Building Homes, Building Hope

Big supporters, Big donation, Big thanks!

Big supporters, Big donation, Big thanks!

By Bridget Heacock

During the late summer months of 2014, The Wells Fargo Housing Foundation awarded Lake Agassiz Habitat for Humanity with a grant of $30,000. These funds will go directly to the costs of our 2014 Women Build Home!

Judd Graham, Habitat board member and Market President of the Fargo/Moorhead/West Fargo Region Wells Fargo Bank stated that “At Wells Fargo we believe in giving back to our communities.  As stated in the Wells Fargo Vision and Values, “we promote the economic advancement of everyone in our communities including those not yet able to be economically self-sufficient, who have yet to share fully in the prosperity of our extraordinary country.”

The mission of the Wells Fargo Housing Foundation is to provide sustainable homeownership opportunities for low-to moderate-income people by providing volunteer and financial resources to local and national non-profit housing organizations. The Foundation works with established local and national nonprofit housing organizations, such as Lake Agassiz Habitat for Humanity, that have demonstrated the ability to create homeownership opportunities for low- to moderate-income families.

Last year, Wells Fargo was not only a wonderful financial support for our 2014 Women Build, but a volunteer support as well.

Thanks again Wells Fargo for your donation to our 2014 homes, your volunteer time, and for your support in the past!


 

New Year. New You.

New Year. New You.

By Stephanie Schroeder

As another year comes to a close and a new year begins, we have a blank slate in front of us. Our goals and resolutions for 2015 are fresh in our minds, and we fully intend to accomplish them. 

But it’s easy to make goals with the fresh start of a new year — it’s a little bit more difficult to maintain them. The easiest way to stay accountable to your New Year’s resolutions is to create a plan of action for how you will accomplish them. That’s where the ReStore comes in.  We’ve listed some of the most common New Year’s resolutions and explained how the ReStore can help you accomplish them.

1. Lose Weight.

Okay, we know this popular resolution typically refers to losing body weight, but what about the weight of all the extra stuff in your life? Is your home crowded with furniture and appliances you don’t need or use? Donate your extra weight to the ReStore and ring in the New Year with newly organized space. And, as an added bonus, reorganizing your space may just work up a sweat. Breaking a sweat not part of your resolution? Don’t worry, you can schedule a pick-up for your donation by calling 218-284-5253 Ext. 1.

2. Help Others.

At the ReStore, we know a lot about helping people. Whether it’s helping people find affordable home improvement materials or helping fund the Habitat builds that so many families call home. If you want to be a part of this in 2015, contact us at 218-284-5253 Ext. 2 and ask about the many volunteer opportunities that are available with Lake Agassiz Habitat for Humanity and the ReStore.

3. Get Fit.

If you’re looking to get fit from the comfort of your own home but don’t have the equipment you need, the ReStore may be your ticket. Treadmills, elliptical machines and other equipment are often in stock at the store. Or, if you’ve noticed your own piece of home equipment has served as a coat rack more often than an exercise machine, consider donating it to the ReStore as a motivator to get out of the house and into the gym. You’ll help make someone else’s resolution and yours a reality. 

4. Save Money.

What better way is there to save money than by purchasing materials you need second-hand? The ReStore has products ranging from furniture, appliances and cabinetry to paint, windows and doors without the markup that comes with traditional home improvement stores. In fact, you can save anywhere from 25-75% off retail price by shopping at the ReStore.

5. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

If this is on your New Year’s resolution list, look no further. The ReStore is all about keeping the cycle going — keeping gently used materials out of our community’s landfills and cycling them back into new homes. If you have any “green” resolutions this


 

Home for the Holidays

Home for the Holidays

by Amanda Wurtz

When you focus on what you are grateful for, nothing else can get you down. That's the mantra of the Scott and Jennifer McLawhorn family, who own a Habitat for Humanity home in Moorhead. This holiday season it's not the presents under the tree that will brighten their hearts but the home that they will be celebrating in. "The house is our present," said Scott. "We love it here."

This will be their first full holiday season in the home as they did "power move" into it last Dec. 19. "It was our first Thanksgiving dinner here," said Scott. "And, we will be having Christmas dinner here in a few days. So many firsts in this home." The Christmas tree is up for the first year with brightly colored ornaments, stockings are hung and snowmen decorations are on the wall.

