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 

Habitat for Humanity renovates two zombie homes

Flower City Habitat for Humanity has completed two zombie house renovations as part of its Vacant and Abandoned Homes pilot program with the city of Rochester.

FCHH renovated a Fernwood Avenue home for Shanna Campbell and her three children, shown here. (Photo provided)
FCHH renovated a Fernwood Avenue home for Shanna Campbell and her three children, shown here. (Photo provided)

The goal of the initiative is to eliminate the growing abandoned home issue, which accounts for more than $11 million in property value losses in Rochester and Monroe County. The partnership has allowed FCHH to acquired seven vacant homes, primarily through the Rochester Land Bank Corp., with funding provided by Enterprise Community Partners.

Each homeowner accomplished more than 300 sweat equity hours doing construction, participating in financial education and home-maintenance classes and other community volunteer activities to earn their homes.

“In addition to sweat equity hours, all Habitat homebuyers participate in financial literacy and home maintenance courses, intending to create sustainable long-term homeowner success,” FCHH CEO Matt Flanigan said in a statement. “We strongly believe that educating homebuyers before they purchase a home is critical, if not the most important part of our process, and will contribute to the eventual elimination of vacant and abandoned properties.”

Completed properties to date include 221 Akron St. and 112 Parsells Ave., as well as this week’s dedications at 46 Del Monte St. and 129 Fernwood Ave. The fifth property in this phase is at 136 Barberry Terrace, which is under construction.

“Today serves as an ideal example of what can be accomplished in our community by working together,” said Faheem Masood, president and CEO of ESL Federal Credit Union. “The hard work and dedication of these families and the steadfast commitment from Flower City Habitat for Humanity, its volunteers and the city of Rochester have helped make homeownership a reality today. We at ESL are honored to contribute to this initiative and congratulate all involved for making today possible.”

A Del Monte Street home was renovated for Herminio Delgado and Leticia Lasanta Rivera and their children, seen here. (Photo provided)
A Del Monte Street home was renovated for Herminio Delgado and Leticia Lasanta Rivera and their children, seen here. (Photo provided)

The latest remodels in the pilot program were made possible by the Rochester Land Bank, with $50,000 per house in funding provided by Enterprise Community Partners and $100,000 from the ESL Charitable Foundation.

“With the completed renovation of these new homes, Flower City Habitat for Humanity has once again proven itself to be a tremendous partner in our efforts to convert zombie properties into high-quality homes for our citizens,” said Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren. “Bringing affordable home-ownership opportunities to our neighborhoods helps us create more jobs, safer and more vibrant neighborhoods and better educational opportunities for our citizens. This partnership benefits all of the residents of Rochester, in addition to the families who will live in these beautiful new homes.”

FCHH was founded in 1984 and is a non-denominational Christian housing ministry committed to eliminating substandard and poverty housing in Rochester. FCHH has built or renovated more than 240 homes since its inception here.

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

Partnership to build homes for those with autism

The Autism Council of Rochester Inc. is partnering with Flower City Habitat for Humanity to create a unique housing program for individuals and families living with autism.

The first-of-its-kind partnership will focus on removing barriers that prevent families from fully participating in homeownership. Those barriers include necessary accommodations for sensory needs modifications, which may be a challenge for individuals on the autism spectrum and could prevent them from being able to enjoy their physical surroundings and comfort within the home.

The program has five applicants in the process.

“We are very excited about the new housing program and the steps being taken to serve a vastly underserved group in our community,” Autism Council Founder and Executive Director Lawana Jones said in a statement. “As a parent of someone living with autism, I have first-hand knowledge of the challenges living situations can create on a daily basis.”

Groundbreaking for the first two homes in the program will take place in June.

“We are truly gratified to be in partnership with the Autism Council of Rochester. We look forward to providing homes that will allow each individual to be fully supported and truly benefit from their living environment,” said Matt Flanigan, Flower City Habitat for Humanity CEO. “We know the impact on our homebuyers and their families will be a lasting one. We look forward to continuing to work together to achieve our mission of building homeownership, communities and hope.”

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