June is Homeownership Month and now is the time to start planning for success! Every year we search for interesting ways to celebrate, garner exposure for our programs and get community members, media and state representatives to attend. Here are some ideas for your celebration that grantees have had success with, in the past:
- Food! Supply food or host a potluck, barbecue or brown-bag lunch where people bring their own food. You could call it a picnic, and everyone can spread blankets and eat together.
- Host a self-help homes parade! Feature finished homes or homes under construction depending on which participants are interested in opening their homes.
- Organize open house(s) with homes currently under construction, whatever the phase (as long as it’s safe).
- Work party! Everyone wants to help, host a volunteer work party and invite everyone! Just don’t forget the volunteer waivers.
- There’s the classic groundbreaking or key ceremony.
- Offer on-site credit counseling.
- Have the participants’ children write a short paragraph on “what it means to have your own home.”
- Write an article for the local newspaper and include pictures, pictures are always compelling and help to tell the story.
- Host a “Thank You” dinner for your partners and the people who work behind the scenes to help you and participants, like material suppliers and subcontractors. You can even give awards – like golden hammers (spray painted) for “The best partner” or “He who is always there in a pinch.”.
- Have participants give testimonies about their experiences and how wonderful their homes are!
- Hand out balloons and offer face painting at an open house.
- Give a program overview presentation and allow for private Q&A afterwards (give people a chance to ask questions about their personal situations).
- If you can get donated gifts or gift cards (sometimes vendors will help with this), conduct a raffle and give them out for whatever event you plan.
While you can’t use Section 502 or 523 funds for these events, sometimes the local subcontractors or vendors you’ve been working with may sponsor the event.
No matter what event you plan, invite everyone! USDA RD would love to attend, invite your local and state offices, they may even invite the national office staff. If the state director or other USDA representatives attend it may help you get other media and state politicians to attend. Be sure to invite all your state representatives and all your media outlets. Invite your whole waiting list, they’ll love to see the homes, and this will help motivate them to keep up their credit and interest in the program. Invite the chamber of commerce, vendors and subcontractors who help along the way, and invite your board of directors, let them see what they’re helping to create by helping you.