Habitat Dedicates Its 18th House to the Kotoff-Philpott Family

Habitat for Humanity Lake County dedicated their 18th home on April 18, 2015, welcoming Angela Philpott, Jeremy Kotoff, and their children to the ranks of Habitat partner families. Volunteers, staff, friends and family joined in celebration at noon in their Clearlake home, sharing food, good wishes, and words of welcome and encouragement to the family as they embark on their new life as homeowners. President Richard Birk spoke about the needs of the community and how each individual could contribute to make a difference in the lives of others before sharing a brief key-passing ceremony and fellowship with all of the guests in attendance.

New homeowner Angela said, “It’s hard to put into words; we’re still in shock. God has blessed us with a safe home for the girls, and we’re so grateful and appreciative to everyone who helped make this possible. It just hasn’t hit us yet that this is really real.”

For information on how you can become a Habitat for Humanity homeowner, or for an application, contact the Habitat for Humanity office at 707.994.1100 or send us an email.

HFH Lake County Receives CALHome Grant

Habitat for Humanity Lake County is pleased to announce the receipt of two grants through the California Housing and Community Development CALHome program.  The first grant for $540,000 provides mortgage assistance for first time homebuyers within the city of Clearlake to be used in conjunction with Habitat for Humanity’s Homeownership Program.  The second grant of $300,000 offers mortgage and rehabilitation assistance to owners of manufactured homes throughout Lake County.  Applicants for the rehabilitation and for homeowner programs must meet income and program qualifications and are subject to loan repayments.

Thrivent Financial Supports HFH

Through a unique member advised charitable grant program called Thrivent Choice, eligible Thrivent Financial members are able to help support the work of Habitat for Humanity Lake County. Thrivent Choice gives its members the opportunity to choose to direct Choice Dollars to Habitat for Humanity Lake County. These charitable outreach fund will be used to improve housing conditions for low income families throughout Lake County, work that includes not only home building but also critical home repairs for low income homeowners and wheelchair ramps, lifts and handicap accessibility improvements for the disabled and elderly, with a special emphasis on aiding our military veteran population.

To learn more about this donation program, visit www.Thrivent.com/thriventchoice.

Sutter Hospital Donation for Ramps & Lifts

We are two-thirds of the way to our $75,000 fundraising goal for the purchase of ramps and lifts for our homeowners with limited accessibility. Can you help?

We are two-thirds of the way to our $75,000 fundraising goal for the purchase of ramps and lifts for our homeowners with limited accessibility. Can you help?

Sutter Hospital has shown their support for Habitat for Humanity’s Wheelchair Ramps and Lifts program with a $2,000 donation. Since its creation last year, $49,800 has been raised towards the program that offers wheelchair ramps, wheelchair lifts, and a variety of handicap accessibility modifications to qualifying veterans, seniors, and disabled individuals in Lake County. Several Lake County homeowners have been given assistance to date. Sutter Hospital’s generous offering will assist Habitat for Humanity in reaching their $75,000 program goal and will provide assistance for additional homeowners.

To help the Wheelchair Ramps and Lifts Program reach its goal, donations may be sent to Habitat for Humanity Lake County, PO Box 1830, Lower Lake, CA 95457 or you may contact the office at 707.994.1100 for more information. In addition to monetary donations, donations of wheelchair ramps or wheelchair lifts are also encouraged.

Help a Deserving Lake County Family

Starting this year, the State of California has made it easier for those filing income taxes to support Habitat for Humanity in the mission to provide, safe, decent, accessible and affordable housing. For the first time ever, Habitat for Humanity is included amongst the list of potential donor sites to select when filing a California state income tax return. By checking box 428 on their return, tax filers are able to donate the amount of their choosing to Habitat for Humanity. Funds collected will used to improve housing conditions in our community and provide a better quality of life for families in need.

