RadonLeaders.org
Skip top navigation

Q&A with Kena Jo Mathews of the Habitat for Humanity of Utah County

Hi readers, we at Radon Leaders are back with our third Q&A article, this time in the state of Utah. After a successful 2012 Region 8 Radon Stakeholders’ Meeting we contacted Kena Mathews, from Habitat for Humanity of Utah County, who gave an attention-grabbing presentation at the meeting about ongoing work in her state. This presentation titled “Healthy Homes & Low-Income Housing” can be found under the Regions part of our site. The Region page has all information such as registrations details, agenda, Presentations and more of all EPA Region Stakeholder Meetings as they happen.

Please feel free to post your comment and questions at the bottom of each Q&A articles for further information.

  1. What is the mission of Habitat for Humanity of Utah County and what are some of the ways you carry out this mission. ?
    • Habitat for Humanity of Utah County’s mission: “Seeking to put God's love into action, Habitat for Humanity of Utah County brings people together to build homes, communities and hope.”

      Habitat for Humanity of Utah County builds, renovates and repairs simple decent homes with families in need in our community.

      In addition to its affordable housing program, the local affiliate also provides a free tool library and a basic home maintenance course for Habitat families and other interested community members. The organization also runs a ReStore Home Improvement Outlet where new and used building materials, appliances, and furniture are sold with profits going to the affiliate operating and construction.

      The Utah County affiliate also promotes aluminum, paper, and vehicle recycling through its Habitat Recycle programs and offers a life planning program for area families living in poverty called “Getting Ahead in a Just Getting’-By World.”

  2. Can you highlight three partnerships that the Habitat for Humanity of Utah County has developed during the past year and some of the goals of these partnerships? How have these partnerships helped and what plans do you have to make them a successful and sustainable partnership?
    • Utah County Health Department - The Department was the catalyst in getting Habitat for Humanity of Utah County involved in radon awareness, RRNC, and mitigation. The County Health Department helps us secure funding from the Utah Cancer Action Network for our radon initiatives. They also work with the local elementary schools to educate the students and promote the radon poster contest. The Department provides us with radon informational materials and posters and will be helping with the Parade of Homes Booth this year. They have also provided radon testing training to my ReStore staff and developed testing and reminder postcards for our customers. The Department also has Habitat planned RRNC trainings for local home builders and REALTORS.
    • Utah Cancer Action Network - the Utah Cancer Action Network has funded our radon initiatives for the last three years. We are members of the Network and have had the opportunity to share our success with its members through presentations and participate in community cancer awareness events.
    • Utah Department of Environmental Quality - The Utah Department of Environmental Quality has been a lead partner with our organization. They applied for and were awarded a grant through the EPA in Habitat's name to provide radon mitigation certification to eleven local home builders throughout the state. They have continued to help monitor the training grant with Habitat. The Department has also provided the instruction for Habitat's RRNC trainings. They planned the recent Region 8 training and included Habitat in the planning and presentation process.
  3. How was your experience presenting at the Region 8 States Radon Meeting and what did you take away from it that you think could be beneficial to your organization?
    • I had a great experience presenting at the Region Meeting. It was a wonderful opportunity to share our unique partnership with those in attendance. My biggest take aways were how deadly radon is and how important our radon efforts are to the health of our families and communities.
  4. With Habitat for Humanity committed to the use of RRNC in all new construction and installation of mitigation systems in existing homes that are renovated locally, how well have builders and homebuyers in your area responded to the RRNC 2.0 New Construction Standards?
    • Habitat continues to use RRNC in all new construction and install mitigation systems in renovation homes. That said, sadly, Habitat continues to be one of the only local builders that are committed to radon prevention and mitigation. Our cities and county do not have mandatory radon policies in place and most builders are weary of the added cost, etc.
  5. What are some of the outreach projects that your organization used to promote RRNC 2.0 New Construction Standards?
    • Habitat for Humanity of Utah County is working with the EPA and the Utah Department of Environmental Quality to train local builders on radon mitigation. Currently eight builders throughout the state are enrolled in the online course with three slots still available. Additionally, Habitat works with the local Health Department to hold an annual training for local contractors and real estate agents on radon construction standards. Habitat also continues to encourage other Utah Habitat affiliates to follow in our lead on radon awareness, construction, and mitigation.
  6. What approaches did Habitat for Humanity of Utah County and its partners take during 2012 National Radon Action Month to spread the radon message?
    • Habitat for Humanity of Utah County and the Utah County Health Department had informational booths about radon at their respective locations. Additionally, a media release was sent out about the National Radon Action Month, and an article appeared in the local newspaper. Habitat also included information in its monthly newsletter and on its website.
  7. Could you please update us on the success that this year’s efforts have shown thus far?
    • Since January 1, 2012, we have sold over 250 radon test kits in our ReStore. We have received results from about half of the kits sold. We are currently installing mitigation systems in two renovation homes in Orem, Utah and using RRNC new construction in a home in Pleasant Grove, Utah.
  8. Will any of these outreach projects continue during the year. If not, are there any other outreach plans for the community to test more and mitigate?
    • Habitat for Humanity of Utah County continues to sell radon test kits in our ReStore in Orem. We also provide information brochures about radon testing and mitigation at the store as well. The affiliate continues to use RRNC in all new construction and install mitigation systems in renovation homes. We also plan to have all current area Habitat homeowners test their homes and help with mitigation if necessary. In June, we will be partnering with the Utah Valley Home Builders Association and the Utah County Health Department to inform community members about radon testing and mitigation during the UVHBA’s annual Parade of Homes. We will be providing green booties at one of the largest homes, putting up awareness posters in the entryway of the home, and having an information booth in the garage of the home.
  9. In your professional experience what have you found to be the most effective way to spread the message about the issue of Radon?
    • The news media. Articles and stories that reach the broad community seem to be the most effective.