Set Apart

By | Interfaith | 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!

In my previous post, I discussed the practical value of working alongside people from different backgrounds as a way of pursuing our Biblical conviction in learning how to “maintain constant love for one another.”

interfaith-dedication-2016As I write this post, I sit on the other end of that work. The house is complete, has been dedicated, and will soon become a home. I’ve had the opportunity to see and hear the process of its construction from beginning to end. I’ve had the privilege to hear how people have reacted to it. And now I have the responsibility to share that experience – to describe what we’ve created together, beyond just the physical homes, or even the hope for a stronger, more unified image of God in humanity.

Today I want to share about the sacred perpetuity we found – the sense of eternal value we experienced through the work we shared, the time we spent, and the place we made.

At an interfaith discussion I recently attended, we focused on the concept of sacred space. We took time to learn from one another and pursue the various avenues that led to what each of us understood of sacredness. We discussed how we honored that understanding, individually, collectively, and cross-culturally. It was a beautiful conversation, and it challenged and invigorated my thought processes in some wonderful ways, but it didn’t quite satisfy my personal relationship to what I hold as sacred.

The discussion focused on sacred space, but what I find equally important, and perhaps more significant in my own experience, is sacred time. The word sacred is defined as “set apart,” but how are we to know what to set apart in order to create or perpetuate that sacredness? All too often, we find ourselves attacking one another’s deepest religious values, simply because of our misunderstandings on how to approach sacredness. I believe we are called to set something apart, or hold it as sacred, when we find connection to God through it. Otherwise, this setting apart becomes entirely meaningless, and potentially dangerous. However, it can be a struggle to know whether something actually provides connection to God in some manner, or if we just want it to do so. In my life, I hold my most sacred things in this way because of their ability to tap into eternity; because of how the impact of the time or place that surrounds it becomes eternal in the instant it happens.

And while that sure sounds cool, I admit it doesn’t make a lot of sense. I think that sacredness, because it is “of God” in that weird, infinite/inconceivable way, is a real bear to try to understand – much less discuss in practical terms.

interfaith-dedication-2016_rapheal-homeBut I can say this:

What we’ve done through this Interfaith Build is sacred. We set it apart, because the impact it has for Rapheal and Brittney, the homeowners, is too massive to describe. We set it apart, because the way we were able to come together and complete the Image of God in our unity and service is too holy to understand fully. We set it apart, because the understanding and love that was able to grow for one another there is too profound, and too vital in our efforts to further the Kingdom of God here on Earth, to put into simple human words.

We set it apart, not from one another, but for one another, and with one another; because it is of God, it is eternal and incomprehensible, and it is very good.

The work we shared, the time we spent, and the place we made is sacred. The thing that matters now that this project is done, is to continue. Let us continue building homes, let us continue to maintain constant love for one another, and let us continue engaging in this sacred perpetuity.

A Place for the Everyday and Special Moments

By | Homeowner | No Comments

vargas-sanchez-family_enewsHome is a place for the day-to-day moments as well as special occasions. Over the past six months, Ixchel Vargas and Christian Sanchez have settled into the everydayness of homeownership with cooking together, hosting family, and playing with their three children.

We like having our own space; the kids can play in their rooms. We like to cook and have dinner as a family. When my parents come to the house I like to serve them and make them food,” shared Ixchel.

For Ixchel, the extra space is meaningful for her kids as they quickly turned the house into their home: “Allan, the oldest, loves to play with Legos in his room. He creates different things like robots, cars, houses, and more; he has a big imagination. But he sure doesn’t like when his sister comes in the room because then she wants to destroy his Legos and he gets upset. Alexa likes to play with bubbles and run around the house. The little one, Abril, she started to crawl and I love that we have carpet because she can crawl all over the house.”

vargas-sanchez-family-3_enewsHome has also meant a place to celebrate special moments, including Allan’s recent birthday and trick-or-treating for Halloween. “I love seeing my kids smile and saying to me, ‘Mommy, I want to go to my house.’ Hearing those words makes me happy because I know that my kids are happy, too,” said Ixchel.

vargas-sanchez-family-2_enewsIxchel offers encouragement for those considering Habitat homeownership: “I would like to let others know that this is a great program and if you have the opportunity to be in the program take advantage of what they offer. Try harder to do everything you can to finish the program and know at the end when you have your keys in your hand, know that it is your reward. You will be the happiest person because you are giving a stable, loving and secure home to your family.” If you’re interested in homeownership, please join us for an info session on Thursday, Dec. 1.

At the end of 2016, we will have welcomed 21 families into their first home. Join us in 2017 as a donor, sponsor, or volunteer as we seek to provide more families like Ixchel and Christian’s that happy feeling!

