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New England

finery M AGA Z IN E

Summer 2 012

Andrew Swaine Photography

In this issue ... Yvonne Blacker editor/creative director of New England Finery

• Founded in 1985 as a non-profit, ecumenical-based organization • One of the more productive Habitat for Humanity affiliates in New England • 67 homes built and 8 more rehabbed ... putting 75 families into homes • 12 homes currently under construction or in the pipeline • The average home costs approximately $115,000 to build • Habitat families purchase their homes for the out-of-pocket cost of construction with a no-interest mortgage held by Habitat • The homeowner’s income falls between 25% and 50% of the HUD determined Area Median Income (AMI) – which in Lawrence means $22,000 – $44,000 for a family of 4

There is a lot that has to happen before a house becomes a home. For this first anniversary issue of New England Finery (our premier issue launched in February of 2011) we are covering the building of a home from the foundation up. Not just any home, a Habitat for Humanity home. Habitat for Humanity International is the largest non-profit home builder in the world. Their mission is to provide affordable homes for people who need them. Their efforts are sustained by many volunteers, from professional builders who manage projects to community members who want to lend a helping hand. This year, during the week of June 4th through the 10th, more than 200 homes will be built by Habitat for Humanity affiliates during a nationwide Builders Blitz. Two of those homes will be built in Lawrence, Massachusetts by Merrimack Valley Habitat for Humanity working in partnership with a leadership team of professional builders and dozens of local volunteers. In this issue, we will share the stories of the people behind the build, who have donated materials, time and expertise to ensure that two deserving families achieve the American dream of homeownership. We will also shine a light on the power of community spirit that brings people together and redefines the notion of what it means to be a neighbor. And for good measure, we will present decorating ideas on how to create comfortable and welcoming living spaces that truly reflect our personal visions of “home.”


• Habitat finances homes with a 20, 25 or 30-year, no-interest mortgage

On our cover and opposite page ... Andrew Steingiser’s architectural renderings of the proposed Merrimack Valley Habitat for Humanity two-family home.

Builders Blitz 2012

History of the Home Builders Blitz In 2002, Habitat for Humanity of Wake County (North Carolina) and local custom home builder Tom Gipson partnered to recruit 12 professional homebuilders to build one house each in a five-day period, donating as much of the materials as possible. The results were astounding: 12 homes completed in five days at a total cost to the affiliate (not including land) of $84,000. In addition to donating labor and materials, the builders raised $100,000 in cash donations. This local idea became a successful national initiative in June 2006.* The first national Home Builders Blitz involved more than 1,000 professional homebuilders working on 459 homes at 130 Habitat affiliates across the country, providing housing for nearly 2,000 people. The project was so successful that affiliates and builders wanted to replicate it in 2008. For Home Builders Blitz 2008, 263 homes were built in 34 states, with 110 Habitat affiliates participating. To date, 862 homes have been constructed under the Home Builders Blitz model, including the two national projects, off-year local builds, and the pilot projects that preceded the first national build. – information courtesy of Habitat for Humanity

*Merrimack Valley Habitat for Humanity first got involved with the Builders Blitz in 2006. Lead builders included Andover Equity Builders of Andover MA, Blackdog Builders of Salem NH, and Childs Design & Construction of Andover MA.

Buy a block and support future efforts of Merrimack Valley Habitat for Humanity. Click here to view our online media kit.


This Merrimack Valley Habitat for Humanity story has a definite beginning ... It all started when a lot of land was donated by the family of Marcel (Marty) Brien who for years owned and operated Brien Fuel Company in Lawrence, MA. According to his son, Danny, Marty Brien “had a soft spot for honest, hardworking people who needed a break.” After Marty passed in 2008, his children consulted with their uncle, Arthur Brien, who at 82 still volunteers with Merrimack Valley Habitat for Humanity. Consequently, Danny and his eight siblings decided to donate the inherited lot of land to Merrimack Valley Habitat for Humanity. > Click here to read “The View from the Porch” for more details on this generous donation, along with the subsequent plans to develop this Market Street site into two homes during this year’s Builders Blitz.

A Builders Blitz kick-off ... To kick off the Merrimack Valley Habitat for Humanity Builders Blitz 2012, team members, supporters and invited guests gathered last January at Andolini’s Restaurant in Andover, MA where they got to see the unveiling of the design plans by Architect Andrew Steingiser along with hearing heartfelt words from a current Habitat for Humanity homeowner. > Visit

Back row left to right: Steve Howell, Howell Custom Building Group, Bill Foster, Cote & Foster, Dave West, Meadowview Construction Front row left to right: Bob Gosselin,Correct Temp, Inc., Steve Cote, Cote & Foster, Susan Howell, Howell Custom Building Group, Ken Kumph, Premier Builders, Sara Elmer and John Rodenhizer, JSR Adaptive Energy Solutions, and Architect Andrew Steingiser

Steve Howell, Howell Custom Building Group; Mark Gridley, Pella Windows; John Rodenhizer, JSR Adaptive Energy Solutions

Architect Andrew Steingiser presents his design plan. Family members – who have benefitted from the Merrimack Valley Habitat for Humanity homeownership program – inspired the crowd by sharing both their experience and their gratitude.


Builders Blitz Leadership Team From left to right ...

Back Row Bob Gosselin, Correct Temp Inc., Methuen, MA Sara Elmer, JSR Adaptive Energy Solutions, Hamilton, MA Emerson Dahmen, Building Director, Merrimack Valley Habitat Bill Foster, Cote & Foster Custom Building & Remodeling, Methuen, MA John Rodenhizer, JSR Adaptive Energy Solutions, Hamilton, MA Steve Cote, Cote & Foster Custom Building & Remodeling, Methuen, MA Ken Kumph, Premier Builders, Georgetown, MA Front Row Susan Howell, Howell Custom Building Group, Lawrence, MA Steve Howell, Howell Custom Building Group, Lawrence, MA Dave West, Meadowview Construction, Georgetown, MA

Meet the builders behind the Blitz interviews conducted by Beezee Honan


Visit our Blitz website


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Builders Blitz Architect

Andrew Steingiser CBT Architects, Boston, MA What will you be doing for the Merrimack Valley Habitat for Humanity Home Builders Blitz 2012?

Architect Andrew Steingiser

“The two townhouses are expressed as separate, yet interlocked, so that each family has their own roof over their heads.”

I am responsible for all the design work, which includes the production of construction documents and then ongoing design coordination during the construction phase. I started working on this project in July 2011. My wedding was on August 21, 2011, so it was a busy time! The design process is ongoing. As we move forward with construction details and get clarification on specific materials, there are modifications that have to be made to the design. Similar to the other two- and three-family houses in this context – this is an urban environment in the Greater Boston locale – this duplex is a single building, however, the two townhouses are expressed as separate, yet interlocked, so that each family has their own roof over their heads. Why have you chosen to participate in this project and have you worked with Habitat for Humanity in the past? As a young architect, I’m eager to take on design challenges. This is the most meaningful work I have ever done. It will be a very personal and gratifying experience to meet the families that will inhabit the buildings that I have designed. My wife, who was my fiance at the time, saw a posting online announcing the need for an architect for Habitat for Humanity’s Builders Blitz in Lawrence. I was interested in becoming involved and pursued the lead. I met with Emerson Dahmen, the Building Director from the Merrimack Valley Habitat organization, and I was in! He is clearly passionate about what he does and exhibits an energy that is contagious and motivational. Tell us about yourself ... My full-time job is at CBT Architects in Boston. Our firm is large and does many commercial, corporate, and mixed use projects. Typically we work in teams, which is very different than my participation in this project where I am solely responsible for all aspects of the design process. At CBT, I have worked on many project types. Recently, I worked on the Liberty Mutual headquarters in downtown

Boston, which is a tower between Back Bay and the South End, near the old John Hancock building. In contrast to this large scale project, I am also working on a 2,000 sq. ft. highly designed office space for a major bio-tech company in Cambridge.This office space is located in a building that used to be a factory. I worked on the initial design phase and now I’m working on the construction administration phase while the space is being built. I consider myself to be a well-rounded architect based on my experience and education. I have the ability to generate design proposals considering very technical aspects and then remain dedicated to the project through construction to ensure implementation of the initial design intent. I enjoy working on all phases. I went to Syracuse University for my architecture degree. To become a registered architect, you have to go through three years of IDP apprenticeship (Intern Development Program) before you are eligible to take your architectural registration exam. I also teach second year design studios at the Boston Architectural College. I’m passionate about being engaged in the Boston design community and to the development of other young designers. I currently live in Malden with my new bride.

Rendering above by Andrew Steingiser represents the two-family home that will be constructed during the Builders Blitz in Lawrence.

Favorite spot in Lawrence: This job site! I am still getting to know my way around the area. I’m certainly interested in everyone else’s recommendations. What home means to me: A space where families can come together that expresses their unique characteristics. My definition of home has been expanding and evolving as my life circumstances change. In addition to the home of my parents and siblings, I have created a home with my wife. Links ...

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Builders Blitz Leadership Team & Logistics Team

