Our Programs: Upson House Transitional Housing

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One of our most impactful programs is our Transitional Housing program. Located in Warsaw, the Upson House is a duplex that provides housing for those escaping domestic violence. On top of a safe place to live, residents are given rental assistance and an alarm system so they no longer need to fear.  Much more than just a place to live, the Upson House offers a place for families to obtain self-sufficiency as they heal.

While at the Upson House, residents are connected with community resources. They are pointed towards future rental assistance as they prepare to move for the future. They are also given the chance to attend our responsible home ownership, healthy home, and home energy courses.

Before our cleanup day, the Upson House was in dire need of a makeover. We needed to make the unit look new again so we could move someone else in who needed a fresh start.

Recently, though, we were faced with a problem: One half of the Upson House needed a radical makeover. One of our units was a disaster zone; broken materials lay everywhere, countless abandoned items lined the halls and drawers, and the carpet was absolutely trashed. Without help, it would have taken our staff weeks to clear out and clean up the inside.

Thankfully, we aren’t the only organization in the community that wants to transform lives. Our friends at Fellowship Missions share our aspirations, aiming to help “get residents [of their programs] plugged into the community and become self-sustaining members who make meaningful contributions.” Their mission runs parallel to what we strive to do with the Upson House.

HOW Executive Director Pam Kennedy alongside volunteers Marvin Mullins, Clint Fitch, and Joseph Wilcox from Fellowship Missions.

Three members of Fellowship Missions’ programs came alongside us a few weeks back and removed the trash, gathered left-behind items to donate, and moved some very heavy cabinetry up from the basement – all  in less than a day!

The work ethic these gentlemen exhibited was exemplary. They completed each task (no matter how dirty) without complaint and were genuinely joyful as they worked. As we toiled and ate with them, we were able to learn about them and their stories, building relationships and telling them about services we provide that they might want to utilize later in their own journeys toward self-sufficiency.

By the end of the day, the house was unrecognizable in the best way possible. The floors were clear of items and swept clean, and the entire unit looked ready for new tenants.

The Upson House is one of the programs we are most proud of.  Two final steps are needed before we can move in a new family, however. We will be re-carpeting the second floor of the unit soon.  Additionally, the walls are in need of a fresh coat of paint, which we are currently looking for volunteers to help us with! If you have any interest in helping prep the house for new residents, please contact us! By donating your time, you will help us aid a new family in escaping from domestic abuse and starting a new stage of life. The Upson House is one of our favorite programs; it brings us great joy to guide people to a safer, happier, self-sufficient lifestyle.

The cleaned-out living room of the Upson House

The upstairs of the Upson House


If you would like to learn more about the ways HOW impacts our community or attend any of our classes, including our Home Energy Impact class or our Lifecycles of Homeownership class, please reach out to us! You can contact us at (574) 269-7641 ext. 106, fill out this form, or follow us on Facebook.  Additionally, you can come to our offices at 109 W Catherine St. Milford, IN 46542. We are always looking for donors and volunteers so that we can impact the lives of more people!
At Housing Opportunities of Warsaw, our mission is to encourage and expand safe and affordable housing by providing opportunity and choice through investment in people and communities.  Through educational courses, emergency home repair and home retrofit programs, assessing homes for health risks, and transitional housing, we are dedicated to helping our neighbors get through times of difficulty and become self-sufficient once more.

 

More Than a Service: Building Relationships as a Nonprofit

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As a nonprofit organization that focuses on helping people with their homes, we get to meet all kinds of people with all kinds of needs. Some people come to us needing a ramp built so they can access their home despite their disability. Others come to us looking for financial help to replace their furnace. Yet others come to us looking for help making their homes more energy efficient.

Among those that we help, some really stand out. One such person is Lisa Marie, who came to us last December needing bathroom repairs. While many people are (understandably) worried and stressed out about damages to their homes, Lisa was a joy to interact with from the start. With her heartwarming smile, bubbly attitude, and talkative nature, Lisa made the entire approval process fun.

