2021 was certainly a year to remember. When we sat down with RAHFH Executive Director Keri Asevedo to discuss what this year was like for our organization, a few words came to her mind: powerful, tenacious, and determined.
There are plenty of 2021 memories that stand out, like cheering with Charae (a 2021 homebuyer) as she received the keys to her new home, watching Tracey and her son explore their new home, celebrating DeVonna’s home dedication (pictured above), seeing Candi (another Habitat homeowner) walk next door to help with the siding on Tammy’s house (the Guilford build for this year). Some other big moments were celebrating when the ReStore hit their sales goal for the entire year in October, and the wedding of our office manager, Laura.
Ultimately there are far too many highlights to share from this year, but here are just a few of the things that made 2021 so unique and special.
“On the development side of things, we had our best year ever,” Keri said. “I would say the most significant thing that happened in 2021 was receiving the Larson Family Foundation gift through Habitat International– A $660,000 contribution by the Larson Family Foundation to build two houses a year for the next three years.”
In addition to this incredible gift, RAHFH also received significant support from the Rockford Housing Development Corporation and the City of Rockford. We also received support in the form of in-kind donations (materials and professional construction services) from many local businesses and organizations, including The Morse Group, Local 23 Plumbers & Pipefitters, Apex General Contracting, Cross Country Construction, Crimson Valley Landscaping, Ken-Z Roofing, Dwight Swanson Construction Inc., and Bucciferro Family McDonald’s.
The ReStore also had a remarkable year. Besides hitting the annual sales goal in October (which is truly incredible), other highlights include increasing the number of donors and customers. Additionally, many local businesses have become ongoing ReStore supporters through large donations, such as the Lowe’s Distribution Center and Collins Aerospace. Finally, the continuation of our impressive recycling program at the ReStore is always a highlight– thousands of pounds of metal and other materials are kept out of landfills each year thanks to the ReStore.
This year also marked the return to full production for the construction of Habitat homes.
“We worked with homeowners who were struggling throughout this pandemic, and came up with unique ways of ensuring their success,” Keri said.
Habitat built six new homes this year with the help of hundreds of dedicated volunteers, as well as dozens of groups from the community. One of the homes this year, the Community Build, was built entirely by groups from local businesses and organizations. A full list of these community volunteer groups can be found at the bottom of this post.
East High School was added to our partnership with Rockford Public Schools. This partnership will continue to expand in 2022 as Jefferson High School builds their first Habitat house. Additionally, Hononegah High School will be building walls for a Habitat home, and Harlem High School will be starting to incorporate construction into their curriculum with the hope of building a Habitat home in the future.
In addition to all of these construction efforts, two rehabs were completed, and we launched our critical home repair program through a grant from the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois. We hope to expand our home repair program in the future.
“We saw that need [for critical home repairs], we solicited the funds, and we’ll be able to make a monumental impact with critical home repairs,” Keri said.
As she thought over the year, it was evident that Keri was absolutely in awe of the community’s support.
“For lots of people, and lots of organizations, 2021 was tough. They were still trying to recover personally, professionally, and organizationally from a year that held so much uncertainty. For us, we came out of that year stronger than we’ve ever been, more productive than we’ve ever been,” Keri said. “The community showed up, our steady volunteers came regularly. It’s like we never skipped a beat, like everybody knew how important this program was to our community, and to the families we serve. And although we had to wait a year to make some dreams come true, each of those homeowners moved into their house at the exact right time for them… We feel so blessed to be able to get to do this work on their behalf every day, and that is due in large part to the people who choose to believe in us. The people who choose to support us with their time, with their money, with their efforts, and with their professional services. We couldn’t do this without an entire community behind us. And our success is theirs.”
Thank you to the following Community Build groups: Rock Valley Credit Union, Northeast Christian Church, Crosspoint Church, Rock Valley College HCCTP, Kenco Group, Berkshire Hathaway Crosby Starck Real Estate, RPS205 Early Childhood Department, Life Church, Larson & Darby, Associated Bank, Byron Bank, Rockford Mass Transit District, Winnebago County CASA, Williams Charles, The Office of State Representative Dave Vella, Park City Church, NEXT Rockford, AFP Rockford, In Memory of Daniel Nielsen Build Day