One of the central tenets of Rockford Area Habitat for Humanity is our model of engaging those we serve in a relationship of mutual exchange. From new home-buyer orientation until closing and beyond, the road we walk together with those participating in our program is a two way street where Habitat greatly values—where we, in fact, necessitate—our home buyers’ contributions to the task at hand. This intense period of partnership is defined by hundreds of volunteer hours, event participation, workshop attendance, mentor meetings, and, almost inevitably, close friendships. This approach upholds and respects the dignity and power of our partners, who are making a significant contribution to build and purchase their new homes.
Despite this initial period of strong partnership, we, as an organization, have not to this point systematically continued to hear our homeowners’ voices at the decision-making level of the board. Yet we believe that organizations are at their best when they actively and intentionally receive input from those they serve. We decided that it is far past time for our decision-makers to better represent those whom we serve, as well as our community at large.
At our August board meeting, our board of directors took a significant step towards better including these voices at the highest level by creating an appointed Homeowner Representative position to the board. This appointee will attend monthly board meetings, participate fully in board-level discussions, and serve on at least one board committee.
We are beyond thrilled that the first person to serve in this role will be Latricia (“Tricia”) Jones, who bought her home on N. Winnebago three years ago. Tricia, who has two teenage sons and who works for RPS 205, has remained heavily involved with RAHFH since buying her house, serving on a couple of committees and mentoring a 2020 home buyer.
“The homeowner representative board appointment is an amazing opportunity for all homeowners to have a voice at the table of someone that has gone through the process and knows exactly what each homeowner has experienced,” Tricia reflects. “I am happy to be the first to serve as your Homeowner Representative and to be your voice at the decision making level.”