All is not quiet in the household. Scott and Jennifer's four children chat about school and the scurry of twelve little puppy paws run through the living room. Bella, a Jack Russell Terrier, Jazzy, a miniature dachshund, and Willow, a miniature pinscher, create a chorus as they greet house guests.

The McLawhorn family of (back, from left) Sierra, Jennifer, Scott, (front) Alexis, Jonathan and Devon. 

The 6-bedroom ranch style home is spacious atmosphere compared to the 3-bedroom home they lived previously. "This home is amazing!" said 11-year-old Alexis. "I get my own room!" That's the number one advantage for Sierra, 13, Devon, 10 and Jonathan, 9, as well.

Jennifer and Scott committed hundreds of hours volunteering at the construction site, as well as at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore as part of the partner family sweat equity requirement. 

The family also feels safer and less stressed in their new dwelling. "That house we rented was poorly insulated," explained Scott. "There was a significant temperature change from one portion of the house to another. There was black mold. The windows didn't seal and the floors were unstable. And, the house was broken into a couple of times. Unfortunately, we didn't get any long-term solutions from our landlord."

That home felt like a money pit, explained Scott. "Every two to three winters, the pipes broke and I had to pay for plumbing repairs and clean-up."

Something better had to be out there and that was a Habitat for Humanity home, someone suggested to Scott. While he had never heard about Habitat for Humanity, his curiosity was piqued. They completed the application and were notified a few months later that they were accepted as a partner family for the 2013 build season. "We were really excited," said Scott.

At that time, he and Jennifer were engaged to be married. They were high school classmates but had gone their separate ways and went through previous marriages and many challenging life experiences. "This time, with us, this relationship is for life," said Scott. The pair bonded even closer as they worked on the construction site. This was demonstrated with use of an action shot on the home construction site as their July 2014 wedding announcement photo.

In November 2013, the home was complete and a few weeks later, it became the McLawhorn's new address. Life has been on an upswing since then. Scott, an Army veteran battling with post-traumatic stress disorder, said Sierra has ADHD and Devon is autistic. But, the illnesses have become more manageable in the new environment because stress has decreased significantly with a warm, safe and sound home to live in. "We love what Habitat for Humanity did for us," said Scott. "It's not a hand out, but a hand up."

Scott enjoys paying the monthly mortgage and counts down the number of payments, says Jennifer. The monthly payments demonstrate a dream that has come true for this family, who is full of gratitude for this simple, decent and affordable home for the holidays.

Scott McLawhorn (middle) participates in the house wall raising.

 

5 Kid-Approved (And Affordable) DIY Projects

5 Kid Approved (And Affordable) DIY Projects

Looking for something to keep the kids busy this holiday break? Is your wallet a bit empty after all of those Christmas gift purchases?  Try a family DIY project! With a little spare time, creativity and Christmas magic, you can turn something old into something brand new. Create awesome DIY gifts with your kids that they’ll love to play with all year. And the best part? You can find most of the supplies you’ll need for an affordable price at ReStore.

LEGO Table

If your kids love to use their imaginations while playing with LEGOs, give them an inspiring space to both build and store their collection with a LEGO table. All it takes is an old table, a good paint job and some LEGO-friendly accessories!

Diner Playset

If you’ve got an old cabinet, it doesn’t take much to turn it into a brand new diner playset! With a kitchen on one side and a drive-up window on the other, it’ll provide hours of playtime for the kids and their friends.

Drawer Dollhouse

This adorable DIY dollhouse allows for lots of creativity—and all you need are a couple of old dresser drawers. Put the empty drawers together to create the house, then paint, decorate and it’s ready to be played with.

Kids’ Workbench

This project is perfect for all the little builders in your family. Create this kids’ workbench with an old end table and some pegboard. It’s a great place for your kids to play with their toy tools and help you with your next DIY project!

Play Vanity

A play vanity makes a great gift for an aspiring barber or stylist. You can either choose to build it yourself or make one out of an old desk. Add a mirror, some storage bins for all the supplies your kids need, and they’ll be ready for their first customer.

