Our Focus


Everyone deserves a safe place to call home. Our caring members are committed to serving vulnerable members of our community who face special needs housing challenges. Together, we:

• Completed more than 650 wheelchair ramps and other critical repairs through Community Repair Days, our 27-year partnership with Home Repair Services and Disability Advocates. Our 2018 goal is to complete 30 projects in celebration of the Foundation’s 30 years of service. HBAFoundationClayShootBuildersGiveBackSaveBig-Fillable

(This is where we can include slide shows of past few year’s crews from our thank yous.)

•Helped build Ronald McDonald House, Hope Community’s 24-units of housing and a service center as transitional housing for women and children and a resident’s cottage for St. John’s Home.

(Can include some of the photos that we have saved on-line for Hope Community: Z:\HBAPool\Foundation\HopeCommunityBuildProject)
• Provided annual grant assistance to the missions and work of other non-profits that serve individuals with special housing needs. We’ve contributed more than $270,000 to Habitat for Humanity of Kent County, Home Repair Services, KIDSFIRST, Harbor House, Inner City Christian Federation, Shepherds of Independence and others throughout our 30-year history.

Fireworks Beautiful but Potentially Dangerous

Tips to keep it safe

With Independence Day right around the corner, you might be thinking picnics, parades, and fireworks shows. As fun as fireworks are, they are dangerous. Think about it: fireworks are little exploding devices. According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, in 2016 there were 11,100 people who were injured and treated in emergency rooms for firework related injuries. And of the firework-related injuries, more than 69% of them were burns.

Fireworks are beautiful, but they’re also dangerous. Every year, fire departments across the country prepare for their busiest time of year. “We have already increased coverage for the weekend in anticipation of fireworks-related fires and injury,” tells Grand Rapids Firefighter Matthew Gonzalez. “There are too many risks associated with fireworks that all homeowners want to avoid.”

It Might Cause a Fire

Fireworks are not a misnomer.  You will certainly be working with fire, and one wrong move is all it takes to start a fire.  The chance of starting a fire multiplies if the climate is dry, and especially increases if there are fire warnings to begin with.  Even something as innocent as simple sparklers can set off a fire, if you don’t properly make sure that the flame is out before you throw them away.

In 2013, in the United States alone, fireworks caused an estimated 15,600 reported fires, including 1,400 total structure fires, 200 vehicle fires, and 14,000 outside and other fires, according to the  National Fire Protection Association. These fires resulted in an estimated $21 million in direct property damage. More than one-quarter (28%) of fires started by fireworks in 2009-2013 were reported on Independence Day. Almost half (47%) of the reported fires on the Fourth of July were started by fireworks

Stay Away in General

The most common cause of fireworks-related injuries is being too close.  When you light a firework, it explodes. 

While sparklers might seem like the “wimpiest” or least dangerous, they actually burn at temperatures around 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.  “You have to keep fireworks, especially sparklers, away from kids, they burn as hot as a blowtorch,” Elliot F. Kaye, Consumer Products Safety Commission Chairman said.  This is hot enough to melt many types of metals and cause significant burns. If you give one to your child, make sure you can provide constant supervision to ensure that they don’t get too close.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports 230 people on average go the emergency room every day with fireworks-related injuries in the month around the July 4th holiday. In 2013, there were eight deaths and an estimated 11,400 consumers who sustained injuries related to fireworks. Sixty-five percent, or 7,400, of the injuries in 2013, occurred in the 30 days surrounding July 4, 2013, according to CPSC‘s latest data.

Homeowners’s coverage

Does your home insurance cover fireworks injuries and damage? The answer is complicated, according to Insurance.com. Most home insurance policies provide several different types of protection — each with varying payout limits. Also, there are different types of accidents.

If you’re shooting off illegal fireworks and set fire to your house, you may not be covered. Most policies exclude damage resulting from illegal acts or when you purposely caused injury or damage. If you get into a bottle-rocket war and injure someone, you may not be covered because the incident was intentional. Always follow Michigan law when using fireworks to better your chances of insurance and avoidance of injury.

While it may be fun to host a firework show in your own backyard, sometimes it’s best to leave it to the professionals. With so many reported injuries and fires, protect your family from risk and avoid home fireworks. “If you don’t know how to safely light fireworks or you’re unsure, just don’t do it,” says Gonzalez. From the Grand Rapids Fire Department and the Home Builders Association team, have a fun and safe Fourth of July!

