EATON — Home Is the Foundation (HIT) celebrated its 20th anniversary with a special celebration on Thursday, Sept. 28, introducing the community to the foundation and recognizing its volunteers.
Volunteer Service Awards for the year were presented to Rusty Garber, Lisa Chandler and Dean Shetter.
The inspiration for the HIT Foundation camed when founder Mary Bullen was driving home from work over twenty years ago, according to HIT officials. As she drove past several homes she was “reminded that many people in our small, rural community lived in poverty. I wondered how many children lived in those homes and how poverty and inadequate housing affected their lives.
“Were they safe? Were they happy? What would their futures look like?” Bullen is quoted on HIT’s website. “A friend once told me: ‘To those whom much has been given, much is expected.’ Life had been good to me and I now knew one way I could give back!’”
Bullen created the HIT Foundation because everyone in Preble County should have a decent and safe place to live.
HITs core programming consists of affordable housing, senior home repair and homeless services.
“I’m very excited to see so many people come and recognize the HIT Foundation and what we’ve been doing for the last 20 years. Very important people have been playing in that role, as well as staff, directors, board members and fellow nonprofits that we’ve worked together with,” Bullen said in welcoming those attending the event.
HIT Executive Director Clayton Genth introduced staff and thanked each for what they have done for the Foundation, and also recognized the foundation’s volunteers of the year.
“Dean Shetter owns an HVAC company and he’s been volunteering for the foundation for numerous years and donated so much time and materials to the HIT Foundation’s housing programs, and allowed us to really continue what we do on an affordable budget so that we can stretch all of our donation dollars as far as possible to keep doing what we do and be able to grow the services that we provide,” Genth said. Shetter was not unable to be present at the celebration.
Garber has been volunteering since 2021 in the Senior Home Repair Program, according to Genth. “Rusty has stayed true to that program. And we’ve calculated he’s donated over 175 hours to that program giving back to seniors in the community who are in need of accessibility repairs and handrails and all kinds of different things that make it easier and allow seniors to stay in their home and live more independently.”
“And then our last but not least, is somebody from Preble County who owns her own business and chooses to go out of her way to make room in her salon for people who are experiencing homelessness, oftentimes being in our homeless shelter living, in their car or other places, and she opened up her hair salon for over 400 free haircuts. That’s Lisa Chandler,” Genth said.
Affordable housing was the focus of the first program HIT began in 2003 as a way to increase affordable housing options in Preble County. The foundation owns and manages 50 rental units “at rates below fair market value,” according to HIT officials.
Beginning in 2013, the HIT Foundation’s Senior Home Repair program is committed to keeping seniors safely in their own homes for as long as possible by providing, emergency home repairs, proactive handyman services and essential accessibility modifications. This program is funded by donations, grants, and volunteer work.
Since the Senior Home Repair Program began, over 1,000 jobs have been completed at no cost to qualified Preble County seniors, according to HIT.
The Homeless Services Program began in 2015 and expanded to offer to offer rental assistance and homeless prevention programs before opening the Preble County Emergency Homeless Shelter. The shelter remains staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Clients receive case management, 3 meals per day, showers, and laundry facility access. There are 10 beds in separate men’s and women’s dorms.
For more information about the HIT Foundation and its services, visit www.hitfoundation.org.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4061 and follow on X @emowenjr.