2021 Best Practices Award Winners

Posted By: Adrienne Osborne Best Practices Awards,

2021 Best Practices Award Winners

 Best Practices Awards

2021: Award Presentation Video

Best Practice Award Winner: Community Partnership 

HopeBUILDERS Home Repair in Kansas was the recipient of this award. 

As a volunteer driven organization, community partnerships are a vital resource in helping HopeBUILDERS work toward our mission of a safe and accessible home for every Kansas Citian. A new partnership between HopeBUILDERS and Kansas City Kansas Community College has already proven to be a win-win. HopeBUILDERS initiated this partnership with the Dean of the College overseeing the building trades. Following a meeting with trade instructor leads, the partnership has begun to grow, particularly with the electrical trade program. A HopeBUILDERS project manager makes the initial home visit to assess need, then works with the instructor to plan for materials and scheduling. The instructor and small group of students perform the needed repairs. The client’s home is safer and the students have gained real-world experience in the field and served a neighbor in their community. HopeBUILDERS serves a three-county area in two states. This partnership serves clients in Kansas; negotiations are beginning to replicate this partnership with a community college system in Missouri.

We also gave an honorable mention to Sierra Service Project in California. Over the past year, Sierra Service Project has gathereed one representative from each of our partner communites to be part of our Community Advisory Council (CAC). SSP's goals for CAC are:

1) Understand our program impact and evolve processes to better serve the community

2) Include local voices in our decision-making processes

3) Increase opportunites for local participation 

4) Deepen long-term community relationships

We also gave an honorable mention to Rice and Beans Ministry in Mississippi. When we go to a new or existing area , we have found out that food is a common source to be able to build relationships. Building relationships with families being served , the county government and with the local leaders paves the way to be able to use this connects to be able to have a successful ,for all involved, mission. Unexpected hot meals creates lots of conversation. Door to door food bag delivery to the many under resourced families builds trust. We build our foundation in communities not only in the US but also in Costa Rica and Brazil with food. The relationship is the path. The food is how we get there. 

Best Practice Award Winner: Fundraising

Good Neighbors Home Repair in Pennsylvania was the winner of this award. Good Neighbors has been building a foundation support system that is 90% private and only 10% local government. In total, foundation gifts represent 50% of ministry support, or $400K in 2021. We employ a thorough process of screening and looking for family foundations who support other similar ministries. We invest in up-front meetings to insure that we are well positioned to win the grant, both in the amount and in the specific type of funding. We send progress reports and final reports with stories of families and we try to set up conference calls to follow up to make sure that they are thrilled with the impact of their investment.

We also gave honorable mention to  Blackbelt & Central Alabama Housing in Alabama.  We have an ongoing grant-writing and fundraising team that has eagerly held events and used social medias /special apps to raise funds for our non-profit. Recently, we have raised over $50,000 for our hosing repair program. Equally important, we have our local governmental agencies and Memorial Trust that provide us with $15,000 or more for the last five years or more.

We also gave honorable mention to Sierra Service Project in Calafornia. 

12xSSP monthly donation program: More than 160 generous donors make a monthly gift to SSP - we call them our 12xSSP donors. It’s simple, yet so powerful to sign up supporters to make automatic, recurring donations! This program began in 2013 with 45 donors contributing $7,000 during the first year. Our 12xSSP monthly giving program has grown to provide over $65,000 in predictable income to SSP throughout the year - almost a third of our total donations from individuals.

Every February is our 12xSSP month - we limit promoting this program to this month only to prevent donor burnout. It is strategically placed during a quiet donation period after the end of the calendar year, before our regional giving day. During February we release new thank you gifts (stickers, socks, fleece jackets, etc.) for each giving level, including an item exclusively for existing monthly donors who increase their monthly gift amount. These items cannot be purchased on SSP’s online store, making them exclusive to 12xSSP donors.

A critical piece of this program has been asking monthly donors to take a photo holding up a sign that reads “I’m a 12xSSP donor because…” The reasons people give are moving, and highlight various SSP voices, hopefully encouraging others to join in giving monthly. This was very effective for individuals to share with their networks, as well as through SSP’s network. We post these photos throughout the month on social media, and we have a 12xSSP Wall of Fame on an actual wall in our office as well as on our website with over 50 photos.
Also, "Big Day of Giving: Since 2014, SSP has participated in Sacramento’s regional Big Day of Giving, an effort to support nonprofits and philanthropic endeavors in the area. Our first year 31 donors gave $4,155. In 2021, this has grown to 193 donors giving $51,908. While we believe stewarding donors is a year-long endeavor beyond the local media blitz of a single day, we have seen our base of supporters motivated to give and help us meet a specific, time-sensitive goal. We also have the advantage of a large geographic footprint of supporters who aren’t oversaturated by 600 nonprofits sharing emails and social media updates about the day.