Overall, the process of helping Lisa didn’t take very long; she applied in December, was approved by Christmas, and the work was completed by early February. With people like Lisa, though, it doesn’t take long to form a relationship. In that short period of time, HOW’s executive director Pam Kennedy was able to connect with Lisa strongly, striking up a friendship even more quickly than it took to repair her bathroom.

Lisa is one of those people that you just can’t help but root for. Every time you interact with her, you just cross your fingers and hope that something fantastic will happen for her. Luckily, although no one knew it, Lisa was about to experience the opportunity of a lifetime.

In February, Lisa learned that she was a finalist for the Hoosier Lottery’s $1,000,000 Blowout 2nd Chance. The drawing was comprised of five finalists that

hadn’t been selected in the initial round of the lottery, each of whom was offered an overnight, expenses-paid trip for two to Indianapolis on March 15th. Lisa had one problem, though: she needed a second person to accompany her.

An extremely positive person, Lisa was beyond confident that she would win. “I started working with a financial planner on how I was going to invest my money before I even went to the drawing,” she said.

A few weeks before the drawing, Pam powered up her computer and saw an e-mail titled “Subject: Million Dollar Road Trip.” Lisa asked Pam to come along as her plus-one on the trip, promising good food, great company and the chance to see her win a million dollars. Pam readily agreed, and the two prepared for the once-in-a-lifetime journey.

“Pam volunteered to drive,” Lisa recalled with a wry grin, “because I had been pulled over every single time I’ve gone to Indianapolis since I was 16 years old. On top of that, I was an anxious wreck, so it was probably wise to have someone a little more level-headed behind the wheel.”

Pam chuckles every time she talks about the trip.

“Never in my life have I met someone so confident about random luck falling their way as Lisa,” she recalled. “Every time I tried to remind her that there was only a 20 percent chance for her to win, she’d go ‘I just know I’m going to win. There’s no doubt in my mind.’ She even got with an investment planner to work out how she was going to invest the money! Some people might say she was setting herself up for disappointment, but I think there’s really something to be said about the sense of hope she exudes. I’m a bit more of a pessimist, but Lisa really taught me a lot about the power of optimism.”

Once they arrived, the two women checked in to their hotel.

“It was a really hip, modern place called The Alexander that had art down the walkways,” said Lisa. “It was by far the nicest hotel I’ve ever stayed in. The Hoosier Lottery really set us up well.”

The next day, the two women enjoyed a day on the town. The first thing they they did was attend a St. Patrick’s day parade. While there, though, they noticed a shy little boy who wasn’t getting any candy thrown to him because the other children were better at gathering the parade were better at getting noticed by the parade workers.

“We stood behind the boy and hooted and hollered and pointed at the boy until he was drowning in candy,” Lisa said. “Probably not good for his teeth, but it was worth it to see his huge smile.”

Lisa also convinced Pam to splurge a little and buy her first lottery ticket, thinking that her luck might rub off on her. “She won 7$, but she didn’t even know how to tell if she won,” Lisa laughed as she retold the tale. “It’s a good thing I was there to help her figure it out.”

When the evening rolled around, Pam looked on as Lisa was taken on-stage with the other finalists as the drawing was announced. According to Pam, Lisa looked “extremely happy on stage, confident as ever.” Everyone waited tensely as the announcer drew the name of the winner, which was…Anthony, a lawyer from Nappanee, Indiana. Lisa and the other finalists congratulated him and headed back for their respective homes.

Naturally, Lisa was somewhat dejected after being so certain that she would win. Pam, however, wasn’t going to let her leave feeling disappointed.

“When we got back to the car, Pam looked at me and said, ‘You’re not going to be a bummed-out loser the entire way back, are you?'” laughed Lisa. “I rolled my eyes and said of course I was, but in truth was already feeling better.”

Pam followed up, “Before long, she was talking about how she’d have to work to become a millionaire. She sounded like she was joking, but she firmly believes that she’s going to be a millionaire someday. Truth be told, I wouldn’t bet against her.”

