When was the last time you went to a business networking event and left with a handful of business cards, or passed out lots of your own?
Learned something new over a lunch break that could shift your business perspective, or change how you do business? Stepped up to shape legislative public policy and make business better for yourself and others?
People want to do business with those they like, know and trust.
“Upper Bucks Chamber of Commerce provides a great platform for business owners to meet and get to know each other. We provide the space for this,” said Tara King, UBCC executive director.
There really is a free lunch. A recent UBCC Lunch and Learn program guided about 15 participants in getting more from Linked In by upping their profile pages, creating engagement and exposure by commenting, liking and publishing content on the business social media platform, known for its broad reach and professionalism.
Lunch and Learn programs are open to members and their employees and lunch is free of charge, thanks to generous support by Quakertown Chick- fil-A.
“I’d been to other chambers, but I had no idea before coming to (and joining) UBCC what a chamber could be like,” said Victoria McClatchy, mortgage loan originator with First Choice Loan Services, Inc., in Southampton.
New to the Upper Bucks business community? UBCC is a SCORE hub. Our members can tap into and find mentoring from business pros with years of experience providing one-on-one sessions and support with marketing and business promotion, and its free.
The Small Business Development Center at Lehigh University also offers free resources and staff. They also host Lunch and Learn programs designed, to help new and established tackle issues that may stymie company growth. “We love UBCC,” said Rob Mineo, SBDC financing assistance program director.
Considering doing business overseas? UBCC provides unlimited Certificates of Origin, and they’re free.
Visit the website for a summary listing of member benefits at http://www.ubcc.org/member-benefits.html
Like a gym membership, magazine subscription, Netflix or any pay service, to be worthwhile upfront cash is the initial investment, but use puts those wheels on the bus.
“Chamber membership requires engagement. You get out of it what you put into it,” said Pam Sawyer, account executive for Comcast Spotlight in North Wales.
An active part of the chamber’s Membership Committee, Sawyer understands relationship building takes time and persistence.
“Join a committee, go to events and get involved, that’s when you will really see the benefits of your chamber membership,” Sawyer said.
UBCC is the go-to source for member opportunities. Make use of our networking events. Advertise! Connect with service opportunities, education or volunteer during events. Be a mentor. Provide the next generation business summer or college break internships. Shape business legislative public policy by attending events or serving on the committee.
Member volunteers drive and staff events like Foodie and our first Clay Shoot, June Golf Outing and a re-energized Expo and Career Fair, coming in March 2018.
While chambers can sometimes feel intimidating, long-time members, newcomers and guests are quickly made to feel at home at UBCC.
Describing UBCC as the friendliest chamber he’s ever been involved with, Steve Gortvay may have just said it best. "The reason I’m here (at a membership committee meeting) is because of the warm welcome I’ve received, which has been a hallmark of this chamber and every event I’ve attended,” said Gortvay, long-time regional advertising sales executive, of Macungie.
Pride of Quakertown, or POQ as its more commonly known, steps up when cash strapped families can’t.
By footing the costs for instrument or music lessons so kids can join band, gymnastics and team sports fees like basketball, swimming, classes at the YMCA or even Tae Kwon Do, POQ makes a difference in the lives of Quakertown Community School District children.
“POQ has helped my students by offering them scholarships for extra-curricular activities such as basketball, art (or) music classes, horseback riding, and karate,” said Eileen Bruchak, Quakertown Elementary School counselor. Bruchak works with students in Grades K-5.
Giving back to the community by providing opportunities to disadvantaged youngsters is at the heart of Pride of Quakertown.
“Our focus has been the community and its children by helping them to (engage) and keeping them involved in positive activities,” said Pride of Quakertown Co-Founder Jen Reich.
The non-profit organization founded by Jen Reich and her brother-in-law Kevin Reich in 2010 offers financial assistance to Quakertown youth to help them become athletes, musicians, or artists.
“Many of these students would not have the opportunity to do an after school activity without a POQ scholarship,” Bruchak said.
Fueled by volunteer time and commitment and funded by various events, and private and corporate donations and sponsorships, POQ continues to grow.
