Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, July 28, 2012

MVNews this week:  Page 9



 Mountain Views News Saturday July 28, 2012 

One Of A Kind: Featuring unique homes and gardens and the people who create them Story by Chris Bertrand. Photos Courtesy of Habitat for Humanity 


Needy Homeowners Receive 
Critical Safety and Exterior 

Habitat for Humanity International, with affiliated chapters 
around the world, has built more than 500,000 homes, sheltering 
low income families worldwide, according to the organization’s 

In their mission to provide decent, safe and affordable housing to qualified applicants, 
with a “hand up, not a hand out”, the organization coordinates the efforts of volunteers 
from churches community groups, corporations and individuals.

In recent years, Habitat’s efforts have expanded into smaller scale projects geared 
toward homeowners in need. After spawning in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota then 
spreading nationwide, “A Brush with Kindness (ABWK) is an exterior home preservation 
service that offers painting, landscaping, weather stripping and minor repair services 
for homeowners in need. ABWK helps low-income homeowners impacted by age, 
disability and family circumstances, who struggle to maintain the exterior of their homes, 
reclaim their homes with pride and dignity,” according to Habitat’s website, serving “as a 
companion to local affiliates’ core building services, enabling them to serve more families 
and increase opportunities for volunteers and sponsors.”

 Since 2010, the San Gabriel Valley Habitat for Humanity has completed “urgent to 
critical home repairs for twenty local homes within their service area, from Atwater 
Village to Duarte, El Monte to Altadena” according to Sonja Yates, Executive Director. 
“We’re finding this often appeals to seniors and veterans who are on limited or fixed 
incomes, often covering just food, utilities and doctor bills.”

 “Keeping up a property you own is a real challenge for people in that circumstance,” 
continued Yates. Some of the areas the San Gabriel Habitat has addressed in their local projects have 
been safety accommodations like wheelchair ramps and correcting dangerous, uneven driveways, 
removing dry rot from wood components of homes, replacing windows for increased energy efficiency 
and security, and we’ve even done some roofing projects.” 

 “In our first ABWK, we partnered with Temple City in 2010, the community’s 50th anniversary. The 
city could have allocated dollars to have a big celebratory party, but instead used the available funds for 
a project with lasting community value. Wasn’t that cool?”” reflected Yates. 

 “Mayor Pro Tem, Cynthia Sternquist, was a driving force in this first effort, helping to raise funds, 
taking applications from needy homeowners, and much more. I have great admiration for this 
responsible leader,” said Yates. 

One of the most poignant and heartwarming success stories was the very first project in Temple City. 
“The lady had recently lost her husband” remembered Yates. “When attempting to do some things in 
the house on her own, she broke both ankles trying to do it herself. She was just thrilled to have us 
come in with a qualified crew to add safety railings. The front porch had none at all.”

As with any project, it is sometimes a challenge to fit all of the deferred maintenance or safety projects 
into the budget, which most times is capped at $10,000, but “$10,000 is better than nothing,” according 
to Yates, “and we work out a mutually acceptable project and get to work.” 

Habitat provides qualified construction supervision for its volunteers, and then trains the volunteers in 
the specific task to which they are assigned.

 “In this economy, this program has been a great opportunity for corporations to give a smaller 
donation, even $2-5,000 and be able to attach their logo on partnership signs, coordinate corporate 
teams or individual volunteers to help with a short term project,” said Yates.”It is a wonderful corporate 
team building process for coworkers”

Individual volunteers are always welcome, too. “Once the sign goes up for a project,” we get signup calls 
from neighbors or people just show up,” smiled Yates. In Atwater Village, a nearby homeowner was 
enthusiastic about the experience, saying she had always wanted to be involved with Habitat, and was 
especially please to help his own neighbor in need as well as improve his own community.

This year the group has a goal to do ten “Kindness” projects in their service area. Though the usual 
budget is $10,000 per project, a $60,000 grant from Home Depot, targeted specifically for Veterans in 
need, will allow the group to increase the project budget to $15,000 for qualifying Veterans who are in 

 In all Habitat projects, according to the Habitat website, “a no-interest loan is made to the homeowner 
to cover the cost of the project. Payments made by the homeowners are placed in a revolving fund to 
help A Brush with Kindness serve others in need.” A lien is placed on the property, which is due only if 
the property is refinanced or sold, according to Yates. 

Perhaps the most recognized Habitat for Humanity volunteer, former President Jimmy Carter became 
involved with Habitat for Humanity nearly three decades ago. In addition to fundraising, Carter 
involves himself with the actual building process in the annual Jimmy Carter Work Project “blitz build.”

Yates called for volunteers from all walks of life to partner with them on Habitat’s projects such as 
ABWK. “At the end of the day, our volunteers are VERY tired, but the reward is priceless. Volunteering 
may be a life changing experience.”

To learn about applying for a Brush with Kindness Project, purchasing a Habitat home, volunteer or 
donation opportunities, contact San Gabriel Valley Habitat for Humanity at 626-387-6899 or visit their 
website at

The organization also operates two ReStores, offering 8,000 square feet of donated new and used 
building materials including hardware, doors, windows, lighting, appliances, sinks, furniture, etc., 
priced at least 30% below retail. The stores are located at 400 S. Irwindale Avenue in Azusa, and at 770 
N. Fair Oaks Avenue in Pasadena. They welcome donations in kind from both private and corporate 

Courtesy of SGV Habitat for Humanity

Happy homeowner in Temple City, after project completed. 

Courtesy of SGV Habitat for Humanity


Many homeowners are still facing mortgage default, and while the best bet is to contact your lender 
directly, there are tempting advertisements out there for companies that claim they can solve your 
financial crisis. Fraud is rampant, so look out for the following warning signs.

First, don’t believe the hype when you hear, “We’ll stop the auction!” or, “Debt eliminated, guaranteed!” 
If it sounds too good to be true, it is!

You should be suspicious of any company that tries to gain your trust by imitating a government 
agency. They may (illegally) publish government logos and names, or even copy the look of an official 
website, so pay attention to the details.

Back out of any deal that requires you to pay any fees upfront. There is no need to pay anyone to 
modify your mortgage terms, because your lender, and only your lender, can do that.

Most importantly, do not make mortgage payments to anyone but your lender. If a person or company 
presents you with an official looking statement that indicates payments should now be made to them, 
don’t walk – run for the door, and call the Better Business Bureau.

By working directly with your lender, you may be able to modify your loan terms, or agree to a pay-off 
through a “short sale” listing. Please heed this advice from an experienced professional.

Mountain Views News 80 W Sierra Madre Blvd. No. 327 Sierra Madre, Ca. 91024 Office: 626.355.2737 Fax: 626.609.3285 Email: Website: