About the Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity Restore
The ReStore is a home improvement outlet open to the public. Shop for quality donated home furnishings, furniture, and building supplies at a fraction of the original cost.
All revenue supports Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity’s work building, rehabbing and repairing homes for hard-working local families.
About the Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity
Habitat for Humanity ReStore
About Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity
Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity (GSHFH) is a housing ministry dedicated to strengthening communities by empowering low-income families to change their lives and the lives of future generations through homeownership and home preservation opportunities. This is accomplished by working in partnership with diverse people, from all walks of life, to build simple, decent, affordable housing.
Habitat’s mission to provide homeownership opportunities to low-income families is unique as it requires partner families to work alongside the community that is reaching out to help them. Each Habitat partner family provides “sweat equity,” or physical labor, toward the construction of their own home, other Habitat family homes and special projects. Partner families provide between 300 – 500 hours of sweat equity and participate in educational programs designed to help them achieve successful homeownership.
Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity (GSHFH) was founded in 1987. During our first 15 years, the affiliate was a strictly volunteer ministry. Through the generosity and faith of all those volunteers, we were able to build and renovate five (5) homes for five amazing families in the 1st 12 years.
In 1999, the leadership of our affiliate was determined to increase our impact, serve more families, and provide solutions to address the need for simple, decent affordable homes in Hampden County. To that end, they "hired" their first Executive Director. York Mayo served as both the affiliate Executive Director and Board President with an annual salary of $0 dollars. After York retired from the affiliate, we continued our all-volunteer model until Karen Carlson was hired as Executive Director in 2003. Steve Gelling served as Executive Director from 2004-2007, and Jennifer Schimmel has served as Executive Director since Sept. 2007.
Since our founding, 30 years ago, we’ve served 92 families and counting. 61 families served through homeownership opportunities, and 31 families through our new program, home preservation opportunities. Additionally, we have proudly served over 90 families in Guatemala as well as hundreds of families through our ReStore in Westfield.
Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity serves all of Hampden County.
Juan Cruz & Esther Rodriguez
When Esther Rodriguez first heard about the Habitat for Humanity program at her church, she was devastated to find that she and her husband did not qualify. But they were persistent. Refusing to give up, Juan and Esther vowed to do anything and everything to make sure they met the criteria. Eventually, they did. Then the hard work really began, as Juan and Esther chipped away at the 450 hours of sweat equity required for them to become Habitat homeowners. For months, they worked alongside a brigade of Habitat volunteers who helped them build their home. “It was such a great experience,” said Esther, who keeps an album filled with pictures taken during the home’s construction. “Working with the volunteers was overwhelming. I couldn’t believe all those people came to help us build our house. I was speechless. It felt like the volunteers were part of our family.”
Rick and Sonia Gilkes
In 2015, Rick was working on a construction crew that was gutting and renovating a house on Massachusetts Avenue. Another home was under construction right across the street. Each day, he’d watch the progress on this little house and wonder about the family that would live there.
A year before, Rick and Sonia had been in a rent-to-own situation in another section of the city. They had spent a great deal of their savings making improvements to the home, only to have the owner decide to take it back before the deal was finalized. They spent the next eight months living in the basement of a friend’s house, along with their three children. They were in a tough spot; they had no privacy, very little space, and no idea what to do next. Then, they found Habitat for Humanity.
“A lot of people dream about being a homeowner, about being in charge, about getting ahead,” said Rick. “One day, years ago, Sonia and I were sitting in our car outside of the projects where we lived. I said to her, ‘Watch. One day we will own our own home. God already has it picked out for us. We just need to wait. We’ll find it, someday.'"