Have you ever dropped off or picked up a donation at our ReStore? Then there’s a good chance you’ve met Eli. He’s one of our ReStore receiving clerks.
Eli has been with Rockford Area Habitat for Humanity and our ReStore since December 2021.
When asked what he loves about Habitat, Eli said, “The volunteers are the staff are some of the coolest people that I have ever met.”
What makes Eli passionate about his work? “The satisfaction of completing something.”
When Eli isn’t working, he enjoys spending time with his family.
Fun Fact about Eli: “I love basketball.”
Like so many of our homebuyers, Shatiqua says she always knew she wanted to own her home one day. After knowing a few people who had a positive experience buying houses through Rockford Area Habitat for Humanity (RAHFH), she decided that RAHFH’s mortgage and homebuying process would be the right fit thanks to the unique resources and support embedded in the program.
Shatiqua has a lot on her plate – she is a mother of one daughter and two sons; she just graduated with her master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling; she is a practicing mental health therapist in Rochelle; and amidst all of this, she is buying her first home.
Shatiqua’s house was built by Guilford High School students as part of their advanced construction trades curriculum. This is the sixth house students from Guilford built in partnership with RAHFH. As part of the partnership, students came out to the construction site every school day and built the house from the ground up. The partnership has been an incredible win-win – it allows RAHFH to expand our construction capacity while providing invaluable, hands-on construction experience to students interested in entering the trades after high school. The students began construction on Shatiqua’s house in August of 2022, with the start of the school year, and finished up in May as the school year came to an end.
As she gets ready to close on her loan and move in, Shatiqua says she and her three kids are looking forward to “a new start” and more space in a home they can call their own. “With this home will come peace, comfort, and stability,” Shatiqua says, “and I will have something to pass down to my kids in the future.”
When she takes stock of the last few years, Shatiqua recognizes that, despite enduring some incredible challenges, she is proud of accomplishing so many of her goals, and now she is getting ready to check off her last remaining aspiration: buying her own home.
Hi everyone! My name is Stephanie Pearson. I am the Communications Director for Rockford Area Habitat for Humanity. I do everything “communications” for both our affiliate and the Rockford ReStore. This includes our social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, TikTok), both our ReStore newsletters and our Plumb Line newsletters, our website, our Hammer Time blog, our Because of This House podcast, our advertising and marketing materials, and media/public relations.
I usually ask the staff to fill out a Q&A, so here’s mine!
How long have you worked here?
“I started working here on October 11, 2022. Prior to that, I was in bank marketing for 4 1/2 years and in local TV News for 13 years. My degree is in Communications with an emphasis in Journalism.”
What do you love about Habitat for Humanity?
“I love that we all work together so well. When one needs help, we all step in to assist to get the job done. “
What makes you passionate about your work?
“I am passionate about catching the moments that are life changing for others. I also love all of our volunteers. We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without them.”
When you’re not serving with RAHFH, what are you up to? What do you do for fun?
“I love spending time with my family and friends.”
What is one fun or surprising fact about you?
“I was born on my mom’s birthday and Father’s Day.”
There’s a good chance you’ve seen James driving around town. That’s because he’s one of our ReStore truck drivers! He picks up items from residences and businesses that are donated to the ReStore.
James has been with Rockford Area Habitat for Humanity and our ReStore since August 2022. He started with our organization as a receiving clerk.
When asked what he loves about Habitat, James said, “The environment is like family.” His favorite moment or memory is working with receiving clerk, Justin, on the truck.
What makes James passionate about his work? “Helping make a difference in someone’s life.”
When James isn’t working, he enjoys playing spending time with his family and playing video games with his son.
Fun Fact about James: “I used to collect Hot Wheels cars.”
This month, we are highlighting one of our Board of Directors, David Black!
David is our board secretary and has served on it for several years.
He currently sits on our Governance, & Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committees.
David is retired and provides pro bono legal services on a volunteer basis with Prairie State Legal Services.
He discovered Rockford Area Habitat for Humanity when he helped build houses years ago and more recently was recruited for board service.
David decided to become a board member because he agrees whole heartedly with the mission of providing high, quality, affordable housing.
“In some volunteer efforts you do not see tangible results of your efforts. With Habitat, you actually get to see a family move into their dream house.”
A fun fact about David: He serves on four other non-profit boards.
A little-known aspect of Rockford Area Habitat for Humanity’s offerings is a scholarship to provide educational resources for the owners and their dependents — of homes built by Rockford Area Habitat for Humanity. The scholarship was started in 2005 by Ed and Kathy McCaskey, who also helped start Rockford Area Habitat for Humanity itself 35 years ago.
Many recipients of the Rockford Area Habitat for Humanity College Scholarship have applied and been awarded for multiple years. One such recipient is Sy, who has used the scholarship to fund every year of not only her undergraduate but also her graduate degree.
Sy’s mom, Tiltyla, bought their home from Rockford Area Habitat for Humanity around the time Sy was beginning high school at Auburn. By the time she started thinking about college, Sy knew that she wanted to attend an HBCU (Historically Black College or University). She selected Wilberforce University in Ohio as an HBCU that was close enough to home that she could return to Rockford for holidays and that also offered the undergraduate degree that she wanted: a Bachelors in Social Work. Sy’s senior year at Auburn, she applied for the Rockford Area Habitat for Humanity Scholarship, and was a awarded a scholarship to help fund her first year at Wilberforce University.