Habitat for Humanity ReStore is located at 210 11th Street North in Moorhead, Minnesota. Our hours are 10:00 am – 6:00 pm Tuesday through Friday and 10:00 am – 4:00 pm Saturday. Visit us online at lakeagassizhabitat.org, or find us on Facebook under Lake Agassiz Habitat ReStore.


 

Your ReStore Holiday Gift Guide

Your ReStore Holiday Gift Guide

Need to find a gift for all the special people in your life this holiday season, but don’t want to break the bank? You’re in luck. We’ve put together a “Thrift Your Gifts” guide full of budget-friendly gift ideas you can find at the ReStore.

InForum Feature:Fargo family thankful for Habitat for Humanity home

Angela and Carlos Salinas’ home is located at 418 22nd St. S. in Fargo. David Samson / The Forum

Fargo family thankful for Habitat for Humanity home

By Ryan Johnson on Nov 22, 2014 at 4:04 p.m.

FARGO – Carlos Salinas jokes that he’s thankful his family won’t host the big Thanksgiving meal this year.

“That means no dishes for us,” he said with a chuckle.

But Salinas and his wife, Angela, do have plenty of serious reasons to be grateful as they prepare to celebrate the holiday with relatives in Frazee, Minn.

They’re thankful to have more yard work in the summers than they ever expected, including pulling weeds, planting landscaping and trying to get a green, grassy lawn established where there was only black dirt.

They’re thankful their five kids have a swingset in the backyard, allowing them to have friends over without Angela worrying about the children playing along a busy street.

More than anything, the Salinas family is thankful they can call their Fargo house a home with the help of Lake Agassiz Habitat for Humanity.

“We’re thankful for our house that fits our family,” Angela said.

Getting help

Angela and Carlos Salinas were longtime renters in the community, making do with the space they could afford.

But it’s hard to find an apartment big enough for a family of seven, Angela said, especially because more bedrooms typically means a higher cost, making it too expensive to rent as she finishes up her education to be a nurse and Carlos works seasonally for a concrete company.

That’s where Lake Agassiz Habitat for Humanity, the local affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International that serves Cass and Clay counties, came in to help.

The family applied to the nonprofit in June 2012, going through several rounds of interviews before getting word in March 2013 they were approved.

Construction on their house in south Fargo began in the summer of 2013, giving the Salinas family a chance to pitch in on parts of the building process until they were ready to move in in February.

While the Habitat for Humanity program made it possible to afford a house because of the no-interest mortgage that’s income based, Carlos Salinas said he sometimes encounters people who wrongly think they got it for free.

“We’ve still got to pay a mortgage. We’ve still got to work, and we’ve got to put in our hours,” he said. 

Settling in

Instead of monthly rent checks, Carlos Salinas now budgets for a mortgage payment – and he’s just fine with that.

“That’s nice, knowing that it’s eventually going to be ours and not having to depend on somebody to come fix your stuff,” he said. “When it’s got to get fixed, you just do it yourself, and you don’t have to wait two or three weeks for your landlord or maintenance man to come do it.”

The family has space to spread out in the six-bedroom, two-bathroom house that’s allowed 15-year-old daughter Tanisha to get a room of her own.

Now that they’ve lived here a while and given the house time to settle, Angela said they’re ready to paint the walls and add their own touches. The artistic Tanisha is looking forward to guiding that work, starting with covering her white bedroom walls in a shade of light purple or minty blue.

“She can pick out color schemes and stuff that matches, and she’s kind of our go-to gal when we want to know stuff,” Angela said.

The family now takes pride in their neighborhood, where 7-year-old Josslyn and 5-year-old Carlos Jr. are just a block away from their school and mom and dad have good relationships with the other homeowners nearby.

Twins Carly and Karmella, both 4, also enjoy having a nice, open living room to relax and play in when they’re not too busy watching “Frozen” again.

The home also is efficient during the winter, Carlos said. It’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified because of the extra insulation that make it less expensive to heat.

The Salinas family might be out of town for Thanksgiving, but they’re thankful to know they have a cozy home of their own to come back to after the holiday.

‘Hand up, not a handout’

Pete Christopher, resource development and marketing manager for the local affiliate, said families are chosen for the Habitat for Humanity program based on three factors.

They must show a clear need for a new house, whether it’s because their current house is unlivable or too small or if the applicant has escaped an abusive relationship or suffers from medical problems.

