A community transformed by thriving families in sustainable homes.
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Candles for a Cause: Buy & Support Community Homeworks

We have partnered with Kalamazoo Candle Company for this fundraising opportunity.
They will generously donate 50% of your purchase amount to our programs.
You can purchase online now or at their store. Either way, use code CHW at checkout to give!

Free Shipping on Orders over $70. Event runs April, 1-April 30.


Shop AmazonSmile – They Donate to CHW

Holiday shopping is easy with Amazon’s Holiday Gift Guides. Shop at smile.amazon.com, and Amazon donates to Community Homeworks. Find great gifts for everyone on your list!

AmazonSmile is a simple and automatic way for you to support Community Homeworks every time you shop, at no cost to you. You’ll find the exact same low prices, vast selection and convenient shopping experience as Amazon.com, with the bonus that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to Community Homeworks.

You shop. Amazon gives.

Public Notice – Seeking Licensed Contractors

Community Homeworks is seeking licensed and insured electricians, plumbers HVAC, roofer and general subcontractors who are interested in contract work in bidding on home rehabilitation and repair projects for up to 80 homes during the 2017 calendar year.

Interested companies should contact us to be vetted and placed on our Approved Contractors list. Approved Contractors MUST also attend a one hour Pre-Construction Training at the City of Kalamazoo on 1/09/17 or 1/11/17 to be eligible to receive contracts. If interested, please contact Shaun Wright. Deadline: submissions will be accepted through 1/6/17. Community Homeworks is a HUD Sec 3, EO organization. Minority owned and small businesses are encouraged to submit.


New AmeriCorps Service Opportunity at Community Homeworks

Revised & Re-posted 3/2/17 

For more information and instructions on how to apply, download the full position description.

Community Homeworks has a new opportunity for a Habitat for Humanity Michigan AmeriCorps member to serve as a Education & Volunteer Coordinator in our homeowner repair and maintenance education program.  This part-time one year position includes a living stipend and upon successful completion of the service year, the member will be eligible for an education award to pay off existing student loans or return to school.Americorps

The Education & Volunteer Coordinator role will support and sustain our homeowner education program, which is part of a comprehensive package of programs designed to help low-income families meet the challenges of affordably living in their homes.  The goal of the program is to teach homeowners the importance of home maintenance and the skills to do so.

The member serving in this capacity will:

  • Coordinate and host educational offerings for Community Homeworks families, housing agency partners, and the low income community.
  • Recruit potential applicants for education program. Partner with other community organizations to expand outreach & recruitment efforts.
  • Assist in case management process including processing applications, meeting one-on-one with homeowners to guide them through the process and assess their needs, and tracking completion of attendance requirements.
  • Work with community partners to track and report on partner attendance.
  • Support existing curricula, content, and materials; update as needed to meet the needs of attendees, partner agencies, and the community we serve.
  • Assist in recruiting and retaining volunteers in support of the program, including workshop instructors.
  • Maintain accurate records and program data.
  • Work as part of the team that provides comprehensive programming for the families we serve.

To preview the AmeriCorps online application, click here.

2016 Summer Newsletter & Annual Report

Click here for this issue of news and financials.


Offering free home repair & garden supplies to income-qualified residents!

Friday, July 15, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., At Community Homeworks, 810 Bryant St, Kalamazoo

Community Homeworks will host a Home Repair Free Sale Flyer& Garden Supplies Free Sale for low-income residents of Kalamazoo County.

Families will have the opportunity to choose items from a wide selection of free home repair and garden supplies:

hardware     planters     ceramic tile     flooring     light fixtures

building materials     holiday items    much more

Those who come to the Free Sale will be asked to sign a self-certification waiver stating that their household meets the intent of Community Homeworks’ mission and vision, and that the materials will be used for that purpose.

Although everything is completely free, attendees will need to go through a “check-out” to ensure inventory records can be updated. CHW also reserves the right to limit per-person quantities of merchandise in order to have the greatest impact within the community.

CHW receives generous donations of merchandise from its corporate partners, Education Manager Kevin Dodd explains.

“We planned the Free Sale in response to a surplus of in-kind donations,” Dodd says. “We often receive more supplies than we can use in our programs, and sharing these material resources is another way to empower families in addition to our usual services.”

Come find YOUR free home items!



Save the Date! Furnace Fest 2016

Furnace Fest 2016 is Friday, September 23.

Save this link to check for updates.

