Habitat for Humanity in Monroe, Ontario, Wayne counties to merge

Flower City Habitat in Rochester, Ontario County Habitat in Canandaigua and Wayne County Habitat in Newark will join forces under the new name of Greater Rochester Habitat for Humanity in January.

The merger will make the local affiliate the second largest by production in New York and place it among the top 40 affiliates across the United States.

With the merger, the organization will be able to continue to serve low-to-moderate income families from Rochester to Geneva, as well as those in other communities in the three-county area.

matthew flanagan

Following completion of the merger, Matthew J. Flanigan will serve as the president and CEO of the combined entity. He currently leaders Flower City Habitat for Humanity. 

Flanigan said the three entities — with a combined 100-plus years of experience — will have a unique opportunity to serve more families in need of affordable housing with new homes and rehabs of existing homes, as well as critical repairs, to help owners remain in their homes. 

“We will be able to deliver upon our mission to serve families with safe, decent housing they can afford in a new, unified service area,” Flanigan said.

Nash Bock

In addition to Flanigan, Nash Bock will serve as chief business and innovation officer and JJ Cotter will serve as vice president of programs.

Bock and Cotter will continue in their roles as executive directors of Ontario County Habitat and Wayne County Habitat, respectively, until the legal consolidation on Jan. 2. 

Flower City Habitat was founded in 1984, Wayne County began in 1988 and Ontario County was established in 1990.

Combined, the organizations have served nearly 350 area families with new homes, rehabilitated homes and needed repairs.

In 2021, the three entities reported collectively that: 

  • Volunteers logged a combined 55,000 hours with a total of 1,600 volunteers, serving in ReStores, on construction sites and in offices, and 
  • Homeowners-in-process across the region participated in financial education classes and collectively earned more than 4,000 hours of sweat equity toward the purchase of their homes. 

The new Habitat affiliate expects to retain current staff and all existing board members will be asked to join the new entity’s board.

Cotter noted that the families the organizations have served will continue to be the focus.

JJ Cotter

“By combining our resources, we are confident we will expand not only the number of families we assist but enhance the breadth and quality of the programs we offer – from financial counseling to aging in place resources,” she said. 

The news of the merger comes as Flower City Habitat for Humanity makes some changes of its own, adding new positions to reflect the growth the organization has experienced over the past year. Those positions will remain intact after the merger goes into effect.

The new positions include a chief operating officer and senior vice president of major gifts and planned giving.  


Tim Guillemette was named chief operating officer, overseeing the day-to-day operations of the organization. He previously served as Flower City Habitat for Humanity’s director of family services.

Ethel Duble is the senior vice president of major gifts and planned giving. She previously served as the organization’s development and marketing director.


In her new role, Duble will focus on long-term goals that will contribute to the organization’s future financial stability. 

Additionally, Flanigan was recently selected to serve on the U.S. Council of Habitat for Humanity International, which was established by its board of directors to serve as the planning and policy recommending body to guide the growth of Habitat for Humanity’s work in the United States. 

In the role, Flanigan advises Habitat for Humanity International CEO, Jonathan Reckford, other senior staff and the International Board of Directors on the direction and priorities of U.S. programs. 

Flower City Habitat for Humanity has grown largely through its collaborations with other organizations, Flanigan noted. 

It has been a major contributor in the JOSANA Neighborhood revitalization project by partnering with the city of Rochester to build 100 homes to date, all within one-half mile of Enrico Fermi School 17. 

The work is part of the JOSANA Neighborhood Master Plan that includes the development of neighborhood associations, business investments and public space beautification projects. 

Currently, the organization is in the process of planning additional neighborhood revitalization projects that will help strengthen the communities of Beechwood and Emma in partnership with Connected Communities. 

“All of our efforts are focused on the heart of what we do … to ensure everyone has a decent place to live,” Flanigan said.  