They have to meet income guidelines, proving they’re gainfully employed and can pay back the mortgage – it’s a “hand up, not a handout,” Christopher said.

The final step is a willingness to partner with the nonprofit, with each adult in the family required to put in 250 hours of “sweat equity” that includes working on their own house, assisting on other Habitat homes and putting in time at ReStore in Moorhead.

Families that meet those requirements are interviewed until the nonprofit decides who will benefit from next year’s construction – though many won’t because the need is too great.

“Right now we have about 38 qualified applicants for next year’s houses, and we’re really only going to be able to do three at the most,” Christopher said.

Karmella and Carly Salinas share a room at the family home in south Fargo. David Samson / The Forum

Ryan Johnson

After four years of covering news for the Grand Forks Herald and The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, Ryan Johnson has been a features reporter for The Forum's Variety section since 2013. His prior beats included politics, business, city government and higher education. Johnson is a 2008 alumnus of the University of North Dakota. Have a comment to share about a story? Letters to the editor should include author’s name, address and phone number. Generally, letters should be no longer than 250 words. All letters are subject to editing. Send to letters@forumcomm.com
(701) 241-5587

4th Annual Cruisin’ for Habitat

By Kim Ouren, Contributing Writer

On Saturday, October 11th, the Cruisin’ fun began at Sickies Garage with a group of 36 people and 11 classic cars cruising to the Silver Prairie Saloon in McLeod, ND for lunch. During lunch, the participants played BINGO and Sickies t-shirts were given as raffle prizes.

Over $3500 was raised to support Lake Agassiz Habitat for Humanity!!

A special thank you to our event sponsors: Gate City Bank, Corey’s Customs and Collision, Rusco Window, Advanced Autobody & Glass, United Electric Service & Supply, Inc., Sickies Garage, Silver Prairie Saloon and Sandy’s Donuts.

Get your classic car ready and join us for next year’s cruise in the fall of 2015!

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Building Hope

It was the 60’s in Americus, Georgia when the first inklings of what is now Habitat for Humanity took shape. On a small community farm called Koinonia, a farmer and a biblical scholar practiced the art of sharing goods, seeking to put God’s love into action. The scholar, a man named Clarence Jordan, met a couple named Millard and Linda Fuller who shared a similar mission. Together they developed the idea of “partnership housing.”

The idea was that those in need of adequate housing could work alongside volunteers to create affordable homes. The houses, built at no profit, would be paid for through no-interest loans provided by supporters. Fundraising would be pooled to build even more homes. They called it “The Fund for Humanity.”

Dream became reality when the first concrete-block home was given to a couple, Beau and Emma, and their five kids. They had a modern kitchen, indoor bathroom and heating system -- much different from the unpainted, uninsulated shack with no plumbing where they had previously lived.

After taking their mission global to Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) and then returning to the United States, the Fullers officially launched Habitat for Humanity International in 1976.

The Fullers in Zaire.

Today, over 40 years later, this global organization has helped build, renovate and repair more than 1,000,000 affordable houses. These homes are now sheltering more than 9.8 million people worldwide.

Locally, Lake Agassiz Habitat for Humanity (LAHFH) is proud to be a part of this global story that is changing lives.

LAHFH strives to eliminate substandard housing right here in the Fargo/Moorhead community by constructing and rehabilitating homes for low income families. We believe that every man, woman and child should have a simple, durable place to live in dignity and safety. We believe that decent shelter in decent communities should be a matter of conscience and action for all.

With the generous support of donors and volunteers, LAHFH has made a lasting and meaningful impact in our community by helping local families realize their dreams of home-ownership. We have served 55 families, by constructing or renovating homes in Cass and Clay Counties.

This Giving Hearts Day, we want to open even more doors for our partner families. To do this, we’ve determined that a donation of just $24 will purchase one doorknob. This is how YOU can help open the door for a local family so they can have a safe affordable place to call home.

On February 9, 2017, your donation will be multiplied by Western State Bank, First Lutheran, Olivet Lutheran and other generous donors. It the best way to show your support, and maximize your gift.

Join Lake Agassiz Habitat, and #givewhereyoulive this Giving Hearts Day, by giving HERE on February 9!