Mecosta County Habitat for Humanity up for best non-profit organization

A crew from Kevin Defever Construction was on-site for Habitat for Humanity on June 7, 2016, at the building location on Division Street. Pictured, (from left) Chris Fribley, Dan Smith and Zak Waring work on nailing OSB to the framed wall. (Pioneer photo/Candy Allan)

BIG RAPIDS — Mecosta County Habitat for Humanity is just a few clicks away from winning $5,000 that would go toward eliminating poverty housing.

Mecosta County Habitat for Humanity is up for Mercantile Bank’s Giving Together program’s favorite non-profit organization. The Giving Together program is a competition for organizations to receive a donation following a week-long online voting period.

The week-long voting period began Monday and continues through Monday, July 31. The first place organization will receive a donation of $5,000, second place will receive $1,500 and third place receiving $500. Voting is available on Mercantile Bank of Michigan’s Facebook page under the tab “Giving Together.”

Diane Griffin, right, shows Sophia LeBouf, left, a potential purchase from Mecosta County Habitat for Humanity. (Pioneer photo/Brianne Twiddy)

“A safe environment is what every person and family needs,” said Lisa Barnum, director of community outreach. “We can help provide a decent home for people to live in. Instead of just a house, it’s a home.”

Created in 1992, Mecosta County Habitat for Humanity was established by locals interested in eliminating poverty housing in Mecosta County, according to the organization’s website.

Barnum said she recently learned of a woman who inherited a home from her mother, who was a hoarder. She needs a home and is currently living in a trailer, and is just one of many who are overwhelmed with “all the things falling down around them.”

“We have so many people who are in need right now,” Barnum said. “We try to help people get a home. These people should not have to live in horrible conditions. These are our community members. It’s people we know.”

Mecosta County Habitat for Humanity built its first house in 1994 in Big Rapids. The organization has completed 31 homes since then.

The organization’s program, A Brush with Kindness, helps repair homes instead of just build them. The program offers help with repairs such as new roofs, heaters and rugs, and the families can slowly pay the organization back with a 0 percent interest rate.

“The Brush with Kindness program was only introduced about two years ago,” Barnum said. “Besides building brand-new homes, Mecosta County Habitat for Humanity is working to extend our programs further with these kinds of services. The program helps any homeowner in critical need of repairs.”

Diane Griffin, right, purchases a vintage handbag that Sophia LeBouef, left, selected from Mecosta County Habitat for Humanity. (Pioneer photo/Brianne Twiddy)

Mecosta County Habitat for Humanity’s mission statement is to “put God’s love into action,” according to the organization’s


“Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities and hope,” states the organization’s website. “Habitat’s vision is a world where everyone has a decent place to live.”

Another nearby program elected for the program is Project Weidman, a non-profit created to raise money to rebuild the playground located behind Isabella Bank in Weidman.

Other competing organizations include Act Socially Kalamazoo, Old House Lansing and the Alpha Family Center of Lowell.

“Mecosta County Habitat for Humanity and Brush with Kindess is a hand-up, not a hand-out,” Barnum said. “Each situation is different, but everyone deserves a home.”


Posted by Brianne Twiddy

Brianne can be reached by phone at (231) 592-8365 or by e-mail at

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