“As a community bank, we (QNB) want to do things in the community and to see kids who want to do extra-curricular activities and can’t afford them, (get the chance) that is where we can help,” said Dave Freeman, President and CEO of QNB in Quakertown.
Freeman said while some employees may volunteer to work tables at events, QNB’s primary role is financial sponsorship. “By funding this organization” QNB becomes a partner in providing benefits to help children, according to Freeman.
Participating in group sports or other team activities youngsters learn about teamwork and how to get along with others, valuable skills on the road success in adulthood, Freeman said.
Reich said over the past six years more than $180,000 had been provided to as many as 90 children in Grades K-12 to support extra-curricular participation.
Last year, youngsters participated in roughly 7,000 hours of activities because of the financial support provided by POQ.
While many youth are sponsored at the primary level, Reich stressed support was available up to high school graduation.
Donations can be general or specific to an activity. “My life was changed and influenced by being part of a team. To be able to forward that to local children continues to drive what we do,” Reich said.
POQ continues to address the needs of vulnerable youth who might not otherwise have a chance to learn how to swing a bat, dribble a basketball, play the C-major scale on a trumpet or enjoy the majesty of a horseback ride.
“There are tremendous social and emotional benefits for students participating in extra-curricular activities. The students really enjoy their experiences,” Bruchak said.
To find out more: Sponsorships and donations are welcome year-round. To be a sponsor or volunteer at a fundraising event or for more information about youth eligibility, visit www.prideofquakertown.org.
These days, it takes a village to educate the next generation. From parents and teachers to principals, lunch servers, custodians and even those who drive a big bright yellow school bus. For 15 years, Bona Gerhart of Trumbauersville has taken an active role in public education as a school bus driver for Levy School Bus Company.
Each role is important to the success, growth and learning of the next generation. Gerhart takes an active interest in her students and gets to know them well over time. She discovers their moods, learns their temperaments and feels she plays a big a part in the success of their daily life.
“If they start off crying on the bus, they probably won’t have a good day,” Gerhart said. She doesn’t think twice about stepping in when needed to console students and may even call ahead to notify building staff and guidance counselors so they can meet a distraught child and provide comfort or intervention. “I enjoy the children, and I enjoy driving and being part of the educational system,” Gerhart said of her long-time job with Levy.
For 90 years, Levy School Bus Company has worked hand in hand with the Quakertown Community School District as the area’s faithful steward. The Trumbauersville-based company transports more than 5,000 students a day to Quakertown schools from the Haycock, Milford, Richlandtown, Richland Township, Trumbauersville and Quakertown area.
“It’s a long-standing special relationship where Levy School Bus Company has transported Quakertown students and kept them safe,” said Superintendent William “Bill” Harner of the Quakertown Community School District.
Warren “Jr.” Levy, great grandson of Founder Warren B. Levy, said his family business started in 1927 with only two buses. He reflected on the family’s business past and how it’s grown from primarily serving an agricultural community, transporting farmers to town for banking and other necessities, to providing transportation to children of all ages.
“For several generations, Quakertown Community School District has been served by the Levy family,” Harner said. “Throughout the school year, their buses are seen all over the region transporting our community's most precious resource - our children - to and from school, sporting events and other extracurricular activities. We are blessed,” Harner said.
For Warren Levy, being part of the fabric of the greater Quakertown community continues to delight him. “The interactions I see between parents, students and our drivers always puts a big smile on my face. I appreciate the relationships we’ve made throughout the years,” he said.
Levy’s transportation services extends beyond just regular school bussing. He also owns and operates Lazer Limousine, which provides wedding, airport and other various limousine services throughout the greater Philadelphia and surrounding area.
Today’s challenges for Levy School Bus Company however, revolve around hiring drivers. Much of the company’s driver pool over the years came from within the area’s tight-knit community and included multiple family members, sisters, husband and wife teams to even the children of parents who are drivers. In an ever-changing industry, new advertising and training strategies attract people from all walks of life come to work for Levy nowadays.
The advantages of choosing to work as a school bus driver are endless and can be highly rewarding. For Gerhart, she enjoys watching youngsters grow up and become successful. “It’s neat when you see a student down the road,” she said.
