Habitat for Humanity Capital District and the
2014 Red Carpet Honorary Committee invite you to
Premiering ‘Hope Defined’- A Documentary Short
Friday, May 16, 2014
The Palace Theatre
19 Clinton Avenue
Albany, NY 12207
Light fare & cocktails featuring bistro selections
by Birch Hill Catering
Premiere of Hope Defined,
a documentary short
Dessert & coffee reception
Tickets are going fast and space is limited,
so get your tickets today!!
Hope Defined: A Documentary Short
With the splendor of the Palace Theatre as our backdrop, Habitat will premiere a documentary short that tells the story of one local family’s struggle to achieve the American Dream. Through the eyes of the Ufomba family, we will witness the challenges that lower-income households face in the Capital District. Every day, Habitat families tell us about the reality of life in our inner cities. Now you will have the chance to hear from one Habitat family directly, in their own voice. Journey with us as we explore the triumphs and tribulations of an immigrant from Nigeria, his Army veteran wife and their beautiful daughter as they become first-time homeowners. We hope you can join us for an evening of truth, celebration and support for our hardworking families.
Opening Night Sponsor
2014 Red Carpet Honorary Committee
Brian L. Barker*
Duncan & Ann Barrett
Dr. John & Deborah Bennett
David* & Patricia Blackman
Honorable Neil D. Breslin
Bill & Diane Corbett
Albert De Salvo* & Susan Thompson
Jon Finke* & Joyce Stahl
Kevin & Jenna Gutman
Drs. Timothy & Pamela Harper,
New Jerusalem Home of the Saved
Mike & Sue Jacobson
Sr. Catherine Kruegler, C.S.J.
Honorable John T. McDonald III
Honorable Daniel P. McCoy
Honorable Daniel P. McCoy
Home Front Housing Project
Bryan & Cindy* Pohlmann
Nancy Meyers Preston
Andrea Crisafulli Russo
Robert Schofield & Rebecca Murphy
Christine Hmiel Schudde
Ralph Spiller* & Audrey LaFrenier
Todd B. Stevens* & Marcy E. Spratt, Esq.
Charles Touhey & Alice Green
Jerry & Betsy Weiss
Chris* & Amy Wheland
Youth United Steering Committee
* HfHCD Board Members
To become a Red Carpet Honorary Committee Member, click here!
To become an event sponsor, click here!
Attack the Block is Habitat for Humanity Capital District’s way to get youth ages 6-16 involved with building in their community! Check out the information below and contact our office to sign up!
Serve Albany is a unique, city-wide service event offering the opportunity for individuals to easily identify and participate in any of a variety of service projects at local not-for-profit agencies. Interested volunteers can sign up to help with Habitat for Humanity Capital District, Capital City rescue Mission and HATAS just to name a few!
The Serve Albany projects have been selected to connect a wide range of people possessing a diversity of skills with organizations in need of volunteer support to continue their mission. A recurring event, the upcoming Serve Albany week, April 21-27, 2014, is a partnership of Christ’s Church Albany and The Stakeholders Regional Volunteer Center to mark National Volunteer Week.
Click here to read an Albany Times Union article about the first Serve Albany week-long service event.
The catalyst for Serve Albany can be found in research showing that New Yorkers lag behind the rest of the nation in volunteerism, saying “I haven’t been asked” (37 percent) and “Don’t know where to go to be of help” (28 percent). Almost six in 10 had not been asked to volunteer by an organization or a cause in the previous year. [Source: Albany Times Union, Dec. 24, 2012, “Why charity doesn’t start at (our) home”].
“We believe that volunteering and serving is the best possible way to live,” said Jonathan Hentrich, Lead Pastor of Christ’s Church Albany. “The purpose of Serve Albany is to make it as easy as possible for people in Albany to serve in our city.”
To give back to your community- SIGN UP HERE!
Meet our Board President, Todd Stevens! Todd has been on Habitat for Humanity’s board since 2011 and recently became the Chairman of the Board in 2013. He currently works at Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY) Federal Credit Union as the Manager & Chief Operating Officer. Not only does Todd spend time working with Habitat, he is also a volunteer firefighter for the Colonie Fire Company. Check out our interview with Todd to learn more about his experience with Habitat and as a local firefighter!
How long have you worked for FASNY?
I have been with FASNY Federal Credit Union for 7 years (as of April 2nd, actually). I was originally hired in 2007 as a Loan Officer, promoted to Chief Operating Officer in 2010, and promoted again to Manager & Chief Operating Officer in 2011.
How long have you been involved with Habitat?
I joined the BOD in June of 2011, was voted Treasurer and Chair of the Finance Committee in 1/2012, and then voted Chairman of the Board in 1/2013.
How did you first become involved with Habitat?
I first met Al DeSalvo (the previous board president) through a friend that I met in the Leadership Tech Valley program. Al had me meet with Mike Jacobson and we hit it off right away. His passion for the organization and the mission are contagious and I immersed myself from day 1.
How long have you been a volunteer fire fighter?
I joined Shaker Road-Loudonville Fire Department’s Explorer Post at the age of 14, then as an active member at the age of 18 (1999). I was an active member there until I moved to another fire district and joined the Colonie Fire Company in April 2008. I have served as a lieutenant and captain over the years.
Do you see any similarities between volunteering for Habitat and volunteering as a fire fighter?
Yes! One of the biggest similarities is that I never know when something is going to come up with either one. Emergencies obviously don’t happen according to a schedule, and the nature of Habitat’s business over the last year or two has sort of become the same way in that a lot of our current opportunities have been presented to us through the relationships we’ve fostered in the last few years without our seeking them out.
Did you grow up in the Albany area?