As anyone who lives in the areas knows, there is significant need within the county for decent, affordable housing. Lake County has one of the highest levels of unemployment and lowest levels of income in the state. Particularly in Clearlake, where the housing stock is older and consists of a high number of mobile homes, the cost of available rental housing is disproportionate to the income levels of many local families. According to the most recent Housing Element report, 22% of Clearlake’s housing stock is older than 50 years, with an additional 44% being older than 30 years. In the latest housing condition survey, it was revealed that 74% of the City’s housing is in need of rehabilitation. Many families are forced to forego basic needs in order to have any shelter at all. Of those who do own their homes, Lake County has a significant number of seniors, veterans, disabled individuals and low income families who are physically or financially unable to manage the upkeep of their homes.

This is where Habitat for Humanity Lake County comes in. Habitat for Humanity Lake County has been building homes within our community since 2001. Starting in 2010, Habitat for Humanity Lake County has also undertaken the mission of providing repair services to in-need residents who have owned their homes. Funding for these projects comes from a variety of sources, from grants, gifts and donations from corporations and private citizens. By contributing to Habitat for Humanity through this new State tax return donation option, California filers can help other California residents have safe, adequate housing.

Help for Siseva’i

Siseva’i Vaisau shows off the new deck to her family.

Siseva’i Vaisau shows off the new deck to her family.

Proudly sporting her Disneyland blanket, Siseva’i Vaisau sits in the sunshine in the living room of her grandmother Susan Lemos’ Kelseyville home with her father and uncle, having returned the evening before from a Make A Wish Foundation sponsored trip to southern California where she got to visit Dinseyland and Knott’s Berry Farm for the first time. Not only did she meet Mary Poppins, she got to visit with relatives, some of whom she had never met. The five day trip has made her tired, but she is happy and smiles as those around her talk about the trip.

Like many nine year olds, Siseva’i loves dogs and balloons, being outside on warm days and watching cartoons. She enjoys being read to and likes listening to music, especially reggae. Unlike most children, however, Siseva’i was born with cerebral palsy and epilepsy, conditions that have brought with them a host of other health challenges to her short life. She and her father have shared Susan’s home for the last two years, a change for that has required adjustments and accommodations be made to the home Susan has owned for the last ten years. Several organizations from around Lake County have contributed to improving the quality of life for Siseva’i and her family. Earlier this year, Susan turned to Habitat for Humanity for additional help.

“The deck leading into our home was so bad we worried every time we had to take Siseva’i’s chair across it,” said Susan.

Laauli, Siseva’i’s father, added, “It shook so bad the whole house would shake. You always knew when someone was coming up to the door.”

Habitat for Humanity was called in to assess the situation to see if there was anything that could be done to stabilize it. With the assistance of Siseva’i’s uncle, Habitat staff rebuilt the deck and stabilized it to make it safe for Siseva’i and her chair to cross.

“We can’t thank Habitat enough for everything they’ve done,” Susan said. “The donations given to Habitat for Humanity that made this work possible, and the workers who did it for us, have been a huge blessing.”

Habitat for Humanity Lake County feels equally blessed to have been able to help Susan provide for the needs of her granddaughter. Always looking for new ways to aid our community, Habitat for Humanity Lake County relies on donations from the community to offer such life-changing assistance to families within the county.

Learn more about how you can help assist other in-need families through volunteering or donating.

PG&E Helps Lake County Go Solar

The PG&E Corporation Foundation has donated $10,000 to Habitat for Humanity Lake County. These funds are designated towards the installation of solar systems in the new houses Habitat builds throughout Lake County.

To date, Habitat for Humanity Lake County has built 17 homes in Lake County, most in the city of Clearlake and most with solar installed. Habitat for Humanity Lake County builds to green standards and strives to make each home as energy efficient as possible. Donations from entities such as PG&E help to support this goal.

For information on Habitat’s Homeownership Program, or to find out how you can help, please contact our office at 707.994.1100 or send us an email.

Wheelchair Ramps and Lifts News

Veteran Mona Allen on her new wheelchair ramp

Veteran Mona Allen on her new wheelchair ramp.

Habitat for Humanity Lake County is providing wheelchair ramps and lifts to in-need military veterans, thanks to local donations to the Habitat Wheelchair Ramps and Lifts Initiative, in addition to funds received from the Home Depot Foundation’s Veterans Repair grant. To date, wheelchair ramps and lifts as well as critical home repairs have been provided for ten Lake County veterans and more are scheduled in the coming weeks.

