Category Archives: First HAND Blog

First Hand Blog – 6/22/16


I am sad to say that this is the last blog I will be writing for HAND. I wanted to take this time to tell you a bit about my overall experience.


Working as an intern for HAND has given me a wealth of opportunities and experiences that I am so thankful for. Through HAND I was able to explore a lot of my interests; from writing these blogs, to taking photographs, to creating film and social media content, I was able to expand my skills in all different kinds of fields. I learned how to be a better employee and how to form great relationships with the people I work for. I feel very lucky to have gotten to work with such amazing, passionate people who really went out of their way to teach me about what they do and make me feel apart of it. Through helping with fundraisers, attending conferences, and being involved in staff meetings, I have really gotten an inside look at how a nonprofit and HAND specifically works. I have leaned so much from the people I work with and, again, I am so thankful.


I am also grateful for the chance to meet Hamilton County residents and learn more about the community I have grown up in. Before coming to HAND, I did not know about the issues our neighbors face or, on the other hand, the everyday positive occurrences. There are so many people here who need that extra help. I was not aware of that need or how to help them. HAND has taught me so much about how to aid those people and combat the issues they face. I have been given a deeper appreciation for how our cities work. Meeting residents has been a blessing in itself. Hearing people’s stories was really eye opening. There are people right next store who are trying to overcome many obstacles due to various financial disabilities, but HAND is doing a great job in helping them through that journey. Also, the positive stories are just as eye opening. All of the neighborhood projects and clean ups, stories of residents working together to help one another and their community were moving to me. I hope that going forward, I will get the chance to meet more of my neighbors and community members, to hear their stories and expand my viewpoint of the world around me.


Lastly, I would just like to say one final thank you for all the support and love given to me through this internship. I hope that HAND will continue to expand and do the wonderful things they do. I hope that more and more residents will get involved to combat the issues Hamilton County is facing. I also hope that more and more neighbors will reach out to one another. Getting to know the people in your community is such a powerful tool in the world we live today. Not only does it help organize people to advocate for community issues, but it also gives people another friend, another kind face to help out when you’re in need of flour or sugar. Thank you to those of you who reader these blogs; your support is greatly appreciated as well. Finally, thank you again to the wonderful employees at HAND, for your time, teachings, and support. Thank you.

First Hand Blog – 6/3/16


Good afternoon! 

The focus of today’s blog is Helping HAND, a branch of HAND. Helping HAND was a program created to help Hamilton County residents with home repair. These repair projects are done to ensure the house and homeowners’ safety and health. Helping HAND is led by Michelle Westermeier who is passionate about helping the people in her community. The program has been able to complete an array of projects from repairing water damage to remodels in order to improve wheelchair accessibility. Helping HAND has done projects for families, individuals, and seniors to make sure they feel comfortable in their homes and are able to remain in them for as long as the homeowners wish. I was lucky enough to speak with one of the homeowners to ask her about the project Helping HAND did for her.  To respect the homeowner’s privacy, we are using the name, Cindy Smith for this blog.


Cindy is a homeowner in Hamilton County. Her and her husband moved into a house expecting only a few problems due to the disclosure statement given. However, once the house was sold to the Smiths and the couple moved in, they were shocked and disappointed to find a large amount of complications. The house was suffering from water damage and the base board heating was costing them a fortune with their electric bill. Cindy had tried to repair some of the damages herself, like putting tar on leaks in the roof, but she was faced with too many issues to take on herself. She felt lucky to have heard about HAND through a relative. Helping HAND came to her house and put in a new roof, gutters, five new windows, insulation, and a furnace. They also removed a tree because of the danger it posed to the house during storms as well as another tree because it was forcing water under the house. I asked Cindy if she was surprised by any of the results and she responded, “There’s not a lot of helping people out there that will do these type of things (projects). So I was extremely surprised and just kind of in awe.” The project gave her a much safer, comfortable, lasting, and affordable house for her and her husband. Cindy went on to remark how relieving the results were, saying, “It took so much stress off of us. It lifted the world off of our shoulders to know that I don’t have to worry, during a storm, about our tree falling on our house or running around with buckets.”


I also asked Cindy why she thought there was a need for such a program like Helping HAND. Many people in Hamilton County don’t see why a program like this exists, believing that a wealthy county doesn’t need assistance. But when I asked Cindy she explained, “There’s a huge need.  “You don’t know what job situation might happen, and you don’t plan to get down. These are hard-working people who are trying so hard, and they don’t want million dollar homes. They don’t expect to eat steak every night. They just want to live a comfortable life. .And this is a wonderful program to help out with those things.” Hamilton County is truly in need of programs like Helping HAND. With the high cost of housing, traveling, and other things, it can become difficult for homeowners to keep up when they hit a rough patch. Helping HAND was created for those times, to help keep residents in the homes they’ve invested in and love. Cindy expressed her desire and need to stay in the home she loves saying, “We want to die here. This is our place. We love it and if HAND hadn’t helped us, I don’t know what would have happened.”


HAND, as a whole, hopes to grow the program as much as possible to help out more homeowners like Cindy. The need is present and Helping HAND is trying to reduce that need. By completing simple repairs like roof patching or building a ramp for residents in wheelchairs, HAND hopes to keep their neighbors in the homes they love. Making it easier, healthier, safer, and more comfortable for people to live in Hamilton County is one of the main goals at HAND, and they hope they continue to provide just that.