Building Homes, Building Hope

Veterans Build

Amber Zolondek, Contributing Writer

With Veteran’s Day passing and we honor those who have served our country, I decided to do some research on our nation’s heroes. Sadly, what I found was heart wrenching. Nearly 1 million veterans who own homes are severely cost burdened, despite having access to VA loans and other assistance. That is a number too large for those who have risked their lives for our freedom.

In response to these staggering numbers, Habitat for Humanity launched Veterans Build, a national initiative to provide housing solutions and volunteer and employment opportunities to U.S. veterans, military service members and their families. Home Builders Care of Fargo-Moorhead Foundation, a local partner, kicked off Veterans Build with its first build on June 3rd of this year. Veteran Sonia Greer and her daughter, Madison, were our first home recipients. As a past volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, Greer had made connections and volunteered for other home builds while she served as a communication/navigational specialist and technical order data assistant at Beale Air Force Base in California.

What most people forget is that for programs like Veterans Build to work, Habitat for Humanity relies on the community and local businesses to give back. On average, a Habitat home costs around $132,000. Local businesses like lumberyards, carpenters, painters, and other Fargo-Moorhead civilians donate supplies and time in order for us to be as cost effective and community driven as possible. However, if you don’t have supplies or times to donate, one could always donate funds so that our veterans can be supplied with home to come back to.

That means if just 917 people of Fargo-Moorhead gave $12 a month to Habitat, we'd have enough funds to build a home for a well-deserving veteran. We’re slowly but surely getting to as many as we can, but according to the census, there are roughly 14,000 veterans in the Cass Clay Area, meaning we have some work to do!

Please help Habitat for Humanity build these houses for our veterans, they’ve given us a free country, let’s give them a home.

To learn more about the national Habitat for Humanity Veteran Build Program, check out http://www.habitat.org/getinv/volunteer_programs/veterans.aspx

To learn more about Lake Agassiz's Veteran Build Program, stay tuned for recent updates on our Facebook and Twitter


 

Something for Everyone: Volunteering with ReStore

Something for Everyone: Volunteering with ReStore

Volunteering at Lake Agassiz Habitat for Humanity ReStore is a great way to give back to your community while doing work that makes a difference. The ReStore helps divert materials away from area landfills, gives people access to affordable household items and raises money for area Habitat builds that provide housing for families in need. If this sounds like something you’d love to be a part of, check out the various volunteering opportunities below to pick the best fit for you.

Are you handy with tools?

If you’re the handy type, we’d love your help fixing up some of the donations we receive to get them ready for their next home. Not a fixer-upper? Then you might be interested in tear-down projects with our deconstruction crews who uninstall cabinets, windows, doors and other household items to salvage them for sale at the ReStore.

 

 

 

 

Are you a crafty DIYer?

If you’re a Pinterest fanatic or someone with an eye for repurposing, the ReStore could use your expertise. Some of the gently used materials donated to the ReStore get refinished and repurposed for resale, and we’re always looking for people who enjoy a crafty project.

 

 

 

 

 

Are you a people person?

The ReStore aims to provide its customers with affordable, gently used household items while providing quality customer service, and our volunteers are a big part of that process. If you enjoy helping people, ask us about opportunities volunteering at the front desk, where you’ll greet customers, ring up purchases and answer ReStore phone calls.

 

 

 

 

Are you a social butterfly?

The more the merrier. Bring a friend or a group to volunteer with you and make an event out of your ReStore volunteering experience. Groups can volunteer to help clean the store, sort donations, organize the sales floor and much more.

 

 

 

 

 

No matter what you’re interested in, call the ReStore at 218-284-5253 to set up the volunteering opportunity that will be the best fit for you. Wherever you decide to give your time, your help will make a big impact on the ReStore and an even bigger impact on your community.

 

 

 

A Home To Be Proud Of

A Home To Be Proud Of

By Amanda Wurtz, HFH PR Committee

A safer neighborhood and a deeper sense of home. Those are just a couple of ways that life has improved for Habitat for Humanity homeowner Coreen Graham and her children, Raquel, 14 and Austin, 19.

"Moving here was amazing," said Coreen, who has lived in the north Moorhead home with her children since 2008. "I feel proud of where I live."

Coreen's last home was a 1970s trailer with two bedrooms and one bathroom. It had character. Electrical issues meant they couldn't have more than two appliances operating at once or the walls would heat up and smell like dead fish. Space issues meant that family members and friends weren't able to stay overnight. Concerns of neighborhood safety and being near highly traveled Highway 10 meant her children were restricted in the areas where they could play and ride their bikes. And the list went on.

