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Pilgrimage to Koinonia Farm and Global Village

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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.

Record Housing Solutions Love for Community

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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 Record Nine Dream Builders Support Mission

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Each year, Greater Indy Habitat partners with 200+ corporate and faith-based partners. However, our work would not be possible without the generous support of our Dream Builders. In 2016, we saw our Dream Builders grow from six to nine as we welcomed Delta Faucet Company, The City of Indianapolis DMD, and Indianapolis Neighborhood Housing Partnership (INHP) to this already impressive list of financial partners.

Delta Faucet Company, a partner since 2000 increased their sponsorship amount by 60%, completed more than 22 days and 1,700 hours of volunteer labor toward constructing a two-story home for the Bailey family. Not to be outdone, Delta Faucet Company also donated bathroom and kitchen faucets, towel bars and toilet paper holders for each and every home we built or renovated this year.

Collectively, our generous Dream Builders, which included Allegion, Carrier, City of Indianapolis DMD, DEFENDERS, Delta Faucet, Eli Lilly, INHP, OrthoIndy and the 2016 Women Build, contributed a combined $963,636, donated more than $150,000 in building products, and completed more than 12,000 volunteer hours to help further our mission building homes, communities and hope.

Thank you, Dream Builders!

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Join us Nov. 10 for our Spirit & Place Event

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More Than a Roof: Affordable Homeownership as a Catalyst for Change

With the theme of “Home,” we knew participation in the 2016 Spirit & Place Festival was a must. On Thursday, Nov. 10, we invite you to join a hands-on, interactive experience and conversation about how affordable homeownership can eliminate barriers to a better, healthier, more financially stable life.

In Indiana, the average hourly wage necessary to afford a two‐bedroom, Fair Market Rate (FMR) unit is $14.03. More than half of Hoosier renters (52%) cannot afford the FMR, according to an Indiana 211 Partnership Community Report. The need for affordable housing is real and the benefits of homeownership—stability for children, improved health and safety, increased education and job prospects, and asset building—can be life-changing.

Taking place at Second Presbyterian Church and in partnership with Circles Indy, attendees to this event will enjoy a simple meal beginning at 5:30 p.m. before participating in a poverty simulation. The event will conclude in a group reflection and conversation led by our president & CEO Jim Morris, Marie Wiese with Circles Indy, and Habitat families eager to share their experiences.

This is a free event but space is limited, so please RSVP via the Spirit & Place website by Nov. 9. With questions, please contact Abri Hochstetler at 317.777.6095.

Plans set for group’s first home in Hancock County

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There is an empty lot in a Greenfield neighborhood Trish Botta has come to cherish. To an unknowing eye, it appears to be just a plot of grass, but Botta knows better. She sees what will be.

One day soon, a house will take shape on the property, a home Botta can call her own.

A place finally filled with just her things. A backyard with the perfect view of the northern sky. A mantel where her daughters can hang their Christmas stockings.

Botta will own the first Habitat for Humanity home built in Hancock County, the organization recently announced. The group purchased a lot in the 400 block of Virginia Court in Greenfield, and organization leaders say construction could begin as early as next spring.

As a single mother working two jobs, Botta said assistance from the organization came after nearly two years of bunking at her sister’s New Palestine home while searching for a reasonably priced place to live in central Indiana.

It was frustrating at times, Botta said, but Habitat felt like a friendly hand reaching out to give her a boost.

That’s the organization’s goal, said Abri Hochstetler, a spokeswoman for Greater Indy Habitat for Humanity, which oversees builds in Marion, Hendricks and Hancock counties.

Habitat for Humanity calls itself a Christian ministry dedicated to providing housing to those who might not be able to afford a traditional mortgage. By helping those who qualify for home ownership, the nonprofit’s hope is to increase self-sufficiency, officials said.

20151007dr_habitat3“Habitat fills gaps in a (difficult) time people might have in their life,” Hochstetler said. “We’re not giving away free homes; they are going to people who really have a need at that time.”

Botta was raised in Upland but lived in Birmingham, Alabama, for about 25 years, she said.

The Southern city was all her daughters, Rachel and Holly, knew. They loved their lives in the South; but when her girls reached high-school age, Botta said, the rougher inner-city schools didn’t sit well with her.

Two years ago, they began the process of relocating to Indiana and moved in with Botta’s sister and brother-in-law, Ellen and Rick Adams of New Palestine. The plan was for Botta to stay at her sister’s for six months at the most, Botta said. But finding affordable housing in the area proved to be difficult.

Eventually she took her chances on Habitat for Humanity, Botta said, and, to her surprise, her application was accepted just 24 hours after she turned it in.

It was like seeing a light appear at the end of a long tunnel, she said.

“Then, we knew where I was headed,” she said. “It gives you hope.”

Habitat for Humanity looks for hardworking and responsible applicants, like Botta, who demonstrate financial need but stability, Hochstetler said. Applicants must provide proof of income over at least two years, and they cannot have outstanding liens or bankruptcies, she said.

The organization has been eager to build in Hancock County for some time, and Botta’s application was met with excitement from volunteers and staffers, officials said.

“Trish’s home is the beginning of our commitment to serve and partner with Hancock County for many years,” Jim Morris, the president of Greater Indy Habitat for Humanity, said in a news release. “We know it will be a wonderful place to call home for Trish and her daughters.”

Habitat houses don’t come for free, contrary to what many believe, Hochstetler said. Botta, like all Habitat homeowners, is required to work 300 hours volunteering at other home constructions and to take finance and basic home maintenance classes.

By the time Botta moves into the Greenfield home, she’ll be an empty-nester, she said: one of her daughters attends a university in Georgia; the other is a senior in high school and is headed for college next fall.

Still, the three-bedroom home Botta will move into will be a great place for her girls to come home to and call their own, she said. She said she is eager to put down roots in Greenfield and is already scoping out places to attend church, work and volunteer.

Once she receives the keys, Botta will begin payments on a no-interest mortgage, which will be used to fund future Habitat endeavors, Hochstetler said.

“It’s this beautiful cycle,” she said. “With the support of sponsors and volunteers, we can really help homeowners, and they, in turn, are helping those who need it.”

Get involved

Habitat for Humanity won’t break ground on its first home in Hancock County until next year, but the organization needs local volunteers and sponsors before building can start.

For more information about how to join the effort, contact Ted Mosey, the director of development for Greater Indy Habitat for Humanity, at 317-777-6091.

Do you qualify?

Greater Indy Habitat for Humanity is looking to partner with first-time homebuyers living in Marion, Hendricks and Hancock counties.

Applicants must:

  • Show they have had a stable income for the past two years
  • Prove financial need
  • Have had no outstanding liens or bankruptcies for two years
  • Agree to take Habitat for Humanity finance classes and volunteer on other home constructions

For more information, visit indyhabitat.org or contact Martha Pabon, homeowner outreach coordinator, at 317-777-6068.