Lake-Geauga Habitat for Humanity helps set people up for home ownership success

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Since 1987, Lake-Geauga Habitat for Humanity has erected 91 homes—on average about three to four per year in Lake and Geauga counties.

By Patricia Nugent

At the end of the day, what most of us are thankful for is food to eat and a roof over our heads.

Lake-Geauga Habitat for Humanity has earned a reputation worldwide for partnering with communities to help families meet that most basic human need of shelter. As a testimony to real empowerment, homeowners work tirelessly alongside the volunteers to erect their future home, and then receive support from the organization to bolster their independence to create a better life for themselves.

Here in Lake and Geauga counties, since 1987, the community-galvanizing effort has erected 91 homes—on average about three to four per year.

According to Denise Sanzo, Manager of Marketing and Digital Communications for the local chapter,

“Sweat equity plays a big part in our process. There is an established criteria for the folks who move into these homes. This is a partnership. People must commit a significant amount of hours, up to 450, as well as demonstrate the ability to pay a mortgage, utilities, taxes and other monthly expenses. Nearly all labor is donated by local volunteers and we receive in-kind donations of construction materials, too.”

Setting Future Homeowners Up for Success
Denise reports that a goal at Lake-Geauga Habitat for Humanity is to make sure people possess the skills to manage their home once it’s built.

“For instance, a family liaison works with the new homeowners for at least the first year, and sometimes beyond, to set them up for success,” she says. “We cover every detail for maintaining a home, such as when you should clean your gutters or have your furnace cleaned.”

Putting the Fun in Fundraiser
In its 10th year, Framing the Future Charity Event, set for Saturday, April 6th, is Habitat’s biggest annual fundraiser.

“We’ve been at LaMalfa for several years and are thankful for how the owner and staff go all out for us,” she says. “The food is amazing. It’s decorated beautifully. The hundreds of attendees each year tell us it’s their favorite charity event.”

New to the docket of auction items are a host of exciting trips and experiences. And the organization has booked the popular local band Who’s Charlie to round out the entertainment.

There’s still time to donate items for auction or sponsor a table at the event.

“We hope to have the best turnout ever this year,” says Denise. “There’s already been a tremendous outpouring of community support.”

Habitat is a non-profit ecumenical Christian housing ministry that’s dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty one family at a time. Lake-Geauga Habitat for Humanity is headquartered at 100 Parker Court in Chardon. Donations and volunteers are always welcome. One hundred percent of each donation goes to the mission of self-sustainability. The Habitat for Humanity ReStore Discount Home Improvement Stores are located at 34225 Vine Street in Eastlake, and 12180 Kinsman Road in Newbury, and are open Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The stores are always looking for donations of new and gently used furniture, housewares and building materials. Call 440-226-3000 or visit for more information.