Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Intern Spotlight: Hannah Bernabe

Guest post by Hannah Bernabe, HFH GLA Summer Intern

Through Conoco Phillips, I was given the amazing opportunity to be an intern for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles. When given the choice of which non-profit organization to take, I chose Habitat for Humanity because I felt that I could contribute to it so much more than the others. I still remember my first day at Habitat; I tried to figure out what I would actually be doing for the next few weeks. But to be perfectly honest, the only thing I really knew about HFH was that they built houses for people. But in the 7 weeks that I interned for HFH GLA, I gained more than a summer internship.

By working with the Entertainment, Marketing and Communications department, I helped out anyone who needed assistance, such as making the inventory, creating a gifts table for events, and helping file paperwork. I gradually learned different ways to truly cater to the families that receive these wonderful homes, from fundraisers to various kinds of volunteer builds. There were moments where I felt like I was in an episode of The Office, but I started to learn about the organization and their true objectives. The once intimidating acronyms and codes became common knowledge, and I didn’t feel like just a random intern. I was part of a team, ready to make a family’s life better.

An example of that would be my experience joining the build at the Lynwood site. This was my first visit to a building site, and it was very different from the usual office routine that I was used to. I saw that everything that I have been doing with the staff is going into building a home for these families. The volunteers were more than willing to build these houses despite the heat and dirt. I heard amazing stories from families, such as the Carrazco family, who shared their story about how Habitat was able to provide a house that gave them security and a sense of belonging. I consider myself one of the lucky ones to have been able to experience this effort that is driven with hard work and love.

Now that my internship has ended, I realized that I’ll miss going to the Sandhill office and my time there. Yes, it would’ve been great hanging out with friends during my last summer before college starts. However, I would have missed out on this awesome experience of being part of the Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles team, with people that make it their job to help others. I’d like to thank the staff of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles, especially the amazing women of EMC for taking me in as their intern, and being such wonderful role models. I’m grateful to have been part of the Habitat for Humanity family.

Related Posts: Bank of America Student Leader Shares His Experience as an HFH GLA Intern HFH GLA Intern's First Good News Caravan Volunteer Spotlight: Summer Interns

Summer 2011 Cornerstone Graduation

Guest Post by Martin Greenberger, Cornerstone Instructor

Photo credit Martin Greenberger
©2011 Martin Greenberger, used by permission

Twenty-one enthusiastic students finished Habitat for Humanity of Greater L.A.’s Cornerstone Construction Volunteer Training Program on Saturday, August 27, 2011.

Consisting of six evening sessions at the Housing Center for Excellence and three Saturdays at construction sites, the Cornerstone Training Program teaches students about construction site safety, basic carpentry tools and how to use them safely, when power tools are the right choice and how to use them, wall framing and sheathing, drywall, siding, basic interior trim and painting. The list goes on and on.

The Saturday sessions, on site, enable the students to put what they learned at the Housing Center into practice on a real Habitat for Humanity house. Depending on what work is being done at the site, the students can do framing, siding, drywall, or even learn skills that aren't taught in the classroom sessions.

On graduation day, most of the Cornerstone students, or "Stoners" for short, did siding, but some did exterior trim, window installation and door installation. At other sites, students have framed walls, done drywall, demolition, and even built a stairway.

Cornerstone students come from all walks of life, all ages, and all skill levels. They all have in common the desire to learn skills and be more effective volunteers with Habitat for Humanity of Greater L.A.

After a very productive work day, students enjoyed a graduation cake decorated by previous graduate Bonnie Stutin, then received their diplomas and a gift from Habitat for Humanity’s partner, Lowe's.

Cornerstone is staffed and taught by long-time Habitat for Humanity of Greater L.A. volunteers.

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Friday, August 19, 2011

Our Faith Manager Builds with Habitat for Humanity in China!