While the drawing may not have gone as hoped, Lisa and Pam had developed a friendship worth far more than money. These types of interactions are the kinds of things that make running a nonprofit worthwhile: you may see people at their lows, but you also get the opportunity to see people’s spirits lifted higher than they ever thought possible. Meeting people like Lisa is why we do the things we do, and we here at HOW will continue working to get more help for more people because of them.

 


If you would like to learn more about the ways HOW impacts our community or attend any of our classes, including our Home Energy Impact class or our Lifecycles of Homeownership class, please reach out to us! You can contact us at (574) 269-7641 ext. 106, fill out this form, or follow us on Facebook.  Additionally, you can come to our offices at 109 W Catherine St. Milford, IN 46542. We are always looking for donors and volunteers so that we can impact the lives of more people!
At Housing Opportunities of Warsaw, our mission is to encourage and expand safe and affordable housing by providing opportunity and choice through investment in people and communities.  Through educational courses, emergency home repair and home retrofit programs, assessing homes for health risks, and transitional housing, we are dedicated to helping our neighbors get through times of difficulty and become self-sufficient once more.

 

Letter from the Executive Director – April 2019

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When you work in the nonprofit world, you have the opportunity to meet and work with families from all walks of life.  As you work with these families, each day results in you feeling something different. Some days, you feel like you accomplish absolutely nothing; the people you try so hard to help can sometimes be uncooperative and rude, acting like you requesting documentation or confirmation about something is a plot solely designed to ruin their day.

Other days, you feel tremendously successful. On those days, you might get a heartfelt thank-you or find out that someone you helped is in a radically better place than they were when they first came to you. It’s those days that re-energize you, reminding you that your efforts are, indeed, making a difference.

At HOW, one of the programs we offer is called “Lifecycles of Homeownership.” Families receiving home repairs from our other programs are asked to attend the class so that they learn how to better take care of their homes going forward. This four-week class is available for both new and senior homeowners – you’re never be too young or too old to be a responsible homeowner!  Now, many seniors don’t think that attending the class will benefit them, but I assure you: the results prove that it will.

I recently received a phone call from a senior citizen that attended the class last spring. He emphatically thanked us for advising that he go to the courthouse to file tax exemptions for his property taxes. Until he received the tax bill a few weeks ago, he didn’t know how much a basic understanding of tax exemptions was going to save him and his wife. Previously, he had been paying $220 in property taxes; with the exemptions, it dropped all the way down to $36!  Knowing what I do about the health problems this man’s family has encountered over the last year and what it has cost them, it touched my heart to hear the satisfaction and joy in his voice.  It’s these types of encounters that keep me going.

Pamela Kennedy

Executive Director, Housing Opportunities of Warsaw

 


If you would like to learn more about the ways HOW impacts our community or attend any of our classes, including our Home Energy Impact class or our Lifecycles of Homeownership class, please reach out to us! You can contact us at (574) 269-7641 ext. 106, fill out this form, or follow us on Facebook.  Additionally, you can come to our offices at 109 W Catherine St. Milford, IN 46542. We are always looking for donors and volunteers so that we can impact the lives of more people!
At Housing Opportunities of Warsaw, our mission is to encourage and expand safe and affordable housing by providing opportunity and choice through investment in people and communities.  Through educational courses, emergency home repair and home retrofit programs, assessing homes for health risks, and transitional housing, we are dedicated to helping our neighbors get through times of difficulty and become self-sufficient once more.

 

5 Ways to Save on Home Energy Costs

By | Cutting Costs, Home Energy | No Comments

Heating, cooling, and powering your home often take up a big chunk of your budget. They’re necessary expenditures, obviously (clothes won’t dry themselves and your house isn’t going to warm up because you ask it politely), but wouldn’t it be nice to use some of that money towards another urgent expense?

Among Kosciusko County homeowners, paying for just heating and cooling costs an average of $6,351 per year, according to research by manta.com. That’s a big portion of your budget, and it doesn’t even include other electrical costs.

Luckily, Milford building inspector Tom Bulger came on-site to teach HOW’s Home Energy Impact class, focusing on little tips and tricks that can make a big impact on your energy bill. We’ve compiled what we learned here so that you can go home and cut back on those costs!


