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Abri Hochstetler

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!

Indy Star Article: Dorsey Build

By | Homeowner | No Comments

Last month Indy Star columnist Matthew Tully stopped by one of our build sites in the Near North neighborhood to check out the action. Talking with Allegion volunteers, Tiger team members, staff, and our homebuyer, Terri Dorsey, Tully heard a 360 view of what goes into a Habitat home build.

“On a recent evening, Terri and her daughter drove by the home. They parked on the street and walked up to it, smiling as they talked about where different pieces of furniture would go. Terri’s daughter focused on the decorations she’ll have on her bedroom walls and a third member of the household she hopes will join them once they move out of their apartment.

‘In her mind, she already has a dog,’ Terri told me with a laugh. ‘Well, now she can have that dog she’s been dreaming about.’”

Read the full Indy Star article.

My Three Steps to Changing Lives with Habitat for Humanity and Thrivent Financial

By | Global Village | No Comments

Post written by Scott Budlong, Financial Associate with Thrivent Financial

I recently got back from the Dominican Republic. I’m blessed and grateful to be a financial representative for Thrivent Financial which is the largest non-governmental donor to Habitat for Humanity in the world. So, when I went down to the Dominican Republic to partake in a Thrivent Worldwide Build, I didn’t quite know if it was going to be work, a vacation, or a little bit of both. To be honest I still don’t know what it was, but I do know it blew my mind and was deeply meaningful.

The first step for me was to decide to take a risk. I could have gone to Jamaica and used my money to buy piña colada’s and enjoy the beach. It’s difficult for me to get away from the office, but Thrivent Financial encouraged me to take a week with a church leader. A full week with 12 people I’ve never met?! Sure! I’ll risk it.

Secondly, I choose to get to know the local community. Spanish is the predominate language in the Dominican Republic. Having lived in Central America for four months (14 years ago), I had the vocabulary of a preschooler. With patience, genuine smiles, and the Google Translate App, the language gap was bridged. It took me two days to build enough trust for Jeffery, a child in the village, to share his name with me. After that, I learned that Jeffery is 13 years-old, loves to throw Frisbee, and will take advantage of any opportunity he can to watch the Teenaged Mutate Ninja Turtles. We helped Jeffery’s aunt with installing a cement floor to replace her old dirt floor. Dirt floors are responsible for 85% of the sicknesses in Jeffery’s village of El Capa. She literally danced on the cement floor when we were done. Smiles all around.

Finally, I was open to the community getting to know me. I was not the only person in the Dominican Republic who knew how to use a shovel or wield a paint brush. In fact, I suspect I not even in the top quartile of brush and shovel wielders. But, I was present. There every day for a week. Smiling and full of concern. At the end of the week, the village of El Capa along with the Thrivent Worldwide Builds Team came together for a celebration. Long after I leave El Capa, the families won’t just be grateful for a new roof, a low-interest loan, and a cement floor. They will remember that someone cared enough to make their life a little better. They won’t likely remember my name, but they will remember that a group cared. It’s hard to overestimate the special addition of care and concern that Thrivent and Habitat build into each project.

I was blown away by the relationships I built in my trip, the meaningfulness of the experience, and the depth of impact on lives. I will be going back again in 2018 to lead a trip. (Also, I will want to see how my friend Jeffery is doing in school.)

Interested in traveling with Habitat to build homes in Central America? Learn more about our Global Village trip to El Salvador this November! Register by Sept. 1

A Look Back: Hope

By | Interfaith, Volunteer | No Comments

Jonathan was a Young Adult Volunteer (YAV) spending his service year with Greater Indy Habitat through the Presbyterian Church (USA). Learn more about the YAV program!

Mission Part 3: Hope

[When someone does not know how to start writing about something, a common trick is to Google the subject on which they are writing, and use the first thing they see as an opening line. That is a cheap trick though, and I believe that the people reading this post deserve something different. If not something better, at least something unique. Anything other than just another Google quote.]

 

A brief Bing search of the word “hope” yields the definition, “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.” When we use that definition of hope in conjunction with Habitat’s mission of “building hope,” we are brought to an interesting question:

When we build hope, what is that hope for? What are we expecting? What is the “certain thing” which we desire to happen?

There are plenty of great surface level ways to answer this question. “Hope for a better tomorrow,” for instance, is a fun cliché to throw around. But it hardly means anything. By itself, it is too vague to help unite people into actually creating a tomorrow that is any different from today. If we want to give people hope for a better tomorrow, we need a real vision of what that tomorrow will look like.

So what is Habitat’s vision? “A world where everyone has a decent place to live.”

That is what our hope is for. That is what our better tomorrow will look like. Habitat exists to build homes, communities, and hope for a world where everyone has a decent place to live.

It sounds a little too grand. Not a lot of people think something like that is possible. If they did, we wouldn’t have to build that hope. Our mission statement would be two-thirds of its current length, and we would probably never have any difficulty recruiting volunteers ever again. It seems that the people who first described Habitat’s vision were either delusional, or they had much better eyesight than most of the rest of us.

When I first started here, I certainly wouldn’t have been likely to piece together something so distant from our current reality. However, after almost a year of peeking at the all ways in which Habitat tackles their mission, I am no longer convinced of the impossibility of their vision. I’ve witnessed people from different faith backgrounds smile as they served alongside one another, listening to and learning from one another. I’ve seen children run across their new bedroom floors, all the while grinning from ear to ear. I’ve listened to brand new homeowners tearfully describe the joy they never thought they would be able to experience which has now become a reality. After seeing Habitat’s work change so many lives right in front of me, it is hard not to be hopeful for their vision.

