Tiger Team

Volunteer Spotlight: Janette Smith

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4 Year Tiger Team Member

What is your favorite hobby/project outside of Habitat?
Gardening, singing, spending time with my daughter & husband, riding my bike (though not as much as some of the Tigers.

What is your favorite Tiger memory?
Helping to build the 2 Women’s Build houses in 2020 both as a Tiger & a Women’s Build team leader was a great accomplishment, since the Women’s Build was a big part of why I became a Tiger. But every home dedication is a great thing.

Possibly my least favorite memory was my failed attempt to teach my new phone to fly while putting the ridge cap on a mini barn. Said phone landed face-down on the new concrete pad. It did make my case to my husband that I really should use a screen protector….

What did you do in your previous life (pre-Tiger Team)?
I retired from being an Environmental Consultant for about 7 years, after previously retiring from 26+ years doing a variety of things at Dow AgroSciences. But I’m a compulsive community volunteer, so a number of those activities (church, neighborhood, Second Helpings, etc.) have continued.

Who is one of your heroes and why?
I don’t have a single hero, though I admire anyone who strives selflessly to improve others’ situations.

Janette, your commitment and enthusiasm truly embody the spirit of giving back. Thank you for showing up for us in such a big way! If you or anyone you know is inspired by Janette’s story and want to learn more about the Tiger Team, click here.

Hear about our other inspiring volunteers!

35th Anniversary Panel Build

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Take a look at a unique panel build in commemoration of our 35th year in the Greater Indy area!

Our team, along with long-time Tiger and donors Frank and Pat Hartman, put on a spectacular event to recognize our 35th anniversary and to honor the Hartman’s 50th wedding anniversary. We were overwhelmed with support in raising the panels for our soon-to-be homeowner’s house.

While we consider ourselves experts in panel builds, never before have we shut down a neighborhood residential street to host one. We received so much support and new found excitement to volunteer in the fall. Thanks to this unique occasion, we were able to see the joy and camaraderie amongst all involved working together in our mission. We are grateful to celebrate our growth throughout the years and are excited to do more!

Expanding My Impact with FreeWill

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This summer we caught up with Denise Conrady to learn more about her experience volunteering with Habitat and why she used FreeWill via Greater Indy Habitat to set up her will…for free! Get to know Denise below and discover why FreeWill might be the right tool for you.

Why did you decide to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity?
I decided to volunteer for several reasons:
1) I love working on houses,
2) I wanted to give back to the community, and
3) it makes me feel good!

What do you enjoy most about being a Tiger?
I still consider myself a baby cub but there are several reasons I love the idea of being a Tiger:
1) I love the camaraderie and working on a team,
2) I love sharing my knowledge (directing volunteers), and
3) I love learning new things. As I am not yet retired (and will probably never retire) I can use the knowledge I gain volunteering in my freelance design work. (Check out her work here!)

Why did you decide to create a free will?
I have been needing to create a will and circumstances just sort of fell together what with the Covid craziness, extra time on my hands, and the fear that if I did pass, someone would have to make a lot of decisions and take care of my stuff. The FreeWill option just showed up on my radar at the right time. I also like the idea that it is free! It fits my budget!

How was using the FreeWill tool?
I have not completed the process but so far, I find the tool very easy to use. The one thing the tool cannot do for you is all the prep work necessary as you will see in my next answer.

Do you have suggestions for how folks can prepare before starting the tool?
1) Know what your assets are!
2) Decide what you are going to leave to who.
3) Elect an executor and have a conversation with that person.
4) Pick a guardian for kids (and/or pets) – have a conversation with that person.

What compelled you to leave a legacy gift with Habitat?
I don’t really know – it just felt right. There might not be much when I die but even $10 is something, right?

Denise is absolutely right – every gift, no matter the amount, makes a difference in the lives of Greater Indy families…for generations. 

Creating a will is one of the most impactful ways to support the people and causes you care about. As you think about the future, we invite you to peruse FreeWill to write your legally valid will in under 25 minutes. 

Thank you, Denise, for your continued and broad support of our homeowners, volunteers, staff, and mission!


Recap: Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project

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This fall a handful of our volunteers, Tigers, donors, and staff traveled up to South Bend to participate in the 2018 Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project with Habitat for Humanity of St. Joseph County. What an experience it was! Our involvement began on Monument Circle where we built the wall panels for one of the 22 homes constructed (watch the Monumental Build action here).

For a glimpse into the experience, read reflections from participants below and view more of our photos!

