Young Professional

Volunteer Spotlight: Ari Hodes

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Meet Ari, a dedicated volunteer with Greater Indy Habitat! Since Ari’s first-time volunteering back in 2016, he has contributed over 200 hours to the mission of Habitat. His commitment comes from a deep interest and passion for affordable housing. For Ari, being a part of Habitat isn’t just about swinging a hammer; it’s about making a real difference in people’s lives.  

As an overall Habitat champion, Ari has participated in many ways. He participated with his faith community in our Interfaith Build, has been a member of the Habitat Young Professionals group since its inception, and served on the Young Professionals Leadership Team last year. One standout memory for Ari is the Ag Build at the State Fair. Working on the roof and using power tools was a thrill, and it’s not something he gets to do every day. It’s moments like these that make volunteering with Habitat so special. 

What does Ari like most about volunteering with Habitat? It’s hands-on, it helps people, and there are plenty of opportunities to learn and socialize. Volunteering isn’t just about work; it’s also about connecting with others who share a passion for making a difference. That’s one of the main reasons why Ari continues his involvement with the Habitat Young Professionals. Yes, there are plenty of opportunities to be active and make a difference. However, Ari really loves the chance to learn about the larger issues surrounding affordable housing. Since he has been involved with Habitat, Ari has gained knowledge and passion about how to be a better advocate in our community.  

In three words, Ari describes his volunteer experience with Habitat as fun, informative, and satisfying. It’s a fulfilling journey that leaves him feeling good about the impact he’s making in our community.  

For anyone thinking about getting involved with Habitat, Ari’s advice is simple: plan ahead and sign up. It’s a fun experience that’s not only rewarding but also a great way to give back to the community. 

Are you a Young Professional (ages of 21-40) and passionate about making a difference in your community? Join our Habitat YP group!  

Hear about other inspiring volunteers!

Hear about the 2023 Habitat on the Hill recap

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Held in Washington D.C., 400+ advocates from Habitat affiliates in 49 states and territories conducted over 300 meetings with congressional members.  With one mission in mind, these meetings addressed the question, “How can we make the cost of homes something everyone can afford.”

Together, we urged Congress to prioritize policies that will increase the number of affordable homes for more families at this year’s Habitat on the Hill. Advocates for Indiana included representatives from Habitat for Humanity of St, Joseph County, Brown County Habitat for Humanity, and our very own Young Professionals member, Erika Fotsch. These Indiana advocates had the opportunity to meet with Senators Todd Young and Mike Braun, along with Representatives Victoria Spartz, Erin Houchin and Rudy Yakym.

“I couldn’t be more thankful for the opportunity to participate, to connect with Habitat enthusiasts from all over the country – I met people from North Carolina, Minnesota, Kansas, Iowa, California, Ohio, and more. Despite all the differences between our states and regions, we were all there for one very important reason. The price of housing is out of reach for too many low-income families, first-time homebuyers, and especially people of color,” shared Erika.

There is a collective understanding that building affordable homes is essential, but Habitat affiliates cannot build our way out of this crisis alone. We also need housing policy reform and additional funding at all levels of government to truly change the trajectory of this housing market and to ensure that everyone has a decent place to live.

We encourage people to join us! Add your voice to the crowd. Advocacy is such an important piece of the puzzle to solve this country’s housing issues. Together, we have a stronger collective voice that can move us toward our vision of a world where everyone has a decent place to live. 

Want to learn more about Habitat for Humanity’s policy and advocacy efforts?

Utilize the resources and publications below for an in-depth look at how Habitat’s global network changes laws and shapes policies to improve access to adequate and affordable housing for families in need of a place to call home.

Resources & Publications

Habitat Homeowner Gives Back through #HYP

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Precious Johnson became a Habitat homeowner in 2009 and joined our Young Professionals group in 2019. She currently serves on the 2021 leadership team as the HYP Secretary. 

My name is Precious and my first experience with Habitat was in 2008. I volunteered at a build a site, and after working the build site I was intrigued. I talked to my neighbor, a few co-workers and visited the Habitat website for more information.

There was a homeownership meeting scheduled for the next week and I decided to attend. After attending that one homeownership meeting, I submitted my application for the program. At that time, I was paying $675 in rent, and a monthly $100 light bill. I believe my bi-weekly paycheck after taxes was $700. The apartment was a very spacious two bedrooms, with two full bathrooms and I still lived close to my parents. Every month I used one of my bi-weekly paychecks to cover my rent. My best friend and my parents would help me monthly with groceries, gas, etc. My son and I lived in a previous cheaper apartment that was not safe or clean.

(Precious and her son, Karachi, volunteering on a Habitat build site.)

