All Posts By

Abri Hochstetler

Home for the Holidays

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

For Amy and her son, Isaac, the feeling of being home for the holidays is a gift they will never take for granted.

After Amy’s husband returned from military service in 2008, their family life changed drastically. It was then that she moved back in with her parents.

After my husband came home from the war, we were faced with the challenge of living with his PTSD. He did not feel that he could be a part of our family anymore, and left both of us. Because of this, it was my turn to be ‘in need.’ My parents took us in and we began to heal.

Amy found out about Habitat for Humanity from a co-worker. She learned that her family was a perfect candidate for the program: first-time homeowner, a stable income and a willingness to invest time and energy to learn the facets of being a successful homeowner, while also helping to build her home. This year, Amy and her son Isaac are proudly spending their first holiday season in the comfort of their Habitat home. From the beginning of her Habitat journey, Amy knew her home would be a blessing that would extend to others…

I’m a single mom and I’m a social worker so there’s not a lot of money to be had. We were living with my parents and I felt called to expand our horizons and through homeownership reach out to other people as a good steward of that home. I wanted to be a good example to my son of how important it is to become a homeowner and what a great reward it is; to show him how to be hospitable to others and to be a part of the Kingdom in that way.

Amy and her son, Isaac, have found strength and stability since moving into their new Habitat home. As a first-time homeowner, Amy has enjoyed new experiences that were not possible before. She has started hosting a small group from her church at her house, has welcomed Tucker, their new dog and says their home has become “that house” for where neighborhood kids gather.

I really like to cook so having my own kitchen has been nice! I love having family and friends over for dinner and the neighborhood kids are at my house 6 days a week! That has been the biggest blessing, getting to know my neighbors and to watch my son make good friends. We would never have had that if we did not move into our Habitat home.

This holiday season, help make “home for the holidays” a reality for more families. As you read this, another person just like Amy is pursuing the dream of homeownership through Greater Indy Habitat. Your gift today has the power to change a lives.

 

Planning for Financial Peace

By | Homeowner | No Comments

Providing insight to finding peace with finances, Meredith Canfield, volunteer manager, describes why Dave Ramsey’s course is a perfect fit for our homeownership program.

About four years ago, my church offered Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University (FPU) class. I thought, “I have time on my hands and I like the thought of financial peace. What could I lose?” That class changed my life. It changed the way I view wants and needs. It provided me a conversational foundation for all money talks with my now husband. And, most importantly, it gave me a new #1 on my list of top celebrities I want to meet one day: Dave Ramsey. But, let’s save that notion for a separate blog post for nerds like me who could actually appreciate it…

Once I started working through the plan and budgeting, it felt like an instant raise! Every dollar had a spot and I even had money to spare! I learned from FPU that peace can only be maintained if your money is kept in line by a well thought out plan – a budget. Similarly, our Habitat homeowners may feel like they got a raise because of the money they are saving from their affordable mortgage versus their expensive rent costs from the past. But, without a plan of what to do with that extra income or even the new costs associated with homeownership, how will they maintain the peace of financial freedom?

Baby steps.

The theme of FPU’s baby steps perfectly aligns with our Homeownership Program. This is why we have chosen to provide it as part of the requirement to complete 300 hours of sweat equity. After all, the other side of slow and steady 300 hours of hard work feels more rewarding than a quick fix or even something free, doesn’t it? Overall, the completion of sweat equity hours provides a natural partnership between our homeowners and Habitat, a sense of pride when constructing on their own home and provides skills and knowledge they can use during their first year of homeownership and beyond.

While I am biased toward my love for budgeting, saving, and giving, I think the financial nuggets of information provided through FPU will change our homeowners’ lives just like it has for me. I hope and pray that our homeowners feel empowered by the lessons taught in Financial Peace University and always strive to plan for financial peace along their homeownership journey.

What’s Your ReStore DIY Style?

By | ReStore | No Comments

Andy Duncan, ReStore Development, shares the variety of DIY styles found in our ReStores this year.

The ReStore is not an antique store necessarily, just a modest a thrift shop that serves a great mission. However, every day we see a number of remarkable furniture pieces that are donated to us, so if you’re a savvy thrift shopper, you can find a great deal on a variety of styles.

