Thursday, April 28, 2011

Guest Blogger Jenny Fusco on Celebrating Earth Day at LA Live

Jenny Fusco, Volunteer
Posted by Jenny Fusco, HFH GLA Volunteer:

Located in an oasis of downtown at LA Live on April 22nd I was able to experience Earth Day with our affiliate.  Overflowing with plastic bottle trees, reusable bags and Radio Disney flooding the airwaves; the feeling of positive change was undeniable.

Overwhelming excitement shined over all faces as school groups, parents and children excitingly perused the tables exploring all the different swag they could obtain. Almost every person that approached our Habitat for Humanity table was so excited to find out how they could participate. Many participants wanted to volunteer their own time, others wanted information on organizing a group build involving the corporation with which they are employed. Some parents wanted to learn how their teen could participate in a worthwhile cause. We also heard stories from people that had volunteered with Habitat for Humanity and were eager to share their experience with us. The Earth Day crowd couldn’t sign our volunteer sheet quickly enough!

This day allowed me to experience adults and children alike having fun while doing something positive and bringing awareness to the fact, that we all have what it takes to make a difference. It is just about finding the avenue that works best for you.

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THOR Movie Release Inspires Local Heroes

We are grateful to Paramount Pictures for helping us commemorate the release of THOR by inviting fans to become community heroes during a hand tool drive in our ReStores. We will be collecting new and gently used hand tools now through May 6th for use in building affordable homes in the community. Anyone who donates hand tools at either of our ReStores in Gardena and Norwalk will receive a coupon for 10% off your next purchase. There’s also going to be a fan THOR expo at Gold’s Gym (parking lot) in Venice Saturday, April 30th between 12pm and 2pm, where you can also donate hand tools to Habitat in exchange for movie passes, posters, thunder sticks, hats and other THOR collectibles.

The epic adventure THOR spans the Marvel Universe from present day Earth to the mystical realm of Asgard. At the center of the story is The Mighty Thor, a powerful but arrogant warrior whose reckless actions reignite an ancient war. As a result, Thor is banished to Earth where he is forced to live among humans. When the most dangerous villain of his world sends its darkest forces to invade Earth, Thor learns what it takes to be a true hero. Learn more at the THOR website.

How to Donate to Habitat for Humanity ReStores:
Hand tool donations may be dropped off now through May 6th between 9 am and 6pm (keep in mind we are closed Sundays and Mondays.) For more information or directions, visit ReStores online or call 866-SHOP-HFH.

About THOR Fan Expo:
The THOR event on April 30 will be held at Gold’s Gym in Venice Beach (360 Hampton Drive, Venice, CA 90291) from 12-2pm. This carnival-type event will feature several strength tests for THOR prizes, free massages from Hollywood Tans, a super hero booth from Golden Apple Comics, music from POWER 106, a hand tool donation station from HFH and a car display by THOR’s national partner, Acura.

ReStores are a home improvement thrift store open to the general public. Materials sold in the ReStores are donated by businesses, contractors, individuals and other organizations, and are sold for 50% or more below their retail value. We accept all kinds of donations such as appliances, bathroom fixtures, doors, carpets and flooring, hardware, home furnishings and accessories, lighting, electrical materials, lumber, plumbing material, tile, marble, stone, windows and vintage items. Profits from the ReStore’s sales support our mission of providing simple, sustainable and affordable housing to hardworking, low-income families and individuals.

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Lending a Hand Up to All Those in Need is Part of our Mission

Posted by Jessica Stone – Human Resources Coordinator:

A couple of weeks ago, I was working a day with construction, so that I could learn a bit more about that part of our business. In the afternoon, Frankie and I went to look at some of the properties that Habitat was thinking about purchasing for our NSP 2 project.

At one of the last stops, a neighbor saw us, and asked if we were looking to buy a house. He and his wife had been living next door, in their dream home, for 12 years - but had just recently been hit by a balloon payment that was taking their mortgage payments to nearly 3x what they’d been paying. This was on top of his wife having been out of work for more than a year. They were drowning under the weight of those payments, and were looking to sell their house, in the hopes that they would get enough to pay off the mortgage. It was obvious that they took great pride in their house, and were distraught at the thought of having to move.

