For nearly a decade, Bel Air resident Joan Blewett has been in charge of Habitat for Humanity in Harford County. “The happiest moment is seeing a family get the keys to their home and knowing they have a safe, warm house,” she says.
In June 2011, Harford Habitat for Humanity merged with Habitat for Humanity of Cecil County to form Habitat for Humanity Susquehanna, which is a non-profit, ecumenicall Christian housing organization devoted to building and repairing homes in partnership with qualifying families, according to its official website.
Last year, Habitat for Humanity Susquehanna built 10 homes and completed 68 repairs. This year, the goal is to build 11 homes and complete 72 repairs. “A brand new home usually takes about 16 weeks to build with volunteers,” Joann says. “Foreclosure rehabilitations can take six to 10 weeks depending on what we do and repairs usually take a day or two.”
“It's a big responsibility to build quality homes and financially support our staff and their families as well,” says Joann. “But we're a Christian organization and I really lean on God and that gives me peace about the responsibility.”
Habitat for Humanity Susquehanna has partnerships with other businesses and organizations in the community, including the Harford County Sheriff's Office to teach inmates constructive skills for reentering the workforce and Harford Technical High School to help students build their portfolios. “We want to help prepare them for the work world,” Joann says. “We're really about education, too.”
A native of Baltimore City, Joann moved to Harford County in 1982 when she married her husband, an engineer at Aberdeen Proving Ground. Eager to make new friends, the couple volunteered to run the first Bel Air Festival for the Arts. “I did that while I stayed home to raise our three children,” Joann says. “It was an adult outlet, and I got to meet people in the community.”
Later, Joann worked part-time for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or MADD and then she worked full-time for Kids C.A.N. (Caring Adult Network of mentors) for Harford County government before joining Habitat for Humanity. “I give a lot to this job because I love it,” Joann says of her current position. “Habitat never turns off. So you really need to find a balance, or else you'll burn out.”
For people starting out in their careers and seasoned professionals, Joann encourages them to find and follow their passion. “If you do what you love every day, you will excel at it,” Joann says. “Money doesn't make you happy. When you're happy in your job, it shows.”
What is your favorite TV show?
Every year I can't wait to watch Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and Ravens football.
What is your favorite food?
If you could meet anyone in history, who would it be?
What do you do to relax or have fun?
Read and exercise. I also enjoy spending time with my husband and my family.