Guest Blog Post by: Chris Untiet, Faith Manager

 The Great Wall was amazing.  Watching Chinese soldiers lower the Chinese flag in Tienamen Square at sunset was incredible.  Finally learning to use chop sticks well and eating Chinese food for an entire week were proud achievements for me!  Yet by far the most rewarding and inspiring moment were the people I was blessed to interact with in Shui Wei Dong , a village of 400 in the mountains of southern China during my recent mission’s trip to serve and build with Habitat for Humanity. 

When you head out on your week long building adventure, you want to devote all the energy that you can into giving these individuals living on $1 a day a better life.  Whether it’s loading sand into a truck to mix cement with or spending endless hours carefully laying bricks in the 100 degree heat, you can’t help but feel great knowing that you are giving it everything you have.  By the end of the week, you know that you have built your own “Great Walls of China” and helped amazing Chinese families have more decent and affordable places to live.

Yet despite our global village group going to China to help build homes, the people of Shui Wei Dong helped us as well.  Living in the great fast paced and money driven country that we do in the United States, it was a true blessing to see how people, so poor monetarily, could be so happy and content with the simple lives they were leading.  It forced our group to slow down and appreciate the little things around us.  Kids playing throughout the village, rice farmers working away in the fields, and people looking so thankful to have a new group of friends in the village for the week were all such beautiful moments. 

Those are the memories I’ll always thank God for blessing me with in China and why, whether it’s in Los Angeles, China, or in 90 countries around the globe, it’s such an honor to be a part of Habitat for Humanity.    

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Volunteer Spotlight: Summer Interns!

This summer Habitat for Humanity GLA was fortunate enough to have several interns in our midst, and as they return to school we hope they will take the knowledge they gained from working with us on to the next step in their futures. They have all left their mark on us here at HFHGLA and vise versa!

Meet the interns

 Justin Murry 
Although Justin was originally assigned to the Advocacy and Community Partnerships department, Bank of America asked that we give him a glimpse into how non-profits run and how to lead within them. As a result, Justin was working a week at a time for several of our departments – gaining an understanding of organizational leadership which will come in handy when he returns to Long Beach Renaissance High School for the Arts. Read his blog post here.

Edy Delgado 
ConocoPhillips Intern (Construction)  
Edy is going to Tulane to study construction in the fall – so where better to spend his summer than on one of our many NSP2 job sites? We couldn’t keep him out of the field, and we hope he picked up a lot to share both in the classroom and with Habitat for Humanity New Orleans, who was very excited to hear that he was interested in working with them next.

Hannah Bernabe 
ConocoPhillips Intern (Entertainment, Marketing, and Communications) Hannah will be attending UC San Diego in the fall, and hasn’t really figured out where her interests lie – although she has a definite interest in Marketing. Assigned to EMC and occasionally assisting in other departments, she got to see that while a lot of what EMC does is glamorous – it’s also a lot of work!

Courtney Lee 
Entertainment, Marketing, and Communications Intern  
Courtney came in right as the whirlwind of planning for Power Women, Power Tools was coming to a head. She returned to San Diego Christian College with a lot of new event skills and a new understanding of just how many people it takes to run an event like this one – and how little sleep they get until it’s over! 

Saya Lindsay 
Saya returned to Trinity College with a deeper understanding of exactly what Habitat does for our homeowners and the community at large. After a summer of working with the Advocacy and Community Partnerships department, she also learned just how much our legislators can help or hinder us in what we do.

 Allison Hart
Advocacy and Community Partnerships Department
Although she has “grown out” of the internship stage with us, Allison still continues to work with Habitat GLA! She has continued her volunteer work  in a Legislative and Community Outreach role, where she convinces those with the purse strings that we need their help to continue all of our good work.

Thank you all for your hard work, everyone here at Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles wishes you the best of luck in your next endeavors!  

Are you interested in an internship with us?  Visit our website for more information.

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Monday, August 15, 2011

Hanging with the Kardashians at the Teen Choice Awards: Giving Back has its Perks!

