3 Reasons to Donate Your Car Today!

April 11, 2014  |  Leave a Comment

Since 2004, over $1 million have been raised for Bay Area Habitat for Humanity affiliates through the Cars for Homes™ vehicle donation program!

To support our Million Dollar Milestone and Earth Day, on April 19th, join us at our San Carlos ReStore to receive a bonus gift and a unique discount at the ReStore when you pledge your car that day. Or, simply donate your vehicle during the month of April or any other time to support as well.

And now for three great reasons why vehicle donations are a smart choice, for you and for your community:

It’s eco-friendly

Approximately 30% of the cars donated to Cars for Homes™ are sold either for reusable parts or to be recycled into new steel products. Recycling steel saves energy and natural resources. Through recycling, the steel industry saves enough energy to power 20 million homes for one year. Old gas guzzlers donated to Habitat for Humanity last year contributed more than 1,500 tons to the total amount of steel recycled.

Assuming that a percentage of our vehicle donors replaced their old car with either a new one or a more fuel efficient used one, more than 1,100 Cars for Homes™ donors have saved gas and reduced the amount of CO2 produced by their transportation needs.

It won’t make you scream or rip your hair out

Rather than dealing with selling or trading in your old car, donate your car. When you sell a car, you have to drive around from dealership to dealership, just to show your car off and haggle over a sales price. Or you might place an ad in the paper, which requires more time and even money. Both ways leave you stressed out and disappointed because you tend to feel like you’re not getting the most out of the car you spent so many years with.

When you donate your vehicle to Cars for Homes™ we take care of all the details and your car (running or not) will be off your hands within a day or two’s time. The staff at Cars for Homes™  make donating a car easy and help you get the most out of your car donation, including a possible tax deduction.

You’ll feel good

When you donate a vehicle through the Cars for Homes™ program, your gift will go directly towards helping your local Habitat for Humanity affiliate build homes, revitalize neighborhoods and much more. Your car donation will help a family build a house and more opportunity for their future.

Donate today

The Cars for Homes™ donation process is quick and easy. It can be accomplished online (www.habitat.org/carsforhomes) or with a toll-free phone call to 1-877-277-4344. If you donate an automobile or other vehicle, you may be eligible for a tax deduction.

For more information about the April 19th event and pledge drive, or about the program in general, please visit our website or contact Jamin Sartor at 415-625-1018 or jsartor@habitatgsf.org


10 things we love about volunteers

April 7, 2014  |  Leave a Comment

April is National Volunteer Month, and everyone at Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco wants to say a big thank you to the thousands of volunteers who make our work possible year after year. Our volunteer services team, Kate, Laura and Melanie, shared ten of the many many things they love about our volunteers:

They want to share their experience with others.

“Can I bring my son/coworker/neighbor/boyfriend/friend/wife?” That’s a question we get all the time.

Kalimah dedicates one week every year to Habitat, and last year her daughters joined her in creating gift baskets for new homeowners


Our regular volunteers and partner families form bonds that go beyond building homes together.

Longtime volunteer Bob talks about building and getting to know homeowners (click above to watch)


They think construction is (going to be) fun!

And they make it fun (safety first though!)


They bring their friends out to celebrate special occasions, like birthdays and weddings!

Huong and John invited their friends to volunteer in lieu of a traditional bridal shower. Congrats Huong and John!

AmeriCorps Dan (top right) invited his friends to build at Habitat Terrace for his birthday (can you spot the party hats?)

There isn’t a cookie cutter volunteer type, they come in all backgrounds/ages/professions/personalities—and they all work great together!

Volunteers at the ReStore work together behind the scenes

They’re happy to help, whatever the task.

This volunteer tackled those leaves at a special Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative volunteer day!

Our volunteers are super enthusiastic about trying new things… even if it means stepping outside of their comfort zone.

Volunteer Jessie didn't let a little height hold her back at Habitat Terrace!


They’re excited to spread the word about building homes and communities!