Steve & Susan Howell Howell Custom Building Group, Lawrence, MA What will your company be doing for the Merrimack Valley Habitat for Humanity Home Builders Blitz 2012? STEVE: I am the chairman of the Blitz Builder team, so I started working on it last fall. Ken LaRose (Andover Equity Builders) – the chairman of the Board of Directors for the Merrimack Valley Habitat – asked me to oversee this year’s Blitz. I had already been on the Habitat Board for a year. The first thing we did was recruit other lead builders that had different areas of expertise: Dave West (Meadowview Construction), Ken Kumph (Premier Builders), Steve Cote and Bill Foster (Cote & Foster), and myself, as general contractors, plus Bob Gosselin (Correct Temp) and our energy consultant, John Rodenhizer (JSR Adaptive Energy Solutions). Our first order of business was to divide the job responsibilities – the sequence of work. I will personally oversee the excavation phase of the project. My construction responsibility will actually be done before the Blitz begins, so that I can manage the remainder of the project. The excavation was a challenge because we had to dig three feet away from the neighboring buildings – about six feet deep. So we were concerned about the impact on those structures. It went incredibly smoothly. Larry Kelly of Kendal Construction very generously donated two days with an excavator to dig out the area where the foundation would be poured. We got a trucker to donate time to haul the fill out of the site, and a place that agreed to accept the fill. We had Mahoney’s Garden Center donate the crushed stone to fill the interior of the foundation below the cement floor. SUSAN: I oversee the Logistics Committee, which encompasses all non-construction activities, such as meal planning, publicity, and site logistics. I also work as the liaison between the Logistics Committee and the Lead Builder team. Why have you chosen to participate in this project, and have you worked with Habitat for Humanity in the past? STEVE: My first exposure to Habitat was in Boxford in regards to a 40B project. I got the chance to get to know the Habitat team, especially Larry Sharp, the

former Executive Director of Merrimack Valley Habitat for Humanity. Eventually, he asked me if I wanted to join the Board. My wife, Sue – who is skilled in marketing – professed an interest in becoming involved as well, so we joined at the same time. I wanted to contribute to the city of Lawrence where we have been headquartered since 2003, and at the same time improve the community. With this build, we are taking a vacant lot and putting some well-built attractive homes in its place. I have also helped out on a former convent in Lawrence which is being revitalized by Habitat and remodeled into 10 condos. I think it used to house about 40 nuns. It was originally built in the early 1900s, and has a lot of decorative work. SUSAN: I have been on the Board since the summer of 2010. When I started with Habitat, they were getting ready to open the ReStore, which sells new and gently used building materials and home furnishings at reduced prices. All of the profits from ReStore go to support Merrimack Valley Habitat’s building projects. My role on the board is to help with marketing, so I helped out with the marketing plan for ReStore and its grand opening event. The ReStore is doing well and sales are strong. The Builders Blitz was the perfect project for us. It was a great way to give back to a part of the community that we don’t typically service. Our clients are fortunate to be able to afford luxurious, comfortable, beautiful homes, so it feels like we are completing the cycle when we can also create a home for a family who couldn’t otherwise afford it. PHOTO: BRIAN VANDEN BRINK

Tell us about yourself ... STEVE: I have a degree in electrical engineering from Cornell. I was an engineer for 12 years in the medical products group for Hewlett Packard. I always dabbled in construction as a hobby. Every summer during college I worked on a construction crew. I rehabbed our first condo in Andover and then built our timber frame house in Boxford and I was hooked! I’ve always been interested in building very high-quality, sturdy buildings. Howell Custom Building Group started with myself and one other employee and slowly we grew. Since we started in 1997, we have grown to 20 employees. The majority of our work is additions and renovations, although we build a custom home about every other year. We do 2025 addition and renovation projects annually. The vast majority of them are in Boxford, Andover, and North Andover. At some point, we have worked in almost every town on the North Shore. Many of our clients come from referrals and word-of-mouth. I met Sue at Cornell on a blind date. We are still friends with the woman who set us up! Our daughter goes to Cornell and our son attends Phillips Academy in Andover.

Thank you to our Blitz 2012 sponsors: Architectural Services Andrew Steingiser Gold Sponsors The Brien Family (land donation) Silver Sponsors B & D House of Carpets M & R Plumbing and Heating Watts Water Technologies Bronze Sponsors American Standard Avon Supply Co. Breen & Sullivan Mechanical Services, Inc. Concepts in Concrete/Tom Carson Cover-Rite Siding & Window Corp Designer Bath & Salem Plumbing Supply Jackson Lumber & Millwork Kendall Construction/Larry Kelly Laars Heating Systems Company Lambert Roofing The Portland Group The Tapco Group JW Watson Jr. Paving Iron Sponsors Beacon Electrical Dana Wallboard CertainTeed Dow Industries The Green Cocoon Insulation Harvey Building Products Hunter Douglas Larco Wallboard Inc. M & P Siding J.G. Maclellan Concrete Company New Hamphire Wall Panels/Jay Wright Pella Windows Shea Concrete Products The Security Team

Look for Food and Event Sponsors on a separate page in this issue

> click here for sponsor links

Community Sponsors Alside Supply Center American Building Systems Ariel Electric Beaulieu Cabinetry Bell Simons Boutin Glass Brimac Electric Byrne Insulation Correct Temp, Inc. AW Dale Plumbing & Heating Dana Kimball Concrete Floors David Electric Dumais Elecrtric William F. Dunn Landscaping & Contracting Edgepro Flooring Gathering Change, Inc. Gold Coast Mortgage Service Guerin Electric Milton Hamilton/JMK Contractors & Builders Hamilton Bookkeeping, LLC Hand Forged Works Heffron Materials Jace Interiors Lucia Lighting The M. O’Mahoney Company Madison Ave. of Melrose ND Landscaping New Hampshire Tool & Supply Northside Carting, Trash Removal NorthStar Mechanical Peabody Supply Co. Professional Drafting Puccio Electric Rachel Reider Interiors RJ Ratte Construction Renaissance Interiors Right Angle Kitchens Rob Bramhall Architects Schneider Electric Selectwood Tri-City Sales Valspar Paint Whirlpool J Wasylak Paving Wayside Trailers Weaver Brothers Marion Wise Yale Locks

SUSAN: I worked in educational publishing for 10 years as a marketing manager. Home building was always a passion of Steve’s and I was able to help him with the organization of the business. As the company grew, I was able to utilize my marketing background to help the business expand. I work to build relationships with other industry professionals and I oversee all marketing activities. I am in my third year as the President of the Board of Parents of Students at Phillips Academy (PSPA). I also conduct alumni interviews with prospective Cornell applicants. Favorite spot in Lawrence: STEVE: My favorite place to eat is Café Azteca, the Mexican restaurant in the center of the common in Lawrence. My favorite place to visit is the bridge that looks out over the waterfalls of the mighty Merrimack River. I love to watch the Merrimack River spill over the falls. My favorite place to shop is White Street Paint. They are extremely knowledgeable and easy to work with. SUSAN: I love Café Azteca for its authentic Mexican food and atmosphere. Fisichellis Pastry Shop, which has been owned by the same family and in the same location since 1915, is also a favorite. It rivals anything the North End has to offer and it’s right here in Lawrence.

STEVE: Sanctuary. SUSAN: A well-built, comfortable, safe space that reflects a family’s lifestyle and interests.

Recommendations ...


What home means to me:

Builders Blitz Leadership Team

Kenneth A. Kumph Premier Builders, Inc., Georgetown, MA What will your company be doing for the Merrimack Valley Habitat for Humanity Home Builders Blitz 2012?


I am a member of the 2012 Home Builders Blitz Leadership Team. My responsibility is the interior finish carpentry. This includes hanging doors, applying finish work on windows and around the cabinetry, plus installing all cabinetry and appliances in the two units. We are hoping to have the cabinets and counters donated. Our goal is to assemble a team of approximately 12 experienced people. This will increase our ability to be successful in our ambitious goal of getting our part of the project completed in one day. My son will be helping me. He went to Norwich and then to Wentworth Institute of Technology. I am an alumni of there, too. I also have another son, who is 17, and a 22-year-old daughter. All three of my children, as well as my wife, will be helping out. Why have you chosen to participate in this project and have you worked with Habitat for Humanity in the past? When I was approached to participate, I immediately said yes. I had been interested in working on a Habitat project in the past but just didn’t really know how to get involved. When the opportunity came along to work with other industry professionals and friends to provide housing for local families, it just felt right. The challenge of building two units in one week was, and is, intriguing. The experience has already been more rewarding than I could have imagined. At the kick-off event for participants, we heard from the owner of a Habitat home built during the last Builders Blitz and it was incredibly moving. The preparation process is in high gear, so we recently saw the foundation put in and that really makes it tangible. Tell us about yourself ...


I graduated from the Wentworth Institute of Technology. I became a carpenter and started Premier Builders, Inc. in Georgetown. This is our 26th year in business. We are custom builders and remodelers and have our own in-house Architectural Millwork Division, which fabricates, finishes and installs custom cabinetry, furniture, mouldings and architectural elements. I am president of the company and employ 11 people, including office support, managers, carpenters, laborers, and cabinet makers. We have a 17,000 sq. ft. building and half of it is our shop.

Premier Builders has a wide range of projects on our resume. We have done custom building and major remodeling, as well as small jobs such as basic carpentry for home maintenance. We also do some commercial work. We have worked on many medical and dental offices. We offer a “Weekend Wake-up” service that has earned rave reviews. The employees of a business leave on Friday and when they come in on Monday, the project is done. We have done work all around Merrimack Valley and recently did a job in Florida. We have done jobs in Brookline, Boston, and all along the North Shore. We have travelled to NH, NY, and Maine with our millwork. We stay in New England for big jobs because we have our network of subs here and they are critical to our success. We try to keep the team together because our regular subs do a great job and have the same level of professionalism as everyone in my company. I am a member of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and received the “Remodeling Big 50 Award” from Remodeling Magazine in 2004. Premier Builders has also won awards from the Cabinet Makers Association (won two first place: custom kitchen over $25,000 and commercial project over $25,000). I did a lot of coaching for my kids sports programs as they were growing up. I coached soccer, baseball, and served as a Cub Scout leader. I enjoyed helping out the local public schools and often donated my time on small carpentry projects for school athletic facilities, such as building sheds and benches for the baseball dug-outs. I have been married for almost 25 years. We were high school sweethearts in Danvers! Favorite spot in Lawrence: My wife Lisa and I like sushi and will often go to Yokohama in Lawrence. When the kids were younger, we would go there and the chefs would cook “Hibachi” style. They really put on an entertaining show complete with flaming onion volcanoes and flying shrimp! The owners are very nice people. Jackson Lumber is also a favorite vendor of Premier Builders. The Torrissi family runs a great organization.


“When the opportunity came along to work with other industry professionals and friends to provide housing for local families, it just felt right.”

What home means to me: Family, gathering, protection and pride. I am happy that two local families will have the opportunity to experience the same. Recommendations ...

Builders Blitz Leadership Team

Dave West Meadowview Construction Georgetown, MA


What will your company be doing for the Merrimack Valley Habitat for Humanity Home Builders Blitz 2012? Meadowview was really excited when Habitat for Humanity reached out and asked us to be a Lead Builder on the Blitz Planning Committee as well as participate during the “Big Week” of construction. There are six Lead Specialists on the Committee. Meadowview will have the oversight of handling the exterior details including siding, trim and roofing. In addition to other responsibilities, my role on the planning committee is to help bring together a team of top notch, expert volunteers and identify donors for the supply of exterior components. When asked for donations on behalf of Habitat for Humanity, our donors have given very generously and it was immediately clear they valued the mission and work of Habitat for Humanity. It goes without saying, when a group decides to build two complete houses in one week, there is a lot of planning taking place behind the scenes. The Planning Committee is a hand-picked gathering of the top six experts in their respective professions. It is an incredibly talented and experienced group. The Committee has been meeting and planning regularly since October to identify everything from the timing of the build to the building materials used (such as siding) to how many hard hats are required. Because of the strength of the Committee, each person on the Builders Blitz team has their own resources and shares relationships to support the Habitat for Humanity Builders Blitz. It is one thing to plan, it is another to do. For that we needed lots of skilled labor volunteers (only skilled tradespeople are utilized on the Blitz due to the intense timeframe). Many companies have donated volunteers to assist with tasks such as plumbing, wiring, drywall and utilities installation. Typically, a volunteer gives a day of their labor as a donation to the project. The siding, roofing and trim will all be completed in about two days and we are fortunate that all of our work is on the exterior so it won’t be affected too much by other workers.


