolyn Eckes
Our individual donor of the year is someone we have gotten to know over 15 years. Throughout that time, Carolyn’s financial support has grown steadily. With support from Habitat’s staff, Carolyn has visited Habitat construction sites and neighborhoods to see our work firsthand. Carolyn loves the work of Habitat – but there is much more to her commitment.
After growing up in Baltimore City, Carolyn became a schoolteacher and accepted a position as the first woman to teach in Howard County schools. In her interview, she faced this question: “Why should I give you a job when there are men who need to work to care for their families?” Despite these challenges, Carolyn persisted in her career, motivated by her unflagging devotion to children.
Habitat builds houses, but also helps young families with children – particularly those led by single mothers. We recognize the importance of having a safe, decent home for the health and happiness of raising a family, especially during a pandemic. This is why Carolyn Eckes’ generosity, leadership, and devotion to children in Baltimore has earned this year’s Individual Donor of the Year Award.
ReStore Partner of the Year: Lowe’s
Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake operates a network of 6 low-cost home improvement stores, supported by donations of new and used products from retailers and individual donors. During the pandemic, these stores proved ever more valuable to donors and homeowners who need affordable home goods to create a safe, comfortable place to call home.
One of our star corporate donors is Lowe’s, which has donated products and provided discounts for many things we need. It is a multi-year relationship that helps provide financial stability in our work. Thank you, Lowe’s, for helping us continue supporting families and homes through our ReStores!
Corporate Donor of the Year: Harkins Builders
Steve Buck Committee Volunteer Leadership award honoree Walt Whitlow was deployed in this work by one of the most community-spirited businesses in Central Maryland, Harkins Builders, led by Habitat Chesapeake board member Gary Garafalo. Harkins is an employee-owned construction company with a long legacy of community engagement. Harkins Builders took charge on building a wonderful home for a family and serves as a model for what we can accomplish together in the revitalization of Baltimore. For this and more, Harkins is our corporate volunteer of the year.
Youth Partner of the Year: Broadneck High School
This year’s Youth Partner Award is being presented to Broadneck High School for their unceasing activism and leadership. Broadneck School in Anne Arundel County is one of the best youth programs in the country: not only do they raise funds to educate members about Habitat’s mission, but they deploy volunteers locally and nationally. Many of Broadneck’s members also take part in the annual Woods Memorial Church picnic table build. We could not be more pleased to name Broadneck School our Youth Partner of the Year.
Community Partner of the Year: Clergy United for the Transformation of Sandtown (CUTS)
Clergy United for The Transformation of Sandtown (CUTS) has been an important partner of Habitat Chesapeake’s continued work in Sandtown — where over 320 homes have been constructed. Clergy United was established in 2015 by faith leaders to press for the completion of urban planning. As individual congregations and collectively, the group continued to offer much-needed food relief and human services during this challenging pandemic. Its leaders, Pastor Derrick DeWitt, Dr. Al Stokes, Elder Harris, and others are a source of inspiration to Habitat staff. Their story compels us to understand that transformation remains possible – when we put our faith into action with solid plans and purposeful action to overcome injustice.
Foundation Supporter of the Year: The Stephen & Renee Bisciotti Foundation
Habitat for Humanity depends on the thoughtful, strategic support of the leading private foundations in Central Maryland, which fund construction, programs, capacity and capital needs. This year, we are especially grateful to recognize a generous, multi-year pledge from the Stephen & Renee Bisciotti Foundation toward continuation of our model workforce training program called HabiCorps. This multi-year support is crucial to the ongoing operation of HabiCorps and to training skilled workers in the construction industry — helping ensure that this model program started five years ago is strengthened and institutionalized. Habitat is proud of this endorsement of its program and its goals.
360-Degree Supporter of the Year: Johns Hopkins Medicine and the Johns Hopkins University
Each year, Habitat recognizes a supporter who has engaged with our work in numerous ways. This year, Habitat is proud to recognize Johns Hopkins Medicine as well as the Johns Hopkins Hospital.
In the year before Covid struck, Habitat and Hopkins began a discussion about working together on a project in East Baltimore, within walking distance of the main hospital. Together, Habitat and Hopkins started to tackle two vacant blocks in Milton-Montford. The Chief Operating Office of Hopkins Hospital rallied hospital executives to sponsor construction of the home. In collaboration, Habitat reopened construction activities safely during the pandemic, and the hospital and university promoted this work in publications and deployed talented volunteers to build. At the University itself, the John’s Hopkins collegiate student group continued to raise and donate funds, conduct educational programs, and engage in projects.
Habitat’s first home completed near the hospital was matched to an employee of Hopkins University, completing a circle of engagement we hope will continue and grow over time.
In addition to the above honorees, Habitat Chesapeake would also like to thank Tom Hall of WYPR for hosting the event, as well as the Todd Marcus Band for providing music throughout the evening. Thank you for your time and contribution to a wonderful event!
Thank you to each of this year’s honorees, as well as to every supporter who has contributed time, goods, or funds to bring affordable homes to people across Central Maryland. We couldn’t do this without you.
About Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake
Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake (www.habitatchesapeake.org) brings people together to build homes, communities, and hope. Since 1982, Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake has built more than 770 homes in 18 communities, providing a brighter future for 2,700 children and family members. Homeownership is proven to transform lives – improving health, increasing children’s chances of academic success and offering an opportunity to build wealth across generations. Likewise, homeownership enhances neighborhoods by bringing tangible investment, engaged, long-term residents, rising property values and a sense of community.
From top to bottom: Habitat Chesapeake CEO Mike Posko addresses the attendees; Habitat homeowner Staci tells her story; a view of the outdoor event at the historic mansion maintained by CivicWorks; Walt Whitlow is awarded the Steve Buck Volunteer Committee Leadership award with board vice chair John Bond and Mike Posko.