Since my wife and I purchased our first home a few years ago, most of it has been furnished with great finds at the ReStore. (By the way, as a ReStore employee I’m not allowed to buy anything until it’s been on the sales floor 24 hours, giving the intrepid regular customers an advantage.) Everyone who comes to visit us will inevitably have to sit through me pointing out all the decorations and furniture that came from the ReStore. I can’t help it – it’s just such an amazing operation, if I can toot our own horn for a second. When at its best, the ReStore is a win-win-win: we take unwanted (but still good, usable) items from generous donors who may otherwise send them to a landfill given no other options, sell them to the public who get great deals on anything used to furnish or build a home for their DIY projects, and raise funds to aid our mission of eliminating poverty housing in Greater Indianapolis.

The secret to the ReStore’s success, the reason we are able to provide upwards of 45% of funding for the Greater Indy Habitat affiliate, is volume – a steady flow of donated product. To that end, we put a lot of thought into the our pricing of merchandise, making sure it’s fair and will move out the door within two weeks or so. If a given item, particularly in our furniture/decor section, doesn’t move in that time, we typically price it down and give it another couple of weeks until it does sell and make room for the next donated item on the sales floor.

Here is a little spin around some of the treasures the ReStore hosted this past year.

We often get brand new items like these contemporary dressers that still have their hardware packed in foam. 

Or, nice contemporary furniture with only light usage like this tufted couch originally from Urban Outfitters.

And this Ethan Allen dinette set.

These types of items show up in other sections as well, like this chandelier from our lighting area. 

But of course the real deals are the truly vintage finds like this bedroom suite with the clean modern-esque lines.

Or this romantic secretary desk.

Or even this hand-carved bookcase that looks like it may just be covering a doorway to Narnia. 

So if you want a crack at the best stuff and some truly unique, contemporary, and antique styles, come by our ReStores often – it’s our job to make sure it’s a new store every week!

Journal Excerpts: Global Village with Shana

By | Global Village, Volunteer | One Comment

Shana Lewis, volunteer coordinator, takes you day by day through our recent Global Village trip to El Salvador.

Day 1:

During our ride to the hostel, I was in awe of the landscape. The mountains and volcanoes, the sugar cane fields and the clear skies. It’s beautiful here. People sell fruit from stands on the side of the road. There are buses and trucks that transport people back and forth and a lot of people walking with baskets. The homes outside of the town are set up kind of like neighborhoods. There are several concrete homes surrounded by fences. In San Vicente the houses are right beside each other. Other than the signs you can’t tell the shops from the houses.

Day 2:

After a trip to the lagoon, we came back to the hostel for lunch and to meet the family. A husband and wife (Jaime and Cindy) and their three children! Cindy is due with their fourth child on Tuesday! Jamie will be working with us on site this week. They were a little shy at first but started to warm up during lunch…

Each time we go someplace, I catch myself being surprised at the similarities. People are nice when we pass by, their children smile and wave at us, people take selfies together and crack jokes. I also look at the homes and notice the differences. Built with concrete, usually gated, some have electric/barbed wire on the roof, the floors are tiled throughout the house instead of carpet, and there is very little grass. But I’m also challenging myself to see the similarities. AC in the bedrooms, a kitchen area for making meals, a solid structure that protects from the elements, running water, and grocery stores and ice cream shops in town.

Day 3:

Our first day on the job site was a good one! The home we are working on is almost done. We spent the day working on the floor of the house by breaking up chunks of concrete, adding dirt, spreading it out and tamping it flat. Also, Cindy had her baby today and Jaime was able to go see her at lunch time! We are all very excited for them. Right now they are renting a room but in a few weeks they will be homeowners!

I’m so excited for Estela (also a Greater Indy Habitat homebuyer) to build her home with us. I am impressed that she is helping another family in her home country with the same need: decent, affordable housing. I feel like the mission has come full circle and it’s only Monday.

