Owosso man gets his freedom back with new ramp

For William Black a ramp at his home is a new beginning.

Black has multiple sclerosis and has suffered with the illness for 40 years. Going up his steps was a battle he didn’t want to fight.

“Falling, going up and down steps falling,” Black said.

Luckily Habitat for Humanity volunteers in Owosso got involved and put in this brand-new wheelchair ramp.

It’s part of an initiative to help Black and many others across Shiawassee County.

“There’s really a great need,” Karl Fechner, construction manager, said.

Fechner estimates around 100 people in the county need a ramp or ramp repairs.

He says a $12,000 grant has been earmarked for habitat from the Mr. Owosso fund to do some of the work needed, but they are hoping to build a lot more ramps than that money can afford.

“People with children with disabilities, older people who are not mobile anymore,” Fechner said. “If you can’t get in and out of your house. You are trapped.”

Ramps like the one at Black’s home can cost from $500 to $1000.

Fechner says he is hoping to raise awareness of the demand for these kinds of ramps and get the community even more involved.

“They can donate money,” he said. “They can donate materials and they can volunteer to help build them.”

And spring can’t come soon enough for Black. He says this year he’s not worried about how he is going to get outside after years of struggling.

“I can’t wait for the weather to break and get outside and move around,” Black said.

Frankenmuth Credit Union Foundation for Our Communities donates $25,000 as Volunteer Sponsor for 2020

(L-R) Jenny Bickel, Frankenmuth Credit Union (FCU) Marketing Manager, Daniel Dennis, Saginaw-Shiawassee Habitat for Humanity (SSHFH) President of the Board of Directors, Vickie Schmitzer, FCU CEO, Carmen Mora, SSHFH Executive Director, Ann Hall, SSHFH Treasurer of the Board of Directors

[Saginaw, MI] (February 20, 2020)Frankenmuth Credit Union Foundation for Our Communities donates $25,000 as Volunteer Sponsor of the Year 2020 for Saginaw-Shiawassee Habitat for Humanity.

The Volunteer Sponsorship for 2020 from Frankenmuth Credit Union Foundation for Our Communities will provide the following support for volunteers in the form of liability insurance, insurance for volunteer-friendly projects, t-shirts, hospitality (occasionally, since most food is donated), personal protective equipment, set-up of volunteer-friendly projects, volunteer training, volunteer rewards, other consumable supplies, supervision of volunteer projects, etc.

Frankenmuth Credit Union Foundation for Our Communities’ Volunteer Sponsorship assists Saginaw-Shiawassee Habitat for Humanity’s to develop volunteer leadership and empower volunteers to contribute to good works in Saginaw County through shelter improvements such as rehab of vacant, abandoned and foreclosed homes that will be sold to partner families and home repairs for low-income families who cannot afford to repair their properties.

“Frankenmuth Credit Union and Frankenmuth Credit Union Foundation for Our Communities are devoted to making a positive difference in communities all over Saginaw County. We are so grateful to them for their gift that is a catalyst that will bear much fruit from the contributions of the hands of over a thousand volunteers this year alone.”-Carmen Mora, Executive Director.

About Frankenmuth Credit Union

Frankenmuth Credit Union is proud to serve those that live, work, worship or were educated in the state of Michigan. Currently Frankenmuth Credit Union serves the needs of over 50,000 of your friends and neighbors. Not only do they provide financial solutions that improve their members lives, but they also work hard to improve the communities they serve. One way Frankenmuth Credit Union does that is through their Frankenmuth Credit Union Foundation for Our Communities. This program was started in 2014 and since then has provided almost $2 million to initiatives that keep children safe, assist those in need, help first responders with needed equipment, improve community parks and playgrounds, support educational needs in our schools, and much more. Members of Frankenmuth Credit Union not only grow their own financial success but also improve the communities we all live and work in.

About Saginaw-Shiawassee Habitat for Humanity

Saginaw-Shiawassee Habitat for Humanity (SSHFH) is one of 1,260 U.S. affiliates of Habitat for Humanity International and one of 59 in the State of Michigan. Since April 1987, SSHFH volunteers and staff have built or renovated 193 simple, decent homes with partnering low-income families, completed interior/exterior repairs and improvements on more than 400 houses through its Home Repair Program and served over 350 families through its Housing and Financial Counseling program.

Isabella Bank Donates $135,000 to Saginaw-Shiawassee Habitat for Humanity’s housing programs

[Saginaw, MI] – Isabella Bank donates $90,000 for Habitat’s housing solution programs—$95,000 for Homeownership Down Payment Assistance and $40,000 for Neighborhood Revitalization Home Repairs Program.

With Isabella Bank’s donation for Homeownership Down Payment Assistance, families or individuals approved for Habitat’s Homeownership Program may qualify for Down Payment Assistance of up to $5,000 when they purchase a new or fully-rehabbed home from Saginaw-Shiawassee Habitat for Humanity. Habitat homes are not free; families/individuals purchase homes with interest-bearing mortgages from local financial institutions. The biggest benefit of purchasing a Habitat home is that the major systems of the house have been replaced. The new homeowner does not have to bear the cost of the upgrades generally associated with the purchase of a home, in addition to paying for a new mortgage. Isabella Bank’s donation is making homeownership more affordable for first-time low-income homebuyers.