If you can’t live without shooting fireworks off here are some tried and true safety tips to review. It could save you from a trip to the hospital!

Never Let Children Play with Fireworks

  • Don’t let young children play with firework. The CPSC recommends that children under 5 not handle any fireworks.
  • Don’t let children use sparklers or any other form of firework without close supervision. Sparklers can burn at 2000 degrees Fahrenheit! Be very careful!
  • Don’t let children ignite fireworks either.

 Use the Fireworks According to their Directions

  • Always read the directions for the fireworks before use
  • Review your local laws on firework usage
  • Only use fireworks outdoors in a cleared area
  • Light only one firework at a time and quickly move away after lighting
  • Wear safety glasses when setting off fireworks
  • Make sure to have a bucket of water or a hose ready in case you need to put out a firework
  • Never set off any illegal explosives. Report them to your fire or police department
  • Never carry fireworks in your pocket

 Dispose of Fireworks Safely

  • Do not relight “dud” fireworks. If it does not go off, wait 20 minutes and then place the firework in a bucket of water.
  • When disposing of fireworks, wet them before placing them in a metal trash can away from any buildings or combustible materials.

 Keep an Eye Out For Your Pet

  • Do not bring your pet to a firework show, even if they are cute.
  • If you are setting off fireworks at home, put them inside your home or in a crate away from the explosives.
  • Make sure your pet has the proper ID just in case they run off during the fireworks.
  • Do not launch fireworks, or anything of the like, near your pet

 Other Things to Keep in Mind

  • Avoid buying fireworks with brown paper packaging. This may be a sign that the fireworks were produced for professional use.
  • Never point a firework at another person
  • Do not drink alcohol when using fireworks. Alcohol impairs judgment and it can be unsafe.
  • Instead of setting off fireworks at home, consider going to your local fireworks show and enjoy them there. It’s safer than doing fireworks in your backyard.

Ultimate Lighting Guide

2018 Spring HBA Parade Home by Tim Schollaart Builder

Pick the Right – Fixtures for Every Room in Your Home

For so many of us, lighting is an afterthought in our interiors. This happens when you think of it as a utilitarian detail of the room, rather than something that adds aesthetic value. When it’s done right, lighting is the unsung element that brings your design to the next level.

Know your options

One of the most common lighting mistakes people make is assuming that one type of lighting — especially dreaded overheads — will suffice when putting a room together. Interior designers will be the first to tell you that sentiment couldn’t be further from the truth.

In reality, lighting works best when it’s used in layers. There are three main types of indoor lighting to consider and, ideally, each room will include all of them. They are:

Ambient, also known as general lighting, ambient light fills the majority of the room and allows you to move around safely. It usually comes from recessed lighting, track lighting or wall-mounted fixtures.

Accent lighting is used to highlight a particular focal point, such as a piece of wall art. Picture lights, wall-mounted-fixtures or track lighting are common, and dimmers are often used on these features to provide mood lighting.

 Task lights are used to assist you in completing a particular function. This could be anything from desk lamps to pendant lights that hang over a kitchen island.

Let the room dictate the layout

2018 HBA Parade Home by Tim Schollaart Builder

Now that you know what your different lighting options are, it’s time to decide how — and where — to place your light sources in each room. While this is ultimately a matter of personal preference, there are some standard layouts that work well.

If you’re unsure where to start, use these room-by-room guides as a source of inspiration:

Start with a dramatic pendant light or chandelier overhead in the entryway. Then, supplement with either a table or floor lamp.

The living room is a good place to use track or recessed lighting throughout. If your room has a main seating area, use a larger, overhead fixture to center it. Place floor lamps where needed to light shadowy corners. Finally, if you have a buffet or other large furniture piece, you may want to consider adding a table lamp.

The dining room is the easiest room to light. Your main source should come from a large, pendant light or chandelier that’s centered over the dining table. If there are additional dark corners, you can use a floor or table lamp to supplement.

Kitchen lighting is complex. You may want to start with some recessed lighting. Focal areas like the kitchen island and dining table should have overhead pendants or chandeliers. Work areas benefit from the addition of under-cabinet lighting. Plus, you could add specific task sources at the sink and stove.

Ideally, bedrooms have a main, overhead light source and table lamps on nightstands or dressers.

Recessed lighting is common in the bathroom. You could also add task lights around a mirror or, for a dramatic touch, an overhead source above the tub.

Start with recessed lighting or a main, overhead source in an office. Be sure to add table or floor lamps in dark corners or by seating areas. Finally, be sure to use a desk lamp in your main work area.