Why have you chosen to participate in this project and have you worked with Habitat for Humanity in the past? Giving back to our community has been a core component of the Meadowview way from the very beginning. We seek to lend a hand whenever (and wherever) someone is in need. In 2008, I chose to travel to Biloxi, MS to participate on a Habitat for Humanity Build, where I was a Lead Builder. Hurricane Katrina devastated the region in ways that can’t be imagined and being involved with Habitat for Humanity was a life-changing event. So much was needed and I had the skills to make a difference. It was only a few months after returning home that I felt the call again and returned to assist on a second Katrina Habitat for Humanity project. After that project, we kept our ears open for opportunities to support Habitat for Humanity locally. Meanwhile, Meadowview continued to support a variety of charitable organizations in the towns in which we do business (such as Hamilton, Wenham, Beverly Farms and much of Essex County) but something was missing. When Steve Howell asked if I’d be willing to join him in planning the 2012 Builders Blitz, I jumped at the opportunity. The experiences I had in Biloxi gave me firsthand knowledge of the level of impact a small group of dedicated volunteers can make on someone’s life. The void was filled.


Tell us about yourself ... I graduated in 1990 from college in Vermont with a degree in architecture. After graduation, likely because of the lasting influence of my woodworking grandfather, I became increasingly involved with construction instead of architecture. I cut my teeth as a builder and remodeler working for a residential construction company in Beverly. It was a positive experience and it was in my 20s that I started Meadowview. Not having a separate shop to call home, the garage was converted into the Meadowview woodshop. One of our first custom projects built in that garage won a National Association of the Remodeling Industry award and we haven’t looked back. Times have changed, as they do, and from those humble beginnings we now operate out of our own 4,800 square foot facility that supports both Meadowview Construction and our separate custom cabinet company. Military values are strong in my family and my father was dedicated to the army. I was born in Germany and like many military families we moved around the country, until I was eight, when we settled in Salem. My father was a self-taught and talented man. One of the first real projects I helped Dad with was the remodeling of our old house in Salem at the age of 10.

Later in this issue ... Merrimack Valley Habitat for Humanity Home Builders Blitz 2012 construction photos

There wasn’t anything in which I wasn’t included. We even made furniture together. After I started my own business my father would occasionally come visit me on jobs and once even helped me finish a job when I was shorthanded. Sadly, my father passed away at a young age. Those projects mean even more to me now and I often think of our time building (and talking) together whenever I sit on that wood deck that we built as a gift for my mother. Favorite spot in Lawrence: As one that loves good food, especially baked goods, I will definitely be paying Tripoli a visit. I am excited that the Blitz is going to give me a chance to explore some of the independent restaurants and shops of the area. What home means to me: Home is the safe, comfortable place that I call my own. Home is where I am myself. I am a true New Englander and couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. Links ...


Click here to listen to Dave’s radio interview on the Star Construction Company Home Remodeling Show

Builders Blitz Leadership Team & Logistics Team

John Rodenhizer & Sara Elmer JSR Adaptive Energy Solutions, LLC South Hamilton & West Falmouth, MA

What will your company be doing for the Merrimack Valley Habitat for Humanity Home Builders Blitz 2012?

“ENERGY STAR has worked closely with Habitat in their effort to build new, affordable homes that are energy efficient. This results in lower energy and operating costs for the homeowners.” – Sara Elmer

JOHN: I am a member of the Builders Blitz Leadership Team and will be coordinating the insulation/drywall and plastering part of the project. I am a HERS (Home Energy Rating System) Rater, building consultant, certified Thermographer, Green Verifier for NAHB (National Association of Home Builders) as well as an ENERGY STAR partner. I am verifying the Habitat homes for the MA New Homes with ENERGY STAR program. Both homes will be ENERGY STAR-certified, which means that they will meet a higher performance standard than a new home built to the base building code. The program has three levels. The first tier is 15% more efficient than a minimum code built house, the second is 30% and the third is 45%. This project is expected to achieve Tier II. SARA: I am a member of the Builders Blitz Logistics Team and have also been attending the Leadership Team meetings since last October. I assist Susan (Howell) in coordinating efforts between the Lead Builders and what we need to accomplish in terms of the mountain of details assigned to our eight person logistics team. Some information about ENERGY STAR: Habitat for Humanity’s construction guidelines include ENERGY STAR’s residential construction guidelines and Habitat encourages all U.S. affiliates to build ENERGY STAR qualified homes. ENERGY STAR has worked closely with Habitat in their effort to build new, affordable homes that are energy efficient. This results in lower energy and operating costs for the homeowners. In addition, the homes become eligible for significant rebates and incentives, which in this case, will go directly back to Habitat. Merrimack Valley Habitat will be receiving over $5,000.00 in rebates on this project. That feels great!

JOHN: We started work on this project last October. The Leadership Team worked together with the architect Andrew Steingiser to streamline the design to ensure that we can build everything in five days. It is difficult to build in an urban environment and this is a very challenging site! As part of the ENERGY STAR work I will be developing a computer model that will determine the HERS scores for each unit. The HERS score is an index — the average code-built house is about a 90. Building a “code house” is a “D” (a passing grade) and we have so many new technologies and ways to make houses a “B” or an “A.” The lower the HERS score, the more energy-efficient the home. I hope that one day, all homes will be Net-Zero — producing as much energy as they consume. SARA: Of the 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts, there are currently 104 communities who have adopted the “Stretch Energy Code,” one of the five criteria that must be achieved in order to become a “Green Community” in Massachusetts and receive state funding for green initiatives. The Stretch Code must be voted in by the town to be implemented and enforced. A new home built in a Stretch Code community must meet more stringent energy performance requirements than a regular code-built house and must have a HERS rater certify the building, who can also certify the project for ENERGY STAR. As building consultants, we usually recommend that a homeowner or builder enroll in the ENERGY STAR program — whether or not they are in a Stretch Code town — in order to be eligible for sizable rebates. No one will pay you to meet Stretch Code, but if you meet their requirements, Massachusetts New Homes with ENERGY STAR will!

“I hope that one day, all homes will be Net-Zero — producing as much energy as they consume.” – John Rodenhizer


“As building consultants, we usually recommend that a homeowner or builder enroll in the ENERGY STAR program — whether or not they are in a Stretch Code town — in order to be eligible for sizable rebates.” – Sara Elmer


Why have you chosen to participate in this project and have you worked with Habitat for Humanity in the past? JOHN: This is something that we have been wanting to do for a long time. We wanted to give back and this was a significant challenge that we found exciting. It is not going to be easy to build a duplex in five days! It has been great working with everyone on the team — each person brings something special to the table. SARA: After investigating the Habitat organization over the past few years, I was particularly impressed with the Merrimack Valley Habitat affiliate. When we were invited by one of the other members of the Leadership Team to join in the planning and execution of the 2012 Builders Blitz, we had to say yes!! Tell us about yourself ... JOHN: I have a construction engineering degree from Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston. I have a builders license and have been in the industry for over 30 years. I grew up in Falmouth and worked on the Cape building high end residences for 25 years before going into the energy consulting field. We currently have projects from the Merrimack Valley to Cape Ann, Cape Cod and the Islands. I love to be involved in projects where people strive to have a home that will be energy efficient, and like to work with people who are thoughtful and progressive in their building decisions. It’s all about reducing our carbon footprint and being gentle to the environment. I am an avid outdoorsman and believe it is vital to protect and manage our natural resources for future generations. Sara and I have been together for four and a half years. She is my life and business partner. She has a great ability to explain what we do in laymen’s terms. She can answer the “whats” and “whys” in a way that homeowners understand. She manages our business operations and “keeps the train on the tracks!”

“I love to be involved in projects where people strive to have a home that will be energy efficient, and like to work with people who are thoughtful and progressive in their building decisions. It’s all about reducing our carbon footprint and being gentle to the environment.” – John Rodenhizer

SARA: I have a dual degree from Tufts University in Economics and Psychology. I have worked and volunteered for many years with social service agencies and programs in the Metro Boston area focusing on domestic violence and am a regular guest speaker on these issues in medical, educational and community settings. I was also a former competitive equestrian at the state and national levels. Though I am not currently riding, I really enjoy the frequent “whinny-ing” from my neighbor’s barn across the river. The North Shore is a wonderful place for horse and wildlife lovers, but the jury is still out on those giant snapping turtles as lawn ornaments! Favorite spot in Lawrence: SARA: I am new to Lawrence and do not live in the Merrimack Valley so I am not very familiar with the area. However, I can say that my favorite place in Lawrence (to date) is the ReStore! John and I attended the opening last year, which is where I met Susan Howell for the first time (John met Steve the year before). The ReStore is a terrific concept. Essentially a thrift store for the home — those who shop there, those who donate and especially MV Habitat reap rewards. A win-win-win. It’s the best kind of recycling! What home means to me: JOHN: Your home is your personal sanctuary. It’s the place where you take your armor off, a place to relax and restore your sanity. You need to have a place where you can rejuvenate yourself. SARA: A place where a sense of peace and a sense of humor can co-exist nicely. It is also a safe, healthy and inviting environment where family and friends look forward to visiting.

Steve Cote & Billy Foster Cote & Foster, Methuen, MA

What will your company be doing for the Merrimack Valley Habitat for Humanity Home Builders Blitz 2012? We are framing the building. We plan to pre-frame all the walls, floors and interior partitions at a satellite location. They will then be brought to the site and installed. We want to to get to the point that we have all the pieces ready, then during the week of the Builders Blitz the building will just need to be put together. The hurdles lie in engineering challenges — the pieces are large and have to be moved very carefully by crane. Why have you chosen to participate in this project and have you worked with Habitat for Humanity in the past? BILLY: We have donated money to Habitat before, but had never participated with our time and expertise. We went to a meeting and realized that the framing needed to be done by an expert. Soon after, we met with one of the Habitat homeowners and it was moving. We were especially touched by the children of the new homeowners. I heard a story of a child who moved into a Habitat home and his primary source of anticipation and excitement was that his mom would have her own room. Both my partner Steve and I grew up in Lawrence and feel strongly about contributing to the community. STEVE: It was an opportunity for us to give back. The construction business has been very good for us, and with that we have gained a lot of knowledge and experience that will be put to good use on this Blitz project. Jackson Lumber has been a great partner to us over the years and will be heavily involved in our effort to complete this project on time. Tell us about yourself ... STEVE: Bill and I have been friends since the first day of grammar school. This is our 28th year in business. We both graduated from Greater Lawrence Tech and then went to Northern Essex Community College for civil engineering. When we were in school, we started doing small jobs and after each job we would buy a tool for the business — we basically used what we made to invest back in our business.


