Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Walking the Walk with Power Tools - Our Board Rocks!

Today we announced our new board members and last Friday we all built together at our 10 home site in Lynwood. It was a great day, we loved working together outside the board room and getting our hands dirty.  Here's a little video from the build and you can check out the press release here.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Congratulations to the City of Lynwood on its All-America City Award!

We have strong ties to the City of Lynwood and its residents. That is why we couldn’t be more thrilled that our longtime partner is one of ten cities nationwide to receive an All-America City Award . The prestigious award is given to cities that come up with innovative solutions to problems in partnership with public, private and non-profit sectors.

For the City of Lynwood, our A Brush with Kindness program is a solution for residents hit hardest by the economy, unemployment and facing foreclosure. The program keeps low-income homeowners in their homes by providing free, safety-related and exterior repairs that they would otherwise be unable to make themselves. As a result of this program, neighborhoods in the city have been stabilized and revitalized.

In October 2007, we presented the Lynwood Redevelopment Agency with our “A Brush with Kindness” program. The city awarded us funds to provide low-income, Lynwood homeowners with free, exterior and safety home repair services. The homeowners were selected by us through an application process and the work was performed by able-bodied homeowners and volunteers guided by our staff.  The Lynwood Redevelopment Agency selected specific corridors of the city where the program was implemented. Since then the appearance and safety of more than ten homes has been improved, ten of which have been funded by the City of Lynwood.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Homebuyer Orientations In Lawndale

We are very excited to be building in Lawndale and we're looking for families who want to partner with us! To be eligible you must meet income guidelines, agree to program guidelines and attend one of our mandatory homebuyer orientations. There will be three, but the first one is tomorrow at 6:00 PM in English and at 7:15 PM in Spanish. See flyers below, or call 310.323.4663 for more information.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Meet the Ramirez and Velasquez Families!

Power Women, Power Tools is tomorrow! We have two more families to introduce today. They are last, but not least!

We hope that you will take some time to read through all of the families' stories that have been posted on the blog this week. After all, they are the reason for our work and for events like Power Women, Power Tools.

The Ramirez Family

Ruben and his wife Maira live in a small, substandard two-bedroom apartment with their two children.  They have lived in the City of Lynwood for 13 years.  Ruben has worked as a glass worker for 5 years and Maira has worked as a front desk clerk at a travel lodge for over 12 years. 

Christian is an avid soccer player and loves playing with his Dad in the park on Sundays.  Ruben has coached soccer in the City of Lynwood for 6 seasons.  Stephanie has an artistic flair and loves to draw.  The kids are patiently awaiting more space both inside and outside to run and play. 

Ruben appreciates the experience of building his home because it has given him the opportunity to learn how to build a house side by side with strangers who have become like family.

The Velasquez Family

Sylvia and her two sons share a small bedroom in an overcrowded home with her parents and two brothers.  She has worked for the City of Lynwood for 8 years and is a lifelong resident of the city. Sylvia is active in the community and enjoys participating in city events and fundraisers with her boys.

Donoven is a sports fanatic, but basketball is his favorite.  He is also an honor roll student.  Sylvia is active in Donoven’s extracurricular activities and often volunteers as the “team Mom.”  Jadon enjoys
coloring and is very artistic.

All the volunteers, especially the ones who have given up their Saturdays to help her family, have touched Sylvia. As part of the values instilled in her by her parents, she plans to give others a hand up like she has received. She is eager to move in and show her children and the community what it means to live the American dream.

To read more stories about Habitat families check out these blog post:

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Meet the Perez and Polanco Families!

We hope you're enjoying meeting our Lynwood/Imperial partner families on the blog this week! Today, we have two more amazing families to feature; the Perez family and the Polanco family. You can actually take a home tour of Sonia (Letty) Polanco's home here. Both of these families are headed by strong women and this weekend the power women will join them in building their new, beautiful homes. Two days until the sixth annual Power Women, Power Tools event!

Perez Family

Maricela and her daughter, Dayan, currently live in an unconverted garage, with no running water.  Their only access to a bathroom is in the main house, but they are limited to using it only during certain times of the day.

Her son, Gustavo, is away at college studying sociology but comes home often and stays with them in the cramped garage. Dayan is full of life and loves to spend time reading and dancing at her ballet classes. 

Maricela is a Teacher’s Assistant, but is going to school to become a preschool teacher. She believes that staying involved in the community and keeping one’s children on a positive track leads to many blessings. From fundraising to mentoring and tutoring, Maricela keeps busy by volunteering with numerous organizations in her community.

She is proud to work alongside the other Habitat for Humanity homeowners and volunteers to build her home.  Owning a home means a lot to Maricela and she says it will provide her family with security.

Polanco Family

Sonia lives with her parents and two daughters in a substandard small two-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment.  Sonia has worked as a Community Health Educator for 7 years, educating those that are uninsured and need help in attaining medical services.  She also participates in health fairs that raise awareness for women’s health issues and elderly care.

