Monday, October 25, 2010

Congratulations to JM Eagle, New Member of the Clinton Global Initiative!

Posted by Jessica Killeen, AmeriCorps VISTA Gift-In-Kind Coordinator:

Last week JM Eagle announced some very exciting news and as a valued partner, we want to extend our sincere congratulations to them as they embark on their new commitments as a member of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI).

Serving as AmeriCorps VISTA Gift In Kind Coordinator with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles, I have the pleasure of meeting amazing, local businesses and connecting them with the opportunity to provide practical and lasting support to our community.  JM Eagle has been an enthusiastic and dedicated partner from the get-go, supporting our mission with material donations as well as volunteer labor.

JM Eagle’s product donations have been installed in our Lynwood neighborhood, which will be the first LEED Certified homes in that city.  Material donations like those from JM Eagle enable our organization to reduce construction costs, to build quality, sustainable homes, and to serve more local families.  In addition, JM Eagle employees recently joined us out on the site, each dedicating a day of service to prepare the ten homes in Lynwood for the deserving families who while live in them for generations. 
I have been touched by JM Eagle’s passionate commitment to addressing the needs of challenged communities.  JM Eagle’s partnership plays a very special role in our service to Greater L.A. and I look forward to hearing more about their impact around the world as member of the Clinton Global Initiative.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

National Make a Difference Day

Today is National Make a Difference Day and we are thrilled by the response by local volunteers! 

We have several groups scheduled to volunteer throughout Greater Los Angeles both on our build sites and in our ReStore. Help us celebrate these groups who will help us build hope, lives and communities today!

Karl Storz – 70 volunteers from their organization will be building with us in Lynwood, both on our 10 green homes on Imperial Hwy and on a rehab home nearby as part of our Neighborhood Stimulization Program.

Bethany Lutheran Church – 25 volunteers will be building with us throghout Long Beach where we are rehabilitating homes as well.

Delta Air Lines – These folks never seem to quit! They've been working on a home in Long Beach since September 8th and today another 25 Delta volunteers will be out there again as they near completion on this home rehabilitation.  The home dedication is slated for Tuesday, Novembe 16!

Dillard University – 15 volunteers will be helping us out at tour ReStore in Gardena.  So why not come out and shop with us today and thank them for making a difference!

We could not complete our mission to end substandard housing without the help and support of volunteers.  Today is a great way to highlight their service, but we hope you'll join us in thanking all our volunteers, who join us daily, Tuesday through Saturday, 52 weeks a year for making a big difference in all our lives!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Sylvia Bautista Celebrates 11 Years of Homeownership with Habitat for Humanity

Recently, I was hosting a large volunteer group onsite. We typically have Habitat families come out at lunchtime to speak. Their participation with our groups cement why volunteerism is so vital to Habitat’s cause. Sadly, no families were available on this particular day. It was then I remembered the GEM we had back at our Habitat office in our Homeowner Relations Department. Sylvia Bautista is not only our Homeowner Relations Coordinator but also a Habitat homeowner. She was the perfect person to come out and speak. What I didn’t know is that on the same day she was coming out to site – it was her 11th Anniversary of living in her Habitat home. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. Below is a note from Sylvia about her experiences with Habitat…

Syvia Bautista with son Christopher

“I’d like to take a minute and tell you a little about my family’s experience. I was a single mother of four children, all under the age of sixteen, when a friend and co-worker gave me a newspaper article to read that said Habitat for Humanity will be building homes in the Los Angeles area. The article explained the process but I was skeptical. I thought, “Yeah right, like I would qualify to buy a home.” But, my friend and co-worker motivated me to apply telling me, “You never know unless you try.” I followed her advice and am now celebrating my 11th Anniversary in my beautiful Habitat home. My kids are succeeding in life thanks to God, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles and all the volunteers and sponsors. They helped my family and many other families have peace of mind knowing that we can have a nice simple, decent and affordable home to call our own. I strongly believe that when you volunteer you are one step closer to getting into heaven, but it has to come from your heart. And, it’s important to teach your kids that while they strive to reach for the stars, they should also be sure to fill up their hearts not just their wallets.”

