Thursday, March 25, 2010

Thrivent Financial for Lutherans - A Valued Partner

Thrivent Financial for Lutherans is a valuable partner for Habitat of Greater L.A. and through the Thrivent Builds program, they've helped change the lives of hundreds of families all over the United States.

Thank you to our Thrivent partners here in Greater L.A. for this beautiful video:

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Lawndale Kick-Off Celebration
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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Act! Speak! Build! Week 2010 Culmination Event & Video Contest Winners

Saturday’s Act! Speak! Build! Week 2010 Culmination Event was a great success! The event gave youth across Greater Los Angeles an opportunity to learn more about affordable housing issues, find out more about HFH GLA Youth Programs, and hear what their peers did during Act! Speak! Build! Week.

We heard from a number of guest speakers and panelists including a welcome from Dr. Sanders, Long Beach City College, and Gerrie Schipske, Long Beach City Councilmember for the 5th District; a panel and Q & A discussion on affordable housing with Lisa Payne, Policy Director at the Southern California Association of Non-Profit Housing and Grady Martine, Executive Director, Central City  Community Outreach.

The youth panel discussion with Kate Sim and Caroline Kim enlightened youth about how they can get more involved in Habitat’s Youth United and Campus Chapter programs. Finally, we heard about the importance of having a home to live in from HFH GLA partner family youth Angel Campos and Dominique Valadez.

Kristina Guerrero, host of E! News, also delivered a special video message [see below] about how young people can now support affordable housing and sponsor the second House that Youth Built through Nickels for Nails Find out more about Nickels for Nails.

Here are the top three YouTube contest entries, which were awarded prizes at the event.

#1 – Notre Dame Academy Kindergarten Advocates

#2 – Bay Harbor Hockey Red Wings

#3 – Long Beach Youth United for Affordable Housing

Thanks to all who attended the event and participated in another successful week of youth advocacy!

Related Posts:
Habitat's 21 Ways in 21 Days Tip #14: Advocate/Spread the Word
Leading a Hand Up to All Those in Need is Part of our Mission
HFH GLA Construction Staff Gives Back

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Monday, March 22, 2010

Inside the HFH Internship: My First 'Good News Caravan'

On Thursday, March 11, I broke from my normal routine to leave at 5:15 and head home. I walked upstairs into a meeting room where eight families sat surrounded by my new co-workers. All of them were being told that they were embarking on a new lifestyle called homeownership.

In the middle of a speech by HFH GLA President Erin G. Rank, a woman named Lety and her two daughters walked in, unaware of what the rest of the group had been told. The three of them sat down quietly in a corner of the room. I looked around for what was supposed to happen next. All of my new Habitat peers were still smiling. Should I remove the cheer from my face that started when Erin told previous "good news" to the families that were already there? Or was it supposed to be a surprise again? I decided that I'd look down at the carpet.

Erin took a moment to welcome Lety and told her the news: a home was being built for Lety and her daughters in their hometown of Lynwood, CA. All they had to do is promise to pay the mortgage and help build the house.

In this moment, though, Lety and the girls live with her parents in a two-bedroom apartment that is breaking down from the inside out. It's the same with the other eight applicants of this "Partner Family" program; one lives in a gang-heavy neighborhood; another is overcrowded in a bedroom that they rent for high rent; another has leaky roofs, bad plumbing and broken flooring. These are good, deserving, hard-working people, but this program doesn't just give away houses to the needy. It allows low-income families the opportunity to own a home, pay a mortgage, and even build their own house. A few hundred Lynwood area/Imperial Highway families initially showed interest in the housing program, but only nine made it out of the pile in hopes to better their lives, financially and spiritually.

The tears kept coming for Lety, who said "I feel like if I want to get something, I want to earn it." She couldn't even finish her statement, tapping one of her kids to finish it for her.

"[In the car] she was saying 'I want something that God is giving to me,' and I told her if God wants you to have it, then that's how it's going to be," her daughter said.

I can't make this stuff up, folks.

These partner families, now soon-to-be homeowners are directly involved in the construction of their homes. Each family has to put in 500 hours of "sweat equity," or physical labor, on their new Habitat home or on someone else's new Habitat home. The overall pay-out? Zero-interest mortgages (each family pays no more than 35% of their monthly income), improved credit and financial stability, and a long-term roof over their heads that they can call their own. I walked back to my desk and thought about my own life, and how fortunate I have become in over 23 years on earth. Everything that I ever worked for as a student, business journalist, African-American and Christian was about to change.

On March 11, I was four days into my internship here in Gardena and five minutes away from tears of humility myself. And to think, I thought I was troubled in my inability to pay one of my bills last month because I didn't have a job! Witnessing this brought me down a few notches.

Hello, my name is Christina, and I'm one of three Spring 2010 volunteer interns at Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles.

Check out more stories about Habitat families:

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Kindergarten Class Learns About Affordable Housing

Guest blog by Pat Genovese, Kindergarten Teacher at Notre Dame Academy Elementary & Habitat Volunteer

I strongly believe that it is important for children to understand that our responsibility, as citizens, is to help those in need. This year in Kindergarten, we have discussed serving our community on many levels; in our school, neighborhoods and church. For Act! Speak! Build! Week we brainstormed our responsibilities as citizens and the significance of our actions.

We read the book, Everyone Needs a Safe Place to Live, and focused on the importance of caring and respecting all people in our world. Our word of the week was adequate and we explored what adequate housing signifies. In cooperative groups, students wrote letters to President Obama and our senators and entered a video in Habitat for Humanity of Greater L.A's YouTube video contest. They also decorated t-shirts and made a clothesline to communicate the need for adequate housing; wrote individual poems about the importance of a safe home; made cards for new homeowners; played Habitat Bingo; used coins to purchase Habitat "building supplies"; and drew pictures of the homes they want for all people.