[email protected] / (585) 653-4021 

Flower City Habitat for Humanity raises $144,000 at gala

Flower City Habitat for Humanity's annual gala last month raised more than $144,000 to support the organization's mission of bringing partners together to build homeownership, communities and hope. (photo provided)
Flower City Habitat for Humanity’s annual gala last month raised more than $144,000 to support the organization’s mission of bringing partners together to build homeownership, communities and hope. (Photo provided)

Flower City Habitat for Humanity raised more than $144,000 at its 17th Annual Gala, “Framing for the Future” last month.

Hosted by Terry Clifford and Steve Hausmann of 92.5 The Buzz, the gala provided FCHH staff, directors, volunteers and supporters an opportunity to bring individuals and organizations together who have contributed to the growth and development of affordable housing in Rochester.

The funds raised will be used to help provide a hand-up to families in the Habitat Homebuyer Program who will frame their own future as they work toward homeownership in Rochester.

In keeping with the theme, the beams of a fully framed Habitat house constructed inside the Main Street Armory were signed by guests, who also left letters of support in the attached mailbox for the soon-to-be homeowner, Keisha Betts.

“Habitat motivated me to never quit or give up on my dream of homeownership and has given me the strength to literally build homeownership for others,” Betts said in her keynote speech.

The interactive gala provided tapas from local food establishments, as well as games such as “Name! That! Tool!” and a Welcome Wagon raffle.

Karen Wozniak, senior manager of brand and content strategy at Paychex Inc., served as event chair, while Wendy Bellow, vice president and general manager at WROC-TV, Nextstar Media Group served as honorary chair.

The gala was sponsored by the Bonadio Group, Five Start Bank, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield and a number of other local businesses.

FCHH was founded in 1984. The non-denominational Christian housing ministry is dedicated to eliminating substandard and poverty housing in Rochester. Since its foundation, FCHH has built or renovated more than 240 homes and is one of the largest affiliates in the Northeast.

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
Follow Velvet Spicer on Twitter: @Velvet_Spicer

Fastrac employees help with Habitat rehab project

From left to right: Ken Geer, Brett Hughes, Tom Wright, Mollie Sweeney, Rheyanna Arliss, Jason Baleno, Diane Sharkey, Jim Prentice, Luv Jarvis, Dave Hogan, Anna Salone.
From left to right: Ken Geer, Brett Hughes, Tom Wright, Mollie Sweeney, Rheyanna Arliss, Jason Baleno, Diane Sharkey, Jim Prentice, Luv Jarvis, Dave Hogan, Anna Salone.

A team of 15 convenience store employees used their down time last weekend to help Flower City Habitat for Humanity rehab an abandoned home on the city’s east side.

Fastrac Markets LLC employees joined Bank of America and dozens of other Habitat volunteers Jan. 27 to remodel an aging, abandoned home on Akron Street. It was part of a broader mission by Fastrac’s 52 locations statewide to support Habitat. Last year the company donated $35,000 to the Flower City Habitat chapter, and $60,000 total to chapters statewide.

“Our company supports Flower City Habitat for Humanity for a very simple reason: We believe in everything the organization does to lift up the communities we operate in,” said Fastrac’s director of real estate and information technology, Brett Hughes, in a statement.

Saturday’s project was one of two “full-gut rehabs” that Flower City Habitat has taken on at the request of the City of Rochester. Fastrac employees worked on the home’s exterior siding and porches, while also helping install insulation inside.

“Throughout our partnership working side-by-side with the Fastrac team, I have noticed how their staff culture nicely aligns with our philosophy,” said Matt Flanigan, Flower City Habitat’s CEO. “The care their team exhibits toward each other and their passion for excellence in all they do is truly remarkable.”

Construction of the Akron Street home is expected to be complete in March, and Fastrac will join a dedication ceremony as the keys are handed over to the home’s new owners.

“We believe that ongoing, supportive partnerships like this are part of what make our communities tick,” said Fastrac President and CEO Tom Waddle. “We’re extremely proud of our partnership with Flower City Habitat for Humanity.”

Flower City Habitat was founded in 1984 to eliminate substandard and poverty housing in Rochester. The organization has built or renovated more than 200 homes since its inception and is one of the largest Habitat affiliates in the northeastern U.S.

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
Follow Velvet Spicer on Twitter: @Velvet_Spicer