Day 4:

Another day of laying dirt in the kitchen and living room floor. We moved at least 180 5-gallon buckets of dirt today. Maybe now we are done in these rooms! We did have some great team work and a lot of laughs on site today. Jaime showed us pictures of his newborn. She has a lot of hair! He didn’t know the weight but knows she is healthy.

Day 5:

I’ve realized today that we all have similar aspirations. I’ve also realized that people don’t need lavish, 6-bedroom homes to be happy and comfortable. While we are addressing a very real need, these homes provide the basics and are comfortable. There are 2 bedrooms, a bathroom and washroom, a kitchen, and a living room. The floor will be tiled and they will have a steel roof over their heads…The homeowner is even planting trees on the property, which I think is awesome! I’ve been humbled by this trip and am grateful for the comforts I have back home.

Day 6:

We worked on adding another layer of block around the house for the walls. I was terrible at filling in the gaps so I mostly ran mortar back and forth to everyone on the scaffolding. It was a much easier day than the rest of the week since we weren’t shoveling dirt and sand.

Day 7:

Today was our last day on the work site and it was bittersweet for me. I’m happy that we got so much accomplished. We sped up the build by 2.5 weeks in 5 days. I’m happy that we will get to relax tomorrow and I’m happy that I will be home soon. I’m also sad that we won’t pile into the van to go to the work site again. I’m sad that we won’t be here to finish the house and that we are leaving such a beautiful country. I will be making the most of our last full day tomorrow.

Day 8:

At dinner, our team gathered around the table one last time before going home. We ate, laughed, and enjoyed each other’s company. The restaurant at the resort had karaoke after dinner and the girls sang several songs while the rest of us cheered them on. It was such a nice day of relaxation after a week of such hard work. These people who were strangers one week ago are now friends who take care of each other. It’s amazing how serving others can bring people together.

Learn more about the Global Village program and share your interest in our next trip.

Pilgrimage to Koinonia Farm and Global Village

By | Builders Circle, News | No Comments

Written by Maura Kautsky, Board Chair

A group of Tigers, fellow board members and staff took a four day service and educational trip to Koinonia Farm and the Global Village & Discover Center in Americus, Georgia to see and hear the Habitat story. Our trip was guided by our chauffer, the one and only Jim Morris. We picked up our tour guide and chief story teller Clive Rainey, the Habitat for Humanity’s first ever volunteer, and off we went to Koinonia Farms.

We spent the first two days at Koinonia Farm, a Christian fellowship community, the place where Millard and Linda Fuller conceived Habitat. Together with Koinonia founder Clarence Jordan and a few others, the Fullers initiated a ministry in housing where they built modest houses on a no-profit, no-interest basis. Homeowner families were expected to invest their own labor into the building of their home and the houses of other families and from it Habitat was born. As part of our tour Clive showed us where those first homes are located and they look like many of the homes we build today. While on the farm many of us sorted pecans and learned about golden pecans, the best quality. The farm makes its money from the sales of pecan goods.

We then headed to Americus to visit the Global Village. It was so inspiring to me to see how far reaching Habitat has grown to serve so many countries. The Global Village is right by Habitat’s headquarters so we stopped in to look around. We ended our time in Americus with a dinner Clive arranged with Linda Fuller, co-founder of Habitat. What a blessing for us to talk with her and hear her journey. View photos from the trip!

We had a lot of fun together and I want to share a few other notable memories from our trip:

  • Have you ever seen a Palmetto bug? If so you won’t forget how big they are. (Sorry Eileen for screaming and waking you up.) And thanks to Ted and Paul for coming to the rescue and removing it from our room.
  • Did you know you can tap two pecan shells together to crack them open to get to the raw delicious nut inside?
  • John Peer is a great euchre partner. Thanks for making us the undefeated champs.
  • The southern food is incredible in Georgia. I think I ate more food in four days than I do in two weeks. In particular, Mom’s Kitchen has the best fried chicken and Grits Café serves a delicious fried green tomato sandwich and sweet potato fries. Yummy!
  • I am inspired by Clive Rainey’s servant leadership and how he dedicated his whole life to Habitat’s mission. He is a true inspiration and I am privileged that I can now call him my friend.

