Maintaining the Spirit

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Meredith Canfield reflects back on her first year in the role of Volunteer Manager for Greater Indy Habitat.

Being that this was my first year on the Greater Indy Habitat team, I’ve had many opportunities to share of my new job with friends, family or even strangers. I can usually guess the response I will get after I tell someone I work for Habitat. It’s usually something like, “Oh wow, what an exciting job! What’s it like to work on the build site?” Most – if not all people – are surprised when I say that I’m mainly in the office working with our corporate sponsors to coordinate volunteers. Over time I’ve even noticed that a fair amount of people look disappointed after I derail their Disney-build site version of what it’s like to work at Habitat. I have learned to quickly respond with “I’m meant for an office setting. I don’t like getting dirty,” which helps to make people laugh. While getting dirty doesn’t actually bother me, the other part is true. I am meant for the office. I came from the corporate world, so emails and spreadsheets are my jam.

Being that I spend most of my time in the office, it’s easy to get laser focused on emails, meetings, and quick clicking strategic thoughts. I know, I know. There has to be someone in the backgrounds coordinating volunteers so the build site can come alive with groups of eager and excited people to walk alongside our homeowners. For this behind the curtain girl, these day-to-day tasks are totally my strengths but don’t always fuel my spirit like people, their stories or their hearts do. Earlier this year I decided I needed to find ways to maintain the spirit instead of just maintaining spreadsheets!

Getting out of the office to periodically serve as a build site volunteer was just what I needed! I helped to raise the walls of Danyelle’s home, carried heavy pieces of sod for Miranda’s yard, and used a nail gun to hang up siding on the front of Christine’s house. I loved hanging with volunteers, spending time with our homeowners, and learning the ins and outs of home construction from our Tiger Team. Not only did it fuel my spirit in ways a crossed off to-do list could never do, it gave me a new found appreciation for the hard work put in by our homeowners, volunteers, and construction staff, who work together to build beautiful homes.

Reflecting back on my first year, working for Habitat IS an exciting job and I feel very blessed to be a part of a team that encourages me to find ways to maintain the spirit behind a computer and on the build site. It’s hard to believe that 2017 is nearly over and I feel excited for another year of yes… emails, meetings, and spreadsheets but also a year of purpose, spirit, and joy.

To schedule your own out of the office build day in 2018, sign up for our monthly updates by registering here!

ReStore Reuse: Wooden Pallets

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Written by Andy Duncan, ReStore Development

Reuse is the raison d’etre of the ReStore. Of the three “R’s” we’re all taught are crucial to environmental responsibility and green living – the “Reduce” part being heavily reliant on personal lifestyle change, and the “Recycle” part typically taken on by infrastructure – the Reuse component falls heavily on charity and thrift shops to make reusable donation available to the public and ReStore does so with categories of items most other thrift stores do not.

As such, we at the ReStore spend a fair amount of time imagining all the possibilities in the donations we get. Sure, most things donated and purchased at the ReStore will find use somewhere close to their intended purpose, but there are still plenty of things at the ReStore that with a little imagination can be utterly repurposed. The last time I posted on the blog, I was turning light fixtures into terrariums. That’s just one example of the myriad projects that can be found at your typical ReStore. Another employs one of the most abundant resources found at any ReStore: wooden pallets.

Being raw wood arrayed in an alternating pattern in two planes a few inches apart, there are a number of things pallets could be readily be used as, such as this one intrepid gardener who turned mostly-intact pallets into a trellis for raspberries. Another intrepid DIY-er used pallets to make a headboard for a king-sized bed.


Reclaimed lumber from pallets is most versatile, usable for anything that requires actual wood. But we did just get a large donation of decorative wall panels that are laminate with wood grain pattern finishes over composite wood material (see photo below!). This kind of material is less versatile than real wood, but has more design potential. We’ve been selling them several boxes at a time, and I’m excited to see what the DIY-ers who have been picking these up end up doing with them. The ReStore is the perfect place to find materials and inspiration for a DIY imagination.

Home Means: A Living Room of Records

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Many of us take for granted the ability to paint the walls of our home or customize our living spaces. Moving from apartment to apartment, whether for rising rent or a negligent landlord, means that renters are unable to personalize their space, even as simple as hanging family photos.

Our homebuyers often share that this ability to personalize their living space is something they specifically look forward to in owning their first home. Marina, a 2017 Habitat homeowner, shared photos of how she customized her living room with a music theme. She wrote: “I love the green I chose. It turned out so beautifully! It gives my music theme some Pizzazz! I just have to get another curtain rod, so I can put up my navy blue curtains.”

Check out her photos below!

Thanks, Marina, for sharing a peak into your home!

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

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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!