Sy says she continued to apply for the scholarship every year since then to help keep her school debt as low as possible and to help her successfully manage the financial aspect of attending college. She says the scholarship helps offsets costs for essentials like textbooks and class credits.
Sy is now working on her master’s degree in social work at University of Georgia in Athens. She will walk the stage in May of 2024 as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. To complete her licensure, she is currently in class 2-3 days each week, and she spends the rest of her time getting clinical hours and supervised hours in her field. She is completing an internship with the Georgia Department of Children and Family Services, and she has already started her own business to provide community-based mental health counseling and therapy services.
Sy is driven to be successful and to serve her community. She says that when she graduates, she would like to keep growing her business into a comprehensive, community-based mental health center where clients can see all sort of practitioners – Psychiatrists, Physicians, Therapists, Case-Workers— at a single location.
When Sy thinks about her future ten or more years down the line, she hopes to have a family, to be financially stable, to have a career in her field, and to own her own home like her mom, who has been a powerful influence on Sy’s aspirations.
“My mom has definitely influenced my career choice,” Sy says. “She has always kept me active and involved with community activities and programs. I used to shadow her at work. Now she’s a practicing social worker herself, and I saw that as a natural option available to me.”
As Sy gets ready to enter her final year of working on her master’s degree, she says that she would encourage anyone interested in college at any level to seek out scholarships and ask about aid that might be available to them. She also says that she would encourage people to find out if owning a home could be possible for them through lenders like Rockford Area Habitat for Humanity.
We are fortunate at our organization to meet so many incredibly inspiring young people. Sy is certainly one of those impressive bright lights, and we cannot wait to see her continue to grow in her education and her career in service to others.
For more information on the RAHFH Scholarship, visit: https://www.cfnil.org/scholarships/rockford-area-habitat-for-humanity-college-scholarship
There’s a good chance if you have called our office or ReStore, you have talked to Taylor on the other end of the phone.
Taylor has been our Office Manager since July 5, 2022. She manages all things clerical and data related.
When asked what she loves about Habitat, Taylor said, “I love what we do, who we are, and the people I work with! I truly feel like part of a family with RAHFH. I love our regular Friday Meeting of the Minds. I keep a running list of out of context one liners from those meetings.”
So what makes Taylor passionate about her work? “I have always ever worked for corporations whose main focus was on making as much money as they could, no matter what. RAHFH is the first non-profit that I have worked for and now I know that I will never go back to the corporate world. I feel like I am doing work that I can truly be proud of and that makes ALL the difference for me.”
When Taylor isn’t working, she enjoys spending time in nature with her family. She also really enjoys painting, crafting, and crocheting!
Fun Fact: “I have a ball python named Bellatrix.”
We are excited to highlight Glasa Gottschalk, one of RAHFH Board of Directors!
Glasa is a Certified Life & Business Mindset Coach, and owner of GII Coaching & Consulting. She helps clients to stop living in default and start creating the life they really want.
Glasa has been on our board for five years and currently serves as the Vice President. This entails supporting the President as needed, leading meetings, and contributing in meaningful ways to the organization (ie. hosting at the build site, supporting events, contributing financially, etc.). She currently co-chair’s our DEI Committee, and serves on Executive, Finance, and Governance Committees.
How did Glasa discover Rockford Area Habitat For Humanity? She was introduced to the Executive Director by a friend during a time where she was looking to get more involved in our community.
When asked why she decided to become a board member, Glasa replied, “I love the mission and heart of the organization, and the impact it creates in the lives of our homeowners and volunteers. I love the work that Habitat does in creating more equity in the homeownership process, which in turn creates generational positive impacts. Habitat works to support homeowners before, during, and long after the home is built, so that they create sustainable change in their lives and the lives of their family. “
Fun fact about Glasa: She has visited 44 of the 50 United States. It is her goal to experience all 50 by 2025.
Meet Jen! Jen is our ReStore Director. She oversees operations and sales at the store.
Jen started working at the ReStore in April 2022. “I was a customer of the ReStore prior to my employment. My Fiancé and I have bought so much from the store to fix up our house on a budget. I can honestly say I was jumping up and down when I found out that I was going to be working at one of my favorite stores. I knew my bank account would suffer, but it has been well worth it!”
When asked what she loves about Habitat, Jen said, “I love that we help people and make a positive difference in our customers’ and homeowners’ lives. My favorite moments are attending the home dedications. I cry like a baby every time! It’s such a beautiful thing to see our hard work make a difference.”
So what makes Jen passionate about her work? “My staff and staff at the home office. We all work together for the same goal. I have never met more caring people in my life. Also, our customers! They make my day every day. Some of them have become a second family to us because of how often they shop and support us.”
When Jen isn’t working at the ReStore, she enjoys spending time in nature with her family and dogs. She also really enjoys learning and expanding her knowledge. She loves to research.
Fun Fact: “I am always singing a song in my head. I love music!”
Come shop at the Rockford ReStore, say hello to Jen! We are located on Harrison Avenue across from CherryVale Mall.