Students' advocacy efforts included spreading the word within our school and their families. This week, the kindergarteners learned the importance of serving others and acting cooperatively to end poverty housing. They recognized the right to adequate housing for all people and realized that even though they are small, they can still make our world a better place.

Related Posts:
Guest Blogger: Pat Genovese of Norte Dame Academy Elementary
Hundreds of Local Students Take on Affordable Housing Crisis This Week
Youth United & Easter Bunny Attract A Crowd at the L.A. Zoo Where Local Kids Helped to Raise over $200

New Blog about the Brush With Kindness Program

Our sister HFH affiliate in Twin Cities, MN blazed trails with the A Brush With Kindness Program, which we've happily adopted here in Greater Los Angeles and now its founder, Pat Lund, has launched a blog.    The Kindness Connection will offer updates about A Brush With Kindness and encourage insights and suggestions from supporters, volutneers and homeowners.  We hope you'll help us help more families by participating in the conversation!

Related Posts:
How Habitat for Humanity Saved More than Gertrude's Roof
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A Giving Spirit, A Brush with Kindness & Cupcakes

Friday, March 12, 2010

ACT! SPEAK! BUILD! Week YouTube Video Contest Extended!

First, the business: The deadline for entries in the Act! Speak! Build! Week has been extended to Thursday, March 18th at 12:00 am! Youth ages 5-25 can still participate by advocating for affordable housing in the Greater Los Angeles region and by entering a video in the Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles' YouTube video contest.

Now, the good stuff: Exciting prizes for the top three videos include a unique Lakers experience with team memorabilia and apparel for the top video, DVDs, video games, and museum tickets! Prizes will be awarded at the Act! Speak! Build! Week event on March 20, 2010 at Long Beach City College from 2:00-3:30 pm. The event offers students an opportunity to receive a first-hand perspective on the affordable housing problems in Los Angeles County by hearing from those who are closest to the issue and the youth in HFH GLA programs responding to the need.

"We are thrilled that Lakers Coach Craig Hodges heard about the YouTube video contest and wanted to reward L.A. youth promoting affordable housing in our city with a unique Lakers experience," says Erin Rank, President/CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles.

Enter by making a sixty-second video describing what you did to raise awareness for affordable housing and Habitat for Humanity, posting the video on YouTube, then sending the link to:

For more information on Act! Speak! Build! Week, the YouTube contest and the event on March 20th visit

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Hundreds of Local Students Take on Affordable Housing Crisis This Week
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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

HIgh Above Hollywood - A Night of Celebration & Generosity

On Thursday, March 4th, we were thrilled to be in attendance at the opening VIP event for the Sunset Vine Towers in Hollywood. From their prime location, the views of the entire city were magnificent on this clear evening.

The event was full of well-dressed guests taking the elevators up and down between the open houses on four different floors.    The building and units were beautiful, well laid out and the views were fabulous. All the units have views (some with open balconies) and range from 720 square feet to the penthouse at 4,400 square feet, which has a 360 degree view and was incredible.  The band, drinks, mini massages and appetizers were great and it was a fantastic turn out.  The units will lease from $2,300 a month to $14,000 and the penthouse at $24,995 per month.  Our Habitat for Humanity of Greater L.A. logo was displayed all night on the Power Points in each suite and in the lobby.  The event was elegant, packed and fun was definitely had by all.
While this event showcased the Sunset Vine Towers - beautiful and luxurious apartments - many guests appreciated their support of Habitat's mission to end substandard housing one house at a time by making us their beneficiary for the event that night.

We’d like to thank everyone for their generous support.  We look forward to building with all the future volunteers we met that night.  Special thanks to Jessica Blotter of Publicly Loved for inviting Habitat for Humanity to become the beneficiary of the event, Sunset Vine Tower, CIM Group and to all the wonderful sponsors who made it a success.

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Golfers Needed To Build Homes & Help Haiti One Swing At A Time

Join us on Monday, March 15th, 2010 for our Dawn to Dusk Golf Tournament at El Caballero Country Club . We're looking for golfers ready to tee off at dawn and play as many holes as possible before it gets dark! Every swing you take and hole you play will raise funds for our Youth United home , which will be 1 of 10 homes built to LEED certification in Lynwood. Funds raised that day will also go towards our relief work in Haiti. To participate you must register online and be willing to raise funds.

There is no cost to participate, but there is a goal for each golfer to get $5,000 in pledges from friends, families, colleagues, or sponsorships.

Throughout the day food and drink will be shared, massages will be given and prizes will be awarded to golfers who raise the most money and golf the most holes.

Prizes include;
2 nights at the Fairmont Newport Beach
1 night at the San Diego Omni
1 night at the Rancho Bernardo Inn
1 night at the Mission Valley Marriott
2 nights + brunch at the Mission Inn Riverside
1 night at the Grand del Mar San Diego
1 night at the Mira Monte Resort Indian Wells
1 night at the Hyatt Manchester San Diego

Plus, every golfer will receive a 1 year membership to
Preferred Golf. If you don't golf you can still help by making a donation, sponsoring a golfer, or forwarding this info. to all the golfers in your life! Please register online , if you are ready and willing to raise funds and golf for a great cause!

Related Posts:
Habitat's 21 Ways in 21 Days Tip #9: CREATIVE FUNDRAISERS!
USC Student Athletes are Helping us Build Homes in Lynwood
Local Youth have Raised $100,000 & Counting