American Express approves $20,000 for Habitat for Humanity |

American Express approves $20,000 for Habitat for Humanity

Nonprofit plans to use the money to continue supporting homeownership programs

Abby Ringquist, left, Melanie Seus, Shellie Barrus, Michael Butters and Donovan Marshall pose for a photo in front of Habitat for Humanitys giving tree in the warehouse in Silver Summit on Wednesday, Nov. 23. The one-year grant enables the nonprofit to continue providing homeownership programs to low-income families.

Christmas came early this year for one local nonprofit organization.

Earlier this month, the American Express Center for Community Development awarded a $20,000 grant to Habitat for Humanity of Summit and Wasatch counties. The annual competitive grant that American Express offers supports organizations that serve low-income families and individuals.

"This is our fifth year that we have received this grant and we are just thrilled," said Melanie Seus, development officer for Habitat for Humanity. "Their mission really fits nicely with the work that we do."

Money from the one-year grant will continue to help support Habitat for Humanity's programs that help provide homeownership, services to homeowners, and advocacy and education, which "align perfectly with what they are wanting to support within the community," Seus said. She said the funds are not tied to a specific program and can be applied at their discretion.

"It is really nice to have that flexibility with them because they support all of our major programs and that allows us to move that funding around where we need it for the coming year," Seus said.

Habitat for Humanity partners with various local and state entities to provide affordable homeownership to families earning 30 to 60 percent of the area median income. Last year, more than 250 families were served through its programs.

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The organization has provided mortgage and loan underwriting services at a zero percent interest rate to future homeowners in the Wasatch Back since 1995. Within the last 10 years, the organization also began providing home preservation, repair and weatherization services.

"We have always provided in depth education for our homeowners, but we have also increased that to include some additional financial literacy and homebuyer education. We have increased that significantly," said Shellie Barrus, the executive director. "All these programs interact and tie together and the grant will continue to help support that."

The organization is financially supported through grants, donors and fundraisers, in addition to the money contributed by the local governments of Summit and Wasatch counties.

Habitat for Humanity volunteers are currently completing the 14th home build for a single mother of two boys in town. The dedication is scheduled for Dec. 6. Barrus said an invitation has been extended to American Express representatives.

Barrus said the ongoing support the organization continues to receive is inspiring, adding "we did the happy dance yesterday because it is just so exciting."

"We are just so grateful that they are continuing to honor us and that they see we are meeting their goals for the community," Barrus said.

For more information about how to get involved with Habitat for Humanity, go to or send an email to