In This Season of Gratitude

By | From the CEO | One Comment

From the desk of Jim Morris, President & CEO

“One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him — and he was a Samaritan.” Luke 17:15-16 (NIV)

Thanksgiving has been my favorite of the holidays in my adult life. I am that husband/dad who wants to hear around the Thanksgiving table what areas my family is thankful. Whether at the Thanksgiving table or spontaneously prompted, many of us will list similar blessings – family, health, friends, home, etc. These are all blessings that we have good reason to be thankful. I am particularly grateful as I feel I have one of the best vocations anyone could have.

I will often share that my role as president & CEO of Greater Indy Habitat for Humanity, where I help guide our team to bring our mission of seeking to put God’s love into action, by bringing people together to build homes, communities and hope into reality, is a privilege. It is a privilege to witness generosity each week. It is a privilege to visibly see neighbor loving neighbor, especially during this election year when the tail wagging the dog media tends to provide us with the worst side of humanity.

It is the “bringing people together” portion of the mission for which I am most grateful. I recently spoke to a potential new board member who asked how much volunteer labor helped us save money on building homes. While there are some cost savings, Jonathan Reckford, Chief Executive Officer Habitat for Humanity International, puts it best when he says that volunteerism is not a construction cost-reduction strategy, but a community engagement strategy. There are often more effective and efficient methods to reducing costs when building affordable housing than using volunteer labor, but community participation in bringing strength and stability to fellow “neighbors” is at the heart of what makes Habitat so necessary.

This is why the man in Luke 17:11-19 resonated with me this time of year. It’s the story of when Jesus had compassion, mercy and grace for ten lepers on the roadside, and healed each one of them. Only one man was so overwhelmed and full of thankfulness, that he took the time to share his thanks.

This year again I am humbled and resonate with the healed leper in my gratefulness. More than 8,000 volunteers from nearly 100 companies, churches and schools will help build/rehab 21 homes and provide 29 homeownership repairs for the elderly, physically unable, and/or low-income households.

My grateful posture extends to the 21 families who have worked 300+ hours each to prepare to purchase their home at 0% interest. They are truly an inspiration. Someday, we look forward to them joining the 81 households that have fully paid off their mortgage as of this year.

Our means to bringing strength, stability and independence to families is homeownership, either by providing first-time, low-income families the opportunity to purchase and own their home, or helping to preserve current homes of underprivileged families. Families in poverty realize that owning a home is not the only means to achieving their aspiration to move out of poverty. It is a huge step toward stability and asset building. Just like the healed leper still had other problems he would have to face, new Habitat homeowners have other challenges as well. I am grateful for their efforts, privileged to have my role, and truly thankful to all of you who have partnered with homebuyers and homeowners through Habitat this year. We count you as a great blessing.

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!

dream-builders-block-2016_2

Meet Our 2017 A-Team

By | Volunteer | No Comments

Our mission requires the work of many hands and feet to build/rehab/repair homes for families in need of affordable homeownership. One important set of hands in this work is that of our AmeriCorps members, or as we call them, the A-Team. These fine folks allow our organization and Habitat for Humanity affiliates across the state to more efficiently serve our families, volunteers, and partners. Read below to learn a bit more about each member of this year’s A-Team!

americorps-a-team-2017

Meet Lauren:

  • Where do you or have you called “home”? I am originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin but am proud to call Fountain Square in Indianapolis my new home.
  • Why did you choose to work with Greater Indy Habitat? My grandpa used to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity and my family has always been a large supporter of the Habitat mission – when I was looking for my next adventure I was drawn to Habitat and ecstatic to find AmeriCorps positions available.
  • What’s one construction skill you look forward to learning/improving in the next year? I am excited to really understand the WHY of what we do when building a house – to understand the specifics and gut of my own home by the end of this year
  • When not working on a Habitat build site on the weekend, where might someone find you? When I happen to find myself not on a Habitat site chatting with and co-leading the volunteers, I can be found riding my bike, doing yoga at Invoke, trying a new restaurant or brewery around town or listening to NPR while working on a home project.

Meet Gavin:

  • Where do you or have you called “home”? Home for me is right here in Indiana in a town called New Palestine, lived here all of my life.
  • Why did you choose to work with Greater Indy Habitat? My brother did this program a couple years back, so I thought it would be a great opportunity to do this and I think working with habitat will help me as I try to find out what I what to do.
  • What’s one construction skill you look forward to learning/improving in the next year? There are a lot of things I am learning right now, but I really just want to improve on all that I can so I can work to be the best that I can be.
  • When not working on a Habitat build site on the weekend, where might someone find you? My weekends are usually spent with my family and friends on the days that I have off.

Meet Austin:

  • Where do you or have you called “home”? Downtown Indy
  • Why did you choose to work with Greater Indy Habitat? I have friends in Indy from school.
  • What’s one construction skill you look forward to learning/improving in the next year? Framing
  • When not working on a Habitat build site on the weekend, where might someone find you? Martial Art school (Meng’s Richmond)

We look forward to working with this 2017 A-Team to build homes, communities and hope across Indiana!