In 2021 we focused on peer-to-peer fundraisers, equipping staff and board members to share their stories and specific connections to why they support our mission. Here are a few snapshots from our 2021 Big Day of Giving:

1) Donors came from 8 different states, as well as Washington, DC.
2) Donations ranged from $5 to $5,000, with an average donation of $170.
3) We got gifts from at least 50 new donors, a quarter of our total turnout.
4) $3,075 from HQ staff fundraising pages (9% of our total)
5) $5,894 from board member fundraising pages (18% of our total)


Best Practice Award Winner: Home Repair Practices

Appalachia Service Project in Tennessee is the winner of this award. Over the past several years, Appalachia Service Project (ASP) has been working on a set of instructional home repair videos for the most common volunteer projects. In 2021 ASP added several key videos to the series, making the set complete. The purpose of these videos is to be a primary resource for ASP volunteers and staff members while they are out in the field completing and managing home repair projects. Often a volunteer group will gather together and watch through the videos that pertain to their project the night before, following along in the construction manual and then discussing further details with staff. Best practice is to have ASP staff send the videos out to the volunteer group adults the week prior to their arrival, so that volunteers have the chance to watch the videos ahead of time, become familiar with the project, and perhaps even pack some extra tools they anticipate needing after watching the video. These videos provide and show step by step instructions on how to complete each project using live footage from worksites. They are comprehensive and easy to follow, focusing on best practices that provide a quality product and are volunteer friendly. They also include important safety measures and visual references to ASP’s construction manual. All videos are public on ASP’s YouTube channel and linked to the website, so not only do they provide resources to ASP volunteers but they also are free resources that ASP homeowners, community members, or church communities could reference. These videos were also well utilized during ASP’s virtual Summer Staff Training in May of 2021. The videos helped to standardize construction training, provided a resource that summer staffers can go back and reference, and enabled ASP staffers to see what visualize what projects look like while tuning in from their homes. The top viewed video, Mobile Home Ceiling Repair, has over 51,500 views! The SBS (rolled roofing) video has 6,000 views and even one of the intro to tools videos, Drills, has 2,000 views. Overall reviews from volunteers and staffers alike are positive and they look forward to seeing updates as ASP continues to refine its home repair practices. ASP staff believe these videos have allowed for higher quality construction and a better volunteer experience because of the high quality instruction. Furthermore, the better prepared the staff and volunteers are, the less waste there is with construction materials. This is one small way to reduce cost during a year when prices are so high. Here is a link to the channel: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLqRA_56QdMy23k8sZ2KbqK8NqQaD9DjdX. Or, search Appalachia Service Project on YouTube and go to the Construction Training Videos playlist.

We also gave honorable mention to COVER Home Repair in Vermont. During COVID, COVER developed a DIY weatherization kit so that they could still help a lot of clients while keeping them and their staff safe. (They led a session at the Virtual Summit for Construction Coordinators this spring.) They also had a creative way of dealing with the high cost of lumber - they formed a relationship with a sawmill in order to access affordable lumber for their home repair projects.

Best Practice Award Winner: Partnership with Homeowners

MCC SWAP in Kentucky was the recipient of this award. MCC SWAP encourages giving and receiving with both volunteers and homeowners. On our homeowner application, there are check boxes beside suggested ways for homeowners to contribute. Ideas cover a range of involvement including paying for building materials, contributing a one-time amount, helping out with the work, providing coffee/ or cold drinks, providing lunch, or chatting with volunteers. Once a homeowner project is selected, we encourage all of our homeowners to interact with volunteers and share their stories. A lot of our homeowners are able to provide a cooler of cold water or pop. Many of our homeowners are widows and enjoy having "company" visit them on their porch or in their yard and the opportunity to cook a meal or make a snack for a small group of people. Sometimes a homeowner or family member will pitch in and help with the work, contribute some building materials, or give a financial contribution. Through the years, we have also had homeowners contribute fresh produce from gardens, home-canned goods, and more. For the homeowner, SWAP believes that this kind of mutual sharing provides dignity and ownership in the project; and for the volunteer, it encourages humility in receiving from the ones they are serving. Often good conversations happen and relationships are built during a a break that involves something to eat or drink. (See recent article: https://mcc.org/stories/swap-builds-connections-through-food)

We also gave honorable mention to Good Works Inc in Pennsylvania. If the goal of a home repair organization is to bring hope, joy and dignity to families struggling in poverty, they need to expand their services to address the relational and spiritual needs of the family. Any good feelings derived from making home repairs are temporary. Repairing a house, doesn’t turn it into a home. Relationships matter and it is difficult to establish relationships when the sole focus of a workday is making the needed repairs. Ambassador programs are comprised of volunteers who invest their time and effort coming alongside the homeowner, their family, neighbors and even the volunteers making repairs. The tool box of the Ambassador doesn’t contain hammer and pliers, but instead a Bible, Christian tracts, agency and church referral lists and other resources to help people facing difficult life situations. Good Works has introduced the concept of an Ambassador Program to ReFrame members at previous Conferences, but this year, we are offering a kick-start initiative that supplies the resources needed to launch an Ambassador program at no cost to the non-profit home repair agency. This includes Bibles, Pocket Testament Tracks, Workday Devotions, consulting, training and more. All the resources are provided FREE of CHARGE in exchange for submitting a monthly report documenting how the resources are being used and its impact. This offer is exclusive to ReFrame members who want to expand their home repair operations into a holistic ministry for the families they serve. Providing fellow ReFrame members with a year's worth of free resources should qualify as a best practice.