Here's Gina at an involvement fair to encourage others to join her as a volunteer


They look great in hard hats.

Don't they?


But mostly we love…when they come back!

Volunteer again or for the first time by signing up here. We need your help to keep building homes and communities!

PS If you love this post, do us a favor and up-vote it on Buzzfeed!

Why I Build–Beverly, ReStore Volunteer

March 27, 2014  |  Leave a Comment

Why I Build is a blog series from Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco community members–volunteers, donors, staff, homeowners and more–about what we do, why we’re here, and why we build. Beverly has been volunteering at the ReStore since before it’s September 2012 opening, and shares what brings her and her expertise back day after day. 

Beverly doing her thing at the ReStore!

As an architect, Habitat for Humanity has been on my radar for decades. I was inspired to volunteer when I saw Habitat’s sustainable design transitional housing proposals for victims in Haiti made homeless by the wrath of Mother Nature and poverty. Habitat for Humanity International’s designs were “way ahead of the curve”! Because I am also the mother of two children, it was not possible for me to jump on the next flight to Haiti and join the efforts.

Rather, right here in my backyard there was a need: for space planning and build-out of the new Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco ReStore in San Carlos California, which opened September 2012. I knew the funds the ReStore could bring in would go to those in need for housing in Bay Area communities. From my first day at the ReStore it was evident we had a very special group of volunteers. We came from a wide variety of professional and personal backgrounds. What we had in common was the desire to collaborate to get all the elements of this project developed, built and completed on schedule.

Almost all of the volunteers who participated in the build-out have stayed on to fulfill the operational needs of what has become a very successful ReStore. I now do the furniture staging and some customer service/sales. In addition to the families who directly benefit from the funds the ReStore brings in,  ReStore customers are often people who have recently suffered financial setback. At the ReStore, many can afford to purchase the quality building materials, cabinetry, appliances, plumbing fixtures, furniture items or accessories they may need for their homes because of our incredibly affordable pricing.

I continue to be motivated to volunteer at the ReStore because of the team’s contagious joy & dedication AND the look on the customers faces when they “score” an amazing find at the ReStore!

“Homeownership gives you leverage”

February 27, 2014  |  Leave a Comment

For Black History Month, we spoke to Curtis Warren, a homeowner we work with in the Bayview, about his family’s history in the community. 

In the 1990s, a local bank was the recipient of criticism and pressure for reported discriminatory practices regarding lending to minorities. After pressure from community groups, including the San Francisco African American Chamber of Commerce, they launched an effort to specifically help homebuyers of color. Curtis Warren was told he was the only person to successfully buy a home through that program in San Francisco.

“When they told me that story, I cried,” he says. Curtis remembers the exact date he bought his home, May 25, 1997. It’s obviously an important date for him, as he approaches 17 years of living in his home (“being a homeowner gives you leverage,” Curtis tells us), down the block from his mother’s home in the Bayview, where he has lived his entire life.

“I never thought I would be able to buy my own home, but at that time, around when the Dot-com bubble burst, prices really dropped and made it affordable,” he says. “At first, I looked anywhere but San Francisco because I thought it would be too expensive for what the bank approved for my loan.” He calls finding his house a “fluke,” and is grateful to the neighbor who sold it to him—“she did everything possible to sell it to me.”

In addition to staying close to his mother, whom he cares for in her home 10 houses away, this house allowed Curtis to stay in the Bayview, which he values as a historically African American community. He calls it “the last frontier of African Americans in San Francisco”—the city’s black population has dropped by half since the highest recorded population of 96,078 in the 1970 census, to 48,870 in 2010. According to a survey from the San Francisco Planning Department, nearly a quarter of San Francisco’s black residents live in the Bayview.

“The Bayview is the only neighborhood in the city that has room for growth. As the neighborhood started attracting other cultures, I really enjoyed the diversity,” Curtis says. “On the one hand you might not like change, but change is good. I’d rather have something productive in my community than nothing.”