Yes, we were this close to the Kardashian Klan at the Teen Choice Awards!!
Those words never rang truer than this past weekend. In case you weren’t aware, HFH GLA has an amazing online auction partner, CharityBuzz , where they auction off exclusive packages and once in a lifetime experiences to benefit various charities. On this particular August weekend, I had the privilege of not only meeting the winners of two amazing opportunities but was invited to join in the festivities as well.
As I walked into the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel to meet Tom and June Simpson, winners (with a bid of $3200) of a lunch with Golden Globe nominated actress, Emmy Rossum (Shameless), my normal Saturday afternoon transformed into something out of a movie. Sitting there with all three was one of the most pleasantly surprising experiences, as I enjoyed lunch with some of the most down to earth people I’d ever met. Tom had the best quote of the afternoon as we were talking about what they decided to do with their money after they sold their company, “Our main goal was to donate to charity but then we found out about CharityBuzz and realized that we could not only give back but have fun doing so.” That statement seemed to encapsulate my entire weekend, as my Sunday continued the Hollywood experience when I attended the 2011 Teen Choice Awards. Now, I have to admit, I came from the world of FOX, so this wasn’t my first time at the rodeo for these awards (I’d actually been there 11 times before) but this time I was able to attend as a guest and had the added honor of personally handing over the experience to Ashley Friedland, the generous winner (with a bid of $2350) of the exclusive Teen Choice experience that included tickets to the show along with two of the hottest after party tickets in town. As I sat there in the front row with my nephew, seeing the likes of Justin Bieber, David Beckham and Fergie pass by and say hello, it hit me that Tom was right. Your generosity can have perks. Now those perks aren’t always Hollywood experiences, some may be making an amazing new friend, learning a new skill or even conquering a fear, but in all those instances, you receive a reward for being responsible with the blessings you’ve been bestowed. My question is; what are you doing with what you’re given? Not just your money but your time and skills; we all have talents that can be blessings to others, so take a moment and see how you can give back…believe me, you won’t regret it!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Habitat for Humanity GLA Youth United Team Receives 2011 Youth United Building the Future Award

Congratulations to our Youth United group for receiving the 2011 Youth United Building the Future Award! The Building the Future award is Habitat for Humanity International’s way to recognize a Youth United group that stands out amongst the rest for their outstanding achievements throughout the year and this year they chose our group! The Greater Los Angeles (GLA) Youth United team is being recognized for such notable achievements as; fully sponsoring The House that Youth Built in the Imperial Highway Neighborhood, helping to reach out to hundreds of youth through educational, advocacy and volunteering opportunities throughout the Greater Los Angeles area, and having served as leaders and Habitat representatives at multiple events throughout the year.
In November, Jenny Sim, the President of GLA’s Youth United, will be traveling to Indianapolis, Indiana to accept this award, along with the additional $4500 grant from State Farm, at the 2011 National Youth Conference.

After serving the past two years as the adult supervisor for this group, it is no surprise to me that they are receiving this award. This group is comprised of very passionate and strong leaders and they deserve all the recognition in the world for their diligence and hard work making Habitat for Humanity accessible to the younger generations.

Again, congratulations to our GLA Youth United team! This is a true honor and I am very proud of each of you!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Bank of America Student Leader, Justin Murry, Shares his Experience as an Intern with Habitat for Humanity GLA

Justin Murry
Thanks to the Bank of America Student Leader Program, I had the amazing opportunity to be teamed up with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles for an eight week summer internship, highlighted by a week in Washington D.C. with 230 high school seniors and college freshmen from across the United States and London each representing a non-profit organization.

