Monday, June 30, 2008

Multi-Platinum & Covered in Paint: 30 Seconds To Mars offers a Local Family a Brush With Kindness

30 Seconds To Mars recently auctioned off some chances to join them in offering A Brush With Kindness home repairs for the Jones family in Carson, California.

Bandmembers and the winning fans worked alongside volunteers and the partner family to make much-needed repairs to the home. All part of Habitat's A Brush with Kindness program that provides free repairs to local homeowners.
The auction raised over $10,000 for Hollywood for Habitat for Humanity and changed the lives of all involved.

Read the press release here.

To read other A Brush With Kindness accounts, check out these posts:

Monday, June 23, 2008

Sixteen Local Families Come Home in San Pedro

We hosted a community block party to celebrate the completion of our Harborside Terrace neighborhood in San Pedro this weekend.

We honored sixteen families who are now proud homeowners! Most of them found out one year ago (June 22, 2007) that they had qualified in a surprise announcement. Here we are one year later and they own beautiful new homes!

The Daily Breeze ran a story about the event.
Wondering if you qualify for a Habitat home? Visit our website and apply today.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Local Habitat Youth Volunteer is KABC-7 "Cool Kid of the Week"

TUNE IN: Today at 4pm on KABC-7 News:

Natalie Millman is a youth volunteer with Habitat for Humanity of Greater L.A. & she came up with a great way to raise money for a Habitat home, while combining her love of music. Natalie plays her viola during lunchtime at La Serna High, where she is a sophomore, and has raised several hundred dollars. She even takes requests.

Today, KABC-7 will feature Natalie as the “Cool Kid of the Week” so please tune in and see why we think she is so inspiring! The piece will repeat Sunday morning and you can see the video archive online following the broadcast.
Read Natalie's blog that caught the attention of KABC here.
For information about Youth Programs, please visit our website.
Natalie is also featured in today's Whittier Daily News.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Guest Blogger Mark Bixby Talks about Team Building for a Good Cause

When I came to work at Pacific Retail Partners a few months back, one of the conditions Mike Jensen (President/CEO) set for me was to work on three community service projects. It’s the type of guy he is, and one of the reasons I wanted to work for him; he’s successful in business and generous in service. I called Erin Rank, the president/CEO of Habitat, who I’d known through the Rotary Club of Long Beach, and who had helped a team from my former employer participate in the “Hollywood for Habitat for Humanity Blitz Build” several years ago. Every volunteer on that program felt something incredibly positive and rewarding in their Habitat experience. Our goal was to get the Pacific Retail Partners team out of the office for a day to work on a construction project in Long Beach. Team bonding for a good cause.

Erin put me in touch with the right staff, Deborah Lewis, Programs Manager, who shared available projects and dates. There weren’t any current or near term projects in Long Beach, but a variety of projects the following month (June). One of the programs offered is called “A brush with kindness” and the date worked for our team, June 5th. I remember a similar Habitat program from my days in college in Durham, North Carolina. Several fraternity brothers and I went into an older neighborhood and spent a rewarding day fixing up an aging home.

But the location for our June 5th Habitat day was in Los Angeles, an hour’s drive and not our “home” community - although Pacific Retail Partners does business throughout Southern California. I was a little worried that the team wouldn’t be as excited about heading out of town during heavy traffic hours to work somewhere outside of Long Beach. Out went the e-mail to the team: we’re on for a Habitat project, meet at PRP parking lot 7 am.

June 5th dawned a beautiful, sunny day. We carpooled to Los Angeles and found the home, spying the telltale Habitat “POD” (large container) and dumpster in the front yard. John, one of our Habitat leaders, awaited our arrival. John is a former general contractor with years of experience leading Habitat projects. The homeowner is 70 years old woman, a widow of 10 years and a bit slower getting around. Her home was in need of attention and had been selected by Habitat for this Brush with Kindness. We greeted her as several other volunteers appeared, joining our Habitat team. They were from all walks of life – teachers, students, office workers and AmeriCorps members. To get the morning started, the 15 of us gathered in a circle and held hands as the homeowner led the team in a prayer that set the tone for the day’s work.