Curtis and his stairs, before and after repairs

Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco met Curtis through an application he submitted to our partner Rebuilding Together San Francisco for much needed home repairs. “One of the conditions when I bought the house was that I’d have to replace the side stairwell myself. I was a single parent when I bought my house, and as the years go by things got more expensive, so I put off fixing the stairs. It’s safer now and more convenient. This was a blessing for me. The work [Habitat] did was far more than I imagined it would be.” We’ve also completed repairs at Curtis’s mother’s home, which she bought in the 1950s.

“If I can be blessed with this significance of this project, I want other people to share in that—I print the application and try to get my neighbors to apply,” Curtis says. “I filled it out with one person just to get them to participate.”

Curtis’s love and pride for his neighborhood is palpable, as is his advocacy for neighborhood revitalization work. He tells his friends and neighbors about how they can get home repairs through Habitat’s program, or solar panels through PG&E, and how they can work to improve community features and facilities with us. “I was just down at Bayview Park last week, you can really see the change along Armstrong Avenue,” he says. “It’s more open and safe. It’s a really big difference, you can really see it.”

Our Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative works with homeowners like Curtis and community organizations to complete projects that the community identifies—home repairs like Curtis’s stairs, park beautifications like the aforementioned Bayview Park and community facility renovations like the Bayview Opera House and YMCA. We do this to bring the impact homeownership has on the community further into those communities, and we think it’s working. As Curtis says, “the area is changing. It’s changing for the better.”

25 Years of Building Forward

February 24, 2014  |  Leave a Comment

February 24, 2014 marks the start of our 25th anniversary year, on the anniversary of Peninsula Habitat’s incorporation. Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco Executive Director Phillip Kilbridge introduces the celebration of 25 years of building forward.

25 years of success started with our first home in 1989.

Today is a day to celebrate.

February 24, 2014, marks the 25th anniversary of the day Peninsula Habitat for Humanity was incorporated, the first step in our journey to providing homeownership opportunities to working families in this region. Habitat for Humanity San Francisco was founded four years later. These two organizations merged to become today’s Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco in 2008.

At Peninsula Habitat, Habitat San Francisco and Habitat Greater San Francisco, we’ve always had ambitious goals.

In April 2009, shortly after the merger, the Habitat Greater San Francisco staff presented to the board of directors the idea of building a 36-home condominium development in San Mateo County. Do you remember early 2009? The economy was in a steep nose-dive. A project we would have considered audacious even in the best economy faced a range of intense scrutiny: Could we afford this project? Did we have the internal resources and expertise? Could we find the volunteers to build these homes? Could we find families to buy them?

Nearly five years later we can look at our success at 7555 Mission and know the answer to all those questions was “yes.” Now, in 2014, we are asking ourselves a new set of questions about how we can build the 28 homes at Habitat Terrace, how we can start building new homes for the first time in Marin, how we can buy land to build more homes on the Peninsula and how we can deepen our community impact.

Today we celebrate 25 years of building forward. For 25 years, and today, more than ever, we are an organization bent on looking forward to find inventive solutions to our area’s expensive real estate challenges.

We continue to challenge ourselves because we know we’re fully capable of doing more to build homes in Marin, San Francisco and the Peninsula. Just in our recent years, we challenged ourselves when we brought two organizations together to operate more powerfully as one; when we took on building up instead of out at 7555 Mission; when we opened a ReStore in an expensive retail market; when we launched a Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative to expand our impact in the communities in which we build; when, in the midst of a real estate boom, we found a way to purchase market rate land to build 28 new homes in partnership with 28 working families at Habitat Terrace.

For 25 years we’ve been building forward. Over the course of the next year, we’ll be sharing stories with you of how we’ve done that in our 25 year history, how we’re doing that right now and how we’ll continue to do so in the future, with your help. Together, when we invest in our neighbor’s quest to become a homeowner, it strengthens the entire community.

Please join me in celebrating what we’ve accomplished in these 25 years, and what together we’ll accomplish in the years to come.

