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Volunteer

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!

A Look Back: Communities

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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.

A Look Back: Homes

By | 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 1: Homes

I’ve been with Greater Indy Habitat for ten months now. In a “year-long” volunteer program that actually only lasts eleven months, I already have ten elevenths of what is meant to be a life-altering program on which to reflect, and I’m not sure where to start. So, in trying to begin to reflect on how my experience here has influenced my understanding of service, I recently asked a few friends how they would describe Habitat’s work.

“Helps habitate humans?” my brother, who studied linguistics, suggested. My friend Mikey, responding in a group chat in which I’d posed the question, said that they “build houses for low-income families.” Moments later, another friend in that group posted, “I second Mikey.”

If I had asked myself the same question a year ago – a clichéd premise, I know – I probably would have seconded Mikey as well. In my mind, at that time, Habitat was just a particularly generous construction crew. That was before I’d ever heard their mission statement, and more significantly, before I became a small part of the mission in that statement.

That mission is this:

“Seeking to put God’s love into action, Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities and hope.”

It seems like a simple enough statement. I don’t think most people with a passing familiarity with Habitat would be surprised by anything in it. But if one really takes the time to dissect and consider the pieces of it, they may realize there’s more to it than initially appears.

With my final three blog posts as this year’s Greater Indy Habitat YAV, that’s precisely what I want to do. This being the first installment in the series, I want to start by looking at the first object of Habitat’s missional building: homes.

Perhaps Bill Withers put it best when he sang, “And this house just ain’t no home, anytime she goes away.” There is a distinct difference between a house and a home. For the esteemed Mr. Withers, a house is where he lives, but a home is where he and this woman who brought sunshine to his life could be together. For many of our homeowners, the structure we build together is a place where their families can be safe. It’s a place where they can find respite and revitalization. It’s a place where they can find fellowship and freedom. It’s a place where love can thrive.

Habitat forms relationships with their homeowners. They take the time to understand the needs of the homeowner, and demonstrate the necessary investment to care for those needs. It’s not that difficult to build houses; to run a blueprint through a conveyor belt and give people four walls and a roof. It’s not cheap, but it’s available almost everywhere today. What makes them homes, and what Habitat takes the utmost care to do, is the compassionate attention given to each family in the program, and each structure they build.

The homes these families build change their lives. They provide a brand new foundation from which things seem possible which may not have even been considerable before. A house cannot do that on its own. It needs to be made into a home, and that’s why homes are the first thing Habitat builds.

Check back later this month for Jonathan’s next post reflecting on communities.

Volunteers, By the Numbers

By | Tiger Team, Volunteer | No Comments

Volunteers are the lifeblood of Habitat’s work here in Greater Indy and across the country. Our volunteers may spend a day with us once a year or come back every week. Regardless of the amount of time spent on a build site or in the ReStore, our volunteers bring the Habitat mission to life.

Though we haven’t hit the halfway mark of the year yet, our volunteers are hitting some impressive numbers! Thus far in 2017 we’ve seen:

  • 2260 volunteer shifts completed in rain, snow or sunshine
  • 104 volunteer shifts completed by future Habitat homeowners
  • 14,312 hours of work completed by volunteers (4,094 hours by Tigers!)
  • 139 days where volunteers built/rehabbed homes or worked in the ReStore
  • 1,832 new accounts created since January, meaning 1,832 new individuals have or will join Habitat’s work in Greater Indy
  • 3 new homeowners now living in their first home and 7 homes under construction with volunteer support

And we have more to accomplish in 2017! Help us reach our goal of serving 27 first-time homeowners by signing up today. With questions, please contact volunteer@indyhabitat.org.

Cover Indiana-Discovering What I Can Do: Lauren

By | Events, Volunteer | No Comments

This year I’m serving as an AmeriCorps A-Team member with Greater Indy Habitat for Humanity. Before this trip, I had never ridden my bike over 45 miles. Yet, on the first day of the Habitat for Humanity Cover Indiana ride, I rode 72 miles! We started the day in Lafayette and worked our way down and around Clinton Co. to Thorntown. During that first half of the ride I had the pleasure of riding beside all kinds of riders – young athletic riders, a couple on a tandem bike, and a woman who is so dedicated to riding that even after breaking her hip on a bike ride, came back and rode on a recumbent bike! After reaching Thorntown, the majority of our team rode on to Crawfordsville. However, Paul (a Tiger with Greater Indy Habitat and pictured below), Ted (Director of Development with Greater Indy) and I turned around and headed back to Lafayette to finish out our day ride. We faced some serious headwinds and steep hills! But we forged on, got a little off path and then found our way back to base camp.


The amount of pride and accomplishment I felt was second to none! It was because of the support and strength of Paul, Ted and my fellow Habitat riders that I was able to accomplish this mileage goal of mine and feel this great sense of personal empowerment. Whether you are a future homeowner, a volunteer or supporter, Habitat does that to you – strengthens you, helps you discover what you can do and is there to cheer you on as you reach your goals.