We also gave honorable mention to Metro Lutheran Ministry in Missouri. Metro Lutheran Ministry is uniquely empowered to provide a host of partnerships with homeowners as they receive renovations from our Minor Home Repair Program. This is possible because MLM has an enormous amount of programs under it's umbrella.

Metro Lutheran Ministry has an 81 tree Community Orchard and 25 raised bed and one ground plot Community Garden that encourages the community to plant their own vegetables or enjoy the fruits and vegetables from our Community produce. We also have 3 food pantries open 5 days a week, provide food boxes to seniors once a month, provide a farmer's market of produce once a month, back-snacks for kids, a sack lunch program, a Saturday breakfast program, diapers for parents of young children, medication vouchers, medical equipment, glasses, furniture, and dental work. MLM also has designated dollars for utility assistance, which many of our Minor Home Repair families need, since they have often racked up high utility bills before we can arrive to weatherize their home. If the family is in need of ongoing life-skills, goal setting, budget counseling, employment coaching, or help accessing other services, MLM has 9 Case Managers, each with a caseload of 40 families.

So this level of support could be as simple as a food-box brought to the house of one of our renovation projects or it could be a lifelong relationship of deep mentoring. Wherever the client is and whatever their needs, MLM has the supports to meet that need.

Best Practice Award Winners: Stewardship of Volunteers: 

MCC SWAP in Kentucky was the recipient of the award in this category. After a volunteer group registers with MCC SWAP, we provide the group leader with an email packet of orientation materials which include group activities focused on working in another culture, viewing service as relationship building and an opportunity for mutual learning, Bible study, and prayer. After the volunteer group arrives on site, SWAP staff facilitate evening sessions. The first evening session orients volunteers to the specific site where they are serving. During the second evening session, we discuss poverty and a Christian response. We look at some of the contributing factors to poverty, compare statistics from our county with the county where the volunteers are from, discuss some scriptures about a Christian response to those in need, and emphasize the importance of mutual giving and receiving with homeowners. For the third evening session, we invite a local community speaker to come and share their story of growing up in the mountains, the joys and struggles of living here, and anything else they would like to tell us. Some share their talent such as story-telling, music, or their collections of coal mining memorabilia . The final evening session allows for a reflection time on the week and a challenge to go back to their home communities and find ways to serve those in need. We close with a "Letter to Self". Volunteers write a letter to themselves which can include reflections on things they have learned from their time with SWAP, things they would like to change about themselves when they go home, ways they would like to be involved, etc. SWAP keeps the sealed envelopes and sends them to the volunteers 6 months from the time they volunteered with us. This serves as a reminder of their time with us and the things they were thinking about then. We also hope this will inspire them to return to SWAP again the following season. 

Community Housing Coalition of Madison County in North Carolina recieved honorable mention in this category. 

Community Housing Coalition started 20 years ago with volunteer members in the community who recognized the urgent need for home repairs among low income, elderly and disabled residents of Madison County. Though CHC now receives grant funding to be able to hire professional contractors when needed, the heart of the organization still remains with volunteers by encouraging our clients/family members to give back as volunteers. This was demonstrated in our most recent Neighbors Helping Neighbors.
Our clients family members volunteered their time and the church congregation also helped with repairs and catered lunch for all of the volunteers. This is one of the unique ways that CHC nurtures new volunteers and expands the level of engagement we have with loyal repeat volunteers. Also, we leverage summer youth groups that return year after year - and stay engaged with them, even through a pandemic when they are not able to participate. As much as this organization makes a positive impact with home repairs it could be said it makes just as much of a positive impact fostering a supportive and loving community.

Sierra Service Project in California also recieved honorable mention in this category. 

Weekly volunteers: In April, Sierra Service Project welcomed our regular group of weekly volunteers back after everyone had been fully vaccinated from COVID-19. Instead of their typical work repairing tools and vehicles, we asked them to fill a gap SSP was experiencing. We needed hands to help complete home repairs out in the community. Since April, Hank, Butch, and Charlie have spent 24 Wednesday mornings repairing homes. This benefited not only the community and SSP, but also rebuilt camaraderie and connection after being isolated during the beginning of the pandemic. Our office team rotates volunteering in the field every week with our weekly volunteers, getting quality time together and building relationships (especially over doughnuts and lunch)! We hope to make this an ongoing way for retired skilled volunteers to connect in community and give back on a regular basis with SSP.

Award Winner: Master Builder of the Year

Appalachia Service Project was the winner of the 2020 ReFrame MasterBuilder of the Year Award. This award goes to the member organization that recruits the most new members. ASP recruited 3 members in the last 12 months: Baptist General Association of Virginia, Appalachian Affordable Housing, and Beth O'Connell (an individual member and associate professor at East Tennessee State University). Other 2020 club members: Chesapeake Housing Mission, Christian Appalachian Project, Habitat for Humanity of York County, Habitat for Humanity of Greenville County, Operation Home, Reach Mission Trips, and Rebuilding Together of the Triangle.