Mona Allen served in the US Navy as a licensed vocational nurse stationed in San Diego, tending wounded American servicemen returning home from Vietnam. Vibrant and outgoing, Mona came to Habitat for Humanity seeking a wheelchair ramp to accommodate her disabilities. She had no idea how much help was available to her. With the Home Depot Foundation Grant, Habitat was able to repair plumbing issues in her bathroom, install a more efficient heating system, and provide other repairs in addition to the wheelchair ramp she initially requested. Says Allen, “I’m very grateful to Habitat for everything they’ve given me and my family. Getting in and out will be so much easier now.”

Give the gift of freedom by providing a military veteran with a wheelchair ramp or a lift, by donating $3,000 to the Wheelchair Ramp and Lift Initiative. To help a veteran or for more information, contact Habitat for Humanity Lake County by phone at 707.994.1100 or by email or come into our office at 16285A Main Street, Lower Lake. Any donation is appreciated. The veterans of Lake County urgently need and appreciate your support.

Home Depot Foundation Supports Habitat Lake County

Habitat Lake County President Richard Birk and Home Depot Foundation COO Fred Wacker

Habitat Lake County President Richard Birk and Home Depot Foundation COO Fred Wacker

Home Depot Foundation has granted Habitat for Humanity Lake County $150,000 for their military veteran’s home repair program. Richard Birk, president, met with the Home Depot Foundation Director and Chief Operations Officer, Fred Wacker, both military veterans, and others in Jacksonville, Florida, to discuss the particulars of the grant. Birk stated, “We are very honored to receive this grant on behalf of all veterans in our community.” This is the second grant that Habitat Lake County has received from the Home Depot Foundation Veterans Home Repair Initiative. These funds will be used for the critical needs of the veteran client’s home repairs related to health and safety issues e.g. accessibility (wheelchair ramps/lifts), bathroom renovations, roofs, heating systems, electrical issues, and more. For more detail, call the Habitat for Humanity office at 707.994.1100, or send us an email.

War Veteran Gets Mobility Aids

Robert "Scotty" Veitch waves from his wheelchair while accessing his home from his new ramp.

Robert “Scotty” Veitch waves from his wheelchair while accessing his home from his new ramp.

Korean War veteran Robert “Scotty” Veitch has much to be grateful for this Christmas.

Having served as an ordinance officer, Robert saw his share of the horrors of war. He and a fellow soldier were selected to live briefly with Korean families in order to learn the language, a strategic necessity for American soldiers abroad. Afterwards, he traveled a lot during his tour, witnessing starvation and death as he delivered munitions to the soldiers at the front. His time in the service contributed to the declining use of his legs, until it reached the point where he can stand for only brief periods of time and must use a walker if he is to walk. Most often he is confined to a wheelchair.

When Robert and his caregiver contacted Habitat for Humanity Lake County, it was with the desperate hope to make Robert’s life easier. The hallway to his bathroom and bedroom were barely accessible for his chair, and he was unable to get in and out of his bathtub to bathe. Equally unable to maneuver stairs, he had become confined to his home, only getting out occasionally for medical treatment with the assistance of his caregiver. It was no easy task, for them or for him, and they knew something needed to be done to give Robert back his freedom.

President Richard Birk says, “We are honored to give back to those who served our nation during times of war.” Habitat for Humanity Lake County worked with Robert to provide the assistance he needed. The hallway and bathroom door were widened to provide easier access for his wheelchair. The inaccessible tub was replaced with a handicap friendly shower. Outside the home, a ramp was installed to allow Robert to be able to leave his house on his own for the first time in years.

“It means a lot. I have to go slow, but now I can go outside without fear of falling. It makes Sharon’s job easier too,” says Robert.

Caregiver Sharon echoed his sentiments. “It had gotten so difficult, for me and for Robert, to get him out for appointments. Something needed to be done, and we’re so grateful to Habitat for Humanity for the help they’ve given Robert.”

Veitch smiled. “I’m not a prisoner anymore.”

Learn more about Habitat for Humanity Lake County’s home repair program for veterans.