National Volunteer Week-Finding Your Fit : Meredith

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“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10 (NIV)

A friend told me recently that she set a New Year’s resolution to find an organization where she can consistently use her skills in a volunteer opportunity. With a little guilt in her voice, she told me that she hadn’t even begun to find the right volunteer fit, and we are already 4 months into the year! Lucky for her, April 23-27 marks National Volunteer Week, and it’s perfect timing to revive that resolution!

Just as 1 Peter 4:10 suggests, each of us has a gift or skill to utilize when serving others. Knowing your gifting – as well as your heart and your schedule – will help you discover your volunteer fit. Below are a few questions to ask yourself as you get started:

HEART: What sort of missions or causes do I naturally desire to be a part of?

SKILLS: What gifts or skills could I offer to support a mission and would it be something I would enjoy doing?

SCHEDULE: How often (i.e., once per week, once per month, etc.) would I want to volunteer?

God calls us to be cheerful givers, just as written in 2 Corinthians 9:7 “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” This verse in scripture might make you think of only financially giving; however, I think it also has to do with giving of your heart, your skills and your time. We hope that wherever you find yourself giving, you are able to do so with a cheerful heart!

If your fit is here with us at Greater Indy Habitat for Humanity, we would love to have you serving our mission of seeking to put God’s love into action, by bringing people together to build homes, community and hope! We have chosen to show God’s love through the vessel of building homes; however, did you know we offer a variety of volunteer experiences that do not entail swinging a hammer, installing siding or painting walls? You could be a mentor for one of our homeowners, volunteer in one of our ReStores or even travel to El Salvador as part of our Global Village program to make a difference internationally.

Our volunteer opportunities entail varied time commitments and incorporate a variety of skill sets. To learn more, please check out our Volunteer Opportunities listed on our website or email us at volunteer@indyhabitat.org to learn more. We hope to see you soon!

Five New Habitat Homes : Ted

By | Tiger Team, Volunteer | One Comment

Yesterday we started the construction of FIVE new Habitat homes!

The sunny spring weather could not have been more perfect to raise the walls and get the homes started alongside the future homeowners. Some of the Habitat staff, board and Tiger Team members spent the day working on one of the builds together.

Often when I meet someone for the first time and tell them I work at Habitat for Humanity, they assume I am on build sites with a hammer in my hand most days. The reality is, most of us work in an office or around a conference table. Some of us can build a spreadsheet much easier than we can build a house!

A couple of times a year though, office staff shut down their computers and get out to work. Yesterday was one of those days.

Each time I get on a build site, I am reminded of how important Habitat’s work is and how easily we can see the mission statement being lived out. I was reminded as I watched Danyelle put the first nail in her new home. I was reminded as we gathered together in the morning and took a moment to pause and pray. I was reminded as we raised heavy walls while holding conversations and sharing laughs. I was reminded as I looked past the homes being built today and looked at the houses that were built last year—no longer just houses, but now part of the fabric of the community forever.

The build we worked on today is called the “Habitat United Build” and is a first of a kind build for our office. The funds needed to make the build possible were donated by the board members, Tiger Team, staff and friends. And each volunteer day is being filled by those same people. The build shows that all of us are fully invested in the complete Habitat mission: in the office, on the build site, with our finances and with our friends. In order to see a world where everyone has a decent place to live, it will take all of us.

Three new Habitat families have already cut the ribbon on their homes this year. Five homes started yesterday. We are well on our way to getting 27 families in their homes before the end of the year.

Yes, Habitat builds houses. But it’s never just about the houses. It’s always been so much more.

Join Us.

Interested in being involved this year?

Check our Volunteer Page often  *  Support the Habitat United Build  *  Join the Builders Circle

Kick Off Event Recap: Amy

By | Builders Circle, Events, Homeowner, Tiger Team, Volunteer, Women Build | No Comments

This week we kicked-off our 30th year with more than 150 of our supporters. We are again is awe of the outpouring of support and encouragement that fills the room at this annual event.

We started the evening with a private reception for our Builders Circle members, allowing them a sneak peak at the info tables and more personalized attention speaking with our team about ways to get involved. President & CEO, Jim Morris, as well as future homeowner Amy Brown spoke to the members about the important role individual donors play in our mission and the need for continued growth in this area of support.

Once the doors opened for the public portion of the event, the “streets” of the DeveloperTown warehouse were flooded with individual, corporate, and faith-based supporters eager to learn more about the work we are doing in Indy and how they can be a part of it in 2017. We paused for a brief moment for Jim to share more about our plans in our 30th year and to recognize those who have gone above and beyond to support our mission.

We would like to thank our award recipients for their past and continued support:

  • “Frank Hartman” Volunteer of the Year: Jamie Gardner Hall
  • Legacy Corporate Partner: Eli Lilly & Company and Eli Lilly & Company Foundation
  • Build Sponsor of the Year: Davis Homes
  • Legacy Church Partner: St. Paul’s Episcopal

Thank you to everyone who was able to help us kick-off our 30th year. We hope you can find a way to join our work in 2017 as we unite to build homes, hope and community!