Frankie gave them some great advice on listing their house, on things they could do to improve on what they had, and offered to get them comps for the area. I offered to send any potential job leads in the area to his wife.
I left with a heavy heart. I myself had been laid off and unemployed for nearly a year and a half before I was hired at Habitat GLA, and I didn’t think that anything we could do would really help them out in the long run but we were willing to try!

This week, I called to pass along job leads in her area. When she answered the phone, she had wonderful news. She had just been offered a job the night before, and will be starting Monday. AND – they had found an attorney to look at their original loan paperwork, and he’s agreed to take their case to their bank in requesting a loan modification. He couldn’t guarantee that he’d be able to save their home, but he found some mistakes in the paperwork and felt confident that he could make a good case that the bank would be better off letting them stay in the house. I was thrilled – and then shocked when she told me that we were the ones responsible.

She said that they had been praying for something to happen to let them keep their house – for her husband’s business to pick up, for her to find a job, for the bank to agree to work with them, something. ANYTHING.

She told me that we were the first people without some kind of hidden agenda to take the time to stop to listen to their story and that we gave them the hope that they needed to get them to where they were now. She also said that she wants to come and volunteer with us sometime after they get back on their feet. She wants a chance to give someone else the sort of help and hope that we’d brought to them.  Lending a hand up, not a hand out to those in need is part of our mission here at HFH GLA and I am reminded of that today.

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Jo-An Turman Honored

Jo-An Turman

Our Sr. Director of Marketing and Communications Jo-An Turman was honored by Bishop Charles Blake and his wife Mae at West Angeles Church of God in Christ last Sunday for her 18 year membership with the church, her work at HFH GLA and for the incredible Camp Giddy Up that she and her husband run each year.  

Congratulations Jo-An on a wonderful and well deserved recognition! 

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Monday, April 18, 2011

Lawndale Kick-Off Celebration

This past Saturday was the perfect sunny, Spring day to celebrate two new homes being built in the City of Lawndale and new beginnings for the Royce and Real-Munoz families. We were thrilled to have the Mayor of Lawndale, Councillmember Robert Pullen-Miles, as well as the homes two sponsors, Beach Cities Friends and Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, on-hand for this special occasion.

The Royce family will move into a three bedroom, two bath, 1282 sq. foot home with a garage and the slightly larger Real-Munoz family will be able to spread out in a four bedroom, two and a half bath, 1405 sq. foot home with a garage. Both single-family homes are being built to be energy efficient in order to save the Royce and Real-Munoz families money on their utility bills. At Saturday's ceremony, both families spoke about what it will mean to them to have a home and how excited they are to start building and putting in their sweat equity hours. Construction on these two homes is already underway and slated for completion later this year. We are in need of volunteers to help build and ensure that we meet this deadline! Sign up to volunteer here.

If you are interested in reading more about the two homes being built in Lawndale and learning more about the families who are becoming homeowners, click here to read a story that ran on the front page of Saturday's Daily Breeze! There is also a video below highlighting Saturday's kick-off ceremony!

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Monday, April 11, 2011

Congratulations to our New Cornerstone Graduates!