"I didn't have friends over very often because other people's homes were nicer," added Raquel.

While the monthly trailer fees were affordable and she was able to save money, Coreen felt completely stuck with her housing situation. "I wanted something better but I didn't think I could do it."

In 2007, she contacted a bank and was pre-approved for a home loan. But, every home that she looked at within the loan approval range didn't put her in a much better spot than the trailer. Even the one that she was ready to put an offer on would have meant that she would have to go on food assistance to make ends meet.

That's when she decided to pursue applying for a Habitat for Humanity home as her sister Danette had recommended. That fall, she filled out the application thoroughly and continued through the interview and home visit steps.

In early 2008, Coreen learned that she was chosen as a partner family for the upcoming build season. She was volunteering at the Habitat ReStore that day and couldn't contain her emotions. She hugged Habitat volunteer Mary Jane Haugen and ran home to tell a friend who danced around the room with her. The announcements to friends and family continued to be met with tears of joy and shouts of happiness. "I put together Bob the Builder bags tool kits and put a simple message of 'I got it' in the bags," Coreen recalls. "I left the bags at people's houses or had another person give it to them and the reactions were incredible."

She quickly embraced her sweat equity hour requirements and volunteered more than 500 hours that year, well above the 250 hour minimum. "I took vacation during the Blitz Build week and when I wasn't working my kids and I were putting in volunteer hours with Habitat for Humanity."

Gratitude filled her heart and outpoured in her actions towards volunteers and donors. "I wrote individual thank you notes and also made gift baskets for some of the crew leaders," Coreen said.

Soon, the home was completed and the dedication was underway. This is the place that they call home and feel secure in their living space. The neighborhood is safe and the families in the area look out for one another, explained Coreen. "We're all like one big family."

The smile on her face doesn't go away as she describes so many ways her life has changed since the day she moved into the simple, affordable 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom home.

For years, Coreen and Raquel were sharing a room and now they each get their own. They have two bathrooms which is more accommodating for the family and guests. Birthday and holiday parties are more comfortable because the living space has doubled. Family members are able to stay over on occasion.

And, when Coreen learned that her Dad had stage 4 lung cancer, she had the space to care for him in her house. "To do this, Raquel and I had to share a room again for a couple of months, but it was worth it to have that time with him before he passed away."

Other things have improved for Coreen as well. The new home location placed the children on the bus route to St. Joseph Catholic School. "The bus didn't stop near our trailer and when I worked early mornings at McDonald's, I had the kids stay over at my Mom's house to bring them to school."

She's now working for Clay County in the Social Services Department and the days of juggling two jobs and working weekends are behind her. "I have a regular work schedule," said Coreen. "Being home means so much. This place is home."

Although Coreen knew little about Habitat for Humanity when she applied for her home, she has become a strong supporter of the mission. She's even served on the Family Selection Committee in recent years. "Anytime they call me to help with something, I am there if I am available. There is no way I can pay them back for what they did for me and my family."

If you'd like to help us build more homes for families like the Grahams, please cosider a donation. Click here or text Home50 to 41444. 

Coreen Graham (middle) thoroughly enjoyed volunteering with others as her new home was constructed in the summer of 2008.

The History of ReStore

Ever wondered where Habitat ReStore made its start?

The first Habitat ReStore actually opened in Winnipeg, Canada in the mid 1980s and the first American store opened in Austin, TX in 1992. Originally, the ReStores only sold new and used building materials.

Now there are over 750 ReStores in the United States and 50 in Canada, ranging from large scale operations like the first stores in Winnipeg and Austin, to smaller stores in areas like Fargo-Moorhead. From big to small, all ReStores serve the same purpose. Their goal is to support the projects of their Habitat for Humanity affiliate through funds raised by selling new and used home improvement materials at reduced prices.

They have expanded to offer home improvement materials, appliances and furniture. All products are donated by individuals, contractors, or businesses. In some cases, a crew of ReStore volunteers will also go into a home slated for demolition or remodeling and deconstruct re-usable items for sale in ReStore. These deconstruction projects also a great source of ReStore product.

Some of most successful ReStores not only cover all operational costs for Habitat programs in their area, they even cover the cost of building homes in that area. While the stores are all a part of the same ReStore system, each one is operated independently, so all funds raised by the store can go right back into the community it serves.

