Left to Right: Bryana, Habitat GFA volunteer; Chelsi, Habitat GFA resident engagement specialist; America and Christina, Fresno State Scholars in Service.
Acts of Kindness inspires far and wide Habitat launched the Acts of Kindness program a few years ago to help low-income homeowners. We never could have imagined the tremendous impact the program would have on families in our Fresno and Madera communities.
Meet the Britts
Joseph and Marian Britt, ages 92 and 88, live on two acres of land in rural Madera County in a mobile home they’ve owned for more than 30 years. Together, they worked hard to care for their home until recently when their health took a turn.
Joseph was diagnosed with severe Alzheimer’s disease and needed 24-hour care. Marian not only took on the responsibility of caring for her husband, but also their home and land.
Their son, Joe Britt II, age 64, described his mom as Wonder Woman. “My mom not only cared for my dad, but she got out the lawnmower and regularly cut the grass.” That is, until life took another bad turn for the Britts when Marian started experiencing mini-strokes and her own health began to deteriorate.
It was during this time, while sitting under her favorite tree badly in need of pruning, she accepted the fact that she and her husband needed to seek help. Marian found information on Habitat’s Acts of Kindness program online, completed an application, and we responded.
Habitat Resident Engagement Specialist Chelsi Allen met Joseph and Marian to complete an assessment of their needs. One of the first things Chelsi was shown was Marian’s favorite tree. Chelsi said they began compiling a list of clean-up items, which included clearing debris piles, organizing the garage, and pruning the shade tree.
“Marian reminded me so much of my own grandmother who passed away a few years ago and we immediately created a special bond with one another,” Chelsi shared about the time she spent with the Britts.
Their son Joe, who lives in Rialto, traveled back to Madera for the clean-up, and to check on his mom because he had just learned she suffered another stroke the night before. Not surprisingly, Marian insisted the clean-up still take place.
Inspired by what he observed during the clean-up day, Joe wrote a letter to Habitat describing his experience.
“All the volunteers came in like an army on a mission. They were an all-women crew and really worked hard,” he wrote. Joe added he was moved by the dedication and professionalism of not just the AmeriCorps volunteer and two CSUF students, but also by Chelsi’s superior management style.
“I’m going to check with the people at the Habitat affiliate where I live and offer my help,” Joe added.
Joe recently reached out to connect with Chelsi and one of Habitat’s co-interim CEOs, Ashley Hedemann. He invited them as guests on a weekly radio talk show he hosts to share his personal family story and the story of Habitat’s Acts of Kindness program. The radio show airs late nights on three NBC stations and reaches 190 countries around the world.
About Our Acts of Kindness Program
Through the Acts of Kindness program, Habitat has served seniors, veterans, individuals with limited mobility, and other hard-working families who need a little extra help in fixing something in their home. Acts of Kindness projects include minor beautification support to families in the form of trash pickup, window washing, lawn mowing, painting, and more.
Left to Right: Chelsi and Bryana hauling debris from the yard to the dumpster
Four families open the door to a new life
At Amador and B streets in southwest Fresno, many will remember a gas station and an auto body shop in the middle of a thriving neighborhood. But after a fire many years ago, all that remained was an eyesore in the community. And then, enter Habitat and a handful of generous partners! Five years later, this area has been transformed back into a beautiful neighborhood.
It all came together thanks in large part to our partnerships with the City of Fresno, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Union Bank, NobleCredit Union, and Suncrest Bank. Together, we were able to remove the burnt structures and replace them with four new 5-bedroom, 2-bath, 1,660 square foot homes. Each home boasts beautifully landscaped front yards and curb appeal, giving this area a fresh new look.
Four families achieved homeownership and were welcomed into their new neighborhood at a dedication in February with Habitat and our partners present.
“It’s moments and times like these,” shared Councilmember Miguel Arias, “that give us the energy in the field to do this every day no matter the critics, no matter the pandemic, and no matter the hours.”
At the dedication, Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer looked out at the four families each gathered in the front yards of their new homes and proudly exclaimed, “As you open the door to your new home, you’re opening the door to a new life!”
Mailee Yang, a single mom surrounded by her seven children and extended family, was overjoyed. “Me and my kids are really happy. Our biggest dream made it to reality.” It was the same for the Camacho, Xiong, and Vang families, as each opened the door to their new home for the first time.
Without strong partnerships across our communities, Habitat could not do what it does. It is because of these partnerships that each home is fitted with major energy-saving measures, donated appliances from Whirlpool, new beds from Fashion Furniture, and all the yard tools new homeowners will need from The Well Community Church.
A big "thank you" to all of our partners and all of you for your support!
About Our Affordable Homeownership Program
Providing access to affordable homeownership is the cornerstone of everything we do at Habitat. Each family that applies goes through a rigorous needs assessment process, which includes being able to qualify for an affordable home loan, having the ability to make estimated mortgage payments, and being able to meet the requirement to perform a minimum of 500 hours of sweat equity. Most qualifying families accepted into our program end up paying less in their mortgage than they paid previously in rent. Go here to learn more about this program.
Take a moment and watch our brief home dedication video.