DIY Home Maintenance for February

On Groundhog Day, Punxsutawney Phil, a rodent of unusual celebrity, predicted six more weeks of winter.  This means there could be extended opportunity to remain cooped up at home and continue with our household organization projects that we started in January.  If you refer to last month’s article DIY Home Maintenance for January, you can revisit those organizational tips and check your progress.

House Interior


This month’s article focuses on what you can do to document your belongings once you know what you have and where it is.  Compiling a home inventory or updating one you already have can help you in cases of theft, fire, or natural disaster.  While nobody likes to think about the potential for these unpleasant events to occur, a little preparation can go a long way to making the process of dealing with your insurance company easier should there be a loss.


Check out February’s Homeowner’s Insurance workshop at Community Homeworks to find out about the types of coverage and how home maintenance can affect your rates.   Learn about theft and fire prevention in our Home Safety and Security workshop scheduled for March.

This is a project you can do one room or area at a time so you don’t get overwhelmed by the process.  Schedule a weekend or several to get it all done. A little bit of work will provide substantial peace of mind. The following list of steps was taken from Todayshomeowner.com. They say that to prepare a home inventory you’ll need a computer spreadsheet or paper notebook, camera and/or camcorder, and a tape measure.  Ready, set, go!

  1. Outside: Take a video of all sides of the outside of your home, including patios, landscaping, hardscaping, and sheds. Follow this up with photos from each angle. Take close-up photos of specific items, such as rockwork, outdoor kitchens, water features, and lighting to show detail. Record measurements, model and serial numbers, purchase price, and any other information that could help you determine the replacement value of the object.
  2. Rooms: Next, move through your house room by room with a camcorder to video the interior. Slowly pan the room, starting at the upper left area from where you’re standing and moving toward the right, then down and back to the left across the lower half of the room. Repeat the process by taking wide-angle still photos of the room from each corner.
  3. Individual Items: Now focus your camera on individual items of value. TVs, stereos, furnishings and rugs, equipment and tools, anything that would be important to replace in the event of loss. As you take photos, record on your spreadsheet each item’s name and image file number, along with as much information as possible. Record brands, model and serial numbers, measurements, and descriptive features.
  4. Document Ownership: Finally, you’ll need to compile information to prove your ownership of each item. Record purchase dates and sources on your spreadsheet, and attach receipts and any appraisal statements to the inventory. Or, you can scan relevant document and attach them digitally to your inventory spreadsheet.
  5. Secure File: If you compiled the inventory on paper, organize all documents neatly in a three-ring binder. If your inventory is in digital format, organize the digital files and copy them to flash drive, CD, or DVD. Make three copies of your inventory: one to keep at home, one to keep in your safety deposit box, and one to store in a remote location, such as with your insurance agent or a family member.

DIY Home Maintenance for January

The hustle and bustle of the holidays can zap our energy.  And, with Mother Nature’s snow machine cranked up, you might favor just hunkering down and waiting for January to go away.  But since it is here in all its winter glory, and we are sequestered anyway, January provides a good opportunity to organize our households.  That’s why this month’s projects focus on clearing the clutter and filing.  Though not particularly glamorous, these projects can provide a measure of satisfaction in knowing you can find and store things quickly and easily.

Once you know what you have and where it is, you can compile a home inventory or update the one you already have. That can be next month’s project – so check back here in February for tips on how to document your belongings and why it is important to do so.

But first, some tips about winter safety around the house!

=> Safety outside your home:

  • Use a roof rake to clear the eaves of snow, which helps reduce icicles and ice dams that can force water back into your home. Avoid any electrical connection to your home.  Do not climb onto the roof. Do not break or knock off icicles.
  • Be kind to your neighbors, pedestrians, and the postal person by keeping sidewalks clear of snow and ice. This might even be an ordinance in your community. Bundle up, and shovel with care.
  • Consider helping a neighbor by shoveling for him if he is not able to do so.

=> Safety inside your home:

  • Make sure you have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors that are properly installed and have fresh batteries.
  • Burn only hardwood that has been cut dried for 6-12 months.
  • Use a fire screen in front of fireplaces.
  • Keep combustible materials (newspapers, drapes, furniture, etc.) away from fireplaces and space heaters.
  • You should also have an easily accessible ABC rated fire extinguisher.