Consider size and aesthetics

When we talk about the size of lighting fixtures, we’re mainly talking about those statement pieces that are overhead. There is an easy formula for determining how big one of these lights should be. It’s all about finding the right diameter.

If the fixture will be lighting the whole room, measure the length and width of the room and then add those two numbers together. Convert that sum from feet to inches to find the ideal diameter for your light source. For example, if the room was 10 ft. x 12 ft., 10 + 22 = 22, so your fixture should be 22 inches in diameter. However, if you’re centering the fixture over a piece of furniture, you’ll want to measure the length and width of that specific item instead of the room as a whole.

As far as aesthetics are concerned, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. That said, make sure it matches whatever style is present throughout the rest of the room.

The right lighting can really make or break a room. When done well, it lends the perfect atmosphere to help your design shine, but when done poorly, it can take away from your chosen aesthetic.


Brett Little, GreenHome Institute

Despite living in the great lakes where water appears to be abundant, many wells, streams, and aquifers are running dry. Costs to pay for water to be delivered to your house are going up all over and even if you are on a well, that doesn’t mean you don’t pay for water.

“Most well systems including the pump, tank and softeners life are based on the amount of water passing through them and so the more water you use the more you eventually pay to replace the system,” says Brett Little of GreenHome Institute. “Conserving water is now easier than ever and does not require you to sacrifice comfort or style!”

Do you know what the number 1 user of water is in a house…..toilets! How easy is that? With the simple push of a button, you can waste a lot of water or save a lot.

Conventional toilets are 1.6 gallons per flush (GPF) and EPA Water Sense certified are 1.28. However, now you can get vacuum assisted single flush toilets like the Niagara Stealth that are rated down to .8 GPF and are proven to need less maintenance over conventional toilets. I had one for 4 years, retrofitted into an existing 1920s era home and it worked great.

Next up is switching your bathroom faucet aerators, you don’t need to change the whole faucet. You can get a .5 Gallon Per Minute aerator on Amazon for $5.00 and it is an easy DIY install. For showering switch to a 1.5 or 1.25 GPM shower head which saves a lot of water and feels just like high flow.

Outside, try setting aside space for gardening and local drought-tolerant plants. While gardening is water intensive, you at least are using it to eat food rather than waste. Drought tolerant, adaptive and/or native plants usually require no water and many times can benefit local animals and plants helping ensure we have a healthy environment. Check with your local university extension to determine what qualifies for that, you will be surprised how much choice you have. In the areas you must have grass, you can now buy low mow drought tolerant grass. I don’t know about you but I have better things to do than mow and water a lawn weekly and this grass looks and feels just the same. Ditch the expensive sprinkler system and go for rain barrels, not only do these protect your home from water damage at the foundation, keep water out of sewer thus preventing flooding during heavy rains but also provides free water for your landscape and garden. Do make sure if you are using rain barrels for gardening food that you have a food grade metal roof or green roof, asphalt shingles put out lead, coppers and other toxins.

Conserving water is now easier than ever, trendy, saves you money and does not require you to sacrifice comfort or style!  Whether you’re ready to cut back on your showers or replace your lawn with water-wise plants, there are lots of big and small ways that you can conserve water around the home.

Ways to Save Water Indoors

  • Check all faucets, pipes and toilets for leaks.
  • Take shorter showers.
  • Never use your toilet as a wastebasket.
  • Defrost frozen food in the refrigerator.
  • Rinse vegetables in a full sink or pan of water.
  • Fully load your dishwasher.
  • Rinse dishes in a full sink or pan of water.
  • Wash full loads of clothes.

Ways to Save Water Outdoors

  • Don’t over-water landscaping.
  • Water your lawn or garden early in the morning or late in evening.
  • Adjust sprinklers so that they don’t water the sidewalk or street.
  • Don’t water on cool, rainy or windy days.
  • Equip all hoses with shut-off nozzles.
  • Install a rain barrell
  • Plant drought-tolerant or low water-use plants and grasses.
  • Use shrubs and ground cover to reduce the amount of grass.
  • Place mulch around plants to reduce evaporation and discourage weeds.
  • Set your mower blades one notch higher, since longer grass means less evaporation.
  • Use a pool cover to cut down on water evaporation.
  • Use a bucket instead of a hose to wash your car.
  • Use a broom rather than a hose to clean sidewalks, driveways, loading docks and parking lots.