Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland - Why We Love Mircrosoft

Organization Information:

Organization Name:
Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland
City & State:
Organization Website:
Organization's Mission Statement

Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland works in partnership with God and people everywhere, from all walks of life, to develop communities with people in need by building and renovating houses so that there are decent houses in decent communities in which every person can experience God’s love and can live and grow into all that God intends.

Submission Information

Impact Essay

Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland (HFHOC) is a Christian based nonprofit organization that seeks to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness from our county, and to make decent shelter a matter of conscience and action. Habitat of Cleveland invites people of all backgrounds, races and religions to build houses together in partnership with families in need. Habitat houses are sold to partner families at no profit, and financed with affordable, no-interest loans. However, Habitat is not a give-away program. In addition to an $800 down payment and the monthly mortgage payments, the homeowners invest hundreds of hours of their own labor - sweat equity - into building their own Habitat home and the homes of others.

Throughout Bradley County families are forced to live in poverty conditions. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, more than 3,707 Bradley County households live below the poverty line. Many of these households have poor – and often inoperable – plumbing that causes sewage to back up into their bathtubs or sinks. Others are in danger of the floor or roof falling in, and so many others lack adequate heat in the winter months and unbearable mold and mildew in the summer. To compound matters, children in these households are growing up with an excess of health problems because they are living in such unhealthy conditions. Just as important as the need for decent housing in Bradley County is that of affordable housing. This means a household should not spend more than 30% of its income on housing – including utilities. However, the low-income families with which HFHOC partners typically pay significantly more than that for housing. For example, recently a family of eight was paying 51.3% of their total income on an inadequate, three-bedroom apartment. Quite simply, most low-income families and individuals cannot afford decent housing in Bradley County. In order for a single mom earning minimum wage ($6.55 an hour) to afford a three-bedroom apartment for her and two children she must work 93 hours a week (Fair Market Rent is $724). A two-bedroom apartment is not much better, for she must work 74 hours to afford it (Fair Market Rent is $577). Coupled with rising transportation, health care, and child care costs, hard-working low-income households are faced with the overwhelming challenge of being able to afford a decent home in addition to meeting other basic needs. Far too often, parents are forced to choose between paying for a doctor’s appointment for their children or groceries for that week. Eventually the lack of decent and affordable housing will affect their ability to obtain adequate health care and education, and ultimately contribute to the continuation of the cycle of poverty.

Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland uses Microsoft products to help us raise much needed funding to build homes. All HFHOC staff uses Microsoft Outlook for emails; Microsoft Word is used to write thank you letters, sponsorship packets as well as a host of other things. HFHOC also uses Microsoft Access for mortgage servicing. It tracks mortgage and escrow payments and allows the Finance Director to view who is late on payments, etc. As a nonprofit, HFHOC staff is always speaking to groups in order to promote the awareness of Habitat, raise funds and recruit volunteers. During these speeches Microsoft PowerPoint is used to convey the need for simple, decent and affordable housing. The staff has requested Microsoft Project, the one program the office staff does not currently have, to better integrate our departments.

Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland relies on monetary contributions as well as volunteers to build these homes. We’ve recently started a new program, planned giving, to assist longtime donors in leaving a legacy of building hope and helping families in need. As a small nonprofit, Habitat of Cleveland is always looking for ways to minimize costs. In the past planned giving was simply verbally discussed with prospective donors. The program was never fully implemented due to the lack of resources. By using Microsoft Publisher, HFHOC staff was able to set up a professional booklet showcasing the new planned giving program. It was printed by a professional printer and has been given out to many longtime donors with success in securing legacy gifts.

Volunteers help build homes, work in the Habitat ReStore and work in the office. It is important for HFHOC volunteers to know they’re appreciated for all they do. A postcard is sent out to all new volunteers letting them know of our gratitude for their help. A yearly volunteer picnic is held to honor all those that give of themselves unselfishly. Flyers, brochures and postcards used in volunteer recruitment and appreciation are designed in Microsoft Publisher.

Submission Category
Stable and Secure Technology
Supporting Work Files