Builders Blitz Leadership Team

BILLY: My dad was one of my best instructors. He worked for the phone company and would come to our job sites at the end of the day to inspect our work. Initially, we worked out of Steve’s basement and the garage was the workshop. The main phone number is Steve’s family’s number. So Steve’s mom answered the phone for us, until his parents moved out of Lawrence. Then my mom took over the phone answering job for the next 10 years. I am married with three young children: a daughter age 7,and two sons, age 6 and 4. I am on the Revolving Loan Fund, a non-profit organization run by the Merrimack Valley Chamber of Commerce. We help out as instructors at Greater Lawrence Tech and we help with the financing for homes that are built though the Revolving Loan Fund with Greater Lawrence Tech. Right now, we do more remodeling than we do new homes. We try to put our best foot forward at every job. We take great pride in our work. We would never put something in someone else’s house that we wouldn’t put in our own house. STEVE: I have been married for 23 years to my wife and best friend, Laury, and we have 2 teen-aged children — an 18 year old daughter and a son who is 16. He goes to Central Catholic and she is graduating from Salem High in Salem, NH this spring. My volunteer efforts revolved around my children’s sports — helping with coaching softball, hockey, baseball, lacrosse, etc. I have a little bit more time now that my kids are older, and I am honored to be able to work as a lead builder at the Builders Blitz. I am also looking forward to being more involved in our community as time goes by.

Favorite spot in Lawrence: STEVE: Tripoli Pizza in Lawrence — my kids love it! There is also a Tripoli Bakery as well, which has been in Lawrence since the 1930s. What home means to me: BILLY: Lawrence, no question. My heart is in Lawrence, even though right now I am hanging my hat in Dracut. STEVE: Being with my family. A place where I can relax, unwind, and be with the people I love. Links ... Greater Lawrence Tech:

Builders Blitz Leadership Team

Bob Gosselin Correct Temp, Inc., Methuen, MA

What will your company be doing for the Merrimack Valley Habitat for Humanity Home Builders Blitz 2012? Correct Temp will be installing the heating systems for both units. This includes all the baseboard and hot water piping, plus all the venting of the kitchens and bathrooms, including the exhaust vents. CT has been in business for 16 years. I am the installation manager. We work with both residential and commercial clients. Examples of our work range from a five story building in Lowell to a small onefamily house in Andover. Our clients are located throughout the region. We have many jobs in southern NH and Merrimack Valley, and have been working in Concord, Scituate, and Sturbridge lately. We provide both installation and service of heating, air conditioning, and ventilation systems. Commercial projects include Loew’s in Salem, NH; Hannaford Market in Guilford, NH; and LA Fitness in Danvers, MA. Keith Guilmet is the owner and employs about 20 people. Why have you chosen to participate in this project and have you worked with Habitat for Humanity in the past? This is my first project with Habitat. I was introduced to this project by Billy Foster and Steve Cote of Cote & Foster, since we do all of their heating and cooling work. I live in Lawrence and like the idea of making a contribution to the community. Tell us about yourself ... I’ve been with CT for almost 14 years. I was Keith’s first employee! We knew each other because we had worked at a couple of companies together, one in Middleton and one in Melrose. I was an installation manager and he was a service manager. We now have our own building in Methuen with a sheet metal fabrication shop. I am married and have three children. Our son (26) is out of college and is married. One daughter (22) plays softball at Merrimack College and the other daughter (19) — also at Merrimack College — plays volleyball. I played tennis in high school and my father was a tennis coach at Merrimack College. I coach baseball and softball at “Batter Up” (also owned by Keith Guilmet) which is located in the same building as Correct Temp, Inc.

Thank you to our Blitz 2012 sponsors: Event Supporters Blitz Kickoff Event: Andolinis Restaurant Photography: Image-tec/Tom Grassi Photography: Andrew Swaine Website Design: 100 Monkeys/Kristen Petrie Favorite spot in Lawrence: I like to go to Jim’s Subs. They have great sourdough bread! Another favorite is Sal’s Restaurant. Those are some of the top places to go. What home means to me: Honestly, I think of my family and being comfortable and together. It’s not necessarily about a structure, but it’s more about a feeling of being connected. Recommendations ...

Time Lapse Video: Left Eye Creations/Kellmy Rosado Tents, Tables, Chairs: Omar Tent Rentals T-Shirts: Leisure Line Custom Embroidery Food Sponsors Sue Adams Interiors Andover School of Montessori BJs Wholesale Club Bertuccis Beverly Mothers Club Butcher Boy Champions Barbecue Costco Wholesale Club Dunkin Donuts Essex Physical Therapy & Chiropractic Grace Professional Cosmetics Hungry Betty’s Bar & Grill Kettle Pizza Liberty Sub Shop Market Basket New Market Nicole Nails Panera Bread Pepsi Perfectos Shear Radiance Hair & Makeup Studio Tina Shumway Sylvan Street Bar & Grille Tedeschis Food Market > click here for links to our sponsors websites

Builders Blitz Logistics Team TOM GRASSI PHOTO

Left to Right Sara Elmer, JSR Adaptive Energy Solutions, Hamilton, MA Yvonne Blacker, Designer Bath, Beverly, MA Susan Howell, Howell Custom Building Group, Lawrence, MA Beezee Honan, Designer Bath, Beverly, MA

Barbara Tomkins, Beechwood Properties, North Andover, MA Mary Honan, For Marketing Matters, North Andover, MA In addition ... Laura Gifford, Gifford Events, North Andover, MA


Sue Adams, Sue Adams Interiors, Andover, MA

While the heavy construction is taking place during the Home Builders Blitz, there will be lots of behind-the-scenes jobs that do not involve wearing a tool belt. Meet the rest of the crew who is organizing logistical details that range from securing donations to feeding dozens of volunteers 3 healthy meals a day to managing and promoting the sequence of events. interviews conducted by Beezee Honan

Builders Blitz Logistics Team

Mary Honan For Marketing Matters, North Andover, MA

What will your company be doing for the Merrimack Valley Habitat for Humanity Home Builders Blitz 2012?


“It is a common misconception that the families get the house for free. They put in a substantial amount of sweat equity with Habitat and are paying an interest-free mortgage. They’re so appreciative of the opportunity to have their own home. It is their future. It is hope.”

I am a member of the board of MVHH, so I have an ongoing commitment and vested interest in the affiliate’s efforts and activities. In particular, Blitz Co-Chair Susan Howell asked me to help out on the Blitz as part of the Marketing Team and the Logistics Committee. Initially I developed a Blitz marketing plan to sequence the efforts — the planning of the Blitz from a marketing perspective. I am leveraging my network of contacts to donate services in support of the Blitz. I was able to get one of my marketing partners, Left Eye Creations in Lawrence, to donate time-lapse video of the project. My company, For Marketing Matters, is also designing the T-shirts that will be worn on-site by all volunteers and builders and their workers. As a member of the Logistics Committee, I will be leading the public relations effort, with the goal of generating press for this initiative, as well as overall exposure for the affiliate. Why have you chosen to participate in this project and have you worked with Habitat for Humanity in the past? This is my second year on the Board of Directors of the Merrimack Valley Habitat for Humanity affiliate. The affiliate had hired a consultant to help them identify gaps on the Board. I knew both the consultant and Ken LaRose, chairman of the Board. They reached out to me in 2010 to help fill a gap in marketing capability. I met with the Executive Director and other members of the organization to determine the group’s needs and how that complemented my expertise and availability. I now chair the Nominating Committee for new Board members and I have been working with Susan Howell on marketing — to drive awareness of the affiliate and their activities. Our first undertaking was the launch of ReStore, a retail outlet for donated new and gently used home furnishings and building materials. It is in Lawrence and acts as a primary source of revenue for the affiliate’s operating budget. Every week, Board members are responsible for greeting volunteers at the building sites. Typically, we meet at a central location and welcome people then steer them to the

appropriate construction site. We are glad to have as many volunteers as we can get, age 16 or older. They can be individuals or members of groups. We work rain or shine. On Thursdays and Saturdays, we check people in at 8:15 a.m. and they work as long as they can for the day. Often, local groups provide the lunch for all workers on Saturdays. One of my roles is to help the affiliate build consistency in terms of how the organization is presented, refining priorities and honing processes, to make sure they are consistent. I feel that I have the ability to help the organization have a stronger sense of identity — clarity of who they are and what they do. For example, it is a common misconception that the families get the house for free. They put in a substantial amount of sweat equity with Habitat and are paying an interest-free mortgage. They are so appreciative of the opportunity to have their own home. It is their future. It is hope. So many people are touched by each project and the Builders Blitz will do that in a more dramatic and intense way. I really enjoy the home dedications. The homeowners always have huge smiles and often get emotional. Sometimes, people who have worked on a site will show up for these events, because they are so proud of their contributions. Actually, there are so many parts of what I do that are so rewarding. The new homeowners are always so happy and so grateful. One of the first things that impacted me was acknowledging that I had lived in this community for years and had not been aware of the need or the existence of this dynamic organization. I particularly enjoy greeting the volunteers and I am NOT a morning person! When I leave the building to re-join my life, I always feel so energized and impressed with the way that people contribute. I have become very passionate about this organization. There is always something that a person can do and each person makes a difference. I can’t wait to see the Builders Blitz going on because it is going to be so dramatic and it is going to transform Market Street before our eyes.