I was born and raised in the Village of Colonie, lived in Latham for about 13 years, and moved back to Colonie Village in 2007 where I purchased my current home.
Have you always seen yourself as the volunteering type?
Volunteering is definitely in my blood. I’m a 5th generation volunteer firefighter, my family volunteers quite a bit on volunteer boards, nonprofit committees, etc.
How often do you volunteer?
I find myself volunteering, in one sense or another, quite often. With the firehouse, you never know when we’ll get called out – in the middle of the night, just as we’re sitting down for dinner, any time. On top of calls, though, we have meetings and drills every week that I try to get to. With Habitat, I am constantly staying in touch with staff to keep up to date on the happenings of the affiliate, working behind the scenes on new ideas, and promoting and advocating for Habitat with friends, family, and connections.
What is the training process like in order to become a volunteer fire fighter?
The initial entry training program to be a firefighter in NYS is 87 hours, but more focused training with your actual department to learn the specifics of their operations can take many more hours.
Do you have any stories from your fire fighting experience that you would like to share?
I don’t think I can narrow down any one favorite memory from my time in the volunteer fire service, but some of the fondest times I had were when my brother and I both still lived at home with our parents. When the pager went off, the two of us and our dad would all hop in the car together to get to the firehouse, and respond on the same rig to calls. That was always a good time.
Do you remember your first fire fighting experience? What was it like?
The first actual call that I went on was an odd one. We responded to an incident where a car rolled down a hill, through someone’s back yard and fell into their pool. Luckily no one was in the car, but we helped get the car out of the pool.
What goes through your mind before, during, and after fighting a fire -do you ever feel scared?
We’re trained to begin our size-up of a fire starts as soon as we get dispatched for a fire – even while driving to the firehouse to respond, I start thinking about the weather, the time of day, the type of property we’re responding to, what exactly we’re being called for, and more. While on scene there’s a delicate balance between efficiently accomplishing our assigned task (fire attack, ventilation, rescue, etc.) and keeping the entire situation in mind. Tunnel vision on one task can be dangerous, but staying focused on what you have to do is important too. I’ve always felt like a bit of fear is a good thing. To me, complacency with the inherent risks of going into a burning building can be dangerous for not just me, but the whole crew. Being a little scared keeps us alert and paying attention to what’s going on to stay out of an even more dangerous situation. With that fear, though, is the faith in our skills and abilities to know that we’ve been trained to handle what we’re dealing with and can put the fire out safely and effectively.
Is there anything else you would like to share about fire fighting, or volunteering as a whole?
I guess one thing that I try to remember often is that I wouldn’t be where I am today in my career without having been a volunteer firefighter. I first found out about the credit union as a firefighter and had my first car loan through the credit union. Through that process I met the then-president of the credit union and a couple of years later he hired me.
Thanks, Todd for all that you do for Habitat and our community!
Officially joining team Habitat as the newest development intern, I got a chance visit the Sheridan Hollow site and talk with one our most recent house recipients, Rushel Skeine. Rushel and I had a blast talking about some of her future goals as well as her excitement about moving her and her family into a new home.
When asked about her feelings about volunteering on site, Rushel said, “It reminds me of when I was a little kid [in Jamaica], helping out with my uncle’s house and carrying blocks and hammering stuff and doing the mason work.” Even before she had plans to apply for a home, she wanted to be a Habitat for Humanity volunteer.
After her friend told her about Habitat’s homeownership opportunities, Rushel attended an orientation at Arbor Hill High School. She did not think she was an eligible candidate, but she applied anyway. Rushel was beyond excited when she discovered she was approved for a home! From then on, Rushel went to volunteer on site at least every Wednesday. “It’s just a great experience. I love it. I get to see everything from the floor up. So I’m just really excited,” said Rushel about being able to volunteer and watch her future home transform. Rushel is incredibly dedicated to her volunteer work. Even in this freezing cold weather, she spends her free time working on site.
Last year Rushel was going through the process of buying home through a different program, when she was interrupted by a family crisis in Jamaica. She is now thankful, because if not for that circumstance, she would never have been put in contact with the Habitat for Humanity program. “It’s nothing but God because if I did [go through with the other program], I would be paying all this money for a house that isn’t even brand new, and then paying interest for, who knows how many years? So I’m glad everything happened the way it did because now I’ll have a brand new house with no interest.”
Now, Rushel urges all parents, coworkers, and anyone else she meets to come apply at Habitat for Humanity. She is amazed at what Habitat is doing for single parents and the community as a whole. “Families come together more. I don’t even own my house yet and I’m thinking of all these things we can do as a family.” Rushel, a single mother of three, can’t wait to have a basement and a backyard where her kids can play. They currently live in a three bedroom apartment where space is tight. The whole bunch can’t wait to have bedrooms of their own to play and study. Rushel’s oldest daughter (17) is a part of Habitat’s Capital Region Sponsor-A-Scholar program with plans to go to college and study journalism. “She’s doing so good compared to when she was struggling to stay on track in middle school. Now she’s doing all honors classes and doubling up this quarter. I’m so proud of her,” said Rushel of her daughter who attends the program every Monday.
Rushel also has some aspirations of her own. She currently works at the Albany County Nursing home, as a nursing assistant. She also goes to Hudson Valley Community College in order to obtain her nursing prerequisites. She loves school, and learning about the body, but her real passion is cooking. Rushel hopes to open her own authentic Jamaican restaurant someday. “That’s my number one goal after school and owning a home…I cook from the heart.” She even told us she would cook for all the volunteers once it gets warmer! Rushel has strong ambitions for both herself and her children, “My thing is all my kids have to achieve something in life. They know there is no playing around. Education, education, education, that’s my motto.” Rushel has high hopes for her family. They are all excited to start their new lives at Sheridan Hollow!