Project #1: Clear the Clutter

ClutterIt’s human nature to collect stuff.  Over time, closets, drawers, basements, and garages fill with all sorts of things that may or may not belong in those locations.  Oh for a place for everything and everything in its place! So as not to be overwhelmed with the task of removing clutter, start small. Pick one closet or one drawer or a basement corner.  Once you have tackled that area, you have some momentum and maybe even some enthusiasm and strategies for doing more. As you evaluate each item in an area that you want to organize, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I use it?
  • When did I use it last?
  • Would I use it if I could find it?
  • Could someone else use it instead?
  • Have I outgrown it?
  • Is it out of style, obsolete, broken?
  • Is it sentimental?
  • Is it important?

The answers to these questions should help you decide what “pile” an item goes in: keep, give away, discard. For the things you have decided to keep, the challenge then becomes space for keeping.  Examine the desired location to see how you can best use the space. You can dramatically increase storage space with shelving, hanger bars, baskets, and bins.  Things that can stack make best use of vertical space. Measure and plan what you need before hitting the stores.  Shoe boxes, a few drawer dividers or trays, zip-close baggies, maybe an accordion file, might work just fine!  Tip: Put the most frequently used items in front or on top. Stow the seasonal or lesser used things in back or up in those harder to reach places.

Note: If your community has a hazardous waste program, please look into what they accept in case some of your discards can be dropped off and disposed of properly.  The list could include old electronics, certain paints, various chemical products, and batteries.  Post the list and designate a collection box in your home so you can continue this environmentally friendly habit throughout the year. (Here is what the Kalamazoo County Household Hazardous Waste Center accepts.)

Now, after all your good work, practice good storage habits to prevent further clutter!

Project #2: Filing

Pile of PapersWhile you are going through your stuff, you might just find those appliance manuals, product warranties, home improvement receipts, even various important documents (insurance papers, house deed, property tax receipts, etc.) that are scattered about.  This presents an opportunity to collect these papers, discard those for things you no longer own, and keep the rest in an easily accessible file, binder, or envelope.

Review those warranties and product manuals to check on recommended maintenance for furnaces, equipment, appliances, and tools.  Mark your calendar to track scheduled upkeep, service, monthly filter changes, water heater maintenance, etc.

For more tips on organizing your important papers, visit Time Management Ninja or Good Housekeeping.

DIY Home Repairs for December

If you haven’t completed November’s DIY projects, it’s not too late! Check out last month’s “to-do” list if you’re not sure!

12641243174_e30e498862_zREMEMBER:  Winter precipitation is impossible to escape (unless you go on vacation), but with a little preparation you can keep your home safe from its byproducts:  ice dams, icicles, heat loss, roof damage, foundation damage, slip-and-falls, and more!  Always keep your walkways shoveled and salted to protect our postal workers.  Do this especially if you have an elderly loved one.

To-Do #1: Replace Furnace Air Filter

The air filter on your HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) system needs to be replaced every 1-3 months to keep the air in your home clean and flowing freely. A high quality air filter is the best choice to remove mold, pollen, and other microscopic particles from the air (but use caution if it is chemically treated).

The air filter is usually found behind the air return grate mounted on a wall or in the floor. The filter may also be located in or near the air handler.

To replace an air filter:

  1. Turn the heating system off, and wait until it stops running.
  2. Remove the cover on the air return and take out the old air filter.
  3. Before installing the new filter, write the date on it!
  4. Insert the new air filter in the return, making sure the arrow on the edge of the filter is facing in the direction of air flow.
  5. Put the cover back on the air return and turn the heating system back on.
  6. To make it easier to replace next time, put a sticker on or near the return with the size filter you need to buy and when to replace it.

To-Do #2: Check Attic Insulation

As the weather gets colder, it’s a good idea to check your attic to make sure you have enough insulation and add more if you don’t.

In most cases you can add another layer of insulation on top of what’s already there, using rolls or batts of unfaced insulation or by blowing or spreading loose insulation. If your existing insulation is water damaged or moldy, it will need to be removed and replaced.

If your home currently doesn’t have attic insulation, the easiest DIY method is to install batts or rolls of insulation between the ceiling joists. To learn now, click here.

To-Do #3: Insulate Drop Down Attic Stairs

While you’re in the attic, don’t forget the attic stairs! Drop down attic stairs are notorious for leaking precious heated air into the attic and reducing the energy efficiency of your home. Attic stair access covers are made of thin plywood, and the construction isn’t very tight, allowing heated air to escape.

There are several ways to insulate attic stairs in your home:

  • Seal Cracks
  • Install Weatherstripping
  • Build an Insulating Stair Cover
  • Install a Ready Made Insulating Stair Cover

For more details about these projects, visit www.todayshomeowner.com

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