Tell us about yourself ... My company is focused on helping companies grow, especially small to mid-sized companies. I work with them to identify who their target audience is, what their market definition is, and essentially, we build for them a marketing strategy, a marketing plan, and then we execute it. My smaller clients can have sales of $1– $2 million a year and my larger clients $70 – 80 million a year. I come on board to work with the owner, president, CEO, who at the time may be executing random marketing and are “winging it” with no clear focus or strategy on what they are trying to accomplish. Together, we work on building a strong foundation, which includes a clear understanding of their unique value proposition. This foundation of strength enables them to have a cohesive message. We provide website development, social marketing (Facebook, blogging, tweeting, etc.), public relations, event strategy, advertising, plus any tactics that make sense for their marketing plan and budget. We plan strategy first and then act as their outsourced marketing department, a natural extension of their marketing team. Favorite spot in Lawrence: One of my favorite places to eat is Café Azteca. Certainly Tripoli Bakery is amazing. I think I have bought every birthday cake for my family there. I love the old mills, and admire the commitment to the architecture and restoring the fabric of community that has made Lawrence great in the past and represents the potential for a strong future. There is so much restoration of the buildings and major undertakings and there is a fabulous vision of how streets and neighborhoods can be enhanced and improved. My family and I make meals for Lazarus House every few months and we serve them and clean up. It is very important to me that my kids know that giving back is important and I model what I say. What home means to me: Comfort. Warmth. Peace. A feeling that you have a place that you can count on and turn to that is a gathering place for people you love. Recommended link ...

More about Merrimack Valley Habitat for Humanity ReStore: A home improvement and home accessories outlet Location: 4 Union Street, Lawrence, MA

Donate • Donations are tax-deductible • Free pick up of large items available

Shop • New things arrive daily • Prices 50% to 75% off retail

Volunteer • Have fun while doing good!

> Click here to learn more

Builders Blitz Logistics Team

Laura Gifford Gifford Events, North Andover, MA

What will your company be doing for the Merrimack Valley Habitat for Humanity Home Builders Blitz 2012? I am on the Logistics Committee. My specialty is special event management, so I am responsible for Opening and Closing Ceremonies and coordination of the VIP Luncheon for Steve Thomas. The Opening Ceremony is pretty basic and will kick-off the week of building. Steve Thomas, known from his years on “This Old House” as well as his own construction show, will be coming to recognize and support our efforts on the Blitz. His presence at national and international building sites and the Habitat for Humanity link on his website are just two examples of how he has helped use his good name to raise awareness about Habitat’s mission and the desperate need for safe, affordable housing. I am honored to be part of the VIP event for the Merrimack Valley Habitat for Humanity Home Builders Blitz and to meet Steve Thomas and all the participants on that day. Why have you chosen to participate in this project and have you worked with Habitat for Humanity in the past? I love the concept. I think it’s appalling that affordable housing is so difficult to find. I am glad to play a role in supporting the building of these Habitat homes for these two families. I used to live on the South Shore and I worked with the Braintree Habitat for two years. This was during a time when I was single — I owned a catering business — and felt strongly then, as I do now, that I should give back to the community. I helped Habitat with fundraising and donations-in-kind for events. I also worked at the event on the day that it took place. Earlier this year, I received a phone call asking for my help and I was immediately re-engaged in the organization. I live in the Merrimack Valley and have two children and a husband. My husband’s company often sends groups to Habitat jobsites to volunteer.

Tell us about yourself ... My background has always been in the hospitality industry. I started out as a caterer on the South Shore. I sold that business, got married and moved North. I took a contract position for a year with a non-profit company in Boston to run events. I coordinated a telethon and had so much fun that I was hooked. Favorite spot in Lawrence: There are a couple of places that come to mind. I love the shops on the Riverwalk. I also love the Canal Street area. What home means to me: I think of my family. I think of the house that my family is in and how it is reflective of our taste and style. Most importantly, the feeling that it is safe and comfortable. A place I can invite people over to that is welcoming.

Recommended link: Read about Steve Thomas and his support of Habitat for Humanity here


Builders Blitz Logistics Team

Sue Adams Sue Adams Interiors, Lawrence, MA

What will your company be doing for the Merrimack Valley Habitat for Humanity Home Builders Blitz 2012?


“Working with Habitat is a natural outgrowth of what I do. I am trying to improve people’s lives by changing their environments. This is one of my main objectives as an interior designer and it should be something that is accessible to people regardless of their budget.”

I am working on the Logistics Committee with Barbara Tomkins. The two of us are arranging all the food donations for the six days of the Builders Blitz. This includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, beverages and snacks for approximately 40 volunteers each day. We will also be coordinating volunteers to be at the food tables during meal times. In addition, Sue Adams Interiors is taking responsibility for the food and volunteers for Saturday, June 9th. To make this happen, I am pursuing involvement from colleagues, clients, friends, and family. I have already started asking people and they are all very receptive and thrilled to be asked to participate. I am speaking to people at big and small businesses in Lawrence, North Andover, Andover and surrounding communities. Why have you chosen to participate in this project and have you worked with Habitat for Humanity in the past? I live in Lawrence and I am glad to have the opportunity to give back to the community. I have volunteered on Habitat building projects in the past. I helped out with the design of the layout of the ReStore. I know people on the Board. All of these facts contributed to my interest in playing a role in this year’s Builders Blitz. Working with Habitat is a natural outgrowth of what I do. I am trying to improve people’s lives by changing their environments. This is one of my main objectives as an interior designer and it should be something that is accessible to people regardless of their budget. Before living in Lawrence, I lived in Andover. My current living situation is a dramatic change from my prior suburban home. I believe in the Repurpose, Recycle, and Reuse philosophy and now I’m living it! The idea of living in an urban location in a loft in an old mill building was very appealing.

Tell us about yourself ... I’m married and have a son who is 25. My husband is in the banking industry. My son is in Atlanta.


I grew up in Newton and went on to major in art at Colby College in Maine. I then opened my own contemporary home furnishing store in Portland, ME. When I left Maine, I went to work for an interiors company that specialized in commercial buildings. Then I worked with Domain. After that, I decided I was ready to go out on my own and so I hung out my shingle. I had both commercial and residential experience at that point and have been working with both types of customers for the past 20 years. Actually it will be 21 years in August! Favorite spot in Lawrence:


I like Fisicilli’s Bakery — they have the best macaroons. One of my favorite spots in Lawrence is in the evening, when I am on my way home, I turn onto Canal Street and I can enjoy the vista of the clock tower and the old mill buildings against the western sky, it has a sense of grandeur that always touches me. These buildings have stories to tell. To me, this spot should be considered the gateway to Lawrence, because it is beautiful and showcases its history and the monuments that represent our industrial heritage. It was the textile industry that built this city and my father was in the wool business and sold his products to the companies in these buildings. What home means to me: Security, safety, comfort. Having my family and loved ones around me. Habitat is about home and about hope. It gives families the knowledge that they have a chance for a home and a hope for the future. People are truly poor if they have no hope and Habitat provides that sense of hope for many people. Not only for the family that moves in, but I imagine for all their friends and families as well. SUE ADAMS INTERIORS

Recommended ...

Builders Blitz Logistics Team

Barbara Tomkins Beechwood Office Park, North Andover, MA

What will your company be doing for the Merrimack Valley Habitat for Humanity Home Builders Blitz 2012?

“I spent a day on an All-Women Build Team at a Habitat site in Lawrence about four years ago. My younger brother went to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and worked with Habitat International. He came back transformed by the experience. He inspired my daughter to go and her trip was transformational as well.”

I am serving on the Logistics Committee for the Blitz. We are responsible for the non-building/non-construction part of the project. On the Committee, I am working with Sue Adams to solicit food donations to keep our builders nourished and happy during this intense project. We are going to local restaurants and other businesses, schools, and community groups for donations. We are also responsible for obtaining volunteers to set, serve, and clean-up the food area. The response has been phenomenal. We usually have to define the Builders Blitz and then people respond very enthusiastically. For example, the Beverly Mothers Group is providing all the food and volunteers for a whole day. Why have you chosen to participate in this project and have you worked with Habitat for Humanity in the past? I spent a day on an All-Women Build Team at a Habitat site in Lawrence about four years ago. My younger brother, who lives in Boxford, went to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and worked with Habitat International. He came back transformed by the experience. He inspired my daughter to go and her trip was transformational as well. I also have a connection to Lawrence — I was born in Lawrence. My dad is from a family of Italian immigrants and many of them settled in Lawrence. I remember shopping in Lawrence when I was a kid. Essex Street was the place to go for great purchases. I am hoping that the revitalization efforts are successful in returning Lawrence to its former glory. I am glad to help in my small way to make a difference. I am trying to contact other people who remember Lawrence in its heyday. I hope that everyone who hears about the positive things going on now in Lawrence will want to get involved.


Tell us about yourself ... I have a daughter who is 30 and a son who is 26 and another son who is 16. My third child is so much younger than the other two — I am really trying to enjoy every minute. I work in commercial real estate. I manage buildings located in the Merrimack Valley. I am one of four siblings, two sisters and a brother. We all still live in the Merrimack Valley area and we raised our kids here (North Andover, Andover, and Boxford). Also, my husband is from Methuen, so his roots are in this area as well. Favorite spot in Lawrence: We always get pizza and meat pie at Napoli’s and crispellis from The Italian Kitchen. We used to go to Bishop’s for Armenian food and it was so good. I miss a lot of the old places! What home means to me: I think of my kitchen, the heart of the home. That’s where everything happens. Food and memories and conversations. I think of a table and being around it with my family.

Recommended link ... Habitat for Humanity Women Build Program

Builders Blitz Bronze Donor & Logistics Team

Jason Sevinor Designer Bath & Salem Plumbing Supply Beverly and Gloucester, MA

What will your company be doing for the Merrimack Valley Habitat for Humanity Home Builders Blitz 2012? We are donating all the plumbing fixtures, in partnership with American Standard. This includes kitchen and bathroom sinks and faucets, vanities, toilets, mirrors and accessories for the bathrooms (two bathrooms in each home), tub and shower units. Two of our employees, Yvonne Blacker and Beezee Honan, are working on the Logistics Team. Why have you chosen to participate in this project and have you worked with Habitat for Humanity in the past?


“We have worked with Habitat on past projects. A big part is the positive feeling you get by touching the lives of others in a significant way.” – Jason Sevinor

Yes, we have worked with Habitat on past projects. A big part is the positive feeling you get by touching the lives of others in a significant way. When the new homeowner gets the keys to their new home, the expressions on their faces makes the investment that we have made totally worth it. From 2008 into 2009, we worked on a home on Harrison Street in Salem for Habitat. We donated fixtures and I worked on the job site. One of the contractors that we work with, Dave West of Meadowview Construction, brought this opportunity to our attention and we were intrigued by the Blitz concept. We already believed in Habitat’s mission and we wanted to support this effort. It’s a good fit for us, because we have something to offer. We can be of service because of our expertise and contacts. Tell us about yourself ...