Maybelle is a college student who loves animals and has aspirations to become a Veterinarian after she graduates.  Nathalia enjoys Theatre Arts and is on the Drama Team at school.  She, just like her mother, is very funny and outgoing.

As an immigrant, Sonia is looking forward to getting to know her neighbors as they each build their homes together.  Throughout the building process she has learned that it’s not only about the house but also about growing the relationships and community around them for a sense of belonging. 

Want to read more about Habitat families, check out the links below:

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Meet the Ocampo and Osorio Families!

Only three more days until Power Women, Power Tools ! Today, we want to introduce two more families whose homes the power women will be working on this Saturday. Say hello to the Ocampo and Osorio families!

Ocampo Family

Socorro and her two sons live in a substandard two-bedroom, one-bathroom home with her parents.  Socorro has lived in the City of Lynwood for 30 years and works as a dental assistant.  Christopher finished his second year of college and is working toward a degree in mechanical engineering.  Ernesto has been part of the Young Marines program and hopes to join the Marines when he turns 18.  Both love to play guitar and give lessons to friends.

Socorro feels blessed to be learning how to build her own home and her sons are also enjoying the experience of being challenged with different tasks every time they build.

The first thing Socorro is going to do in her new home is cook for her sons. Socorro knows that her house will be a place for her family to gather and be together for years to come.

Osorio Family

Ana and her three children live in an overcrowded one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment.  Ana has worked as a Certified Nurse Assistant for over 18 years at a convalescent hospital.  Ulises just graduated from high school and is saving money for nursing school.  He works part-time and contributes to the household.  Annaby is a social-butterfly that enjoys music. Nayeli is athletic and excels at basketball and soccer.

Ana is proud that Habitat for Humanity of Greater L.A. has helped her to be able to provide her children with a home, something they have always dreamed of.

Working alongside other families and volunteers, the children have enjoyed the fact that everyone works together and helps each other – something that they will continue to do in their community and at their schools.

Check out more Habitat for Humanity Families stories':

Wells Fargo Makes $8 Million Contribution to Habitat for Humanity International!

As we gear up for our Annual Power Women Power Tools event this weekend, we are looking at the successes of Habitat for Humanity Internationally.  Today, Habitat for Humanity was awarded $8 Million Dollars by Wells Fargo.  Habitat will use the funds for its Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative which promotes construction, repair and rehabilitation of affordable housing for low-income families in markets hit hard by foreclosures.  To read more about this generous donation, visit Habitat for Humanity International's website!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Meet the Carrazco and Heads Families!

It's four days until our annual Power Women, Power Tools  event! We can't wait and what makes the building experience even better is learning about the families whose homes we'll be building. Yesterday we met the Aguilar and Ayala families and today meet the Carrazco and Heads families!

The Power Women will also get to hear more about Janet Head's journey to homeownership on Saturday when she speaks!

The Carrazco Family

Jesus, Alma and their son, Angel, live in an overcrowded one-bedroom, one-bathroom home. Their other two children, Sheila and Enrique, only live with them part-time due to limited space and substandard living conditions. Jesus is a machinist and Alma is proud mom. Sheila is attending college to become a preschool teacher.  Enrique is on the wrestling team at his high school and is a good student.  Angel loves singing, the guitar and soccer. 

Owning a home means that Sheila and Enrique will be able to join the family full-time. Jesus has said that the process of becoming a homeowner has been life changing and that he considers all of the volunteers, other partner families and crew leaders, his brothers and sisters. He has also pledged to work on other Habitat for Humanity homes after they have completed their 500 hours of sweat equity – just to pay it forward.

The Heads Family

For many years Janet Heads and her two sons have lived in a small one-bedroom apartment, in a crime-ridden building. 

Janet works two jobs within the LA Unified School District and always puts family first. She plans and organizes the family’s social events and participates as a “team Mom” with Alexander at school. Alexander is artistic and enjoys reading when he isn’t skateboarding at the local skateboard park.  He adores his little brother Donoven, who is busy learning his ABC’s and 123’s.

At this point in her life, there is nothing that makes her happier than being able to provide a home for her two boys. She and the boys can’t wait to move into a safe, place where all they have to worry about is being together.

Check out these blog post to read more about Habitat families:

Monday, June 7, 2010

Karen Levy "non-builder" from InStyle magazine learns with Habitat!

Building with Habitat was an incredible experience. At first I was surprised that the Habitat team leaders would let us “non-builders” take on major tasks such as dry walling or irrigating, but as the day went on, I understood that not only were we actually learning how to build a house but that we all needed to work as a team to get the job done.  It is good to be reminded how just one day of volunteering can positively affect so many lives.

Blaine Zuckerman banished his Blackberry to Build with Habitat

As employees of a breaking news organization (we all work for Time Inc.), we have a hard time ignoring the constant stream of information that we get on our handheld devices. Upon arrival at the Habitat location, we were told that it wasn’t a good idea to constantly check our blackberries- the devices that we stare at whenever we’re away from our computers for more than 30 seconds. Yowsers. Apparently if you’re looking at your blackberry you could miss a two-by-four or a backhoe coming at your head.

