Dream Fund

Interested in helping with housing in Kalamazoo?  The Dream Fund is First Church’s commitment to work with community partners to provide affordable housing and support services for low income adults and children.  In May 2019, this congregation made a pledge of financial support, volunteer hours, and prayer to make a real difference in the lives of our neighbors.  So far, over $800,000 has been pledged by church members and other interested groups in Kalamazoo.

History of the Dream Fund Capital Campaign

In spring 2017 the Church Council overwhelmingly voted to form a committee to explore the possibility of a capital campaign to address local outreach issues that would address significant areas of need in Kalamazoo. After several months of discussion, the committee had developed a wide outline of a potential campaign with a goal of raising $1,000,000 over a three-year period. At the December 2017 annual church meeting, the new “Dream Team” presented their project to the congregation to ask for approval to move on to Phase Two: reviewing various needs within Kalamazoo and making a determination where the church can make a significant difference.

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As the Dream Team researched the history of outreach projects of the church, they realized that we are a generous church that has supported many local, regional, national, and international ministries. They also noted that many of the larger projects were undertaken with partners, such as Robin Cabin, Eleanor House, and Robinson House.  The physical property is owned and administered by another group. This allowed the church to continue sponsoring projects as they presented themselves.

In April 2018, the Dream Team had settled on focusing on identifying sustainable housing needs after the congregation indicated their two highest priorities were housing and hunger. Over the space of the next ten months, the Dream Team met with a variety of Kalamazoo agencies that are dedicated to finding solutions to affordable housing for people in a housing crisis. The congregation was invited to attend all discussions. Through these discussions, the Team learned that Kalamazoo has many non-profit organizations that are effectively addressing the needs of housing. All agreed though, that if we are successful in working together with these agencies on common goals, we can significantly increase the positive impact.

Planning the kick-off for the Dream Fund Capital Campaign began with articles in The First Word newsletter. In-depth discussions with the congregation about the capital campaign took place during six weeks of Academy Classes from March 3 to April 7, 2019. The organizations that the church decided to partner with were present to answer questions during class. Dream Team members were also available for questions on Sundays outside the Sunday School hour.

On Sunday, May 12, 2019 the congregation dedicated a pledge toward the Dream Fund Capital Campaign. The Dream Team is excited about this opportunity for the church to make a positive impact in our community. Please keep the church in your prayers as we lay the foundations for this partnership.

Dream Fund Partners

YWCA Kalamazoo – YWCA currently has 14 units that provide transitional supportive housing and 4 supportive housing units where residents can stay indefinitely. Sixty percent of reported crimes in Kalamazoo County are related to domestic violence which often leads to homelessness. It is the goal of the Dream to provide additional transitional housing which is a stated need of the YWCA.

Open Doors – Open Doors has a 50-year history in Kalamazoo, and is a highly respected model for low-cost housing. Open Doors is in need of additional affordable housing units. Currently they operate 107 rental units and 2 shelters all of which provide support services to their residents. It is our Dream to provide Open Doors with  additional houses or a multi-unit building (or buildings) based on availability and the collaboration of funding.

Kalamazoo Habitat for Humanity – Habitat for Humanity provides permanent housing and is an organization known for its work throughout the world. Our Dream will be to partner with our local Habitat on  several more houses. Habitat will provide opportunities for volunteers to pound nails or paint walls alongside future homeowners.

Building Blocks – Building Blocks of Kalamazoo organizes residents, one block at a time, to enhance the quality of neighborhood life. People come together in neighborhoods that face challenges associated with poverty and chronic disinvestment. Block-level groups revitalize their street based on their vision and strengths. Our goal is to assist Building Blocks in working with those living in the Eastside, Northside, and Vine neighborhoods.

Kalamazoo Collective Housing – Kalamazoo Collective has been in existence since 2007. Currently, 30 individuals live in community in five safe, well-maintened houses sharing in maintenance and home upkeep while learning budgeting and conflict resolution. In 11 years, no one has been evicted. It is the goal of the Dream to provide an additional house to help expand this successful model.

Dream Fund Projects

Since we will not be able to complete a project on our own, we will partner with existing organizations to encourage, facilitate, and raise funds to meet mutual goals.

One year plan and partners (July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020)

  • YWCA – funding for one transitional house for their Domestic Assault Shelter
  • Open Doors – funding for one duplex housing unit
  • Habitat for Humanity – one house at 1612 Charles Street in the Eastside Neighborhood
  • Habitat for Humanity – funding for critical home repairs to keep individuals in their homes
  • Building Blocks – support existing block action groups in the Northside and Eastside Neighborhoods, and the development of a new Eastside Neighborhood block action group that includes a part-time staff position.

Dream Fund Financials

The Dream Fund is a three-year capital campaign that began May 12, 2019. As of September 22, 2019 the current amount pledged to the Dream Fund is $802,437. The church has received a total of $151,166 in donations from pledges and an additional $70,000 by others outside the church that we are partnering with to assist with these projects; for a total of $221,166. Below are the total estimated costs for projects planned for fiscal year July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020:
  1. YWCA Transition House – estimated cost $101,000,
  2. Habitat House on Charles Street – estimated cost $90,000
  3. Habitat Critical Home Repairs – estimated cost $25,000
  4. Building Blocks – estimated cost $26,000,
  5. Open Doors one duplex house – estimated cost $150,000

The estimated total cost of all projects for fiscal year July 1, 2019-June 30, 2020 = $392,600

Opportunities to Support the Dream Fund

The Dream intentionally provides a variety of housing while meeting a variety of needs. It is difficult to begin to estimate the number of individuals whose lives will be impacted by the Dream Fund Capital Campaign. We look forward to raising together over $300,000 a year for three years to stabilize the lives of adults and children by providing not only housing, but the support services to build a brighter future. Together we can impact the lives of adults and children for years to come.

We welcome your pledge to this capital campaign. Pledge cards are available in the church office or you can CLICK HERE to access an online pledge card. Thank you for your support for the Dream Fund for affordable housing!

If you would like to volunteer and become personally involved in a future work project with one of our community partners, please email Church Business Administrator Ruth LaMachia at rlamachia@umc-kzo.org. We also welcome your prayers for the organizations that we will be working with and the individuals they assist. Contact Ruth if you’d like to be on the prayer chain mailing list.

Who can I contact if I have questions or need more information?
If you have any questions about the Dream Fund Capital Campaign, contact the Dream Team by email at DreamTeam@umc-kzo.org, or call the church office at (269) 381-6340 Monday through Thursday, 9 am. – 4 p.m. and ask for Ruth LaMachia.

Dream Fund News

The Dream Team wrote articles for the church’s The First Word newsletter to keep the congregation informed on their progress.

In May 2019 an eight-page booklet was mailed to the congregation. Partnering Together in Mission for Kalamazoo describes the hopes and goas for “The Dream.” In addition, the booklet gives a short explanation of the agencies that we will be partnering with and their work to provide housing solutions.