Learn how you can apply for homeownership with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fox Gives Philanthropy Fair


On October 14th, Dave McKechnie & I participated in the Fox Philanthropy Fair. For three hours, non-profit organizations were given the opportunity to share their work with Fox employees in order to attract enthusiastic volunteers to their causes. This was the second year in a row that Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles was invited to attend this fair. We were thrilled to highlight our mission of eliminating substandard housing one house at a time with such a great crowd. A big thanks to Fox Gives and we can't wait to welcome some new volunteers!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Brush With Kindness Coming to Hawaiian Gardens

We here at Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles (HFH GLA) are looking to help out residents of Hawaiian Gardens area with our A Brush With Kindness (ABWK) program. The ABWK program provides zero-cost home repairs for homeowners that are unable to make them on their own do to physical or financial limitations. The home repairs that ABWK provides consist of minor exterior repairs, landscaping, and or painting, and are performed by an all-volunteer workforce in just a few days. This program is a good alternative for residents who are currently enrolled in the city’s Beautification Program which has a five-year waiting list, as the home repairs for the ABWK program are scheduled to begin as soon as January.


If you are a Hawaiian Gardens homeowner who struggles to maintain your home, due to age, disability or family circumstances, and are interested in learning more about our A Brush With Kindness (ABWK) program come join Representatives of the Homeowner Relations Department, Renne Sanchez and Magna Bahm, on October 18th at 4pm in the City Hall Council Chambers (located at 21815 Pioneer Blvd map). Renne and Magna will provide an overview of the ABWK program, including the type of work performed, before and after pictures of ABWK projects, eligibility requirements and much more.

Additional information and down loadable applications for the ABWK programs, available throughout Los Angeles, can also be found online at www.habitatla.org.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Kindergarteners Act, Speak, & Build for Affordable Housing!

Guest Post by: Pat Genovese, HFH GLA volunteer & Kindergarten Teacher at Notre Dame Elementary

This year, it was very exciting to include our pen pals in India and the United Kingdom in our activities for Act! Speak! Build! Week. The Kindergarteners learned that their responsibility, as citizens, is to help those in need. We 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. We discussed how to serve our community on many levels - in our school, neighborhoods and church. Students learned the importance of acting cooperatively to end poverty housing and recognized the right to adequate housing for all people.

Students' advocacy efforts included spreading the word within their school and communities. Our activities included making a t-shirt clothesline to communicate the need for adequate housing - we did this activity in partnership with our pen pals in India and the UK; writing an acrostic poem for the word home; making cards for new homeowners; playing Habitat Bingo; using coins to purchase "building supplies"; writing letters to our president and senators; completing a book - Everyone Needs a Safe Place to Live; charting our needs and wants; reading the Habitat book - Building Friends; and posting a class photo on the Habitat Photo Wall.

It never ceases to amaze me how compassionate and service-oriented children are - the Kindergarteners are truly motivated to advocate for adequate housing. We are writing a book, We Can Make a Difference, since students realize that even though they are small, they can still help make our world a better place.

For more pictures from Pat and her class, click here.

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Thank You, Pat, for inspiring the next generation of HFH GLA Advocates & Volunteers!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Bid on Dave Matthews Band, Drake & Machete Tour Tickerts & VIP Experiences Now!

The following VIP experience auctions are now live and open for bidding at CharityBuzz.com:

• Dave Matthews Band has donated a chance to hang out backstage at the private “family and friends lounge” along with 2 great seats for the show of your choice. (Auction closes October 26th.) BID NOW

• Drake has donated 2 front row seats to his concert in Detroit on October 19th plus the opportunity to meet him backstage. (Auction closes October 15th.) BID NOW

• The artists on the Machete Music tour have donated the opportunity to meet them on tour plus be their VIP guests for their Los Angeles concert. (Auction closes October 22nd.) BID NOW

Friday, October 8, 2010

Final Day of Everest Build: We Built a New Home in Nepal

Posted by Veronica Garcia, VP of Advocacy and Community Partnerships:

Namaste!

