Our Current Project – #19

Any given week, we might hear from a family in Hancock County who has an immediate need of a simple-decent place to live.  We hope to be able to better address that need by building multiple homes each year, but at present we are only able to build one home a year or every two years.  We have qualified and selected our 19th Partner Family, and look forward to seeing you on site!

Please consider partnering with us on this project through a donation of in-kind goods or materials.  For a list of how we promote our partners, including at our ReStore which has annual foot traffic of over 8,000, please click here.

WE’RE LOOKING FOR VOLUNTEERS to work with us on Fridays and Saturdays on our current build in Franklin.  Please email Director.HCHH@gmail.com and cc Jim, our new part time Construction Manager, at Construction.HCHH@gmail.com if you’re interested in coming out as an individual or group.  Also, we’re looking to develop a group of volunteer “regulars”–those who’d like to volunteer 2 or more Fridays a month on a regular basis. 

Typical work days are from 9:30AM to 3PM.  In order to be sure that we have enough materials and tasks, we ask that you R.S.V.P. and receive a confirmation before coming out. 

2017.7 Periodic update collage photo v.2


Please enjoy the photo collage shown above which features initial site progress pictures (more on Facebook–now at the framing stage) as well as some from MDI HS.  Sailor and boat builder, Steve Keblinsky (pictured sitting at the picnic table), who joined the MDI staff to teach a marine service technology course, also co-taught this year’s Habitat course with Wilton Jones at the school.


HFHI SAFETY TRAINING: While we were waiting for our current build to gear-up, staff have been focusing on safety and continuing education work.  Our affiliate recently organized and attended a Competent Person Safety Training [CPST] down at the Portland Habitat affiliate. The CPST initiative was developed by Habitat International in late 2013 and is lead by specially trained Habitat RV Care-A-Vanners–providing in-depth safety training for individuals designated as the affiliate’s “Competent Person” as defined by the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).  Both our Executive Director, Kelley, and our new Construction Manager, Jim Nichols, attended the multi-day training which covered the topics of stairways, ladders, scaffolds, electrical, trenching/excavation, and fall protection.  Jim also attended the annual in-house Hancock Co. Habitat staff education and safety training offered in the early spring and is looking forward to working with many of you when volunteer work begins in Franklin.  Jim comes to us with many years of experience in the residential construction industry, as well as previous Habitat experience, and will work part-time for Habitat [Fridays & Saturdays] while also maintaining his own construction business.  

MANUALS: We’re also editing a copy of construction & safety manuals from a large affiliate located in the Midwest/Great Lakes region for use with our area affiliate–both of which will be published at a later date as reference material online on our website with “quick start” guides to be featured from time-to-time on certain topics in these periodic updates.
ONLINE COURSES for VOLUNTEERS: We’re pleased to be able to offer online safety courses for our volunteers through HFHI’s affiliate insurance provider, Lockton Affinity. Follow the link provided and use W8NAEBTG when asked for the “Employee Access Code”: http://hfhaffiliateinsurance.com/2013/03/online-safety-training-courses/
We’d suggest taking the Volunteering On A Habitat for Humanity Job Site course as well as Fall Safety, Ladder Safety, Portable Power Tool Safety, Preventing Slips Trips and Falls, and Scaffolds – Construction courses–all listed under “Recommended Courses”.  Many courses are offered in both English and Spanish.
…And consider letting us know that you’ve completed a course (optional quiz at the end to earn a certificate) by entering your contact info. (name and email) and selecting “volunteer”“Maine”, and “Hancock County Habitat for Humanity” at the end of the quiz.
construction site form BANNER
CONSTRUCTION VOLUNTEER SKILLS & INTERESTS SURVEY FORM: In an effort to more quickly and easily communicate with our volunteers, not have to worry if we can read handwriting or if we’ve spilled coffee on your form (?!), and to build a database of volunteers with particular skills and interests, we’ve developed a GoogleDoc survey form which can be accessed here: https://goo.gl/forms/c5cCqNqhzncZF5OW2
This construction volunteer skills & interests survey does include a section where you can list your interest in participation through my personal favorite: hospitality–aka “baked goods” …Yes, truly, you don’t have to lift a hammer to help!