Isabella Bank’s donation complements and enhances Saginaw-Shiawassee Habitat for Humanity’s Home Repair Program that helps families obtain grants for critical repairs from various funding sources. Isabella Bank’s donation will fund households meeting program criteria. Isabella Bank’s Home Repair grants are extremely important as homes owned by qualifying families are generally older homes in need of critical repair. Habitat’s Home Repair Program supports projects ranging from roof, siding, insulation, installation of access ramps and kitchen or bathroom renovations for wheelchair access, windows, doors, etc. 

“Isabella Bank is committed to improving our community as well as serving low-income homeowners and homebuyers; that is a great combination. Together we are giving more families a handUP!”-Carmen Mora, Executive Director.

(Pictured L-R) From Isabella Bank—Sheilda Braddock, Community Development Liaison, Jerome Schwind, President of Isabella Bank; Michael Colby, President of Isabella Bank East Region; From Saginaw-Shiawassee Habitat for Humanity—Ann Hall, Treasurer, Greg Lange, Board member, Dan Dennis, President and Carmen Mora, Executive Director

About Isabella Bank

Since 1903, Isabella Bank has been committed to serving the local banking needs of its communities. Over the years, their products and services have evolved to fit the changing banking needs of its customers, but its core values as a community bank have not changed. Isabella Bank believes in local decision-making and long-term relationships with the community and those it serves. Whether Isabella Bank is giving monetary support to a local organization or volunteering its time, they believe that together they can be a part of building stronger communities.

Man finds $43,170 in a secondhand ottoman bought at ReStore

Couch Treasure
Source: WNEM

What would you do if you found thousands of dollars in a piece of furniture you had purchased?

That’s what happened to one local man. “It still boggles my mind,” said Howard Kirby, customer.

Kirby likes to shop at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Owosso. He purchased a couch from the store in December for his man cave, but this weekend he made a shocking discovery.

The couch was filled with thousands of dollars in cash. “I still have to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming or something,” Kirby said.

Kirby said he had the ottoman for a few weeks before noticing it was uncomfortable. That’s when his daughter decided to open it up. “That’s when she started pulling out this,” Kirby said. A total of $43,170 was found in the ottoman cushion.

Kerby said he didn’t feel right keeping the money. So he reached out to the store to find out who had donated the couch. It turns out, it was Kim Fauth-Newberry.

The couch originally belonged to her grandfather, who died last year. “It’s just crazy,” Fauth-Newberry said.

On Jan. 16, the ReStore held a big surprise for Fauth-Newberry to give back every penny found in the cushion. “It’s completely awesome,” Fauth-Newberry said.

Kirby said an attorney told him he had no legal obligation to give the money back, but he felt he had to morally.

That is something Rick Merling, the ReStore Manager, thinks is heartwarming. “To me, this is someone that despite what they’re going through – and in spite of their own needs – says ‘I’m just going to do the right thing,’” Merling said.

Kirby said he could’ve used the money – he needs a new roof badly – but he feels better knowing the money is in the rightful hands.“I always thought what would I do if that ever happened and now I know, and it makes me feel good,” Kirby said.

A Habitat family finds the freedom to dream

When Ben Frederick (oldest son in the picture)  thinks back to his childhood, one thing stands out: the ever-present boxes in the closet.

“I always had boxes in the closet because my family didn’t know if we were going to be living at a place for six months or a year or what,” Frederick says. “So I always had boxes with my toys and belongings in them — always ready to be picked up and moved to the next place.”

Frederick grew up in Central Michigan and is now a state representative. He still recalls the strain of constantly moving between rental units in varying levels of disrepair, and how hard that was on the whole family. That’s because when you’re dealing with poverty, Frederick says, there’s an impression of uncertainty that pervades every decision, every aspect of everyday life.

“You get the tunnel vision of ‘What am I going to do this week? Are we going to make rent? How are things looking for food? How are things looking for utilities? What’s the job situation?’” he says. “So you don’t dream a lot — you don’t think about what your five-year plan is. It’s a very closed and short-term vision because it’s about necessity.”

It wasn’t until Frederick’s parents became owners of their own home through what is now Saginaw-Shiawassee Habitat for Humanity that the family finally found the freedom to dream, to plan and to think outside of the moving boxes.

“Suddenly, Habitat took away one of the many key stress points of poverty. Housing was no longer a constant point of concern or instability,” Frederick says. “So my parents could start thinking ‘What is our five-year plan as a family? And how can we do more with experiences to nourish this life?’ And I’m grateful every day for that having happened to our family.”

As a grownup, Frederick sought an answer to the question: “How can I, in some small way, be worthy of all this?”

Frederick in his yard.

Michigan State Representative Ben Frederick volunteers with Habitat.

A career in public service is his way of answering that question, he says, and a way to help ensure that everyone is afforded the support to grow, succeed and contribute to society — the way his family was.

He fulfilled this calling first in the Michigan legislature, where he worked as a staff member. From there, Frederick advanced through the ranks of local government — serving on Owosso City Council for nine years, including three consecutive terms as the city’s youngest mayor. His agenda focused largely on economic development, workforce readiness through skills training, and not surprisingly, safe and affordable housing.

Frederick is now in his second term as representative of Michigan’s 85th district, which encompasses his home county. He continues to focus on housing issues, lending his voice and time to build the capacity of local Habitat affiliates as well as advocating for change through policy.

Meanwhile, Frederick’s parents still reside in their Habitat home. The closets in the house look a little different from the rentals of Frederick’s youth. To make room for everything the Frederick family gained — safety, permanence, hope — they got rid of something else.

“One of my most powerful memories is from right after we moved in to our Habitat house,” Frederick says. “I went out to the curb, and we threw the boxes away.”