When I first got the news that I was going to be teamed up with HFHGLA, I was hesitant. I didn’t know exactly what the organization did. However, my entire viewpoint of the organization was changed when I met with partner families Amanda Jordan and Mr. and Mrs. Draughan during the Collegiate Challenge dinners. Meeting them put a face to the papers I saw on my desk. I was able to see the impact HFH GLA has had on their lives and though unaware at the time they changed my life. To be honest, there were days I just wanted to sleep in and hang out with my friends, but after meeting these families it made working in the office to further HFH GLA’s mission even more worthwhile.

I’ve loved my time with HFH GLA, it has been an unforgettable, life changing experience. I am sad that my time is coming to an end, but I am excited to go back to school and get more youth involved in the affiliate. I had the opportunity to be a part of the planning process of World Habitat Day and Act! Speak! Build! Week.  Act! Speak! Build! Week gives young adults and kids an opportunity to advocate, educate, and get their community involved in HFH GLA’s mission to eliminate substandard living. As a past participant last year I’ve been encouraged and I believe you can change a young person’s whole life, if you educate them about homeownership at an earlier age.

As I begin my last week at HFHGLA I can’t help, but remember my first day walking into the doors of the Figueroa office intimidated and nervous about the upcoming weeks. As the weeks unfolded, I sat in on various department meetings and surprisingly I was asked what I thought. I went to the Board Retreat at Disneyland and I was treated like I was an important part of the HFH GLA family. I had the chance to observe what makes this affiliate so great by working with various departments as a requirement of my internship. I worked alongside the very busy Homeowner Relations Department, the amazing Isabel Lee in Executive, the hilarious and hardworking Darrell Simien in Construction, all the Superheroes in Development, and the energetic Power Women in EMC. I’ve had an experience most people dream of having and I’ve loved every second of my internship. I want to say thank you to all the staff, homeowners, and volunteers who have changed my view of the world.  I hope I will always be considered a part of the HFH GLA family. 

Has your life been impacted by Habitat for Humanity? Please share your story here in our comments or join the conversation on Facebook.

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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Habitat for Humanity of Greater L.A. President and CEO Honored by Pepperdine University

Our amazing President and CEO Erin Rank was recently honored by her alma mater Pepperdine University. She received the Graduate School of Education and Psychology’s 2011 Distinguished Alumna Award for Psychology during the psychology commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 21, 2011.

For the members of the graduating class, the Distinguished Alumna exemplifies the ideals and principles, which GSEP most highly values. Erin’s outstanding professional accomplishments, leadership and service to the community are a source of inspiration and an example of the possibilities that await their graduates.  (In addition to being a huge source of inspiration to all of us who work with her and the families she serves every day.)

Erin gave an address to the graduates and guests and following the ceremony she and her guests were invited to a special luncheon hosted by Pepperdine University’s President, Andrew Benton.

Erin Rank receiving Pepperdine Graduate School of Education and Psychology's 2011 Distinguished Alumna Award
Congratulations, Erin!

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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Edison International Employees Lend A Helping Hand 

 Guest Blog Post by Melissa Amador, Edison International

Volunteers from Edison International rolled up their sleeves to help build a new home in partnership with a Long Beach family! On Saturday, July 16, twenty-five employees from the company put their energy into construction by working side-by-side installing the trusses of the roof for nearly 8 hours and successfully completed the job injury-free. Employees marveled at how this volunteer project allowed them to give back to the community in a meaningful way and served as a valuable reminder of the power of teamwork. 

This is not Edison International's first volunteer partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Greater L.A.’s Long Beach Neighborhood Revitalization program. Edison is committed to five “build” days on this program and have 3 more volunteer days left this year. When the volunteer days are finally complete, a total of 125 employees will have assisted in constructing a new home for Enrique and Sonia Lopez and family. This partnership is part of Edison International's 125 Days of Service commemorating the company's 125th anniversary. Throughout the year, employees will be donating their time and skills on numerous volunteer projects where they live and work. 

Investing in local communities is important and Edison International is pleased to partner with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles to help make homeownership possible for hardworking, low-income families and individuals.

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