Because we build homes, we have hope that we can change the lives of families who need a hand up.  Because we build communities, we have hope that we can change the way people look at one another, and we empower people to love their neighbors in meaningful ways. Because we have seen these homes and communities blossom beyond even our expectations, and because of the incredible opportunity we’ve been given to change so many people’s lives in our 30-year existence, we have hope for a world where everyone has a decent place to live. That is why hope is the final piece, and total sum, of everything Habitat builds.

Thank you, Jonathan, for your service to Habitat’s families and mission this past year!

Celebrating 30 Years with Family

By | Events, From the CEO | No Comments

From the Desk of Jim Morris, President & CEO

How do you recognize 30 years of fulfilling our mission of bringing people together to build homes, communities and hope? Our board, staff and Tiger Team (the men and women in orange that volunteer weekly) understand that our role in the mission is to “bring people together.” The families we are privileged to walk with in their journey to a better, healthier and more financially stable life in Greater Indianapolis are the reason we exist.

The families’ success is ultimately what matters most to us. While we have achieved a lot with them, we wanted to make our 30th anniversary about them, so what better way than to amp up our annual homeowner gathering aptly named “HabiFest.” Since we were founded in 1987, we decided to return to the 80’s with a throw-back party at Skateland. Watch the video below for a recap or view photos from the event!

More than 200 family members joined us as the older adults channeled their inner 12 year-old and the kids outshone us on the skating rink. There was some fantastic 80’s attire and our families said it was the best HabiFest we have hosted.

While the event was a huge success with our largest turnout, we also paused to reflect on the 85 families that have now fully paid off their 0% mortgage. Our generous sponsors, donors and volunteers have made a difference in nearly 600 total families and now 85 of those families fully own their home – a feat many Americans don’t realize.

In Matthew 22:36-40, Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment is. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  I don’t know if Jesus had Skateland in mind as a venue to do this, but it definitely served as a great setting to highlight 30 years of seeing the results of this commandment realized in the success of our families.

Record Housing Solutions Love for Community

By | News | No Comments

We returned to the foundation of our mission – building homes, communities and hope – to recap the stories and impact we accomplished in 2016. This annual community report highlights each focus of our mission in order to shed light on the many people and programs that allow Greater Indy Habitat to work toward everyone having a decent place to live.

With the support of our community, 85 households achieved the dignity of homeownership or home preservation in 2016. This is the most housing solutions we’ve ever provided in a single year in our 29-year history.

Whether you read through the report cover to cover or simply dive into the quotes, stats and photos most intriguing to you, we hope that you hear the voices of the many people who make our mission possible in Greater Indy. To request a printed copy, please contact us.

As Millard Fuller, the co-founder of Habitat for Humanity, aptly described: “For a community to be whole and healthy, it must be based on people’s love and concern for each other.

A Look Back: Communities

By | Interfaith, Volunteer | No Comments

Jonathan is a Young Adult Volunteer (YAV) spending his service year with Greater Indy Habitat through the Presbyterian Church (USA). Learn more about the YAV program!

Mission Part 2: Communities

Community lies at the very foundation of what Habitat is. To be more specific, the foundation of Habitat actually took place at “Community.”

Habitat for Humanity was founded at a place called Koinonia Farm. Koinonia is the Greek word for authentic Christian fellowship or communion. So when I say, “community lies at the very foundation of what Habitat is,” I mean it literally as much as figuratively. Habitat was founded at Community, in Community, and for Community. It is an integral aspect of who we are, where we’re from, and where we hope to go, and for that reason, community is an incredibly crucial part of our mission.

From the very first steps we take with our homeowners, to the home dedications and beyond, the process we facilitate is oriented so that it builds communities. We strive to make sure our homeowners are supported throughout their journeys, and we work to affirm that each homeowner knows they won’t be doing this alone. The staff, mentors, fellow homeowners, volunteers, board of directors, and sponsors all come together to make our mission possible. Every group and every individual is appreciated, and every group and every individual is vital to the journey of homeownership.

When the poet John Donne wrote, “No man is an island,” he was referencing the preponderancy of communities. When we succeed, we succeed because of the support of those who worked alongside us. Our lives and our actions are intrinsically woven with the lives of everyone we meet, as well as those of others we will never know. Communities enable us to experience joy, triumph, compassion, and love, in ways unimaginable in solitude. In order to do everything we can to ensure the meaningful success of our homeowners, we build communities.

But the communities we build don’t just benefit the homeowners. Ask anybody who has ever had the privilege of working alongside one of our homebuyers on their future home. To witness firsthand the motivation, resilience, endeavor, and joy of someone building their own home, and especially to step alongside them in that missional cocktail, can be an eye-opening and life-altering experience. Not only is it true that together we are greater than the sum of our parts, but I believe that each of our parts becomes incontrovertibly and interminably greater as a result of recognizing our combined greatness.

This significance gets particularly emphasized in builds such as our Interfaith Build, wherein people from an abundance of backgrounds, and with a plethora of perspectives, come together in a combined act of service. It proves that these builds aren’t just about houses, or about helping one person, though that alone would be spectacular enough. In perhaps the most commendable display of “E Pluribus Unum” I’ve had the honor to experience in my life, Muslims, Jews, Christians, and more, all came together to build one magnificent, impactful, loving community.

The good life is a product of good communities, and communities are the product of lives well-lived.  Nothing good is attainable alone, and the best things in life become better when shared. Habitat builds homes that change lives, but it is the communities that make all of that possible. The foundation of every home we build is laid in the communities that built it, and that is why Habitat builds communities.

Read Jonathan’s first post on Homes and check back next month for Jonathan’s final post reflecting on hope.