Welcome - This blog was created to discuss the common questions and topics concerning the start-up and ongoing operations of A Brush with Kindness.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Every Generation Needs A Safe, Stable Home

Every generation deserves a safe, stable home to live. That's why Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity is starting an aging in place initiative. 

With the explosion of the Baby Boomers turning 65, the need for helping homeowners adapt their home for successful aging will grow rapidly.

According to research there are 5 characteristics that most beneficial for helping people age in place:
  • Meaningful connections
  • Purpose in life
  • Safe & healthy living environment
  • Access to services & transportation
  • Navigational support to maintain stability
As we look to prepare for future needs we have divided our program options into five categories of a continuum of services: 
  • Homeowner partners (volunteer visitor to check on home situation)
  • Seasonal maintenance/chore services
  • Minor accessibility projects: ramps/railings, level walkways, lighting, grab bars, lever handles (doors & sinks)
  • Major accessibility projects: Create or retrofit bathroom, laundry and bedroom, flooring or widen doorways
  • Create: Attached or detached apartment, homes with Universal Design                      
           As we continue to research and develop our program we have found that the above categories are all significant needs in our community. However, we will need to understand how our expertise in volunteer management, construction skills and working with vulnerable seniors match community needs and resources.

As we continue to understand the aging population we are also finding that Baby Boomers (those 55-70) view aging much differently than previous generations. They will demand a multi-generational and community centered approach to services rather than be isolated in "senior residences." So we will need to learn a different approach in how we serve them in our communities.
Aging in Place

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Branding A Brush with Kindness

Call it what it is... A simple act of kindness in partnership with a homeowner family to create stability. Connecting people (homeowners and community - volunteers, agencies and sponsors), restoring homes: A Brush with Kindness.
The program name puts the people we are serving at the center of the story along with those who volunteer.

What HFHI has come to proclaim in its new branding efforts is that our housing programs promote strength, stability and self-reliance for everyone. It explicitly puts people first in our story.

In the past, we have tended to put process (building or preserving homes) and volunteerism front and center. Yet even with its crucial importance of who we are, it allowed those we serve take a secondary (yet still important) role. However, putting those we serve as secondary his has hurt our ability to grow and serve more people.

If you've listened to the recent HFHI presentations about re-branding, it is apparent that we are shifting from building-centered marketing to person-centered marketing. Now that's a simplified statement. Habitat will never and should never get away from the powerful visual story that is created as we see volunteers raise a house wall. Or the powerful picture of seeing a before and after photo of a freshly painted and restored home.

However, focusing our branding on the people we serve will help Habitat to take the next step in growth and more importantly it places the emphasis on where we all know and want it to be - on those we are called to serve.

As we look to tighten up on our home building messaging, I hope we do the same for our programs that help homeowners fix up their homes.
The name A Brush with Kindness sends a clear message to our community that Habitat cares about people living in unstable situations and where we are committed to walk alongside them to restore their homes.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Rock the Block

I have heard from several affiliates about their success with the neighborhood or community blitz called "Rock the Block". It first needs to be said that Rock the Block doesn't mean doing all your work in one geographic block.

From the affiliates that I spoke to it refers to a week or weeks of "blitz" work on several homes with large number of volunteers in a designated geographic area (several blocks, neighborhood or community) that helps to revitalize a designated area.

Garage Fix-up
Just like there variety in size of community there is also variety in the types of activities. At Twin Cities Habitat we called our blitz "Garage-A-Palooza". We focused our work on rehabbing garages, landscaping and a block clean-up. We also provided food and had some kid activities for families on event day. It was a one day blitz but much work was done to make this one day a success.

Event Day Clean-up
We began our work months earlier by forming partnerships with several groups in the area. We also canvassed the block we designated for our work to get neighbor buy-in. We decided to focus on one city block where we already had a home we were building. We found another 6 homeowners who were willing to partner with us to either fix-up their garages, do landscaping, yard clean-up or putting up safety lighting in the alley. Much of the garage fix-up happened during the weeks leading up to the event day with regular crews. The lighting happened after the event day.

Event Day Participants

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Aging in Place - Person Centered Priorities

According to a recent article, the top 5 things that assist aging adults remain living in their homes:

     1. Having meaningful connections
     2. A purpose that motivates action                  
     3. Access to transportation and services
     4. Safe and healthy living environment
     5. Support to achieve the above

When folks lose their purpose they lose their motivation for existence.

Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity is looking for ways to not only help aging homeowners live in a safe and healthy environment but also investigate other ways we can help homeowners age in place.

We are looking at strategic partnerships with other agencies to assist homeowners with their non-housing but essential needs to help them successfully age in place. We are also looking at how we might use our volunteers in more creative ways to help aging homeowners.

Please share your idea's to help homeowners age in place.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Homeowner Interview & Assessment

A Brush with Kindness is not a housing product but a comprehensive service that put people living in their home as #1 priority. We connect caring volunteers that desire to serve their community with struggling homeowners that need their homes repaired and restored.

We assess the home and interview the homeowner during the same visit with the same person. We use one person for both tasks to create a clear, consistent relationship with our homeowners. Because many of our homeowners are vulnerable adults, having one person be the primary contact allows us to build necessary trust to move a project forward.
Home Assessment
A Brush with Kindness has moved to an electronic home assessment form.

See link: Home Assessment - Salesforce.

We use the Salesforce application to assess homeowner needs. We assess our ABWK homes using a smart phone.

At Twin Cities Habitat, we do not do a full home assessment but address immediate health and safety concerns.

We listen to the homeowners story, understand and address their concerns and make sure we take care of any city code violations or insurance cancellation issues. We listen to homeowner concerns about their home and respond to their needs and desires of health and safety as well as the community priorities of safety and value.