Why I Build – Karla, Volunteer

February 13, 2014  |  Leave a Comment

Why I Build is a blog series from Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco community members–volunteers, donors, staff, homeowners and more–about what we do, why we’re here, and why we build. Earlier this month, Karla addressed guests at an event celebrating our newest development, Habitat Terrace, sharing how she got started volunteering in 2005 and what inspires her to continue.

I build because I am fortunate! I serve a God who has blessed me with more than I could ever ask for.

I first began volunteering with Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco in 2005 because I wanted to “give back.” I remember watching a TV commercial where Reba McEntire announced that Whirlpool donated new appliances to every Habitat home. I didn’t know we had a local affiliate so after researching it, I called and signed up to volunteer that same week at the office. That day I overheard someone saying extra help was needed on the construction site and I asked if I could go, even though I had no construction experience. They said “all are welcome” and that Saturday I joined other volunteers on a job site. What a life changing phone call!

Today, I continue to build with Habitat (here in the Bay Area and on international Global Village trips) because I get to work alongside loving homeowners, dedicated construction managers and a team of amazing AmeriCorps, and first-time and returning volunteers who give their time to help build not only homes, but memories and friendships that last a life time. As we build each wall, we share our experiences, our triumph and sometimes even our hardships. We become more than neighbors and friends, we become family.

I think my favorite part of any workday is when a first-time volunteer tells me that they will be back. At that moment, I remember how someone else made my first experience with Habitat so enjoyable that I knew I wanted to come back. His name was John – he was the regular volunteer that I got to work with my first Saturday building homes at Habitat Way in Daly City.

Karla with John, the volunteer who's the reason she kept coming back

I build because I love people. The great philosopher Lao-Tzu said:

“Go to the people. Live with them. Learn from them. Love them. Start with what they know. Build with what they have. But with the best leaders, when the work is done, the task accomplished, the people will say ‘We have done this ourselves.’”

And that’s why I am proud to be a regular volunteer with Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco and build with people who love others as much as I do.

Why I Build – Cathy, Volunteer

January 29, 2014  |  Leave a Comment

Why I Build is a blog series from Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco community members–volunteers, donors, staff, homeowners and more–about what we do, why we’re here, and why we build. Cathy, who has volunteered for 15 years doing everywhere from construction sites to the ReStore and next to Vietnam this spring, shares her many reasons and memories for why she builds. 

Cathy working alongside Dave, another longtime volunteer, at Habitat Terrace

Why do I build? I love seeing who volunteers and how we all figure out how to work together:

-People like me, without special skills but ready to learn.
-Regular volunteers who know how to put in plumbing or ductwork, or drive a nail with only a couple of blows.
-Groups from software companies, banks and law firms, donating their time and getting some team-building done.
-The families who will live in the homes, putting in their down-payment of sweat equity hours.
-AmeriCorps volunteers who get to supervise and train all of us.

Why do I build? I love learning how a house gets put together. These are some of things I’ve done:

-I’ve shoveled, leveled and tied things that you’ll never see once a retaining wall or foundation is finished.
-I’ve cut boards and pounded nails to frame walls. I’ve also helped tilt the walls up and felt relieved when everything fits the way it’s supposed to.
-I’ve installed waterproofing and siding so that rain stays out.
-I’ve painted walls and installed woodwork and floors, keeping in mind that people are going to live where we are working. This motivates me when things get tedious or frustrating!

Why do I build? Because everybody deserves decent housing, and I know how hard people work for it. It’s an honor to build alongside the future homeowners:

-I hear a mother ask people why they have decided to help build her house and tell them how much it will mean to her quadriplegic son to have a safe place to live.
-I hear a woman describe to her future neighbor how crowded their current living arrangement is and how she hopes for a comfortable place for her children to sleep and study.
-I see a photo of the place of honor a family has given to the hard hats they wore throughout the hours spent building their new home–signed by the friends and family who built with them.

Teamwork, curiosity, and a commitment to decent housing for everybody — that’s why I build!

A family's hard hats displayed in their master bedroom, a reminder of the 500 hours they volunteered building their home