A Brush with Kindness” - the name doesn’t tell the whole story. I was hoping our team would get to do more than just paint, and we weren’t disappointed. Habitat has been organizing these type of projects for decades and knows how to give volunteers a great experience while extracting a healthy amount of volunteer labor. John explained the available tasks and queried the crowd to understand as to construction experience and interest, but denying no one an opportunity to try something new. Most of the Habitat leaders have construction experience and are trained to teach the volunteers what they need to know. This makes for a compelling experience – learning new skills in a low pressure environment, having fun, partnering with friends and co-workers and new friends to complete projects. Our options were many: frame and pour concrete, plaster, stucco, build stairs, repair screens, frame doors, haul construction debris, surface a deck or paint.

So we donned our safety glasses and dove into our work. Paul, our burly man, and Annika, our not burly woman, joined forces to haul a rather large construction debris pile from the backyard to the dumpster. Mike mixed stucco and mortar, Kevin and I framed out a footing and mixed concrete while Mark S. and Brendan and Sally painted. We paused for a burrito lunch and talked with the other volunteers, learning more about AmeriCorps, one of the organizations that partners with Habitat to help provide solid leadership. As the day progressed, the team members switched tasks as needed. Annika and Mike stucco’ed, Mark S. framed a basement access cover, Kevin pounded nails and Paul framed a door.

The day wrapped up before we knew it. A new porch and stairs completed, three walls stucco’ed, screens and hatches and vents repaired, the yard cleaned and swept, and the house trim repainted. Our team shared a great sense of accomplishment and the satisfaction of a heartfelt hug and thank you from the homeowner. We drove home a happy, tired crew. There was more work to do, but we could rest assured that the next team Habitat for Humanity assembled would be there ready to work at 8:00 am Friday.

Click here for a photo slideshow.

Posted by: Mark L. Bixby

To find out more about Habitat's A Brush With Kindness Program, check out these post:

We are looking for weekday volunteers! For information about how you can offer "A Brush With Kindness," please visit our website.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Sharing in a Celebration of Giving, Hope & Homeownership

As president and CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Greater L.A., I have the privilege of meeting some amazing people. My staff for example. They are extremely hard-working and they truly care about serving this community. Their selfless dedication warms my heart on a daily basis. Our supporters – donors, volunteers, city officials – are always going above and beyond to help change the lives of people, some of whom they have never met. Our AmeriCorps members who sign on to work with us each year are so young and full of hope. Their presence gives me faith that our future is in good hands.

I derive my daily motivation from one thing above all - our partner families. These men and women have worked so hard to provide a safe place for their families to live. If you have ever considered donating time or funding to Habitat, I guarantee not only will your gift be transformational for these families, but working along side them will forever change your heart and your perspective. They are the reason we rally through the challenges of building affordable homes in the least affordable county in America.

Last Saturday, I had the pleasure of celebrating the completion of 14 townhomes in S. Los Angeles. I got to see the smiles on the faces of 14 families who recently moved into their own home, which they helped build. It’s a Habitat tradition to celebrate a new home with the family and when we are able to create an entire neighborhood, like Vermont Village, we throw a block party!

Vermont Village has 14 townhomes comprised of 3 and 4 bedroom units and they all surround a one-of-a-kind playground designed by the children who live there. Resources for the tot lot were generously donated by KaBoom! and The Home Depot Foundation.

Thousands of volunteers came to L.A. last fall to join President and Mrs. Jimmy Carter for a week-long blitz build at this location (and another in San Pedro.) Now the structures are completed and better yet, the homes are now inhabited by the special families who worked so hard for them. We don’t give homes away - these families are homeowners with a real, yet affordable mortgage. They have also put in at least 500 hours of build time, which we call “sweat equity,” as their down payment.

This coming Saturday is going to be another memorable day for all of Los Angeles as we welcome another 16 of the city’s newest homeowners into their new homes in San Pedro!

If you or someone you know would like to experience the magic of Habitat for Humanity, please contact us and start building hope and changing lives today.

Posted by Erin Rank, president/CEO, Habitat for Humanity GLA