Affordable housing should be option to any adult who has income to make a monthly payment. I tried to apply for the Section 8 program, but the list was usually closed, or the waitlist was at a least a year.

Home is a place a family learns to grow, cook, love, and so much more. A family needs a home that is affordable, clean, and safe. I’m the oldest of four children, our house was always full of chaos, good food, laughter, anger, and a strong family. I always wanted my own home, but as a single parent I didn’t think I could afford a home. Then I thought how I would maintain a home, cut grass, pay property tax, etc. Once I went to the homeownership meeting, I knew I could afford a home.

My Habitat home makes me feel grateful that I have a warm, safe, and clean home for my family. I know that my hard work, and dedication made it possible to have a home. Also, I have a home that I can leave to my son, and he is learning how to maintain our home.

Habitat is important to me because the homeownership program made it possible for me to become a homeowner. If this program did not exist, I would have continued to live in an apartment struggling to pay rent. My Habitat mortgage is a payment that I continue to afford without a struggle.

2019 Award Recipients

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In place of a large gathering to announce our 2019 award recipients, we opted to surprise each winner with a recognition of their dedicated and outstanding support of Habitat’s mission in Greater Indy. Check out the videos below to hear from each award recipient about why they work diligently to build homes, community and hope!

Congratulations to our 2019 Frank Hartman Volunteer of the Year, Erika Fotsch! Watch the video below to see Erika accept the award and learn more about why she is committed to Habitat’s mission in our city, state, and world.

Congratulations to our 2019 Legacy Corporate Partner, Carrier Corporation! We caught up with Carrier leaders and volunteers on the build site this fall. Check out the video below to discover why they come back year after year (for 25 years and counting!) to support Habitat families in achieving their goal of homeownership.

Congratulations to our 2019 Legacy Church Partner, St. Mark’s United Methodist Church! Many of our partners do more than just volunteer on the build site and St. Mark’s UMC is a prime example of that extended engagement. St. Mark’s long-term commitment to our mission has blessed many first-time homeowners.

Please join us in congratulating each of our incredible 2019 award recipients! 

Advocating for Habitat on the Hill

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Written by Meagan Heber

A few months ago, I was presented with the opportunity to attend the Habitat national advocacy conference, Habitat on the Hill, in Washington, D.C. in February. At the conference, affiliate staff and volunteers from all over the United States join together over several days to talk to their senators and representatives at the Capitol, garnering support for legislation and funding. As a member of Greater Indy Habitat’s Young Professionals chapter who had never advocated in this capacity before, I was excited and very nervous.

To combat my nerves before I left, Joel, Greater Indy Habitat’s Corporate and Faith Relations Coordinator, gave me some advice—

“Be humble, but confident.”

As much as I love Habitat, and as confident as I am in the incredible power a home has to bring hope to a family and revitalize communities, I still felt small and shaky touching down in the midst of a bustling city full of polished and influential people. Why would a representative care about what I have to say? How could a young volunteer from Indianapolis contribute to the important and complex conversation surrounding housing affordability in the United States?

A few days later, after hours of inspiring speakers and an energizing rally with Habitat staff and advocates, I was walking down the steps of the Capital building. When I told my group that I was inexperienced and not the most educated on the statistics and stories that could influence our policy-makers, Gina, Indiana’s State Director, gave me an encouraging rebuke.

“You know plenty,” she said. “You just need to talk about your time with AmeriCorps and how you are pursuing a life of public service.”

I came to Habitat through the AmeriCorps program in 2016, fresh out of college and unsure where life was taking me. For a year, I helped coordinate volunteers, swung a few hammers, and mingled with homeowners, all the while seeing how Habitat raised up homes, supported families, and changed neighborhoods from the inside out. It was because of this incredible experience that I joined Habitat Young Professionals when I moved to Indianapolis, why I dived into the leadership team and got involved, and why I am pursuing a career in community development work.

It’s also why I got on a plane to Washington, nervous and excited to advocate for what I believe in—the power of Habitat for Humanity to change lives. I know that it changed mine!

Joel and Gina’s advice, and the encouragement of so many others, finally came together for me when I stepped into Representative Hollingsworth’s office with Habitat friends from Bloomington and Terre Haute. We had a friendly conversation, and when it was my turn to speak to the Congressman, I shared a piece of my story. I told him how influential AmeriCorps and Habitat had been in my life and how, as a result, I was encouraging other young professionals in Indianapolis to get involved in building affordable homes, communities, and hope.

I am so grateful for the opportunity to raise a voice with so many others on behalf of Habitat for Humanity. I’m excited for the continuation of the incredible work that happens on the ground raising walls and bringing people together. And I’m emboldened—because if even I can be an advocate for this incredible organization, then you can be, too!