“This Builders Blitz project is all about building. Building relationships. Building community. Building a home for two families. Building a sense of hope.” – Beezee Honan

My grandfather started our business in 1945, so I am the third generation to take the reins of the business. My dad is still involved and his sister, my aunt Dale, works in the showroom, as does my sister, Mindy. I grew up working in the warehouse — cleaning bathrooms, putting stock away, sweeping floors. I was also a plumber’s apprentice for a couple of summers. I went to college in St. Louis and while there, I worked for a plumbing manufacturer’s representative in inside sales. Upon graduation, I worked for another wholesaler/retailer in the

industry and was in their management training program. After three years, I decided to return home. Initially, I worked in sales and focused on building relationships with the trade. This evolved into management. On October 8th of 2007, we opened our second location in Gloucester. This is a satellite location that is a parts and supply counter. Interior design professionals and residential customers are referred to our state-of-the-art showroom in Beverly. I got married in 2011 and recently returned from my honeymoon. We live in Gloucester. We like to hike and kayak. I also like to go sailing — I learned about five years ago and I love it. Favorite spot in Lawrence: CafÊ Azteca What home means to me: Family. Safety. Comfort. Relaxation. Peace. Recommended ...

It all starts with a strong foundation...

For Marketing Matters - building strong foundations for businesses to drive growth

For Marketing Matters is proud to support the 2012 Home Builders Blitz

“Being good is commendable, but only when it is combined with doing good is it useful.” ~AUTHOR UNKNOWN


Builders Blitz Scrapbook

House A dwelling place together with the family that occupies it. Home is that place where one lives for a long period. Home. An environment offering security and happiness. “A house is made of walls and beams; A home is built with love and dreams.” – author unknown Poem read by new homeowner Evelyn Corona on the last day of the Habitat for Humanity Home Builders Blitz. Scrapbook photos courtesy of the Home Builders Blitz team.

Tom Grassi

“We can’t meet our mission without this help. It is not a hand out. It’s a hand up.” - Sharon Mason, MV Habitat for Humanity

Builders Blitz Scrapbook

“Leave it better than you found it.” – Bill Foster

Builders Blitz Scrapbook

Tom Grassi

“We appreciate every hour. We are grateful for every

person who has touched this house.� – Carla Maldonado

Builders Blitz Scrapbook

Andrew Swaine

Andrew Swaine

Andrew Swaine

“We have so much gratitude. Thank you so

Andrew Swaine

Andrew Swaine

Andrew Swaine

Andrew Swaine

Andrew Swaine

much for being a part of this.� – Ana Maldonado

Builders Blitz Scrapbook

Andrew Swaine

To watch this Habitat home being built, check out this 5-day time lapse video produced by Left Eye Creations.

Andrew Swaine

Steve Thomas, international spokesperson for Habitat for Humanity and former host of “This Old House” and “Renovation Nation” visited the completed Builders Blitz homes and spoke about what it means to be a part of the Habitat for Humanity family. > Click here to watch the video.

Patrick A. Rogers

“We get back more than we put in.” – Steve Thomas

Builders Blitz Scrapbook

Andrew Swaine

Patrick A. Rogers

Volunteers from the Lawrence based student run social venture “What’s Good in the Hood” were on-site for the last day of the Builders Blitz. As a group, their goal is to shine a light on the positive side of their community. Photographer Cassandra Charest shares her views on the city of Lawrence later in this issue. > Read Ricardo Rios’ WGITH article on the Home Builders Blitz here.

“Continue watching what we are doing here in the city of Lawrence.” – Lawrence City Counsilor Mark Laplante

Patrick A. Rogers

After attending a meeting for What's Good in the Hood, a bunch of us ended up walking home. The great thing about our office is that it is inside a refurbished mill building and right in the middle of Lawrence's history. We can literally see everything from that office. That clock tower is right across the bridge, so of course I just had to capture it. To me, it symbolizes how time in Lawrence has sort of stood still for a while now, but we've finally gotten it to start to move again.

What I see in Lawrence A P H O T O E S S AY B Y C A S S A N D R A C H A R E S T

Besides the mills, I find the line of railroads and tracks to be another defining feature of the onceindustrial empire the city once was. Even though the trains are gone, the tracks still remain. That's how I feel about Lawrence.

The black and white photo of the water tower was taken at the Reservoir in North Lawrence. My Dad grew up in Lawrence and he drove me around while describing the rich history. I had my camera with me and shot a quick picture of the tower, which can be seen from pretty much anywhere in the city.

Personally, I'm terrified of bridges. As I was walking across the Merrimack River with Gladys, I kind of started freaking out at first. Even though it was cold and rainy, the river had a sort of calm air about it, and I can't really explain what it was, but I just felt like capturing that feeling.

The neon-pink flowers were growing in someone's front yard. It was quite the sight. For a good 1/2 mile stretch there were beaten up cars and apartment complexes and concrete, and in the middle of all that was a tiny little house with these beautiful flowers outstretched through a white picket fence. The flowers represent the hope of the youth, however small, just like the team over at WGITH.

With the graffiti photo, we were walking around near the South Commons taking pictures of everything. Even though there is graffiti everywhere, to me it is an art within itself and Lawrence is the museum. It was pretty cool that there happened to be a fence, because it seems like a lot of people feel trapped or like they can't escape, when that isn't necessarily true. Fences always seem to find their way into my work.

There is also this photo of an older couple. I wasn't trying to hide my camera, and they just came up and offered to pose for a picture. No make up, no fancy clothes, no Crest commercial smiles. Even like that, I really love this photo. I think it truly captures the rawness of Lawrence. You would be hard-pressed to find another city which is so welcoming and friendly and will offer itself up without compensation and without caring about appearances. It's truly something special.

This photo from the top of the Reservoir looks down at the entire city, and I think it's a great location because of the view. My parents went on a date at that very spot and from what they told me, I knew I had to go there and see it for myself. It's an entirely different picture when you're seeing Lawrence as a whole from the outside rather than just at street level, which I think speaks to all the negative media surrounding us lately.

Cassandra Charest, who will be a senior at Lawrence High School this fall, was born in Methuen, MA before moving to Lawrence. Since she was a small child, she has always had a passion for the arts. Whether it be cooking, painting, sculpting, writing, drawing, or photography, she takes an interest in anything which allows her to express herself freely and without boundaries. Having never been in a formal art class, she teaches herself through observation. She hopes to major in graphic design or conceptual art and/or English at an art school in Boston, while still being able to shoot photography. She was approached to write for “What’s Good in the Hood” when she was a sophomore, but it wasn’t until March of 2 012 when she finally joined the team as a photographer. She attends most of the events and takes pictures to be published either in the magazine or on the website, as well as photos of WGITH itself. She has a fascination with the culture in Lawrence and hopes, with camera in hand, to be able to give the city a face other than “damned.” > Learn more about “What’s Good in the Hood” on their tumblr site

Self portrait: Cassandra Charest








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Lazarus House: A Lifeline in Lawrence text Pamela Norman Simoneau photos courtesy Lazarus House

My visit began in the Thrift Store under the operations headquarters of Lazarus House It was mid-week, 10am. Already there was a line outside and the shop was just opening. As I entered, I caught sight of a sign on the door. Beside the store’s hours was an index card taped to the window plainly requesting “No Violence Please.” Lazarus House public relations coordinator Kathie Clark explained that “we see the kind of desperation and heartache that can drive people to fight for the things they need to sustain their families. But at Lazarus House we foster an atmosphere of care, restored dignity and self-respect.” By and large, Lazarus House Ministries is a peaceful and orderly place serving people from across the Merrimack Valley. Based on the Christian principle that anyone in need who knocks on the door will be received, fed, clothed and sheltered, Lazarus House is

Lazarus House transforms lives by helping people who struggle for survival become self-sufficient, productive citizens.

prepared for crisis. Any crisis. From emergency shelter to food and clothing, job training to English language classes – Lazarus House can help anyone threatened by misfortune. But assistance does not stop there. Lazarus House transforms lives by helping people who struggle for survival become self-sufficient, productive citizens. And the numbers are staggering. In 2011, Lazarus House served over 97,000 meals and distributed almost 53,000 bags of groceries. They provided 9,652 shelter bed nights. Volunteers donated more than 53,500 hours of service in the same year. The emergency shelter handed out more than 100 bagged dinners to hungry people – every night. Having witnessed the range of capabilities at Lazarus House, I expressed awe to Executive Director Bridget Shaheen.“We just pass along to others what people have given to us,” she humbly replied. Those who generously support Lazarus House Ministries provide over 78% of the revenue for their annual operating budget. With less than 1% of the funds coming from government agencies, the remainder of the operating budget is funded primarily through their social enterprises, as well as limited rental and interest income. But it’s not enough. The weekly food pantry usage has grown by 48% in the last year, and 148% in just two years. In addition, Lazarus House reports that it has been unable to accommodate close to 2000 people since 2009.

Food pantry usage has grown by 48% in the last year, and 148% in just two years.

“Poverty is a very complex issue. You cannot just address hunger, or just address homelessness, or just address jobs. The goal of the entire Ministry is to help a person or family to move out of poverty.” – Lazarus House Ministries, Campaign for Dignity 2012

About Hunger and Resilience photography exhibit by Michael Nye Walter J. Manninen Center for the Arts

ENDICOTT COLLEGE Heftler Visiting Artist Gallery 376 Hale Street, Beverly MA Oct. 10th – Nov. 4th, 2012 presented by Gathering Change, Inc. sponsord by Endicott College, Salem Five Charitable Foundation, The Savings Bank, Cranney Home Services, and Stop & Shop Supermarkets

– free and open to the public – Photographer Michael Nye spent more than four years traveling around the United States, listening to people struggling with hunger. The result is a moving collection of portraits and first-person, recorded narratives of the experience of hunger. “I have been profoundly inspired by each participant,” he says, “and feel with even greater conviction that we all need to speak of how difficult life is for so many in our country.”

For details visit or call 978.232.2250

To continue to serve a growing population of families in need, Lazarus House is launching a $5 million campaign to address program efficiency improvements and ongoing core service needs. In addition, the campaign will allow the ministry to expand their facilities and improve/maintain existing ones. The stories of the people who turn to Lazarus House are at once heartwarming and heartbreaking. One teenager lost her entire family in a car accident. She lived at Lazarus House through high school and considered the residents and workers her new family. Those who knew her made sure she didn’t miss any of her high school milestones – like prom, when they all pitched in to buy the young woman a suitable dress. Another family is so grateful for the assistance they received during their time of need that they return to the Lazarus House food pantry every month to donate a bag of groceries to those currently needing food. Besides a lifeless economy with few available jobs, fire is often the devastating impetus for hardship. Families arrive at Lazarus House, after a blaze has destroyed their home, with no clothes, no shelter, no food, and shell-shocked. Thanks to the emergency housing at Lazarus House those families can be sure of a clean bed, warm dinner and clothing for their children. Most people who arrive at Lazarus House seeking assistance are assigned to an advocate who determines how best to help them. The advocate is often the main link between the individual or family in need and the necessary supplies, support and guidance needed to recover from catastrophe. To enter a program here, clients must be free of substance abuse.

