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

Program Administration

This is the first in a series of six postings that will address the major area's that comprise A Brush with Kindness and it's homeowner services. These postings will include a step by step checklist of each major ABWK area of operation. They will be the outline for a new start-up manual that will be posted on this blog in January 2011.

Many amazing and fun changes have occurred in the program since its initial beginnings in 1998. It not only has grown in number of families served but grown in the variety of services offered and community relationships built.  I have split the ABWK program into 6 area's - Administration, Volunteerism, Marketing/Communications, Fundraising/Development, Project Management/Construction and Homeowner Process. Below, I would like to address the administrative functions of the program.


A Brush with Kindness helps to give the Habitat mission more depth and breadth by not only creating homeownership but also preserving homeownership and thereby serving many more families. It allows us to broaden the impact of our work in the community by providing homeowner services through a variety of home renovations. ABWK also opens many more opportunities for community members to engage in our work.

Business Plan
When I first created ABWK I wrote an aggressive business plan that laid out the principles and foundation for such a program. Over the years, several things have changed in the way I look at administrating such a program. The Business Plan has been tweaked over the years. However, once a new ABWK manual comes out early in 2011 it will update, expand on the original business model.

Program Structure
Each affiliate, depending on size and staffing will take on certain ABWK functions i.e. fundraising, volunteer coordination, construction etc. where it easily fits. However, Family Services and Project Management would probably best be handled by your ABWK "staff" person because of the differences between homeowner and homebuyer family circumstances. Obviously, if you have an affiliate where there is significant room to increase capacity and adapt to the unique challenges of ABWK projects you could integrate more functions into your existing structure. It is very important to understand the uniqueness of ABWK and how it will function alongside with homebuilding/rehabbing so that your new program can successfully grow to enhance your affiliate and have a significant impact on your community.

Your budget numbers will vary greatly depending on staffing, existing equipment and supplies, and the number of projects being planned. Many affiliates will start out with a handful of pilot projects that will be low cost and use mostly existing resources. The 3 year budget in my business plan calls for aggressive growth to meet our community needs and resources. However, I hope that at least the budget categories listed will be of benefit to you as you plan out your own affiliates budget.

It is important to have a point person who will coordinate all aspects of your program. This person may be a staff person (PT or FT), Americorps or seasoned volunteer. They will be responsible for the day to day operations and will be responsible for working with other affiliate staff whose work intersects with ABWK.

Program Process
After you have evaluated existing resources and relationships, determined structure, staffing and budget, it will be time to take the steps to lay out the process of identifying homeowners/geographical targets, application steps, project funding and project management.

Data Gathering
We began using an Excel spreadsheet to manage our projects and then moved to an Access data base that allowed us to manage a large portfolio of projects and families. I have created a sample Excel Data Base to show the categories we use today to manage our projects.

Legal Issues
Questions to consider: Do you have proper liability insurance for a new program? Will you require homeowners to carry homeowners insurance? What type of waivers will you use for homeowners and volunteers? Will you provide homeowner families with an MOU that outlines the work to be completed by Habitat?, What type of documents will you use to allow homeowners to financially partner with Habitat for the work completed on their home? Have you considered all the potential issues surrounding homeowner payment issues? Will you conduct background checks on homeowners (certain checks i.e. sex offender are required by HFHI).

Program Parameters
How will your affiliate determine work scope? What population will you serve or give priority? Does it make sense to target an area or wait until you have a critical mass of applicants. How will funding impact the focus of A Brush with Kindness? Have you thought of providing Do it Yourself support to families who can provide their own labor but need assistance with resources and/or expertise?

These are some administrative issues we have considered over the years as we have grown our ABWK program.

Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet, only through experiment, trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved. - Helen Keller