Sure, Habitat for Humanity Saint Louis (HFHSL) is best known for building houses, but we do much more than construction. From Day 1, we strive to help our partner families develop a full set of tools for their futures. No, we're not talking about hammers or drills. We're talking about tools for the life challenges we all face. At HFHSL, we help our partner families navigate through a comprehensive education and skill-building program. Some courses are mandatory while others are optional and depend on the interest of the individual or family. At the end of the day, our homebuyers gain much more than a home of their own - they are empowered for success!
Here are just a few of the programs we offer support:
Finance, Budgeting, & Credit Education - A mandatory 6-8 week course for all new Habitat homebuyers, lead by our partner financial institutions. This program helps families prepare for the most important purchase of their lives - their first home. The goal of HFHSL is not only to provide decent affordable homes for our partner families but to prepare them for long-term success. We cover everything from the basics of banking, saving, budgeting, credit, and of course, understanding the mortgage they are about to enter.
Insurance Education - Another required course, our first-time homebuyers learn the ins and outs of homeowners insurance, what kinds of events and occurrences warrant insurance claims, filing appropriate claims, and more.
Home Maintenance - Also geared toward the first-time homebuyers Habitat serves, this course helps our new homeowners learn to keep their homes in top condition. Sure, our families definitely gained some construction skills working on our build site so they may be prepared to build a house, but this course helps prepare them for owning one! Homeowners learn basic upkeep, from cosmetic to light repairs to making sure everything looks beautiful and runs efficiently for the many years ahead.
Parenting - The nature of this program depends on the interests of the families who participate. Some of our families may choose to take this course to pick-up a few helpful tips for raising their little ones while other families may find themselves faced with unique challenges with which they need assistance. One common reality for many of our partner families is that prior to purchasing their new HFHSL home, the parent(s) often needed to work two or even three jobs to make ends meet. This sometimes left kids at home to care for themselves. The good news is, once families entered into a more affordable housing situation with HFHSL, the parent(s) were able to scale back on their work, freeing up more time for their families. While this is a great thing, there is often a period of adjustment for both parents and children alike as they get used to Mom or Dad running the show at home. This course offers guidance for families in these types of situations (and more) as they enter into this new chapter in their lives.
Cooking & Nutrition - A 6-week program designed to teach our families how to eat healthier on a budget. Parents and children learn about nutrition as they learn to cook meals together with the guidance of a professional chef and nutritionist. Older children also learn how to prepare simple, healthy meals and snacks so they are able to provide for themselves when necessary. At the end of each session, families take home a full bag of groceries, courtesy of St. Louis Area Food Bank.
Self Enhancement - This optional program is designed to help participants build confidence and professional decorum. Participants also work on self-presentation, interviewing skills, resume building, and more to help them rise to their full potential!
College Prep - A course designed to encourage and prepare young minds for college entry. Open to current high schoolers and high school graduates of Habitat families. The tailored college prep program assists the young adults of HFHSL families with preparation for SAT/ACT testing, essay writing, resume and portfolio development, obtaining letters of recommendation, and more. During this program, students also visit local college campuses and college fairs and have the opportunity to interact with recruiters and complete entry applications.
How to be a Good Neighbor - HFHSL partners with The Urban League to help our new homebuyer families feel welcome and become positive, active members of their new communities.
Decorating on a Budget - One of our more lighthearted, optional courses, ‘Design on a Budget' teaches new homeowners to do just that. This fun course helps families turn their houses into homes. Participants discover creative ways to incorporate a sense of personal style without doing much damage to their personal wallets!