On Saturday, March 19th, we were thrilled to have 27 new Cornerstone participants graduate from our 8th Cornerstone Training course!  Cornerstone Training is a 3-week intensive, hands-on primer course in the basics of residential construction.  The purpose of the program is to help our volunteers develop their skill sets and enhance their contribution to the lives of our partner homeowners. The graduation day started out with a build as the 27 volunteers put their new skills to the test on two of our rehabilitation sites in the City of Lynwood.  Students arrived early for painting and siding before meeting in the afternoon for the graduation celebration!  The students along with crew leaders and Cornerstone teachers gathered for a short ceremony where program participants received certificates for their completion of the course and heard from one of our Habitat partner homeowners.  Esperanza Miramontes and her family spoke to the group about how homeownership will impact their lives and how they look forward to moving out of south central Los Angeles and into a secure and safe home in Lynwood.  Esperanza promised “not to cry” as she thanked the volunteers for their dedication to the mission of Habitat for Humanity and working on her home.  After the program, the graduates, staff members and volunteers enjoyed food and refreshments, generously donated by Piara’s Pizza!  Upon completion of the Cornerstone program, participants commit to volunteering on our build sites throughout the year.  Site supervisors are already reporting seeing these graduates on site and are thankful for the skilled volunteers and all they do to help propel the mission of Habitat for Humanity.  The next Cornerstone Training Program is slated to begin in June of 2011. 
To learn more about the program and how you can get involved, click here. 
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Friday, April 8, 2011

Celebrate National Volunteer Week with us

Please join us in celebrating National Volunteer Week, April 10 to 16, by coming out to volunteer at our ReStores and on our construction sites! Visit us online to create a volunteer account and sign up.

You can volunteer one day, the whole week or more! You don’t even need experience to come out to our construction sites. Volunteers must be 16 years or older to work on a construction site, and 14 years or older to work at a ReStore. Come out and celebrate people in action during this National Volunteer Week!

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Thank you Linkin Park, Music for Relief & Fans for Helping us Build Green and Build Hope

Music for Relief (MFR) is a non-profit organization founded by the band Linkin Park and has been an ongoing partner of Habitat for Humanity since its inception, following the tsunami in 2004.  Comprised of musicians, music industry professionals, and fans, MFR is dedicated to providing aid to survivors of natural disasters & reducing global warming.

To provide tsunami relief, MFR held a concert in Los Angeles which raised over $1 million, and Habitat for Humanity was one of the beneficiaries.  Members of Music for Relief also participated in the rebuilding efforts in Thailand.

In addition to the tsunami relief, as part of the disaster relief portion of their mission, Music for Relief has partnered with Habitat in many locations, including sponsoring and funding the rebuilding of homes in the Gulf after Hurricane Katrina, providing funding for an entire village to be completed in Sri Lanka and funding a home in Samoa. 

Most recently, following the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, they partnered with Habitat to provide funding for housing solutions for dozens of families.  These funds are being utilized in both countries to positively affect the lives of hundreds of people in multiple communities.

Here in Los Angeles, in support of the environmental portion of their mission, Music for Relief partnered with HFH GLA to sponsor the MFR “Green Home.”  To raise awareness for the Green Home, they created an online donation program where artists, fans and other ongoing supporters of MFR could contribute in support of the program here.

Additionally, MFR called upon their strategic partners to sponsor build days and get involved with Habitat right here at home.  As part of the MFR Green Home program, we’ve been fortunate enough to host builds with The Collective, GSO, Machine Shop Marketing, Momentous Insurance and Chubb, Rhino Records, Trailer Park and Warner Music on our Imperial Highway site, in addition to the amazing members of Linkin Park.

After they came out to build, Linkin Park created this short video clip that they sent through their social networks to over 25 million people to advocate for Habitat and the MFR Green Home! We hope you will enjoy it!   

As always, we want to say a HUGE thanks to Linkin Park for their ongoing partnership and support of our mission, to their fans who continue to support Habitat’s programs, to Music for Relief’s COO Whitney Showler and to filmmaker extraordinaire Mark Fiore (who not only generously donated this clip to us, but who is also a longtime Habitat volunteer!). 

Monday, April 4, 2011

Opportunity Knocks for ReStore Customer in Form of Lakers Tickets

Here's a fun picture of our Lakers Tickets Opportunity Drawing winner.  Pamela R. is a regular Norwalk ReStore customer who entered our opportunity drawing for Lakers tickets.  She and husband Richard were thrilled to find out they won!!!

We took this photo the morning she came to pick up the tickets at the ReStore. I understand 
Asst. Mgr  Jerry & Manager Scott continued offering her cash for the no avail.

Congratulations Pamela and Richard and thank you for you support!

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