November 20, 2019

Local Habitat for Humanity branch in dire need of volunteers

Affiliate could shut down if no help found


FAIRVIEW — The Oscoda County branch of Habitat for Humanity is in desperate need of volunteers to take over positions on its board, otherwise it will be faced with little option but to shutter the local affiliate.

Executive Director Ed Landefeld said while the branch is financially sound, it is unable to function properly with the current staffing level.

“This is a final plea to the community,” Landefeld said. “If we can’t get more people in this last-ditch effort, we may have to shut it down.”

Landefeld said the Oscoda County branch is essentially an island, as it is currently the only Habitat for Humanity in any of its neighboring counties. This branch is not the only one facing issues lately, as other county branches have closed in recent months.

Landefeld said the most frustrating thing with the current situation is that the affiliate has the resources to help people, but not enough volunteers to do the behind-the-scenes work that will keep it open.

“We are a strong affiliate, and a strong financial entity,” Landefeld said. “At this point, it’s frustrating to know the only reason we would close is because we can’t get enough people to volunteer.”

Landefeld said as of now there are six people on the local board, which is only half of what the affiliate is supposed to have. In addition, the organization has multiple committees that have either been dismantled or put on the backburner as there are not enough people to participate in them.

“None of the six members want to close this affiliate,” Landefeld said. “We’ve been here since 2002. During that time we’ve built 13 houses and done an untold number of repairs.”

Landefeld said if the branch were to be fully staffed with volunteers he would need at least six people to take over positions on the board, and an additional 12 to fill spots on the various committees. He said if the affiliate is able to get at least seven or eight volunteers it should be able to avoid shuttering.

The most important spot that needs to be filled on the board is the position of treasurer. Landefeld said the person who has been in the position for the past decade has decided to step down. He said the person stayed on for a couple years while a replacement was sought, but the board has been unable to find one.

Landefeld said the local group has looked at temporarily shutting down, in order to pick back up when more volunteers are available. Unfortunately the host organization frowns upon that, and no group that has shut down has reopened. If the local affiliate were to shut down, its Re-Store in Fairview would also have to close down as well.

The affiliate has tabled its decision on whether or not to stay open until its July meeting. To volunteer, or to find more information about the local group, call Landefeld at 989-848-2200.


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