During the random April Wednesday that I visited the food pantry, Lazarus House distributed enough food for 750 families of four to eat four meals. They expect to receive about 1,000 families per week in the summertime. “I never ask for food donations,” explained Ken Campbell, food coordinator for the entire food ministry at Lazarus House.“I just explain what we do and somehow we get enough food every week to stay open. It’s really a miracle.” Donations of food come from anywhere – from individuals to corporations, and range in size from a half bag of groceries to large shipments. Churches run food drives. Local farmers donate produce in season. Grocery stores deliver extra pallets of packaged goods. While food pantries all across the region have had to close due to lack of food, Lazarus House continues to provide the supplemental food on which families depend to make ends meet. And every week enough volunteers show up to help repackage and distribute the food, or manage the crowd of customers. Rows and rows of seated people wait patiently to be checked in and escorted into the pantry where they “shop” along a few aisles of prepackaged goods and produce. Back in the stock room, another band of helpers is breaking down and clearing out boxes, restocking shelves and kidding with each other to get out of the way. Lazarus House is very proud of the tools they provide people to help them gain

back their independence. Beyond the immediate necessities such as food and shelter and clothing, they teach English as a second language and provide specific job training skills such as food preparation and cleaning services. They offer transitional housing to those with a two-year plan to achieving total independence. During their stay at Capernaum House, residents in transitional housing must attend regular meetings to discuss obstacles and participate in life skills training such as laundry, bill paying, and managing a budget. Together, the residents celebrate successes like getting a drivers’ license, a child’s birthday or paying off a bill. Lazarus House reports a 92% success rate for moving families from transitional apartments to permanent housing. There is another housing facility as part of the Lazarus “campus” for individuals and families living with someone debilitated by sickness like HIV/AIDs, diabetes or other medical issues. A social worker is on hand at this facility to insure that patients and their families get the support they need from Massachusetts agencies to receive benefits and proper treatment.

> For more information about Lazarus House Ministries, to volunteer, donate or pledge your support, go to

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Earth Day 2012: Groundwork Lawrence partners with Comcast Cares

GETTING IT DONE GRASS By Pamela Norman Simoneau • Photos courtesy Groundwork Lawrence

Something extraordinary is happening in Lawrence, Massachusetts. “On every street corner, I see a sign that says ‘Groundwork Lawrence,’” said State Representative Paul Adams.“This group epitomizes the good things happening in Lawrence. You are transforming this city.” Literally within hours, teams of volunteers had transformed the North Common of Compagnone Park, and beyond. For over one thousand local volunteers, this Earth Day meant an early rise and shine to a day of group labor. Saturday, April 21, 2012 marked the third anniversary of the Comcast Cares and Groundwork Lawrence Earth Day partnership. While the Comcast Cares day has become one of the largest single days of Corporate Involvement in America, the Earth Day Comcast Cares Day is one of Groundwork Lawrence’s largest events. Groundwork Lawrence (GWL) is part of a national non-profit organization called Groundwork USA. GWL projects are designed to improve the quality of air, water and land, increase access to healthy food, and restore local natural resources. This past Earth Day was just one example of how GWL and their partners clean up and complete beautification projects throughout Lawrence.

for their 3rd Annual Spring Clean Up

ROOTS STYLE Thanks to the long standing partnership with Comcast, Groundwork Lawrence volunteers had the resources to tackle the Earth Day spring clean-up. They planted trees and shrubs, cleaned playgrounds, built schoolyard gardens and painted areas in the Commons. Even a high-powered bobcat loader made an appearance to help dig holes for trees. But not just in the Common – where 25 trees were planted – by 9am volunteers had scattered across the city by bus, by car, on foot, on bikes, pushing strollers and wheelbarrows filled with tools, supplies and work gloves.

Above: John Fouhy of Comcast and his wife Patty joined over 1,000 Comcast employees, family members and Lawrence residents to clean up and landscape the Lawrence Commons in partnership with Groundwork Lawrence as part of the 11th annual Comcast Cares Day. More than 67,000 volunteers participated in this day of service around the country. Below: State Rep. Paul Adams of Lawrence

Groups of workers fanned out to predetermined sites such as Jaques Pond, LHS Garden, the Arlington School and Riverfront State Park. Others dug into Storrow Park, the Shawsheen River Trail and the Spicket River Greenway, to name a few locations. Representative Adams traded pen for paintbrush for the day to help refresh sections of the South Common.

The City was in full support of Groundwork Lawrence’s Earth Day efforts. They provided free parking around the Common and sent the Department of Public Works on rounds to the worksites throughout the day to collect garbage. Area businesses provided free breakfast, lunch, T-shirts, resources, laborers and tools to ensure a successful effort. But the good works didn’t end – or even begin – there. The Lawrence branch of Groundwork USA is the largest in a network of 39 states. For over a decade, GWL has been actively changing Lawrence’s literal and figurative landscape. From youth education and employment programs to community food programs to environmental improvement projects, GWL has sourced and committed millions of dollars in grants and donations to revitalize this community. Among their most notable projects aimed at making the City’s outdoor spaces safe, accessible, and attractive, is the Spicket River Revitalization Project. With Massachusetts EPA and National Park Service grants, GWL is creating a network of open spaces along the river which will include a Butterfly Garden and an outdoor classroom area along the 2.5 miles of greenway. This revitalization project began a few years ago with the removal of 100 tons of debris and 2,000 abandoned tires. GWL addressed the river’s chronic flooding, and helped to end decades of illegal dumping and polluting. By actively involving the youth of Lawrence, GWL hopes to secure stewardship of the community’s green spaces for generations to come. Local high school students may apply for part-time, paid employment on the GWL Green Team. This year-round program challenges ten young adults to lead local environmental and healthy community initiatives. At the middle school level, participants in the Summer Stewards program learn to plant and maintain vegetable gardens and cook healthy meals from their harvest. Throughout the summer and fall, GWL also runs a Farmers’ Market in downtown Lawrence and offers a community supported agriculture (CSA) program where residents pick up a box of farm-fresh, seasonal produce each week. GWL will subsidize the price of CSA shares for families in need. > For more information on Groundwork Lawrence, or to join their ongoing efforts, go to

A potted orchid will last months longer than a cut bouquet and will add instant designer style to any room. - editor’s pick

yvonne blacker


Hillary Adams Case

Michelle Cortizo

Susan Kanoff

Vani Sayeed

Diana Vertus

Cecilia Walker


photo credit: Jenny Nourse

Michelle Cortizo is an interior designer based just south of Boston.

Tip #1 Enhance the way you live by editing relentlessly and practicing restraint. Less is always the key to maximizing the importance of what you really love! Tip #2 Don’t let a small budget prevent you from investing in quality pieces. Remember to visit your local consignment shop for hidden treasures at a low cost. This 100% wool rug was purchased for less than $200.00 and has a permanent home at my front door.

Tip #3 The bathroom wall was painted with a metallic silver paint – an inexpensive way to get the look of paper without the potential peeling a moist environment like a bathroom could cause.

photos courtesy Michelle Cortizo

Budget Makeover I had $100.00 to spruce up a bath vanity area. The sconces were $29.00 each. The paper (2) sheets at $8.00 a piece from Paper Source. The ModPodge just $7.95 Total $81.95 > Click here to read Michelle’s design blog

Cecilia Walker C E C I L I A WA L K E R D E S I G N

photo credit: Kerry Brett

Cecilia Walker is a Boston area interior designer. Look for her space in the Junior League of Boston 2012 Showhouse in Newton, Massachusetts this October.

I love to scour Brimfield for unique, one-of-akind pieces for the home. My first shopping trip to Brimfield was almost fifteen years ago. As a newlywed on a limited budget, I was in search of furniture and décor for our first home. Three houses and four children later, the items I’ve acquired from Brimfield are some of my favorite things that I own – they make me happy. Over the years my style has changed, and even so, my Brimfield finds have stood the test of time and have fit within the different aesthetics as our homes evolved. Here are some of my favorite flea market tips: • Simple objects arranged in groupings of multiples are visually appealing when there is repetition of color, shape or materials. • Keep in mind, the rule of three – displaying things in “threes” or odd numbers keeps the eye moving and creates balance. • Simple found objects – like the blue bottles, mason jars, and tin buckets that I found at Brimfield – are great items that add color and function with a vintage feel, fairly inexpensively. • Wall art doesn’t have to come from an art gallery. You can frame negative space or find original art at flea markets.

> Click here to read Cecilia’s design blog

The tin buckets can be used as flower pots, or used anywhere for storage. Displayed on a shelf, with labels tied with twine, bulky items or clutter can be hidden inside, while the tin material adds patina and warmth to the room.

Original work of art for jusf $35: oil on panel

The cobalt blue glass bottles are a beautiful color and would look great on a window sill, mantle or bookshelf. They are also functional and can be used as vases with a single flower.

The glass mason jars are so versatile and can serve many functions. Use as a dining table centerpiece, in a grouping of three, filled with fresh-cut flowers, or votives for candlelight. In an office or craft room to hold paper clips, pencils, or safety pins and buttons. Or in a bathroom, holding Q-tips and cotton balls.

My Brimfield shopping partner, graphic designer, Sheila Igoe of IgoeCreative, spotted these frames. Hang them in a grouping on a wall (as is, without anything inside) to create an interesting focal point, fill them with corkboard or wire mesh to convert them to functional bulletin boards, or repurpose them and add a mirror.

photos courtesy Cecilia Walker

Sheila Igoe

Vani Sayeed VA N I S AY E E D S T U D I O S • Color changes everything ... refresh a tired room by adding a splash of color with an accent wall, coat of fresh paint, or stripes. • Every chair needs a small drinks table to rest a cup or glass. Try using unusual pieces of furniture or unique antiques for this purpose.

photo credit: Peggy Stander

Vani Sayeed is a Newton, MA based interior designer and artist. Look for her work in the upcoming Boston Magazine Design Home, Oct. 2012.

• One pair of pillows always looks skimpy. Use at least two pairs, in contrasting patterns, colors, and textures. • Use of unique textiles can add a punch in an otherwise understated room.