We just completed a 6-day build in Pokhara, Nepal. Below is a picture of our Family and the home we built for Mahdu and her husband. It was taken at today’s house dedication.


Mahdu is the young woman in red next to Cheryl Perkey, our board Member. To Mahdu’s right is her mother in law, her mother (in pink) in next and her father is kneeling in front. Mahdu’s father in law is the taller man standing next to Steve’s wife, Beth. The young man in the orange t-shirt is Dahn. He is a student volunteer from Nepal. In the white t-shirt standing between Mark and me is Dalip. He is a local volunteer. Both Dahn and Dalip spent the entire week with us and they did an amazing job. Not pictured is my husband, Jess. He was our photographer.

Mark did an outstanding job as our House Leader, as well as Steve. The entire group worked very hard, every day, in the hot humid weather—but it was well worth it. Our Nepalese family is wonderful and so appreciative.

Lastly, thank you. You can be proud of the hard work you do, every day, to provide homes for those in need, like Mahdu and her husband.

Mahdu’s husband in not in the photo below because he is in Saudi Arabia working to earn money for his family. He will be home in two years and she can’t wait to show him their new home.

Read Veronica's previous posts:
Day One
Day Two
Day Three
Day Four
Day Five

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Day 5 of Everest Build in Pokhara, Nepal

Posted by Veronica Garcia, VP of Advocacy and Community Partnerships:
 
Today it's all about "slurry." Slurry is a thin mixture of cement that is painted over the bamboo strands so the cement mortar will stick. Our goal today is to mortar the entire outside of the house and inside if we work fast. We got word from the Habitat officials that the President of Nepal was visiting tomorrow and will attend our closing ceremonies. The President has never been in this part of Nepal, so it is a very big deal for the entire community. We were also informed that the President would be visiting three Habitat homes and ours were one of them!

Back to slurry...Today we were not in need of benches and ladders, but there were not enough brushes and trowels, so we did the best we could working in teams of two to get the job done. By the end of the day we felt great about our progress.  It rained that evening, which concerned all of us, but we have faith.

All in all--another wondeful day on House 23.

Read Veronica's previous posts:
Day One
Day Two
Day Three
Day Four

Namaste! Day Four in Pokhara, Nepal for the Everest Build

Posted by Veronica Garcia, VP Advocacy and Community Partnerships:

Yesterday (Day 4) we did our best to finish the weaving. Unfortunately, we only had two bamboo ladders, a barrel and a few benches to use for the high spots. Most were being utilized by our local volunteers to mortar the outside of the home. So, for us who are "not so tall" it was quite a challenge. On a positive note, we used muscles that have not been used in years--or ever--to stretch and bend. By the end of the day, we felt good about our progress. A few windows are in and it's starting to look like a home now.

Mahdu (our homeowner) showed us a photo of her husband who is currently in Saudi Arabia. Very cute couple! We also met her nephew and a few of her girlfriends, who came by to take a peek at the house.
In the evening, we all attended a thank you reception, along with other volunteers. Large groups from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Korea, Germany, Japan and the USA! The New Zealanders (better known as the Kiwi's) performed an all-male dance-type of performance. It was awesome! All in all--another amazing day!

Read Veronica's posts from Day One, Day Two & Day Three.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Namaste! Day Three in Pokhara for the Everest Build

Posted by Veronica Garcia, VP Advocacy and Community Partnerships:


Today’s weather was beautiful and everyone was eager to get started after a good night’s sleep. We boarded the bus at 7:15 a.m. after a hearty breakfast. Our daily bus ride is an adventure in itself. The route provides views of small cities or villages, The Himalayan mountains, and the majestic Machhapuchhre or Fishtail Mountain. Fishtail is the second highest mountain of the Annapurna range. It has supposedly never been climbed, is considered to be sacred by the local inhabitants, and is a treasured spiritual site of the Nepalese.

