Rebecca was a single mom with two daughters, one of whom had bad asthma. The old, dirty carpet in her home needed to be replaced and was making her daughter’s condition worse, but she couldn’t afford to do it. Then she heard about Be The Gift, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping single moms repair and maintain their homes at no cost. “Our crew came in, replaced her carpet with new flooring, and you could see in her eyes how relieved she was,” says Chris Johnson, co-executive director of Be The Gift.
Johnson and his wife Marilyn, of Loveland, founded Be The Gift in 2008 as a way to help single mom homeowners raise their children in safe, healthy and functional home environments. “Many of our moms are juggling so many things, and many have been taken advantage of when it comes to costs for home repairs in the past,” says Marilyn.
Be The Gift is able to help even more single moms due to the Innovate For Good grant they received from the Rose Community Foundation (rcfdenver.org) last spring. The grant allowed them to purchase three utility trailers that they stocked with a variety of tools and supplies, called the Workshop on Wheels. “Thanks to the generosity of the Rose Community Foundation, we have everything we need right there to move forward on the project, even if there is a part of the job that we didn’t anticipate,” says Marilyn.
Prior to having the Workshops on Wheels, volunteers were often asked to bring their own tools. “The Workshop on Wheels gives us added credibility and security for the moms,” Johnson adds. “When you see the truck, you know the job will be done well. We do a professional job and everything is up to code.”
Be The Gift averages about one home repair project per week across Colorado and Nebraska, though last year they did 70 projects. Their goal is to complete the work in a half day—usually on Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.—though this may vary based on the mom’s needs. “We know that being a single mom can be overwhelming and we really want to do this as a service to them,” Johnson says. “I hear moms say all the time, ‘you restore my faith in people and my faith in God”.”
HOW FAMILIES CAN HELP:
- Nominate a single mom (or yourself) on the website. Moms served must own their homes.
- Volunteer to use your skills on home projects. People of all skill levels are needed, from professional contractors to hardworking people who want to help single moms. Families with children age 15 and up can be used. Volunteers can determine the number of times per year they can help, even if it’s just once.
- Take on a leadership role with Be The Gift to manage projects and commit to a consistent volunteer schedule, such as every other month.
- Contribute financially online, using PayPal or other methods.