While no specific skills are required, just a willingness to learn, it’s sometimes helpful to know who we might call upon for specific tasks, to assist with supervising and/or teaching larger groups, or for hospitality. Hancock Co. Habitat provides an experienced Construction Manager or crew leader who will provide on-the-job training.  We welcome skilled volunteers and want to encourage those in the building trades to join us on site, but the majority of our volunteers who join us have few construction skills. Volunteers often remain with their local Habitat affiliate on a long-term basis and volunteer regularly in order to build skills. We will train you in all aspects of construction with the hope that you will continue to volunteer, and even perhaps share your skills with unskilled volunteers in the future.  Thank you for your service!


Holly first applied for a Hancock County Habitat for Humanity home back in the spring of 2014 while we were in the midst of our 18th build.  After submitting all of the necessary paperwork, an articulate and heartfelt letter outlining her family’s situation and need, several letters of recommendation, and going through the Family Selection review process, Holly and her children, Winter (almost 13), and Hunter (111/2) were selected as our 19th Partner Family in August of 2015 and eagerly await the start of their build in 2016.

Smith Family 20159.12-08

Holly has been a single mother since her children were 19 months and 2 months old, respectively.  While both children were born in Maine, she felt the need to move south (and later out west) to seek the support of extended family as she raised Winter and Hunter.  Holly is no stranger to hard work and the concept of self-improvement, and might best be described as ‘tenacious’ as well as ‘caring’.  While the children were both preschoolers, she held down a full time job and finished off her college degree (Business Administration); but then the recession hit. So, like many, she took her college degree and diligently worked wherever she was able in order to simply support her family.

In eloquently describing her move out west at this time of recession Holly wrote:

“Have you ever seen pictures of the Dust Bowl?  That raging drought that crippled the country in the 1920s and forced people to go West to California in hopes of a better life?  I felt like I had been transported to that time as I drove West.  I was surrounded by U-Hauls and cars packed with clothes and kids; people who were, like me, leaving kith and kin to find work to support their families. I was scared; …and I wasn’t sure what to expect.”

The restaurant and retail jobs which were available at the time required nights and weekend work, shifts which weren’t possible without proper childcare.  The move did not pan out as Holly had hoped.  Eventually, Holly was convinced to move back to Maine by a close friend, and it is here that she’s made her life for the last 5+-years.  She continued to improve her skill-set in order to be competitive in the workforce and took classes to earn her Office Administration Certificate at the Adult Ed in Sullivan. She initially made her family’s place in the local community by teaching first grade Catechism at St. Joseph’s Church and interning and temping before she was hired by a local non-profit.  Holly now works at Dead River Company and attends the Unitarian Universalist Church of Ellsworth. To give back for “the blessings we received”, Holly has volunteered at the local Emmaus Shelter as well as by arranging transport for animals scheduled for euthanasia in NY up to Maine shelters.  (She, Winter and Hunter have two cats and look forward to potentially getting a rescue dog once they have their own home!)

Holly Smith met all of the criteria for our local Habitat program, including living in a 100+ year-old home which she described as “having its share of problems” but of which she also said [in her typical appreciative way], “it’s a roof over our heads, and I will not complain.”  Her wish for a simple, decent, healthy place that her family can call its own is one borne out of a desire for permanence and stability for Winter and Hunter.  “Everything I have done in the past… has been for my children.  Without them, I wouldn’t have had the courage to do what I have done.  They have saved me and blessed me, and I want to return the favor….”


We thank you, our Hancock County Habitat volunteers and donors, for supporting our mission as we seek to make Holly’s dream of homeownership a reality!