“A quote from Jimmy Carter that speaks to one of the reasons why our experience with Habitat volunteering is so special: ‘Habitat gives us an opportunity which is very difficult to find: to reach out and work side by side with those who never have had a decent home—but work with them on a completely equal basis. It’s not a big-shot, little-shot relationship. It’s a sense of equality.
I really loved working with volunteers from different parts of the country. We were all so different but were totally connected by a common cause. The energy of this build was very inspiring. Many are not retired and were taking vacation time while traveling at great expense to help those that are not as fortunate in life. It really gives one a lot of faith in humanity to see the love and dedication of these people.” – Scott McDonald

“Best Stories – Building the entire roof structure on the ground and raising to the top of the house walls using a crane and practicing a wedding recessional for two of the volunteers who were getting married in three weeks.” – Paul Reising (recessional pictured at right)

“Participating in the Habitat Carter Work Project at Mishawaka this year was one of the highlights of my life. The devotions, fellowship, meals, and hard work contributed by all the participants resulted in a beautiful productive week. Hanging out with President and Mrs. Carter was inspiring. The Carters have been and continue to be such important leaders for our country.
The Habitat program works. You see how well the program works no matter if you are volunteering in Indianapolis or in another community across the state, nation, or world. Working with Habitat for Humanity allows people in need of affordable housing to focus on a plan where their hard work and commitment is translated into high quality housing for their family. The security of affordable housing often allows the family to focus on other important aspects of life including obtaining a better education for their children. The volunteers who participate are able to connect with those in need and feel satisfaction and fulfillment that comes from sharing their time, talent, and treasure in a way that multiplies their love and provides the help that is needed by another family. It builds community in a manner that gives all involved a big rush of joy. No matter if you participate on a panel build, a local build or a massive blitz build you realize that you end up taking away much more than you were able to share.” – Tim Burkholder

“What an honor and joy to participate in the 2018 Carter Build as part of the Greater Indy Team. The Carters are absolutely amazing and for 35 years have helped spread the word about Habitat…along with spreading The Word of Love to All! Twenty two wonderful families will long remember the many people who came to Mishawaka…and I am so humbled to have been in their presence! Thank you Greater Indy!” – Diane Newton

SOUTH BEND, INDIANA (08/30/2018) – Volunteers from around the world pitch in to help build twenty-two houses in Northwest Indiana as part of the 35th Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter Work Project. (Habitat for Humanity International / Annalise Kaylor)


Remembering Al Clark

By | From the CEO, Tiger Team | No Comments

From the Desk of Jim Morris, President & CEO

Habitat has provided me more in the last 23 years than I provided as a Tiger volunteer.” Al Clark, long-time Tiger Team volunteer. Pictured below with his first volunteer T-shirt, which is also the first Tiger Team T-shirt from 1995.

Al Clark volunteered with Habitat for 23+ years and in late April at the age of 85, he passed away. Many people cross your path in your professional and personal life. Tall and lean with a white beard and handlebar mustache, Al was one of those individuals that no matter how busy my day may be, I simply loved to stop and listen to his stories of his involvement with our mission.

He was more reflective than usual on the day he shared his statement with me about his time volunteering after retirement. He said his weekly Habitat volunteering gave him purpose and created in him a quality of life that he saw disappear in many of his peers who did not have that after retirement. It was a simple, seemingly paradoxical but profound statement. Al had personally affected hundreds of families during his volunteer time. He was a pillar in our work for 23 of the 30 years in existence. Yet, he felt that Habitat gave more to him than he did to it.

I often comment that when you strip away the complexity of our work, our role of facilitating neighbor helping neighbor is a simple privilege to witness. Every week, I see firsthand the display of Jesus’s second greatest commandment to love your neighbor as yourself in the work of thousands of individuals. Our Tiger Team of 60+ mostly retired men and women that Al was a part of volunteering weekly routinely inspire me, but Al’s words had a particular impact on me during that lunch.

Jesus also said in Mathew 10:39 (MSG translation) that “if your first concern is to look after yourself, you’ll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you’ll find both yourself and me.” This is what struck me the most. I won’t judge those that pursue a life of retirement where rest and relaxation and material possession are the predominant aspirations, but Al and the rest of the Tiger Team are the model I want to pursue both now and in retirement.

If you want to act on Al’s wisdom and Jesus’s teaching, we welcome you to become a part of our Tiger volunteer family or engage in a myriad of other missional work out there that inspires you. Contact our volunteer team to learn more.

Volunteers, By the Numbers

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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

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!

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!