When we arrived to the site, we were warmly greeted by Madu and her in-laws. Day Three work included cutting bamboo strips for weaving, weaving walls, finishing the roof and starting the finish work with Mortar. The home, when finished, will include a bedroom, kitchen, sitting area, porch and outdoor toilet. Madu, dressed in jeans and a HFH GLA t-shirt, helped us weave and assisted the entire group throughout the day. Lunch was served at House 30, which is on a hill top with a magnificent view of the lake and valley, and during lunch local women laid out their jewelry for sale. I could not help but purchase a few bracelets for family and friends back home, but it was more important to support the hard work these women do every day to simply survive.

In the afternoon, Michael, Jess, Cheryl and I took a short break and trekked up the hillside to a local temple. I have no idea how old the structure was, but it was amazing. At the end of the day, Madu presented the women volunteers with bracelets as an expression of her gratitude. Very sweet! We ended our day around 4 p.m. and after cleaning up, walked down the steep hill to an awaiting bus. Everyone was VERY tired, but all in all—a very good Habitat for Humanity day.
Day 3

Namaste!

Read Veronica's posts from Day One and Day Two.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Learn How to Apply for Homeownership with Habitat for Humanity in Greater Los Angeles

We have some very exciting homeownership opportunities right now for L.A. residents. We are currently accepting applications for homes in Long Beach, Lynwood and South Gate.

  • Must be income eligible.  See chart below.
  • Must have good credit—no current judgments, liens, or recent bankruptcies.
  • Must complete 200 hours of sweat equity.
  • Must complete an 8-hour HUD approved Homebuyer Education Program.
  • Must attend a Habitat for Humanity orientation.
  • Must be able to make a small down payment. 
  • Must be a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Legal Resident.
PARTICIPANT ELIGIBILITY INCOME REQUIREMENTS
*approximate minimum annual income

Household
Size             Minimum*   Maximum
1                  $17,400         $46,400
2                  $19,900         $53,000
3                  $22,400         $59,650
4                  $24,850         $66,250
5                  $26,850         $71,550
6                  $28,850         $76,850
7                  $30,850         $82,150
8                  $32,850         $87,450


HFH GLA has partnered with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) to promote the purchase of foreclosed homes in order to stabilize communities suffering from foreclosures and abandonment. There will be approximately 100 homeownership opportunities available in the cities of Long Beach, Lynwood and South Gate.

You can begin taking the following steps to becoming a Habitat Homeowner today:

1. Contact the Homeowner Relations Department at (310)323-4663 extension 118 or email Sylvia Bautista and request the following:
  • Information about NSP
  • A Pre-Application Eligibility Questionnaire
  • A list of NSP trained lenders
  •  Information about upcoming Habitat orientations
2. Meet with a Lender – even if you think you do not qualify for a mortgage loan.3. Attend a Habitat orientation.
4. Submit an application, with supporting documents and a small processing and credit check-fee.

For more information about Habitat’s Homeownership Program, call the Homeowner Relations Department at (310) 323-4663 or visit our website.

Day 2: Habitat for Humanity Everest Build 2010

Posted by Veronica Garcia, Vice President, Advocacy and Community Partnerships:


Day two in Pokhara, Nepal, we eagerly got to work weaving walls with bamboo, installing the vertical supports (also made of bamboo) and preparing for the roof install. The weather was much better, but hot and humid. We  ate our lunch with the family in their garden area near their ox (and her calf) and two goats. The father in law shared bananas from his field and was proud to tell us that they were 100 percent organic! They were delicious of course.  Madu helped throughout the day--in addition to doing her own daily chores--with a big smile. We got a lot done on day two (no injuries) and proudly hung our flag in support of World Habitat Day.