• Play with texture. Something as simple and luxurious as a cashmere throw on leather gives a beautiful play of textures. • Create an interesting corner by using a bold color, texture and words • Sustainable and synthetic rattan is easy to maintain. Use it all year round from the breakfast nook to the patio (hand-crafted, stylish outdoor furniture is timeless). • When shopping for the proportionate chandelier over a dining table, remember it’s more important to size the chandelier to the table than the room. A good rule of thumb is to make sure your chandelier is one-half to three-quarters the width of your table. For the right hanging height, position the bottom of the chandelier about 30 -32 inches above the table, adjusting to work with the size of the table and the overall scale of your space.

• Design tip for a small space: mix low and tall furniture. You won’t feel boxed in. Punctuate the space with verticals. • I love an antiqued mirror and how it can expand a space ... a trick that goes back to 16th century Venice. • Some plants have aromatic leaves ... herbs such as rosemary, lavender, mint, thyme and sage bring a lovely fragrance to your garden or inside your home. Outside, the foliage may need to be brushed or heated by the sun before the fragrant oils are released. • Simple branches of budding blooms and curling leaves will brighten any space. • Bring the outside in: like a living sculpture, terrariums provide a touch of green, are inexpensive, and easy to maintain. • Wash your windows ... let your gaze travel out. Don’t let your eye stop at a dirty window. > Check out Vani’s portfolio here Peggy Stander

Susan Kanoff A G R E AT N E W L O O K Dressing like a million bucks doesn’t have to cost a fortune. With so many ways to find fabulous deals, it’s easy to put together beautiful outfits on a shoe-string budget. Here are some of my tips for looking great without breaking the bank.

photo credit: Linda Holt

Susan Kanoff is a fashion coach and wardrobe consultant based out of the Merrimack Valley area.

• Start out with a core wardrobe consisting of basic timeless pieces that can be mixed and matched that will last for years. My recommendations for “essential” pieces are a little black dress, dark wash jeans, trench coat, black trousers, pencil skirt, silk blouse and fabulous suit. Having these basics in your closet will give you the foundation for a great wardrobe. • Accessorize! Accessorizing is an inexpensive way to create a million and one outfits. Some “must have” pieces to add to your collection are a statement necklace, cocktail ring, fabulous scarf, pendant necklace, men’s-style watch, hoop earrings, fun belt and a great clutch (love a bright color). Having a wide assortment of accessories will help you maximize your wardrobe and wear your clothes in different ways. My favorite places to find inexpensive accessories are Baubles and Lace in Andover, Francesca’s (at the malls) and in the J. Crew and Banana Republic bargain bins. • Shop your closet. Do you have a closet full of clothes but nothing to wear? Before you hit the stores, take inventory of your wardrobe. You’ll be surprised at how many clothes you have forgotten about! Enlist the help of a friend or wardrobe consultant to help you create new outfits out of existing pieces. • Go directly to the sale rack. Everything eventually goes on sale. Unless you can’t live without that fabulous piece, bypass the full-priced racks and hit clearance first. Some of the deals out there are amazing (even at the higher end stores). One word of caution though … don’t buy JUST because it’s on sale! It isn’t a bargain if you don’t need it. • Consignment shop. Upscale consignment shops are popping up all over the place. Take some time to

map out all the great second-hand stores in your area and do some treasure hunting. You can find remarkable deals on gently worn pieces ranging from Ann Taylor to Armani! A few of my favorite local boutiques are Madison Ave of Melrose (Melrose, MA) and Chic Consignment Closet (Andover, MA). Don’t forget that you can also make extra money off your unwanted clothes and accessories by consigning! • Negotiate. In this tough economic climate there is more room than ever to negotiate. Don’t be afraid to ask the store owner if he/she will take less than the stated price. You’ll be surprised at how much you can save this way! • Ask about retail discounts. Many stores offer special discounts to students, teachers, seniors and even AAA members! • Get on your favorite stores’ e-mail lists This way you’ll be kept updated of the store’s sales and promotions. Before you shop always Google the store’s name and the word coupons. You’ll be astonished at how many discount codes and coupons will pop up, saving you money at the register!

photo credit: Linda Holt

• Keep your receipts. Many stores offer a price adjustment period of 7-14 days. If the price of your purchase has dropped during that time, you will receive a credit for the difference. • Don’t buy orphans. By this I mean those pieces that won’t match anything in your closet. If you don’t have something to wear it with, don’t buy it. • Understand the store’s return policy. Don’t buy unless you are informed of the store’s return policy. Many small boutiques have a short window of time for returns and will only offer store credit. • Don’t discount the discount stores! Target and Forever21 are a few of my favorite stores to find trendy and inexpensive bags and accessories. Why spend a lot on a piece that may not be in style next season when you can get the look for less? Adrianna Papell dress at Marshalls for $39.99 photo courtesy Susan Kanoff

> For more fashion tips, visit Susan’s blog

Diana Vertus EXQUISITE DESIGN CONCEPTS photo credit: Joanna Petit-Frere

Diana Vertus is the owner of Exquisite Design Concepts, a boutique special events design and production firm and President of @FemCityBostonFemfessionals, LLC

Here are a few tips to decorating an exquisite yet easy and affordable table setting for any occasion. Stick to the basics I highly recommend every household to have a set of six or more good quality all-white dinnerware set and serving platter pieces. Use different shaped plates to add a modern twist to the traditional round china normally used. It’s OK to mix and match Layering colorful or patterned appetizer plates are the perfect way to brighten up a solid colored plate. A splash of color makes a big difference and can change the look of a table setting. Play with pattern Add exquisite details, textures, colors, and patterns to your tabletop design. Bold patterned linens can be enhanced with solid textured napkins and patterned dishes to add depth to your tabletop.

photos courtesy Diana Vertus

Mix it up Mix and match assorted glassware. Use tumblers and stemware in varying heights and contrasting colors to create levels that add interest (up to a maximum of three). Keep it stress-free When entertaining remember to keep it simple, stylish, and stress-free. You don’t need to have a lot of money nor expensive dishes to make your table look elegant and wow your guests. By adding finishing touches that infuse your personality and incorporating objects you already own, it is easy to create a personal and memorable moment for you and your guests.

> To keep up with Diana, follow her on twitter

Hillary Adams Case L I V I N G P E AC E

Creating a Welcoming Space to Share With Friends

photo credit: Heather Rogers

Hillary Adams Case is a professional organizer with Massachusetts based Living Peace.

Being organized and developing daily systems to deal with clutter makes presenting your home to others easy. When you are organized, inviting people over on a whim can be stress free. Your home is a reflection of you, a place to display photos of family and artwork done by the kids. Sharing your home with others gives the opportunity to display this part of your life that cannot be seen elsewhere. Take a look at the following three scenarios. Do any of them resonate with you? Does this sound like you? You’ve made it to the end of a long work week and you’d like to have a relaxing evening with some friends at your home. The problem: inviting guests over would require significant prep work. There is nowhere to sit in the living room. The week’s mail has been piled on the kitchen table. Clothing is everywhere except in the hamper. Your home is hardly a place you want to bring people to entertain. So much for spending time with friends. Having organizational systems in place for the laundry and mail would have alleviated this dilemma. Or does this sound like you? You’ve been on a few dates with a guy you really like. When dropping you off at home one night he asks,“May I come in for a cup of coffee?” Your heart jumps a few beats while you attempt to collect your words. Your problem: your home is scattered with paperwork, dirty dishes and the shoes on the floor are definite tripping hazards. You think,“If he sees my place there would be no hope for another date.” Instead of enjoying his company in your home you make up some lame excuse about how you have to get to bed early and call it a night. Now you end your evening with anger and frustration rather than butterflies and rainbows. Again, having a few simple organizational systems would have made inviting a guest in stress free.


Or does this sound like you? You’re at the park with your children socializing with some other moms while the children play happily. Suddenly, heavy rain starts and everyone is scrambling to get under cover. Another mother says,“You live across the street – can we go to your house until the storm passes?” Your problem: the house is covered with toys, laundry and you didn’t pick up the breakfast dishes (or the dinner dishes from last night ... ) and your home is hardly a place you want these moms to see. You think, they will never let your kids play with theirs again! Just imagine how great it would have been to have been able to invite those friends in and have the other mothers comment on your creative organizational systems. photos courtesy Hillary Adams Case

This could be you!


Your home is full of useful systems to deal with the normal clutter of life. You are able to take advantage of those spur of the moment opportunities. You take pride in your space. If you need some help getting there, call us!

Three tips to help stay organized: 1. Delegate responsibilities among family member whenever possible to lighten your load. 2. Keep a recycling container right where you open your mail. This will help ensure envelopes and junk mail don’t clutter your world. 3. Schedule time for clean-up. Set a timer for 15 or 30 minutes and allow yourself to stop when the timer goes off. AFTER > Find Hillary online here


Welcome Home EDITOR’S PICKS Decorate your home-sweet-home for less with these moderately priced picks that range from around $30 to just under $280.* These on-trend items from, an online home and garden shopping mecca, will add designer style without breaking the bank. *prices and availability may vary > Read about Wayair’s partnership with Habitat for Humanity here

UMA Enterprises Rustic Universal Metal Wall Décor $97.99

Kichler The New Informality 16.5" Hammered Bronze Round Table Lamp $72.00

Inhabit Reef Throw Pillow in Moss $58.00

IMAX 3 Piece Round Luster Canister Set in Green $109.99

Trans-Ocean Ravella Crochet Aqua Indoor / Outdoor Rug 5' x 7'6" $279.00

Company C Zoe Pillow $98.00

Inhabit Change Your Life Pillow in Rust from $58.00

Greendale Home Fashions Toss Zig Zag Pillows in Village Green (Set of 2) $32.99

IMAX Colony Globe $32.99

Wolf Designs Inc. 1970 Collection Diva Trinket Box from $60.00

Sterling Industries Vintage Chinese Apothecary Jar Clear (Set of 2) $78.00

Aspire Wood Inlay Floor Vase $68.99

Oriental Furniture Rush Grass Coffee Table/Ottoman in Natural $108.00

IMAX Mango Wood Candlesticks (Set of 3) $101.20

> Shop Wayfair

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Thank you to the numerous volunteers – construction and non-construction – who donated their time, materials, and expertise to help build homes for the Corona and Maldonado families during the Home Builders Blitz 2012.

Andrew Steingiser ARCHITECTURE

New England Finery Habitat for Humanity Issue  

Coverage of the Merrimack Valley Habitat for Humanity Builders Blitz 2012