1. Seal your outlets

According to Bulger, “A house is just like a vacuum; if there’s even a tiny hole, everything will blow right through it.”  Homes are full of tiny holes. When electric wires or gas lines are put in, the installers often make the holes bigger than they need to be so their materials will fit easier. Then, winter rolls around and cold air seeps into your house through those holes, causing your furnace to go into overdrive to keep your house at the temperature you’d like. Many times, it’s the outlets on your external walls that let that cold in.

To prevent these leaks and conserve energy, you can place inexpensive socket sealers, easily and cheaply online or at any home improvement store, inside your electrical outlets. They will keep the wind out, your heat in, and your furnace operating as it should. To see if your outlets need sealed, try turning off exhaust fans (like your clothes dryer, stove vents and bathroom fans), holding a candle in front of your outlets and seeing if the flame flickers. If it does, just remove the cover with a screwdriver and insert the sealer!


2. Upgrade your lightbulbs

Something many homeowners are reluctant to do is to invest in LED lights, preferring the CFL or incandescent bulbs they’ve always had. When you look at the prices for the LEDs, it may seem like a waste of money; your bulbs are still working, why would you spend money to replace them? Take a look at these numbers describing how much each type of bulb costs for 50,000 hours of use, taking both the price of the bulb and the energy costs into account:

– LED – $85.75 (using 1 bulb)
– CFL – $89.75 (using 5 bulbs)
– Incandescent – $352.50 (!) (42 bulbs)

Not only do LEDs use substantially less electricity per bulb, they also rarely need to be changed. If you were to place LEDs in only the three most-used sockets in your home, you would save $20 dollars per year. If you were to swap out the rest, you could save substantially more. (Also, there’s no mercury in LED or CFL bulbs – they’re safer too!)


3. Not using it? Unplug it!

A common misconception about plugged-in electronics is that they don’t use power when they’re not actively being used. Unfortunately, that isn’t true. Whenever something is plugged in, it’s using power.

That cellphone charger you leave plugged in during the day even when you’re not charging your phone? It’s using electricity. The toaster that goes unused except for once in the morning? It’s using electricity.  That turned-off lamp in the basement you use twice a week? It’s using electricity.

Now, some power strips will automatically stop using electricity when turned off, but that’s the exception, not the rule. So, when you’re not using something, unplug it! Your energy bill will thank you.


4. Don’t just replace your insulation

Just because you put new insulation in doesn’t mean the problems you had keeping the cold out will disappear. Many times, insulation blowers just blow more insulation on top of what you already have without sealing the gaps in your walls or floors that are actually causing the problems. Be thorough and use some caulk, vacker rods, or putty to seal up your leaks.


5. Keep your walls and floors clear of animals

One of the most common ways homes lose energy efficiency is when animals get into your insulation. A mouse, a squirrel, a raccoon – you name it, it wants to get cozy in your walls or floor. Mobile homes are particularly vulnerable to these uninvited guests, where animals are the #1 cause of heat loss.

“Animals will go up under your house or mobile home, find a hole, and make themselves at home in your insulation,” Bulger said. “The only way to get them out is by bringing in an exterminator, and the only way to keep them out is to make sure your walls and the underside of your house are sealed completely.” If you think animals might be living in the crevices of your home, try turning off all your fans and vents on a comfortable day and listen for them scurrying around.  After you have them removed, re-insulate and seal up the entrances they’ve been using for good.

 

 

 

 


If you would like to learn more about the ways HOW impacts our community or attend any of our classes, including our Home Energy Impact class or our Life Cycles of Home Ownership class, please reach out to us! You can contact us at (574) 269-7641 ext. 106, fill out this form, or follow us on Facebook.  Additionally, you can come to our offices at 109 W Catherine St. Milford, IN 46542. We are always looking for donors and volunteers so that we can impact the lives of more people!

At Housing Opportunities of Warsaw, our mission is to encourage and expand safe and affordable housing by providing opportunity and choice through investment in people and communities.  Through educational courses, emergency home repair and home retrofit programs, assessing homes for health risks, and transitional housing, we are dedicated to helping our neighbors get through times of difficulty and become self-sufficient once more.