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.

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.