For more information on Levy School Bus Company call 215.536.4567 or log onto www.levybus.com.
Back in the day, maybe you went to the shoe store and paused before racks of beautifully showcased shoes: black patent or nubuck leathers, or buttery soft suede.
If you were lucky, both stylish and practical pairs were tastefully displayed on round tables. You were greeted by a sales person and your feet (both of them!) got measured. Shoe shopping was an event to be savored.
At Moyer’s Shoes in downtown Quakertown, it can still be 1952.
Moyer’s Shoes has a mission to help customers find the right fit and best shoes for daily living and special occasions.
“A lot of people come to us because their feet hurt. We have a nice reputation and we get referrals from foot doctors,” said Ralph Moyer III.
The Moyers are in their third generation of operating the family retail business, since Ralph Moyer Sr. founded it.
James R. Smith DPM, a podiatrist with Quakertown Foot Care Center, Inc., said he refers patients to Moyers because they’re one of the “very few shoe stores who know how to fit shoes anymore.”
To prevent foot pain and problems and to keep your feet running properly, shoes need to fit. “You need support for your foot so it functions properly and that means a structurally sound shoe,” Smith said.
And while the shoe industry has changed in nearly seven decades – back then flip flops weren’t considered casual attire - people’s feet come in all shapes and sizes, so finding the right shoes with a great fit isn’t easy.
“You’ve got to have a go-to pair of shoes,” Moyer said.
That’s what Jim Haigh discovered more than two decades ago. HaigH is membership development and public policy contact for UBCC, discovered. “I'm a loyal customer for (25 years and) for my own hard-to-fit wide feet, for my wife and nephew,” Haigh said.
He’s had snow boots from mid 1990s that are still going strong and, “…look and are good as new,” Haigh said.
Jane Birks of Macungie, Lehigh County has been a loyal Moyer’s customer for more than 40 years.
She values the time and attention she gets at Moyer’s, and she understands how important it is to take care of her feet.
“They keep records of all visits and purchases so they can look back and see what size and style shoe(s) you purchased previously, and nothing is ever too difficult for them,” Birks said.
Moyer said during the 1950s and 1960s several independent shops operated in Quakertown, and patrons would go from shop to shop for shoes, hats, or whatever they needed. Then came strip malls and big box stores in the 1970s and beyond.
“If you are looking for a family service shoe store (instead of a big box store) that truly cares about your family's feet, go to Moyer's Shoe Store located on West Broad Street in down town Quakertown. I can't say enough good things about them,” Birks said.
For more information on Moyer's Shoes call 215.536.6378 or log onto their website at www.moyersshoes.com.
Smashing attendance records and welcoming autumn in style with food and drink, The 12th Annual Upper Bucks Foodie…A Culinary Adventure, brings the community together to celebrate the harvest as it delights the senses and intrigues taste buds.
The 12th Annual Upper Bucks Foodie…A Culinary Adventure will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 12 at Sands Chrysler Jeep Dodge dealership located at 501 North West End Blvd., Quakertown.
“Since its beginning in 2005, Foodie continues to blossom. We’re delighted the community has embraced this event, our signature night out, filled with food and drink samplings (and cigars!!),” said Tara King, executive director for UBCC.
Jarod M. Sands, general manager of Sands Chrysler Jeep Dodge said the event keeps growing and praised the Chamber’s Foodie committee and its stewardship, helmed by Susan Dale (co-owner, of Spinnerstown Hotel). Sands have hosted the event since it began.
“It’s a great local event with local people who own, run and manage local businesses. It’s really a networking opportunity for over 300 people with a fantastic benefit of local helping local,” Sands said.
Dale said while Foodie began with the Chamber business members a dozen years ago, its appeal has grown to embrace the entire community.
“Foodie events are here to stay. Ours appeals because there is something for everyone, and there is always something new,” Dale said.
Sands said Foodie represented grassroots, face-to-face commerce, which is refreshing in the face of “big business and internet (based) businesses. That’s what the Chamber does really well. It makes a place for the local business community,” Sands said.
He said every year is discovery, with a generous helping of surprise.
