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Habitat for Humanity persists in helping during pandemic

The local branch of a global nonprofit housing organization is looking toward growth in the next few months.

Habitat for Humanity partners with low-income families to help build new homes for the families to live in, according to Corrine Stammel-Demmien.

“Our vision is we believe everyone should have a decent place to live,” Corrine Stammel-Demmien, the new program director, said.

Low-income families sometimes spend half their income on housing, which is a burden to them, according to Stammel-Demmien. So, the Greater Lycoming Habitat for Humanity picks a partner family in need to help build a new home with.

The Habitat for Humanity group narrows down applicants with a selection process that assesses needs, income, credit-worthiness and fiscal responsibility, according to a press release sent by Thomas Szulanczyk, the executive director of the Greater Lycoming Habitat for Humanity.

The chosen partner family is not given a free home; each adult in the household must volunteer 250 hours of “sweat equity,” and invest 100 hours of work into the new building, which is paired with a 30-year no-interest mortgage, according to Szulanczyk. The homes themselves are built primarily by volunteers using money contributed by supporters.

“These are hard-working families with a real need who work with volunteers not only to build homes, but to build strong relationships and give back to the community they live in,” Szulanczyk said.

The organization also provides financial literacy classes to help the family, among other services, during the 12-month process, according to Stammel-Demmien.

“This year, it’s a little longer with COVID,” Stammel-Demmien said. “We’ve had to stop our volunteers at the build site until the end of January because of a spike in cases.”

However, that does not stop the organization in its goals.

“Most of the time, their mortgage is less than the rent they are paying right now,” Stammel-Demmien said. “It’s only one family at a time, but it gives them affordable new homes.”

That process gives the singular family more disposable income to enjoy life and pay bills, Stammel-Demmien said.

Stammel-Demmien is the newest program director for Habitat for Humanity as of October, and wants to push for growth in the services the group can offer the community, including replicating other programs across the country that help repair homes in need as well.

“It’s going well. I’m really excited to be on board with habitat. I have a lot of fun events planned if we ever see the end of COVID,” Stammel-Demmien said.

Previously, Stammel-Demmien worked as the resource development manager for the United Way, and before that was a long-time employee of STEP Inc. in their weatherization department. She is also involved with several volunteer organizations in the Lycoming area. She serves as the secretary for the Junior League of Williamsport, the treasurer for the Lycoming Valley Intermediate School PTO, and is a member of the Tau Upsilon Alpha National Organization for Human Services Honor Society.

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