When we got assigned to our team leaders, we were put to work immediately. Some of us were moving rocks for an irrigation situation of some sort and most of us, including myself, were putting up drywall. Everyone was well utilized- whether we were taking measurements, cutting, hammering or drilling. And it seemed that our team leader or another crew member was always there as soon as you wondered, “Am I really doing this right?” And the good news was that most of the time we were doing just fine.

Before we knew it, it was time for lunch. And while we ate sandwiches (all food tastes better after manual labor) we heard from a family who would be moving into one of the homes on which we were working. The son of the family spoke about his hard working mom and how they were all finding time to put in the sweat equity to earn their home. He was grateful for our efforts and grateful for the opportunity to see his family get a much needed boost of support.

The afternoon flew by. Focusing on holding up drywall so that it didn’t fall on friends’ heads held our focus. Feeling more confident with our work, my team finished dry walling the ceilings and walls in two rooms. We were shocked at what we’d been able to accomplish.

Aboard the bus back to our office where we’d left our cars, we were busy talking about how much fun we’d had, how much we think we may have helped and how much we look forward to doing it all again. And nobody looked at their blackberries.

Meet the Aguilar and Ayala Partner Families!

We are so excited that this Saturday is our special, annual Power Women, Power Tools event. This build is invite-only, but we want everyone to meet the ten, Lynwood/Imperial partner families whose homes the power women will be helping to build.

Every day this week we will be helping you to get to know these families by posting information on two them. Today, meet the Aguilar and Ayala families!

The Aguilar Family

Adolfo and Monica Aguilar have one daughter and a second child on the way. Their current living condition is a concern because of the hazards it poses for their children. Eight years ago, Adolfo moved away from his wife and daughter and emigrated from El Salvador to the U.S. He worked hard to follow the proper procedures to bring his wife and daughter to the United States. He lived with his parents, saved money and worked two housekeeping jobs. Finally, his family joined him in the U.S. in July 2009. He moved out of his parent’s home and found a place to rent.

Their daughter, Stephanie loves science, music, dancing and singing. Adolfo and Monica are looking forward to having a stable environment for their children.

In El Salvador the Aguilar’s never imagined that they would become homeowners in the U.S. They feel like owning a home is a dream come true, equivalent to winning the lottery.

The Ayala Family

Javier and Martha Ayala live with their five children in a two-bedroom apartment located in a high-crime neighborhood.  The Ayala’s have lived in Lynwood for years and are excited to become homeowners in that same community.  Javier supports the family as a machinist and Martha volunteers with at-risk youth and their families.

Joseline, their eldest, owns her own business providing financial services and is working toward her business degree.  Francisco enjoys playing soccer and is an award-winning, student filmmaker. Natalie likes to draw and sketch.  Janelle enjoys fashion and Ashley loves to play with her dolls. 

The road to homeownership for this family has meant building their home from the ground up. They look forward to being together under one roof with enough space for each of them to work, enjoy their hobbies and relax, in a safe and beautiful neighborhood.  

Want to read more about Habitat Families? Check out these blogs:

Things a Shopper May Find at the HFH ReStore

I've wandered through the Habitat for Humanity Home Store in Gardena on several occasions, and I have never left without finding something to bring home (tablecloths, lamps, bowls, a wonderful blue couch...etc).  There are things I often want to bring home, but unfortunately don't have the room for!  An item that always seems to be found at the home store is piano's!  I always think about where I might be able to place a piano in my little apartment.  Finding piano's at the Home Store makes sense, as pianos are difficult to move, and often it is easier to donate or sell your piano rather than trying to move it to a new location.  

If you are musically inclined, and are looking for an affordable option when it comes to a piano (or any other household item) take a trip to Gardena before you head anywhere else, you might find just what you are looking for.  Not only will it be more affordable, but your purchase will help Habitat for Humanity continue with their mission of providing affordable housing to deserving families throughout Los Angeles!  

~LeighAnn - Habitat for Humanity Greater Los Angeles, ReStore Shopper

(above is a piano I saw during one of my ReStore/Home Store shopping trips)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Volunteering has Direct Impact on Personal Wellness!

New information shows that helping others can help you!  Often when we think of the benefits of volunteering, we only consider our impact on the places or people for which we volunteer.

United Healthcare and Volunteer Match have released a survey that could make you rethink the power of your service.  The Do Good.  Live Well. Survey focuses on the impact of volunteerism in the lives of the volunteers themselves, and shows that giving your time can have a significant impact on personal wellness.

In the study, more than 4,500 American adults were surveyed concerning volunteering and health, volunteering and satisfaction with life, and volunteering and rates and relationship to work.  Among some of most encouraging results are that 68% of volunteers agree that “volunteering has made me feel physically healthier”, that 89% of volunteers agree that “volunteering has improved my sense of well-being” and also that 92% of volunteers agree volunteering enriches their sense of purpose in life. 

If you’re not already involved as a volunteer, visit us online at www.habitatla.org and click on “Volunteer” to find out where we need your help!  To find out more about this exciting study, visit Do Good Live Well  online.