President Chris Krueger opened the meeting with the invocation offered by Bert Millett and the Pledge of Allegiance led by Jeanie Morgan.
Frank Rosenberg introduced his wife, Amanda.  Mesa Rotary President Craig Henry was present with Russian Rotarians being hosted by his club through a program offered by the Russia-USA Inter-Country Committee:  Alina and Natalia Dvornik, Irina Dmitrieva, Natalia Oborina, Evgeny Tikhmenev, and Aleksey Gridchin.  With the group was Charles T Heberle III from the Russia - USA Inter-country Committee.  His home is in Wellesley, Maine.
President Chris reminded everyone that there would be an informal reception for the Russian visitors at her home that evening.
Steve Ross won the attendance drawing.  Chris Krueger won the small weekly raffle pot of $28 , but failed to draw the ace of clubs so did not win the $171 in the growing accumulating pot.
Buck Board
Chuck Flint explained the purpose of the club's buck board, which keeps giving to The Rotary Foundation on everyone's mind and gives members and guests an opportunity to win the opportunity to have $1,000 donated in their name to TRF, taking them to the next level of Paul Harris Fellow recognition.
Happy Bucks
Jeanie Morgan contributed for getting a good health report despite some poor eating habits she has developed in recent months.  Pam Cohen was happy to have the opportunity to get acquainted with the Russian visitors.  Darl Andersen was happy to sit next to Aleksey and get acquainted with him.  Dan Coons was happy Chuck Flint again took Rotary Youth Exchange students to Havasu Falls.  Chuck donated $100 to the Mesa West Scholarship Fund, happy that the trip went as well as it did.  When they had arrived, it at first looked like rain might cause enough flooding to prevent the trip into the canyon.  The company he had booked through came up with options that included pack horses.  Instead of the usual clear water, they saw brown falls, but the 16 YE students had a great time.  Chris Krueger had gone on the trip and was actually recovered enough to be wearing high heels at the meeting.  Past President John Eagleston was happy to be visiting.  He had taken over so many time-consuming projects that he had to put his Rotary membership on hold for a while.  He is President of the PTO at his kids' school.  He was hoping many of his Rotary friends would attend a Hoe Down at MacArthur Elementary Friday evening and enjoy some chili, corn bread and a blue grass band.  Don LaBarge related a story Robert had recently shared with him about his teaching assignment in Pinon, Arizona.  One of his students reminded him that he needed a "C" or he would be kicked off the football team.  Robert informed him that he could earn that grade if he would turn in all of the assignments he had failed to complete in the first three months of school.  Dick Myron continued Rod Daniels tradition of donation $1 for being happy to be a member of Mesa West Rotary.  Frank Rosenberg proudly announced their daughter, Sammi, is carrying a 4.0 grade point average.  President Chris got rid of all the $28 she won, donating eight dollars for the visiting Rotarians from Russia and $20 for making it out alive from her Havasu Falls adventure and she thanked Chuck for making it happen.  He prepares the meals, makes the reservations and makes it an all-round wonderful experience.  Ray Smith reminded Rotarians to contribute if they could to support the Guaymas mission.  Anyone who wishes to do so can contact Aubrey to have her add a donation to their account.  He also reminded everyone that those who had contributed would be entered into a drawing to win the hand made items contributed by Warren Williamson's wife, Son Hee.
Steve Ross announced upcoming programs: 
  • November 1, Jeanie Morgan about The Rotary Vocational Fund of Arizona
  • November 8, Colton Cagle on his Crutches for Africa ambassadorial experience
  • November 15 - NO MEETING
  • November 22 - THANKSGIVING
  • November 29 - No speaker yet scheduled
  • December 6 - Ballet Arizona
Steve then introduced Mirabelle Saucedo, Family Service Director for Habitat for Humanity to present our program.
Mirabelle explained that the organization she works with is one of 12 units in Arizona.  There are 1200 units in the nation and 80 in other countries.  She said that getting involved is life-changing - it is like a virus - Habititis and there is no cure.
Habitat for Humanity began in 1976 in Americus Georgia.  Today, they are headquartered in Atlanta.  The unit she works for serves Maricopa County and Northern Pinal County.  They produce on average 40 houses each year.  They do build new houses, but they don't give them away.  There are 1200 Habitat homeowners in the valley.  
In addition to building new houses, they also renovate existing homes.  They also do home repairs partnering with neighborhood associations and Universities like Grand Canyon University.  The families pay 1/3 of the cost.  One area where they have done rehab is in Victory Acres in Tempe.  There is a donor who pays 75% with the benefiting family paying 25%.
Habitat for Humanity is a "hand up - not a hand out."  Families work hard for the program.  There is a sliding fee schedule.  Owners may not actually pay, but do have sweat equity.  They have a construction in training youth program where young people can learn carpentry, masonry, etc.  There is currently a shortage of people in the building trades.  They train team leaders for the volunteer labor.  "There is a little bit of miracle in every home."
Mirabelle also mentioned Re-Store.  It is a mini home improvement store.  They have locations in Tempe, Phoenix, Peoria and Anthem.  They have donated goods and restore gently used cabinets, etc.  The items sold through their Re-Stores cover the administrative costs of Habitat.  All donations go directly to projects.
She spoke a little about the process of finding families and projects.  Their income needs to be in the 30-60% range of median area income.  They look at credit reports but not at the credit score.  They do need determination assessments during in-home interviews.  The journey to home ownership takes about 12-18 months.  The borrowers pay their own closing costs.  Family and friends can partner with potential homeowners to help them earn their sweat equity, which is their required down payment.  There is a family partner committee which pairs families with volunteer family partners to help earn their sweat equity.  Required education for the homeowners prior to their purchase teaches them about home ownership and provides financial management skills.  Their foreclosure rate is less than 1%.  Habitat actually serves as the bank on the 0% loans, and the dollars are reinvested into new loans as they are repaid.
Challenges to the program are that the average price of a home is now up to $215,000.  Even with a zero percent loan and terms based on budget,  it is challenging to get some borrowers qualified.  Some local municipalities are providing down payment assistance.  In assessing need, several things are considered.   Are they currently paying more than 30% of their income for housing?  Are they overcrowded? Are they in an unsafe neighborhood.  A relatively new problem is that some landlords are charging their tenants for repairs rather than covering them as landlords have traditionally done in the past.  Are they willing to partner and do they have the ability to pay.  There are background checks and the committee must approve before the process to homeownership begins.  
Habitat makes it their job to stay in tune with other available resources.  Last year, they had over 12,000 volunteers.  At a value of $15/hour, that amounts to about 93 staff working full time.  "It takes a village."  Volunteers don't need to know how to do anything.  They are taught and tools are provided.  Sponsors pay for "bricks and sticks" with various levels of sponsorship.  Sponsors, Donors, Volunteers, and Bequests make it all possible.
Maribelle closed by saying, "The employees at Habitat for Humanity work hard.  They believe in what they do.  They believe they do make a difference."