I walked away from these past four days with a full heart, new friends and an ongoing appreciation for what Habitat has done and continues to do to serve families with a goal to provide affordable housing to all. I will leave you with something Clive shared with us that he heard form a homeowner that sums up how Habitat changes and impacts families: “As I built my house, I built myself.” -Habitat homeowner

P.S. Koinonia Farms is still serving after 75 years and they have a focus on hospitality, an internship program and demonstrating sustainable farming practices. Their golden delicious pecans are used to create wonderful chocolate, pecan brittle, breads, and they sell bags of nuts. All great gifts  – koinoniafarm.3dcartstores.com.

Maintaining the Spirit

By | Volunteer | No Comments

Meredith Canfield reflects back on her first year in the role of Volunteer Manager for Greater Indy Habitat.

Being that this was my first year on the Greater Indy Habitat team, I’ve had many opportunities to share of my new job with friends, family or even strangers. I can usually guess the response I will get after I tell someone I work for Habitat. It’s usually something like, “Oh wow, what an exciting job! What’s it like to work on the build site?” Most – if not all people – are surprised when I say that I’m mainly in the office working with our corporate sponsors to coordinate volunteers. Over time I’ve even noticed that a fair amount of people look disappointed after I derail their Disney-build site version of what it’s like to work at Habitat. I have learned to quickly respond with “I’m meant for an office setting. I don’t like getting dirty,” which helps to make people laugh. While getting dirty doesn’t actually bother me, the other part is true. I am meant for the office. I came from the corporate world, so emails and spreadsheets are my jam.

Being that I spend most of my time in the office, it’s easy to get laser focused on emails, meetings, and quick clicking strategic thoughts. I know, I know. There has to be someone in the backgrounds coordinating volunteers so the build site can come alive with groups of eager and excited people to walk alongside our homeowners. For this behind the curtain girl, these day-to-day tasks are totally my strengths but don’t always fuel my spirit like people, their stories or their hearts do. Earlier this year I decided I needed to find ways to maintain the spirit instead of just maintaining spreadsheets!

Getting out of the office to periodically serve as a build site volunteer was just what I needed! I helped to raise the walls of Danyelle’s home, carried heavy pieces of sod for Miranda’s yard, and used a nail gun to hang up siding on the front of Christine’s house. I loved hanging with volunteers, spending time with our homeowners, and learning the ins and outs of home construction from our Tiger Team. Not only did it fuel my spirit in ways a crossed off to-do list could never do, it gave me a new found appreciation for the hard work put in by our homeowners, volunteers, and construction staff, who work together to build beautiful homes.

Reflecting back on my first year, working for Habitat IS an exciting job and I feel very blessed to be a part of a team that encourages me to find ways to maintain the spirit behind a computer and on the build site. It’s hard to believe that 2017 is nearly over and I feel excited for another year of yes… emails, meetings, and spreadsheets but also a year of purpose, spirit, and joy.

To schedule your own out of the office build day in 2018, sign up for our monthly updates by registering here!

ReStore Reuse: Wooden Pallets

By | ReStore | No Comments

Written by Andy Duncan, ReStore Development

Reuse is the raison d’etre of the ReStore. Of the three “R’s” we’re all taught are crucial to environmental responsibility and green living – the “Reduce” part being heavily reliant on personal lifestyle change, and the “Recycle” part typically taken on by infrastructure – the Reuse component falls heavily on charity and thrift shops to make reusable donation available to the public and ReStore does so with categories of items most other thrift stores do not.

As such, we at the ReStore spend a fair amount of time imagining all the possibilities in the donations we get. Sure, most things donated and purchased at the ReStore will find use somewhere close to their intended purpose, but there are still plenty of things at the ReStore that with a little imagination can be utterly repurposed. The last time I posted on the blog, I was turning light fixtures into terrariums. That’s just one example of the myriad projects that can be found at your typical ReStore. Another employs one of the most abundant resources found at any ReStore: wooden pallets.

Being raw wood arrayed in an alternating pattern in two planes a few inches apart, there are a number of things pallets could be readily be used as, such as this one intrepid gardener who turned mostly-intact pallets into a trellis for raspberries. Another intrepid DIY-er used pallets to make a headboard for a king-sized bed.

