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Habitat For Humanity MetroWest/Greater Worcester Applauds Community Involvement

by Bonnie Biocchi
February 12, 2017

Holliston may be a small town, but it has big heart.

Holliston may be a small town, but it has big heart. Just ask Mona and Maggie, Habitat for Humanity MetroWest/Greater Worcester’s  newest family partners. Both are astonished by the generosity of their new community.  In a November lottery held at Town Hall, Mona and Maggie were selected to become homeowners for the two Habitat homes that are being constructed at 68/72 Chamberlain St.   Each will be required to invest between 400 and 500 hours of “sweat equity” to help build their 3 bedroom, 1 ½ bath homes.  Thankfully, they are getting a lot of help.  Hundreds of volunteers including local businesses, civic organizations, faith partners and individuals are working together to ensure that Mona and Maggie and their families will be able to move into their new homes before the end of the year.

Habitat for Humanity MW/GW partners with families who earn between 30-60% of the area median income that are qualified to pay a mortgage.  The homes are then sold to the homeowners at a zero percent mortgage, which is one of the ways that Habitat makes them affordable for the families who will live in them. 

“We are rapidly moving forward with the building of these two homes” said Ted Oxholm, Habitat’s site supervisor.  “With one house fully closed in, we are about to start framing the second home.  Building the two houses simultaneously comes with challenges, but the tremendous outpouring of help from within the community including many in-kind donations from local contractors has helped us stay on track.”

The generosity of local businesses has been a key component in getting these homes built so quickly.  Support from businesses such Ashland Lumber, which has offered a sizeable discount on the building materials and NorthEast Electrical Distributors which has donated all of the electrical supplies are immensely helpful. Tresca Brothers, poured the concrete at a discount and American Recycled Materials has donated nearly all of the extensive site work.  Holliston Attorney Peter Barbieri pitched in with pro-bono legal work and Paul Saulnier of CIVILized Solutions provided all the site design and  engineering services gratis as well.  In-kind donations such as these save the project thousands of dollars, thereby helping to offset the cost of construction, helping to make the homes affordable. 

“One of the most gratifying aspects of a Habitat build is that so many people contribute their time, talent and treasure to the construction process.  Partners like William Connell Roofing which donated their labor to roof the house, Joseph T. Mark who is leading the electrical installation and LaMont Plumbing which is overseeing the plumbing installation, are huge time and money savers for us” said Tim Firment, Executive Director of Habitat MW/GW.

Keefe Tech has also become involved with the project, serving as a hands-on learning opportunity for students interested in pursuing a career in the trades.  The students will help install the heating, electrical and plumbing systems.  And, when the time comes, they will assist with the execution of the landscape plan, designed by Harrison McPhee Landscaping which is also donating materials and labor.  The Holliston Garden Club will donate plants and labor as well. The collaborative nature of a Habitat project ensures that the highest quality homes are built in the most affordable, energy efficient manner.

In-Kind donations are one avenue to make the homes affordable, but cash is also needed to complete these homes.  It is estimated that the cost of construction for these homes will be $450,000 and the Local Project Committee (LPC), co-chaired by local residents Todd Barber and Doug Schmidt has been working tirelessly to accomplish this goal.   Recently,  the Holliston Housing Trust, which has already donated the site and $100,000 for these two homes, generously offered to additionally match every dollar raised up to $50,000. To meet that goal, the LPC created a peer-to-peer fundraising site that has raised over $40,000 toward this goal.  The FirstGiving site has attracted over 200 donations since November and helped spread the word about the need for affordable homes in Holliston.  “The FirstGiving site makes it easy to donate to this cause.  We ask folks to consider creating their own page and reach out to their networks to support the work we are doing to help these families gain greater stability. For individuals who care about families in need, donating to this site is a simple and positive step.  And, every dollar raised is matched, thereby  doubling the amount of money raised for the project” stated Barber.

Another amazing participant in helping to raise funds for the builds has been the student population at the Miller and Placentino schools.  Through bake sales, car washes, a blitz day and variety show, these 5th and 6th graders have shown a tremendous spirit of philanthropy.  To date, they have raised over $2500 for the homes.  In addition, parents have been asked to donate to the project in lieu of teacher gifts during the Holiday season.  “By encouraging children to learn about those in need and by demonstrating that their actions can make a difference, our young folks are learning the value of working together for a common goal. My hat is off to the students and especially to 5th grade teacher Sara Peters who spearheaded many of these efforts and has beautifully modeled community service for her students” said Bonnie Biocchi, Director of Development for Habitat.

Habitat also relies on the generosity and participation of the local faith community.  To date, Holliston’s First Congregational Church, Christ the King Lutheran and St. Mary's Knights of Columbus have all contributed financially to the build as has First Parish Church in Sherborn.  Each will send a team of volunteers to participate in the building of these homes. 

Corporate Sponsorship is another key contributor. The generous sponsorship of Middlesex Savings Bank, Lista, Mathworks, Colantonio Inc., Celebrate Holliston, Vesta Real Estate Group, Haselton Gove Family Foundation, Fondo Financial Group, Realty Executives West, and Seres Therepeutics have made a significant impact in reaching the fundraising goal to get these homes built.

Habitat homes are built over a long period of time and through the generosity of volunteers making it a true community effort.  “We like to think that a lot of love goes into every home we build” said Firment. 

For Holliston,  a small town with a big heart, the reward justifies the effort.   


For further information about the two homes being built or Habitat for Humanity MW/GW, please contact Bonnie Biocchi  at bonnie.biocchi@habitatmwgw.org.

 About Habitat for Humanity-MetroWest/Greater Worcester

Habitat for Humanity-MetroWest/Greater Worcester is a non-profit organization that provides simple, decent, affordable home ownership opportunities for families in need living between 30-60% of the area’s median income. Our mission is to provide homes, community and hope. Homes are sold to qualified and carefully selected low-income families on a non-profit basis with an interest-free mortgage. Selected homeowners participate in comprehensive homebuyer education. In keeping with its motto of “a hand up, not a handout,” partner families must contribute 400 to 500 sweat-equity hours helping build their homes. For more information visit www.habitatmwgw.org.


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Comments (2)

I am so proud of Hollliston and all of the people involved in this project. I wanted to help by was not physically or financially able to. Projects like this represent the best of a community.

- Mark Schultz | 2/12/17 10:49 AM

Things like this make me proud to say "I live in Holliston"

- David Seltzer | 2/12/17 8:26 AM



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