Rock, Jefferson county Habitat groups join
"It's actually a trend across the country and state of Wisconsin as well. The smaller affiliates in this economy are having a hard time continuing with their mission," said Dave Thomas, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Rock and Jefferson Counties and a member of the Wisconsin Habitat for Humanity board.
Three years ago, Wisconsin had 46 Habitat for Humanity affiliates. Today, there are 40, Thomas said.
"We didn't feel Jefferson County should be unrepresented. There are just as many people in need in Jefferson County as Rock. So, the board decided it was willing to expand and take on Jefferson County as a service area," Thomas said.
The Jefferson County affiliate was building a house every year or two and sometimes every third year because it couldn't didn't have as many churches, volunteers or funding sources, Thomas said.
The acquisition made sense to avoid duplication of services with two small affiliates side-by-side, he said.
The decision came after more than a year of discussion, Thomas said.
Habitat's ReStore resale outlets that sell reusable and surplus building materials to the public in Janesville and in Fort Atkinson won't change. By sharing resources, the two stores will be more efficient, he said.
"We'll be able to shift products around so there's less waste," Thomas said.
Other changes resulting from the acquisition include:
-- An expanded service area that includes communities from Beloit to Watertown.
-- One executive director—Thomas—instead of two.
-- One financial audit instead of two.
-- One board of directors, which already has added two members from Jefferson County. The board of seven will grow to at least 12 by May.
-- A full-time construction manager to keep up with the increased workload. No construction projects are underway, but projects are slated to start soon in Watertown and Janesville. A project in Edgerton will launch as soon as money is raised.
-- A satellite office in Fort Atkinson with the main office remaining at 320 E. Milwaukee St., Janesville.
-- A fund development intern will be hired to work 30 hours a week to access new funding opportunities in the expanded service area.
"Habitat is looking at a way to service more people with fewer dollars," Thomas said. "That's happened with this acquisition."