Day 2 of Habitat for Humanity Everest Build 2010
To read day 1 of the Everest build, click here

Monday, October 4, 2010

Habitat for Humanity Everest Build 2010

Posted by Veronica Garcia, Vice President, Advocacy and Community Partnerships:

Eleven Habitat volunteers and staff—Michael, Ken, Tami, Cheryl, Debbie, Mark, Lori, Steve, Beth, Jess and I —are in Nepal for the Habitat for Humanity Everest Build 2010. The Everest Build kicks off a two year project committed to enabling 5,000 families to live in decent shelter and reducing poverty housing in Nepal. For the Everest Build, more than 400 volunteers have gathered here from all over the world to build approximately 50 homes.


As we headed to the build site on our first day, we stopped at the foot of the mountain unexpectedly. The entire community (hundreds of men, women and children) lined the streets to greet bus loads of volunteers. Each bus stopped, we got off and they led us in procession toward a street banner that read “Namaste! Hearty Welcome.” Every single volunteer was warmly greeted with smiles, cheers, a bouquet of fresh flowers, and a silk scarf. It is hard to describe the warmth, love and gratitude that was felt but it was definitely a day I will never forget.

House 23—Pokhara Nepal:

When we arrived to the home (House 23) that we are sponsoring—and building—we met beautiful Alka Archarya (Madu). She is the wife of Keshav Archarya who is currently working in Saudi Arabia to earn money for his family. They are both 22. Madu is currently living with her in-laws, which is next door on the right. Her brother in law’s home is being built on the left. We quickly got to work on the house. The house is framed in bamboo, so there was much drilling, sawing, cutting and weaving. The sun was hot, there was no shade, and we had to hike half a mile up a steep hillside to have lunch. However, though it was hard work and the weather was unforgiving, the day was filled with treasurers—The Archarya family, breathtaking views of the Himalayas, meeting new people, making new friends and experiencing Nepal.

The end of Day One.

More tomorrow…

Friday, October 1, 2010

Birthday Wishes to President Carter, You're our MVP!

We have had the privilege of hosting the Jimmy Carter Work Project twice here in Los Angeles, once in 1995 and again in 2007.   Today we are thrilled to wish President Carter a Happy Birthday as he and Rosalynn embark on the 27th annual Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project kicking off on World Habitat Day, October 4th!

Thank you President and Mrs. Carter for your years of dedication and hard work helping individuals and families all over the world attain the dream of homeownership.  Your commitment to building hope, lives and communities inspires us!
HFH GLA Staff with President Carter, 2007 JCWP
Read blogs by volunteers from the 2007 Jimmy Carter Work Project here.

Toyota Financial Services Builds Owners & Hope in the Community

Guest Blogger (and Volunteer):  Eunice Kim, Brand Manager, Toyota Financial Services

Yesterday was the Toyota Financial Services Habitat for Humanity build.  A group of us took the day to represent the department and participate in building at a site where 10 homes are being built for some very deserving, hardworking, low-income families in Lynwood, CA.  

25 Toyota Financial Services volunteers worked and sweated together toward a single goal...making a difference in the construction of these homes.  It was hard work but very fulfilling.  Just 6 months ago we participated in a build day at this same location.  In March, we hammered nails and laid the foundation.  Yesterday we dug trenches (under the scorching sun), put up drywall, painted walls and ceilings, laid tiles, and many other tasks.  As you can see from the photo below, the houses are nearly complete!

Our Brand Energizers are very proud of the effort put forth by each and every one of our volunteers.  Together we were able to show how much we can accomplish as a team.  Together we once again have shown that Toyota Financial Services truly does care about the community.  We are truly living our internal message of "We Build Owners."  

"We are enablers of dreams, conduits to peace of mind and facilitators of family vacations. For over 25 years, we've helped millions of customers get behind the wheel of a new Toyota or Lexus. We've stayed with them along the way. And we're right there when they're ready to do it again. We're Toyota Financial Services, and We Build Owners."