 

Reclaimed lumber from pallets is most versatile, usable for anything that requires actual wood. But we did just get a large donation of decorative wall panels that are laminate with wood grain pattern finishes over composite wood material (see photo below!). This kind of material is less versatile than real wood, but has more design potential. We’ve been selling them several boxes at a time, and I’m excited to see what the DIY-ers who have been picking these up end up doing with them. The ReStore is the perfect place to find materials and inspiration for a DIY imagination.

Home Means: A Living Room of Records

By | Homeowner | No Comments

Many of us take for granted the ability to paint the walls of our home or customize our living spaces. Moving from apartment to apartment, whether for rising rent or a negligent landlord, means that renters are unable to personalize their space, even as simple as hanging family photos.

Our homebuyers often share that this ability to personalize their living space is something they specifically look forward to in owning their first home. Marina, a 2017 Habitat homeowner, shared photos of how she customized her living room with a music theme. She wrote: “I love the green I chose. It turned out so beautifully! It gives my music theme some Pizzazz! I just have to get another curtain rod, so I can put up my navy blue curtains.”

Check out her photos below!

Thanks, Marina, for sharing a peak into your home!

Another Way to Help Our Neighbors

By | From the CEO, Homeowner | No Comments

From the Desk of Jim Morris, President & CEO

You often here the phrase, “there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.” In Habitat for Humanity parlance, we often talk about providing a hand up and not a hand-out. Our sense of fulfilling Jesus’s second greatest command of loving our neighbor with the understanding that our neighbor is also participating in some way, whatever means available. As we commemorate 30 years of fulfilling our mission to build homes, communities and hope, Greater Indy Habitat for Humanity has secured the ability to offer future home buyers another hand up that isn’t a free lunch, but is definitely a multiplier toward their efforts to successful homeownership.

In August, the Indiana Housing & Community Development Authority granted Greater Indy Habitat the ability to administer Individual Development Accounts (IDAs). Having an IDA program will allow future Habitat homebuyers to create a savings account for down payment assistance, matched 4:1 through state and federal monies toward savings goals. It is an opportunity to help build a savings mindset toward long-term homeownership success, while also providing a way for the homebuyer to obtain the up-front monies necessary for being a homeowner.

As part of our pre-buying, homeowner education process, we already walk homebuyers through financial education classes that emphasize credit, debt, or other issues that could prevent them from reaching their homeowner goals and long-term financial aspirations. Having the IDAs as a tool will only continue to benefit the homeowners in their journey to a better quality of life.

According to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, the personal saving rate in the United States is 5.7%. Recently, GoBankingRates posed the question to more than 7,000 Americans of how much they had in their savings account. Nearly seven in 10 Americans (69%) had less than $1,000 in their savings account. Most low-income families would fall into this category as they can barely cover expenses let alone save money, so having another tool to provide them the opportunity to save and to invest in their long-term future feels to us like we are adhering to Jesus’s command.

Volunteer Spotlight: Scott Anderson

By | Volunteer | No Comments

It takes more than 6,000 dedicated volunteers to make our mission possible each year in Greater Indy. Though many folks spend just one day serving through their work, church, or civic organization, some individuals keep coming out to the build site to give their time and talent for our homeowners. Volunteers like Scott Anderson. Scott has spent 15 days volunteering on Habitat build sites so far this year!

Q&A with Scott:
Scott Anderson, on left, on a recent rehab project.

What is it about Habitat that keeps you coming back for more? I enjoy supporting a cause that help the community and I like building things.

What’s something new you have learned recently while you were volunteering? I have been exposed to remodeling and construction for years with Habitat and my own home. I was surprised this spring when we installed that hurricane straps. Do not know if its code now in Indiana.

If you had to use one word to describe your volunteer experience with Habitat, what word would you use? Gratifying.

What advice would you give to first time Habitat volunteers? No matter what your construction experience is come and enjoy the day. Plus there are opportunities in the office and ReStore.

Thank you, Scott, for all that you do to build strength, stability and independence through homeownership!