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!