Friday, February 25, 2011

Volunteer Spotlight: Lisa Summerscales

Guest post by Lisa Summerscales. Lisa is a volunteer from St. Monica's Catholic Church in Santa Monica.

I have always wanted to get involved with Habitat for Humanity, but never took the leap. That is until I was blessed enough to walk into the Habitat presentation on the New Mexico build St. Monica's had done this past summer. I was so taken aback and inspired after the meeting that there was no way I couldn't jump in.

I signed up for the next build and before I knew it I was at St. Monica's very first site ready to build. I had no idea what I was getting into, but had a feeling I was about to be apart of something wonderful. The next thing I knew I had a jackhammer in my hands. I am five foot seven and the jackhammer was at least three quarters the size of me. It was time to get down to business. Our team's goal was to strip the house of everything that was there before. We tore out the previous insulation, cleaned out gutters, rebuilt roofs and pounded away at the concrete surrounding this home. We used jackhammers, sledgehammers, pickaxe and mostly strength from God to demolish the concrete around this home in order to build anew. What originally seemed like a task that could not be accomplished (at least in one day) rapidly came to fruition. Granted our entire team "felt the burn" from that build in our muscles, but also in our hearts for us to continue to build.

We worked on that site for hours. I was so impressed by my team, the work we were doing was difficult and tasking on the body, but not once did anyone complain about anything, everyone was there to help. The energy on that build was extremely positive and most of all contagious. I am still shocked by the work we accomplished on that day. Toward the end of our build day we received one of the greatest rewards. We took a walk around the block to see a home that was recently renovated by Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles. This was an example of what the home we were building that day would soon look like. This home was ready for its next family. It was safe and beautiful, a great place to start a new life. It was in that moment that I realized the magnitude of what we were doing. What a special gift to be a part of. That day we helped give a family a new start, a new life, a new home and a lifetime of memories. I am so blessed to have been apart of that day and in a way a part of that family's journey. I can't wait to build again!

If you are interest in volunteering click here.

Related Posts:
Volunteer Highlight: Vicki Cunningham
Volunteer Spotlight: Lauren Morris
Volunteer Spotlight on Jay Alan Cutler

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Volunteers Give it Their All at Paid Dues Habitat Build Day

Posted by Megan Kelly, marketing coordinator:

Last Saturday I was lucky enough to join the Paid Dues Habitat for Humanity Project Build 2011!  What is that you might ask (I did too!)?  This was a special build day driven by rapper, Guerilla Union member and Paid Dues creator, Murs.  Murs built with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles back in 2007 on the Jimmy Carter Work Project and has been a supporter ever since.  He had the idea to put together a build day where 25 of his fans could register to build alongside him!  I had never met Murs until Saturday and after just an hour you could see what a gracious, hardworking and fun guy he is!  Not to mention his wife Kate, who is just as lovely. They showed up bright and early – 8 am - and ready to work!   As a group we hit what would be considered the “jackpot” of construction projects – we were going to build and raise the first walls of the 3-unit development!  It truly is an exciting day in the construction process to be a part of.  As an employee, this was my first opportunity to see a wall raising so it was extra special.

Being a new project, this was the first day there was a group on site.  As I arrived at 7 am, I was excited to meet the fans who had signed up to build with Murs – I would come to learn that 2 people had driven overnight from San Francisco to be a part of the project! It was such a cool group of people.  Our first volunteer, Chris, showed up extra early and made the mistake of telling us that he had “some experience in the building industry”.  We cut him off before he could say industry and sent him to our site supervisor – Billy – to get to work.  Although we can teach anyone and everyone the tools you need to complete the projects on site, a skilled volunteer is always exciting. Poor Chris - I think by lunch time he had become an honorary crew leader!   As the others arrived and broke off into groups, we were all taught how to hammer a nail into the 2x4’s in preparation for putting together the first wall.  I know, you are thinking, “Seriously? Hammer. Nail. Hand/Eye Coordination. Easy enough.”


Come out and build with us sometime and you will learn that it isn’t as easy as you may think, but you will learn how to CORRECTLY and efficiently hammer a nail – courtesy of site supervisor extraordinaire, Billy Gifford- I promise.  To top it all off, one of the new partner homeowners of the site, Duetrell, showed up to help build her new home.   The group was so excited to meet one of the homeowners they would be raising these walls for and to have her working alongside them all day was a gift.
It was so much fun to see the group go from cautiously intimidated by the idea of building a wall to raising the wall they had built - and all before lunch time!  The energy of the fans and the Paid Dues group was so positive and I am so glad I was able to share the experience with them.


Paid Dues/Habitat For Humanity Project from Wonderbox Studios on Vimeo.<

If you have wanted to come out and build with Habitat for Humanity but think you don’t have the construction skills needed to volunteer, think again!!  We need your help and you will be surprised by how much you learn in an afternoon, not to mention the fun you will have being a part of the team effort.  Every build experience - whether you’re raising walls, painting, digging trenches or installing countertops - is an experience worth having.


Have you volunteered with Habitat before? Tell us about your experience. Did you learn any new skills? Did you enjoy yourself? We really enjoy hearing about other volunteers experiences.

TO VOLUNTEER VISIT OUR WEBSITE or CALL 310.323.4663

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Friday, February 18, 2011

Volunteer Highlight: Vicki Cunningham


Habitat for Humanity of Greater L.A. is currently looking for volunteers and, like Vicki, you don't have to be on a build site to help build affordable housing. Help is also needed in the office, at events and in countless other ways. Click here for more information.


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Volunteer Spotlight: Lauren Morris
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The Process of Becoming a Skilled Volunteer through Cornerstone Training

Friday, February 11, 2011

Volunteer Spotlight: Lauren Morris

Guest Post by Habitat for Humanity of Greater L.A. Volunteer, Lauren Morris

When I first picked up a hammer in 2005 I thought I knew what I was doing. Turns out it was much harder than I expected! With some great teachers I learned the trick to hammering, putting shingles on a roof and building fences. My experience with the organization began in Alfred, NY when I joined a Habitat for Humanity club at Alfred University. This led to three years of me spending my spring breaks in Deland, FL participating in Blitz Builds. Every year that we would make the trip down, we made a point of visiting the homes that we had built in previous years. I was always overcome with emotion seeing the homes lived-in and on occasion having the opportunity to say hello to the new homeowners and hear firsthand how their homes had changed their lives thus far.

After college I was living in Northern, VA and participated in a couple of local builds. Finally, I have ended up in Los Angeles where I find myself participating in the local Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles (HFH GLA) builds. Of all the volunteer opportunities I've been involved with Habitat for Humanity remains my favorite volunteer opportunity. Every time I participate I feel empowered and learn something new and all the while I'm doing something for a greater good. If you would like to join me out on a build site, click here for volunteer opportunities.

More about me: I am a 25 year old living in West L.A. working in the entertainment industry. My ultimate goal is to help others and make people happy. I have been volunteering for the past 11 years in some way or another and I don't intend to stop!

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The Process of Becoming a Skilled Volunteer through Cornerstone Training 
Volunteer Spotlight on Jay Alan Cutler
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