“So many times at this event I hear someone say, ‘Did you try this? Where are those people from?’ I think they (the exhibitors) benefit from the exposure. It’s so great to rave about this little gem, who I didn’t know was even there,” Sands explained.
Amy Recinos, pastry chef and owner of Amy’s Creative Cakes in Milford Township, said she has been a long-time supporter of Foodie, as a Chamber member and table exhibitor.
“It is always fresh. You see new businesses there, and it keeps growing,” Recinos explained.
Recinos has been known to test new flavors at the Foodie, like her butternut squash cupcakes. “They flew off the table,” Recinos said.
Dale agreed Foodie is a platform to roll out and test new, or emerging dishes.
Jim Jenks, owner and winemaker at Unami Ridge Winery in Milford Township, said the standout benefit for attendees is fellowship. “You get to see people you don’t normally see,” Jenks said.
And Jan Hench, owner of McCoole’s At The Historic Red Lion Inn and McCoole’s Arts & Events Place, has been bringing her creative fare to the table since the beginning.
Sands said Foodie is a way give back to the next generation of young business leaders and entrepreneurs.
“Foodie is a trusted way to bring together the business community for an evening of great local food and drinks, while raising funds for PFEW, our future business leaders…we at McCoole’s look forward to both supporting and participating in this lively event,” Hench said.
Proceeds from Foodie benefit Chamber educational programs including Pennsylvania Free Enterprise Foundation week, a summer program held in Erie Pennsylvania, offering rising high school juniors and seniors the entrepreneurial chance for hands on learning about what it takes to run a business.
“It’s a great, local event,” Sands said.
For more information on the 12th Annual Upper Bucks Foodie or to buy tickets log onto www.ubcc.org/foodie.
There’s no second chance at a first impression.
From carpet cleaning to floor waxing and treatments, post construction and remodeling cleaning, meticulous detailed maintenance to keep showrooms, offices and homes looking their sparkling best is Don Rider’s mission.
Rider, who owns A.C.R Clean, LLC in Ottsville, prides himself on developing long term relationships with customers, because he knows the value of first impressions. They’re priceless when they hit the mark, and can spell disaster when they miss.
But more than doing a superb job every time, Rider has built his young independent business by having a mission driven purpose: he keeps his word, is flexible, and works with customers to meet their needs, from regular monthly visits to last minute calls or minor disasters.
Greg Boyd, maintenance director at Arbour Square of Harleysville, is a happy, loyal customer. “(I) have been using A.C.R. since 2013…(he) is always prompt and courteous,” Boyd said. He appreciates Rider’s “job satisfaction guarantee” a simple pledge to do the job right, or keep coming back until it’s done right, at Rider’s own expense.
“I use A.C.R. to strip and wax my café floors, kitchen deep cleaning, general cleaning, smoke restoration, carpet treatment, cleaning and stamped concrete floor scrubbing and cleaning,” Boyd said.
Rider said his business is based on “personal touch. I am at every job, and I like to do things right the first time,” Rider said.
Attention to the little things, like making sure wall and carpet corners and edges are spotless and collaborating with customers when he spots problems to solve them, demonstrates his dedication to craft and client.
Terry Gillis, director of maintenance at A&T Subaru in Sellersville uses Rider’s company for carpet care at A&T’s Subaru and Chevrolet dealerships. “We also get a non-skid treatment on the floors three times a year. Don is professional, keeps his word and does excellent work,” Gillis said.
With years in the professional cleaning services industry, Rider struck out to found his own business in 2013. He wanted to create a sustainable business based on providing services supported by a reputation of dependable, exceptional results.
“I started my business buying used tools. Now I maintain a specialty cleaning niche and have more than $50,000 of tools in one truck,” Rider said.
Rider controls successful outcomes by knowing the job, understanding client expectations and investing in top-grade equipment.
His recipe for success includes listening to customers to best understand their cleaning needs and concerns and by evaluating the physical conditions and characteristics of every job personally.
Ultimately, Rider would like to expand by adding trucks and operators who value the same things he does: Hard work, meticulous attention to detail and building relationships. “I’d like to invest in running a second truck,” Rider explained. For that, he needs to find someone willing to work as hard as he does.
