EATON — The HIT Foundation held its HOMEcoming Gala on Saturday, Nov. 16, at the newly renovated Gym at Eagles Point.
The night featured food, dancing, entertainment, and a program led by Executive Director Clayton Genth and Board President Mary Bullen.
All proceeds from the event benefit Home is the Foundation’s (HIT) mission and programs.
Home is the Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) not-for-profit organization formed to reduce the critical shortage of affordable housing options in Preble County. As Preble County Housing Advocates, they strive to give the community a voice concerning housing issues. They believe combing services and referrals along with education and support fosters stability.
Executive Director Genth opened the program by welcoming all in attendance and thanking them for their support. He also expanded on naming the event “HOMEcoming Gala” and asked those in attendance to reflect on on the importance of what a home is.
“If you haven’t noticed tonight, our theme is ‘homecoming’ and that has a double meaning for me. One: we are in the gymnasium of the former Eaton High School, where some of you have attended Homecoming dances. If you’ve never attended Homecoming at Eaton High School, now you have,” he said.
“We’re not in a high school anymore. We are in a building that 40 households call home, and to me, that is pretty amazing. The second meaning of home, to me, is many remember the feeling of leaving home, whether it was for work, school, military, or for a multitude of reasons.
“Then, after leaving home for a period of time, you might remember that overwhelming feeling of excitement, comfort, and safety you get when you return home to be with those familiar and supportive of your life. So tonight, when you’re here eating, dancing, and drinking, I hope you take the time to consider and reflect upon the importance of what a home is.”
He also shared information from program managers on the various programs offered through the HIT Foundation.
“In our affordable housing rental program, not only do HIT Foundation residents get an affordable place to live, they also get the comfort of knowing when something breaks it will be repaired. Most recently, a family had been renting and living in deplorable conditions where the water was too dirty to drink or do laundry. This couple celebrated the first time in their new apartment by drinking straight from the faucet using their hand as a cup to taste the clean and clear water on tap,” Genth said.
“In our Senior Home Repair Program we complete what I call ‘essential home repairs.’ These repairs support senior adults with living safely and more independently in their homes. It’s sometimes hard to describe this, but you might be able to imagine the amount of stress a widowed senior adult feels when their spouse is no longer around to fix things and the cost becomes burdensome on a fixed income. This program is here to help relieve that burden.
“Through October 2019, 118 home repair projects have been completed with a 97 percent satisfaction rate. One hundred and eighteen home repair projects equates to nearly one Home Repair project completed every other work day and over 700 volunteer hours. We would never accomplish this alone!
“In our Homeless Services program, we own and operate an emergency homeless shelter where 10 people can receive not only shelter but individualized case management services from Case Manager Jennifer Stan. So far this year we have seen 31 households move from homelessness to permanently housed or home! Equally important, we most recently celebrated along with one particular homeless services recipient who become a home owner! In talking with this individual, he credits the HIT Foundation staff and in his words, ‘the community in general.’ He understands his success was supported by the many people in this room tonight.”
Genth then welcomed Board President Bullen to the stage, where she spoke on the importance of family and home and showed a video package that she found “aspiring and inspiring.”
“What is home? Home is more than a place where you lived, home is the place you can always return to and feel loved, safe, and welcomed – but it is our family that makes home feel like home. Family: they are the people who make it happen. They are the ones who care for one another and will do all they can to take care of each other,” she said.
“Because you care, because you are here, because the happiness and well being of those around you is a priority to you, you are family. So, welcome home.”
She added, “While we all know a house is not a home, it can provide a comfortable and sturdy foundation for the making of a home. A place in which to love and laugh and grow, so critical for the success of our children living here in Preble County. But not everyone can do it alone – that is where our work begins.”
In addition to the ticket price, the gala raised money through different ways, including: selling table centerpieces, silent auction, donations, and wine/beer sales.
The painted houses at the center of each table — painted by local children, HIT Foundation Affordable Housing Clients, staff members, and community supporters — were all available for sale.
According to organizers, each house had a unique story included. The individuals painters answered the question: “What does home mean to you?”
Each painted house represents one night at the Homeless Shelter for one person in need a a warm, dry, place to stay.
The centerpieces were available for purchase at a suggested donation of $67, Each purchase provides 24 hours for a street homeless adult or child to stay in the homeless shelter.
According to Genth, houses are still available for purchase. If anyone is interested in purchasing a home, they are displayed at the HIT Foundation. They have already sold 17 and are hoping to sell all 30. Home is the Foundation can accept cash, check, or credit card and are asking a donation of $67 for each painted house.
Another way the gala raised money was through a silent auction. There were several items available in the silent auction, including: a dental hygiene basked donated by Dr. Sikora, Dayton Dragons game for 20 people plus apparel, and a Preble County variety basket, featuring a YMCA membership and pool pass.
Another silent auction item was actually painted during the HOMEcoming gala. Throughout the gala Maggie Reckers worked on a painting that was available for purchase during the silent auction. A West Alexandria native, Reckers started her career as a live-art performer in 2011. She has shared her art all over the country in front of thousands of people. She worked on her painting throughout the HOMEcoming Gala.
Her painting sold for $250, which will benefit the HIT Foundation.
The HOMEcoming Gala had two Title Sponsors: Henny Penny Corporation and Bullen Ultrasonics, Inc. Additional sponsors included: Miami Valley Community Action Partnership, Silfex, Grandview Medical Center, Freedom 1st Credit Union, Shetter Heating and Cooling, LLC, United Way of the Greater Dayton Area, Lawn Plus, The Twin Valley Bank, Preble County Public Health, Samaritan Behavioral Health, and Dayton YWCA.
There are several ways to help the HIT Foundation in their mission:
•At the Homeless Shelter, the HIT Foundation provides three meals a day for their homeless clients. They rely on community members to organize and prepare meals. The meal must be large enough to adequately feed 10 adults.
•If you can paint, landscape, clean, or use a hammer, you can help the HIT Foundation with their Senior Home Repair Program. This is an opportunity for organizations, churches, or individuals. They appreciate monetary donations as well as donations of paint supplies and building materials.
•They also provide their homeless clients with clothing, coats, shoes, blankets, and emergency food, as needed. When a shelter client leaves and has their own permanent housing, the HIT Foundation assists them with several basic items, including plates, silverware, cups, pots, pans, sheets, pillows, etc. The HIT Foundation accepts donations of gently used household items.
•The HIT Foundation is seeking volunteers to work their Cold Shelter. This shelter is open on nights when the temperature or wind-chill is 20 degrees or under.
Additional information can be found at www.hitfoundation.org, on Home is the Foundation’s Facebook page, or by calling 937-472-0500.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or Twitter @KKimbler_RH