Special thanks to DeveloperTown, Sun King Brewery and Monarch Beverage Company, for helping make our Kickoff a success!

Habitat Mentors: Kimberly & Jon

By | Homeowner, Volunteer | No Comments

Many Habitat volunteers pick up a hammer or a paint brush to work alongside future Habitat homeowners; however, did you know there is another group of volunteers that are picking up phones, pencils and personal budgets to support Habitat homeowners on their journey?

Each future Habitat homeowner develops a relationship with a mentoring volunteer who is both a resource and friend on their journey. Mentors and Habitat homeowners communicate at least once a month and help with classroom material, provide homeownership tips and generally encourage and listen.

Wonderful relationships have been formed through the mentor program. Current mentors include long-time volunteers, first-time volunteers, current Habitat homeowners and Builders Circle Members. We recently spoke with new Habitat homeowner Kimberly and her mentor Jon. Here’s what they had to say.

Thoughts from Kimberly, 2016 Homeowner:

Why do you think the mentor program was valuable for you as a first-time Habitat homeowner?
I think having a mentor was one of the best parts of the program.  It was the comfort of knowing that if I had a question about something or needed a little assistance in something I had somebody I could call.  John was AWESOME! It also gave me a chance to not only meet somebody new BUT to meet somebody great.

What does home mean to you?
Having my home now gives me a feeling I can’t quite explain yet. Most days I’m still in shock or shall I say disbelief. Having my home though has given me a peace of mind and a great sense of comfort. The best feeling in the world is knowing that it’s mine, and I had a big hand in building it. When you’re the one actually helping do the work to build your house, it means so much more! Thanks to Habitat, as well as my mentor Jon, for this lifelong experience and journey.I think the overall program that’s offered by Habitat truly prepares future homeowners for what’s to come.  It’s so important that you know how to budget, as well as how to save. During the class, it gives you the opportunity to get to know other future homeowners and that too allows you to have other people to create friendships with, in case you might need help or have a question. I love everything that Habitat stands for, and I’m so honored to have got the chance to be a first-time homeowner through Habitat!

Thoughts from Jon, Mentor volunteer

Why did you become a mentor for a Habitat homeowner?
I had been involved with Habitat as a volunteer in some capacity for several years, and my favorite part always involved the homeowner. Becoming a mentor allows me to be able to walk with the homeowner through their journey from start to finish and realize how their hard work paid off.  The best part though is cultivating a relationship for life.

What has been your favorite part of working with your mentee, or what are you looking forward to?
Working alongside Kimberly on the panel build was special because it was the first work we had done on her home.  Dedication day was very exciting too because the dream was a reality.  Just as joyful though was visiting a few weeks after move in and seeing that Kimberly had made her house her own unique home.

How have you learned from your mentee?
Kimberly showed me another level of dedication and determination.  Through all the hard work and hours spent she also had an amazing ability to have fun, which made it that much easier to spend time helping.

Interested in becoming a mentor? Click Here to learn more!

Making Others’ Lives Better

By | Builders Circle, Tiger Team, Volunteer | No Comments

“I always feel so blessed to have found Habitat, although I have dreamed for years to work on a build.” Like many, once Terry Cohoat first volunteered with Habitat for Humanity she was hooked.

“I started volunteering in April of 2015,” shared Terry. “From that very first time I knew I had found my calling. I continued volunteering as often as I could by going to the volunteer hub and signing up. By the end of the year, I was a Tiger, a decision I have never regretted.”

In 2016, Terry spent more than 440 hours volunteering with Greater Indy Habitat as a Tiger Team member, a year-round volunteer. For Terry, the commitment to Habitat’s mission moves beyond just hours on the build site as she also supports Habitat as a donor and Builders Circle member.

“My parent’s grew up during the depression,” Terry reflected. “My father’s family was very poor and he told me how they would pick up coal along the railroad tracks to heat their home. Circumstances enabled them to get a home through an insurance settlement, but he never forgot his humble beginnings. My mother grew up in better circumstances, but never lived in a home that they owned. I support Habitat for my parents. They always wanted our lives to be better. Owning a home makes lives better. I volunteer with Habitat to make others’ lives better, the way I was taught by my Dad and Mom.”

As a Tiger, Terry works with a variety of volunteers on different projects throughout the year. “My favorite part of volunteering is working with the volunteers teaching them new skills,” Terry shared. “So many think ‘they can’t’ do something when they ‘can,’ and when that happens, we high-five all around! Those are the moments that make being a Tiger worthwhile.”

With Terry’s goal of making others’ lives better, the homeowners remain at the heart of her volunteer work: “All of the homeowner’s are so thrilled to be getting a home that it brings tears to my eyes whenever I think of them. Each has a unique story, with the same theme: they are going to be a homeowner, the first in many generations. I feel so proud of them, and am always glad that I have contributed to making their dream a reality.”

Thank you, Terry, for your commitment to serving our homeowners, volunteers, and community!