For more information on A.C.R. Clean call 267.221.3356 or visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ACR-CLEAN-LLC-490884924341514/.
Curiosity, compassion and creativity have driven Bruce Kinsey to pursue his passion for photography since childhood.
From Eastman Kodak Brownie camera prints to hi resolution digital imagery, Kinsey has spent nearly four decades chasing perfection.
“Ever since I can remember, I’ve always been fascinated with pictures,” said Kinsey, whose business Bruce P. Kinsey Photography’s motto is “fine photography with a personal touch.”
From candid shots of subjects caught unaware to carefully crafted business or family portraits made to look effortless, Kinsey’s approach is key to customer satisfaction.
“In 1979, I got my first single lens reflex Camera. A Minolta X-d 5,” Kinsey reflected. At the time, that state-of-the-art tool opened up a brave new world for Kinsey. He took the camera, rolls of film and began taking pictures of everything in sight.
“It’s something I thought I could make money,” Kinsey said of his passion; then he got serious. A photography correspondence course at The New York Institute of Photography opened more doors, along with gigs as a model portfolio photographer.
Kinsey enjoys seeing people through the camera’s lens.
“I used Bruce’s talents to do a head shot for my website and business cards,” said Vicky McClatchy. McClatchy is a mortgage loan originator with First Choice Loan Services, Inc., A Berkshire Bank Company in Southampton.
Kinsey’s work includes corporate portraits and events, individual and family portraits, birthday, anniversary, engagement and wedding photos, among others. Kinsey enjoys travel and is happy to go on location to complete an assignment.
McClatchy said Kinsey advised her about bringing different colors to see in which outfits what she would photography best. The sitting was meticulously curated with more than 75 shots being taken in all. “I highly recommend Bruce…his passion for his work says it all,” McClatchy said.
Naturally friendly and sociable, Kinsey’s nature makes him a pro at coaxing the camera shy and capturing them at their best. “A lot of people don’t like to have their picture taken. If you can just find a way to (showcase) their personality, it comes across through the picture,” he explained.
While not exactly camera shy McClatchy isn’t at home as the subject of a photo shoot; however, Kinsey quickly put her at ease.
“He was very professional but also very friendly so I would relax,” McClatchy said.
Chelsea Jack needed a photographer for an event, a 5-mile run through Lansdale to benefit Community Health and Youth Foundation’s summer business youth camp. Kinsey proved a perfect fit to cover the event.
“I met Bruce through Upper Bucks Chamber of Commerce,” said Jack, spokeswoman for The Physical Therapy & Wellness Institute. “Bruce donated his time on a Saturday and the pictures he captured brought tears to our eyes,” she said.
From fathers and daughters crossing the finish line together while holding hands to casual event candid shots, “Bruce captured the moment when you think no one is looking. Bruce will go out of his way. He’s just good,” Jack said.
For more information on Bruce P. Kinsey Photography log onto www.bpkphotography.com or call Bruce at 267.664.0653.
From a wet basement to fire damage, flooding or a high school lockdown, a local company with national resources lives up to its name.
SERVPRO of Upper Bucks Co-owners Mike McGrory and Sean McCabe are invested in the community, both personally and professionally.
“Disaster scenes are all sizes and shapes,” McCabe said.
McGrory and McCabe, who have co-owned and operated SERVPRO of Upper Bucks since 2005, chose to move their business to Perkasie in 2012, because they saw the location as both central and strategic to their clients and the larger community.
Making connections is important to the pair. “They know
who we are,” McGrory said of its client list, and growing potential customers.
Because not all jobs are large-scale, or clear-cut, time and attention are spent evaluating each and every new case, to ensure services are the right fit.
“They were professional and did a fantastic job. We would recommend them and would certainly call on them again,” Vickie Balascak, office manager at Coby Orthodontics in Quakertown.
Ultimately any good business relationship comes down to a job well done. “I was so impressed by Rob’s honesty and integrity…I would highly recommend their services,” said Carol Graves, of Bally, Berks County.
Graves had an odor in her basement and had been frustrated by other companies offering high-priced services to a problem, whose source they couldn’t nail down.