Habitat ReStores have continued to grow in popularity, especially now that more and more people are interested in upcycling and repurposing projects. The fact that ReStore also diverts thousands of tons of materials from the landfill every year certainly helps too. Many of the items sold at ReStore, especially those procured through deconstruction projects, would otherwise be thrown away if they weren’t saved for the ReStore.

Our local ReStore is on the grow too! We’ve had some of our best sales in the past few years, as more and more Fargo-Moorhead residents are recognizing the benefits of shopping, donating and volunteering at the ReStore.

If you’re not one of these people – we suggest you swing by the store sometime and find out how great Habitat ReStore is yourself!

Habitat ReStore is located at 210 11th Street North in Moorhead and is open from 10-6 Tuesday-Friday and 10-4 on Saturday.

35 Under 35 Alumni come together for Women’s Build for Habitat for Humanity

35 Under 35 Alumni come together for Women’s Build for Habitat for Humanity

When looking for volunteers for projects, one of the most enthusiastic groups are alumni from the Women’s 35 Under 35 Leadership Program of United Way of Cass-Clay.  When Angie Ryan, an alumni of the program, heard that Lake Agassiz Habitat for Humanity announced a Women’s Build, she knew that she could get others from the group to volunteer as well. 

On September 25th and 26th, more than a dozen alumni from the 35 Under 35 program volunteered their time to assist with the build. “It is heartwarming to know we were doing our small part in the process to help a local woman and her family realize the dream of home ownership,” says Angie. 

Other alumni shared the same experience as Angie.  Shannon Luney said “Working on the Habitat for Humanity house was so rewarding. Besides laughing and having fun with friends, I learned how to side a house! The people working with Habitat for Humanity are so friendly and great to work with.” 

Joni Medenwald shared these words with us as well.  “Being a part of building the Habitat for Humanity Women Build house was an awesome experience!  I met new people, had many laughs, and saw firsthand how our community works together to take care of one another.”  Thank you Habitat for Humanity and the many volunteers and staff who help make Fargo/Moorhead such an inspirational place to call home!” 

These ladies LIVED UNITED by volunteering over the course of two days to put up siding, windows, and other exterior projects for the build in West Fargo.  To follow along with the build or to see how you can volunteer, go tohttp://www.lakeagassizhabitat.org.

In 1991, a group of women in Charlotte, NC came together to complete the first all women built Habitat for Humanity home. This event inspired other Habitat affiliates across the country to embark on Women Build programs of their own. In 2007, Lake Agassiz Habitat for Humanity completed their first Women Build home. The Women Build program engages women of every race, age, and skill level to plan and build all aspects of a healthy and affordable home with an eligible family. Through participating in the project, women have the opportunity to gain skills and confidence by working with an all-women team of volunteers in a supportive and empowering building environment.

[Article Source: United Cass Clay]

5 Upcycled Ways to De-clutter Your Garage Before Winter

Take a look inside your garage. Is it full of disorganized tools and garden equipment? Leftover summer clutter from the kids? Boxes full of who-knows-what?

Luckily, a few simple storage solutions can get you organized and create extra space just in time for colder weather. Reclaim your garage with these 5 DIY upcycled projects that you can finish before the snow flies. You’ll find everything you need right at ReStore.

 

1. Make a Storage Box out of a Filing Cabinet

Can’t get those rakes, shovels and other outdoor tools to stay hanging on your garage wall—or do they just end up scattered all over your garage? Keep everything together with this storage box made out of an old filing cabinet.

2. Make Kids’ Lockers out of a Bookshelf

You know the drill with kids. The second they get home from school, their shoes and coats and gloves end up everywhere. Turn part of your garage into a mud room with a bookshelf-turned-locker-bay where the kids can store all their outdoor gear.

3. Make a Rolling Tool Cabinet out of a Dresser

Tools are hard to keep organized and away from the grabby hands of kids. Keep them tucked away safely in this tool cabinet made out of an old dresser. It’s easy to move with the addition of wheels, so you can take your tools anywhere.

4. Make a Toy Tower out of Plywood

Even if you’re not a master builder, you can still make this easy toy tower for your garage. All it takes is some plywood, paint and a few other accessories. Fill it with totes for an eye-catchingly organized place to keep outdoor toys and more.

5. Make a Gardening Rack out of Pallets

Keep your gardening gear together year-round with a gardening rack made out of pallets. Mount it right on your garage wall—it’s the perfect place to hang all of your gardening tools, gloves and even flower pots.

Stop into ReStore for everything you need to prepare your home and garage for the seasons to come!

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.

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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!