“I spoke with Sara at SERVPRO and she sent Rob to investigate. Although Rob could not identify the source of the odor, he offered DYI steps before SERVPRO would need to bring in their equipment,” Graves said.
From water bottles for first responders to other ways to engage with the community, SERVPRO encourages its staff to become involved and make a difference.
Sara Langdon recently participated in the Quakertown Citizen Police Academy and said it was great to get to know the department and what challenges area police officers face every day.
“We learned about how they train the dogs in the K-9 Unit, and met with the local police department. After graduation, we serve as volunteers at the Bike Rodeo, and (upcoming) Quakertown Summer Concert series,” Langdon said.
McCabe stressed repeat customers – and building relationships – are a valued and vital part of their business, and essential to its growth.
“On two occasions we have used SERVPRO and have been very happy with the quality of work and the friendliness of their employees,” Balascak said.
Sometimes growing a business means looking for ways to expand services.
“Sean and I are implementing training into our community
outreach,” McGrory said.
SERVPRO now offers disaster related services including a training center and certified programs for appropriate intruder response for ALiCE (Active Shooter) scenarios and response strategies.
“As ALiCE (Active Shooter) Instructors and we offer all of our training at significant discount,” McGrory said.
ALiCE training provides critical response to organizations including companies, police departments, school districts and other organizations faced with an armed intruder emergency.
“We see it as a great way to serve the community, yet stay in front of them in a positive way,” McGrory explained.
SERVPRO has taken a leadership role in the statewide franchise organization. “The Upper Bucks office continues to serve as a brand leader for marketing opportunities,” said Langdon, by coordinating attendance at about 20 conferences on behalf of 80 other SERVPRO offices in the commonwealth 2016.
Helping those who face a natural or other fire or water disaster and the related property damage and clean-up required, McGrory said the business mission goes beyond a 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. workday.
For more information on SERVPRO of Upper Bucks, call 215.536.7989 or visit www.servproofupperbucks.com.
Radon isn’t on most homeowners’ minds, except maybe when they go to sell a home.
“Most times home inspections test for radon for a house sale,” said Jacqueline Kochanowicz, office manager of Radon Protection Systems, Inc., and a partner with Steve Wesler in the Plumstead Township business.
But living with high levels of radon, a naturally occurring “noble” gas isn’t healthy and it isn’t smart.
There are six, naturally occurring noble gasses. They include helium, neon, argon, krypton, xenon and radon.
But when radon builds to dangerous levels inside homes and office buildings, it becomes an inhaled health hazard. In fact, radon has been identified as the second highest cause of lung cancer, after cigarette smoking.
“We had a client who had high levels of radon and was also a smoker. Her radon levels were off the charts. We told her if she continued to smoke, she should not be doing that inside the house,” Kochanowicz explained.
Radon Protection’s mission is to help keep people healthy and their radon remediation firm is certified to measure and remove harmful radon gas from homes and buildings. Radon Protection stands by its mission and guarantees its work from two to five years, depending upon the soil, rock configurations and systems installed for remediation.
“Radon Protection Systems provided excellent customer service when I had them run a radon test in my home. They scheduled the test at a time that was convenient for me and they answered all my questions,” said Karen Hester of Riegelsville.
Taking the time to understand each and every homeowner’s concerns and situation best illustrates Wesler’s one-on-one approach to his work.
“Our home presented some challenges which they were able to overcome. They were professional, courteous, timely and most importantly they resolved our radon issue…Steve didn’t try to sell us. He educated us beforehand so that we could knowledgably choose the most effective course of action,” said Glen Shinners of Erwinna.
You can’t see, smell, hear or taste radon. It’s a naturally occurring gas and when it gets stuck inside building basements is typically when trouble begins. Because radon is naturally occurring in soil and southeastern Pennsylvania’s Appalachian Mountain range is among the most abundant radon rich areas in the U.S., chances are most of us live with some levels of radon inside our homes.
“I was extremely satisfied with the work Steve and his crew did at my home. They provided me with a replacement fan for my existing radon removal system. They were professional, on time, and efficient with the necessary installation,” said Monroe Barrick, Jr. of Philadelphia.
Kathleen Cranmer is a Realtor with Keller Williams Real Estate in Doylestown, and a Radon Protection enthusiast. Cranmer said she had issues with a home listing because of a failed radon remediation system already in place.
“Because a complete install was unnecessary I had difficulty getting a company to come out,” Cranmer said of the home she was trying to sell.
“Steve returned my call promptly, met me at the property and got the system operating resulting in a passing radon re-test several days later, all at a reasonable cost to my clients. As a real estate professional, it is important to have a list of contractors who can be counted on for their professionalism, responsiveness, and commitment to fair pricing. Steve is definitely on my list,” Cranmer said.
For more information on Radon Protection Systems Inc., log onto www.radonprotectionsystems.com.
Even without hands and feet, Gail is still able to live in her home thanks, in part, to a Habitat for Humanity program.
Best known for helping lower income people live the dream of home ownership through their mission to provide “safe decent simple” housing through its signature build programs, now home repair and restoration are part of its model.
A Brush with Kindness is the home repair program helping people remain in their homes by matching up eligible homeowners with its low-cost repair program.
“They helped built a lift on my front porch so I can get into my house,” said Gail of Richland Township, A Brush with Kindness recipient.
Since homeownership isn’t just about the purchase, Habitat recognizes that helping people remain in their homes broadens the non-profit’s mission, too.
For Dorothy, also of Richland Township, being able to stay in her home means everything. Dorothy got a new storm door plus other entryway improvements to her home. “It helps me to use my house easier, and they did a super job,” Dorothy said.
“Home repair is especially important for older and disabled adults; they are the group that often needs modifications to keep their home accessible and safe,” said Karen Reever, coordinator for the innovative home repair program launched a few years ago by Habitat. “Being disabled, even temporarily, can really change your world,” Reever said.
Reever said Habitat consults with an occupational therapist who is a “Certified Aging in Place specialist for its A Brush with Kindness to make sure the repair program aligns with client needs.
The home repair program, gaining traction in Upper Bucks, helps Habitat work in an area which often doesn’t have suitable or large enough land tracts for new home construction, like the unique Emerald Hollow development completed more than a decade ago in Trumbauersville.
From home repairs to rehabbing, which is another variation of the program aimed at rehabilitating existing homes using the Habitat model, more families in Upper Bucks can be served, according to Florence Kawoczka, Habitat executive director.
Habitat’s “sweat equity” model adjusts slightly for the home repair program, keeping in mind seniors or the disabled may not have the ability to hoist building materials or wield a hammer.
“Providing help from other family members, or refreshments” even offering to give press interviews counts, Reever said.
While a new home requires 200 hours of “sweat equity” Kawoczka said rehabs and repairs are scaled to about 100 hours and might also include volunteer time at the Habitat for Humanity Chalfont ReStore.
The repair and rehab projects are also quick turnaround, under often under six months, so as many as five can be turned around in a shorter period of time. “Helping the neighborhoods by fixing up potentially blighted properties” is also a benefit, Kawoczka said.
“We see a ripple effect with our families. Those who have bought into our volunteer program want to help others. There’s a sense of pride. They take great care of their houses and get involved in their communities,” Kawoczka said. Some clients may be eligible for low interest loans to pay for their share of repairs.
Penn Community Bank employees have embraced Habitat. In fact, Habitat is the bank’s most popular volunteer partnership. Supporting Habitat ties directly into Penn Community’s mission of helping people become homeowners. “One of the most moving experiences is the dedication, when the keys get passed to the new owners,” said Todd Hurley, Penn Community Bank executive vice president and chief relationship officer.
Habitat is a global non-profit with operating affiliates in about 1400 local communities across the United States and 70 countries around the world.
Habitat’s work allows Gail, and many others, to remain in their homes, despite disability.
About Habitat for Humanity Chalfont ReStore: For more information about shopping, donating or volunteering at the Habitat for Humanity Chalfont ReStore, located at 31 Oak Avenue, Chalfont, visit www.habitatbucks.org, or call 215.822.2812.
Upper Bucks Chamber of Commerce
An economic development agency for Upper Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
|Upper Bucks Chamber of Commerce||