Friday, August 31, 2012

Happy Anniversary to Habitat for Humanity of Greater L.A. ReStores!

 Guest Blog Post by Ecovations Team:
Sustainability succeeds when we work together. Over the years, Ecovations, a local design and building company specializing in eco-renovations, has had the privilege of working with Habitat for Humanity of Greater L.A.’s (HFH GLA) ReStores on a series of projects. From reclaiming windows and doors to donating materials from construction sites, we have used the HFH GLA ReStores on nearly all of our projects.
Ecovations works on a wide range of projects and provides design, consulting and building services that aim to create zero impact industries through healthy, valuable and smart buildings with sustainable operations strategies that benefit us all. Ecovations will remodel, design and build what you need in the most eco-friendly methods possible. 
In addition to our residential clients, we are working on renovating MUSE School, a pre-K through 8th grade school in Calabasas Canyon. As with many of our projects, the HFH GLA ReStores are a go to stop for finding materials and donating our materials. For this particular project, we salvaged windows from the HFH GLA ReStores and donated a variety of material. By being our partner, HFH GLA ReStores are helping MUSE become one of the greenest campuses and, as such, a model for sustainable design nationwide. It is important to us that we design with health, functionality and sustainability in mind at all times.
When you tour around campus you will see repurposing around every corner. One of our favorite repurpose projects are our reclaimed benches. If you take a stroll behind the main lodge at MUSE, you may notice the eco elegant amphitheater. The amphitheater is located directly under California Oak trees and it was imperative that we design the space and seating in such a way that would not damage the trees or the root system. As we looked around site for materials, we were drawn to the old bunk beds from the camp that we found in storage.  We thought, “Those would make great seating for the amphitheater!” We took the material from the beds and restructured it with reclaimed wood from old buildings on campus to bring the new seating you see today! As we looked a bit deeper into history, it turns out that the bunks were US Army bunks from WWII from the 1930s! 
What one may consider a challenge, the HFH GLA ReStores help us make into an adventure. The former summer camp structures were excellent sources of wood and material to build things like fences and bookshelves around campus and the ReStores were a great place to go for additional material and inspiration. During construction, we were also sure to keep the campus a zero waste construction zone by donating materials to local non-profits, like the HFH GLA ReStores. Our goal is to continue to divert 100% of construction waste from landfills, operate with the highest possible energy efficiency, construct zero-net energy buildings and to construct zero-emissions buildings that have no carbon footprint.
From cleaning products to paints, having a local supplier of green materials has been a great option. So often, green options are only available online and it is great to know that there are organizations like the HFH GLA ReStores in town that can help us out directly with our needs. We also love supporting local businesses because we feel that being sustainable isn't just about buying a non-toxic item or a used material, but it is also about supporting the local economy.
We thank you for doing your part so we can do ours; the future of our planet depends on us all working together.
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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Meet our Phillips 66 Summer Intern - Cameron Bryant!

We are pleased to partner with Phillips 66 for another successful Phillips 66 Summer Internship Program. Our 2012 intern Cameron Bryant, 17, of Compton, worked in our Gardena ReStore for eight weeks and even expressed interest in staying involved with us after his internship ends.

The ReStore is a social enterprise of Habitat for Humanity of Greater LA (HFH GLA), established as a self-sustaining funding source for our affiliate and to provide our local community with low-cost building and home improvement materials.  The ReStore sells donated materials including new and gently used furniture, appliances, lumber, hardware, etc. August marks the eighth anniversary for our Gardena ReStore and the second anniversary of our Norwalk ReStore.

As an Intern, Cameron worked with our Donations Coordinator to document phone calls from donors, sort donation receipts, conduct customer surveys within the ReStore, analyze donor call volume and the origins of donated items throughout the greater Los Angeles area. He also helped unload trucks and stock shelves along with other ReStore volunteers. Cameron even found a TV for his bedroom at the ReStore!  It has been a pleasure to have Cameron as a part of the team.  His positive, can-do attitude has been a real asset.  Cameron has been a reliable, hard worker; he consistently arrived on time and brought tasks to completion with little to no supervision.  

Cameron’s mother has worked in Accounting at ConocoPhillips/Phillips 66 for 36 years and encouraged him to apply for the Summer Intern Program before starting his senior year of high school. He will attend Santa Monica College next fall and pursue a degree in Computer Engineering. Cameron hopes to transfer to UC Berkley to complete his Bachelor’s.

On behalf of HFH GLA and the families and children we service, thank you Phillips 66 for your support through the Summer Internship Program.  We look forward to continuing our partnership next year and we wish Cameron the best and are grateful for his service and contribution here at HFH GLA.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

ReStore Shopper Serenades Customers on a Saturday

Thank you to Stephanie Ham, AmeriCorps Member in our Volunteers department for sharing this with us:

This past Saturday, a customer named Marcy sat down at one of the pianos for sale in our Gardena ReStore and started playing for everyone. She was amazing! It felt like you were shopping in a high-end department store. 

The piano she was playing is only $50 too! Marcy is a frequent ReStore customer and fabulous piano player.  Here's a picture of our Saturday Serenader.

Save 10% at the ReStores with code: RESTORE10

August is the 8th Anniversary for our Gardena ReStore and 2nd Anniversary for our Norwalk ReStore, so to celebrate we are offering a 10% discount all month.  

Simply mention RESTORE10 at either location throughout the month of August 2012 and receive 10% off at check-out. 

It's our small way of saying Thank You!

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Saying Farewell to our AmeriCorps Members

Last Friday was the last official day of service for our AmeriCorps members.   If you're unfamiliar with AmeriCorps, think of it as the Peace Corps in the United States.

Regina Wyatt has been serving with us for 3 years, which is rare in itself, and we can't thank her enough for how she's helped shape the future our ReStores.

Thomas Nelson has served with us for one year and in that time has taken our Youth Programs to new heights!

Stephanie Ham served in our volunteer department for the past year and we are thrilled to have her returning as a member of our construction team!

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Monday, August 13, 2012

Mark your Calendars for EarthFest L.A.!

We are looking forward to participating in EarthFest L.A. on Saturday, September 15 at West L.A. College! The purpose of this great event is to raise awareness about environmental protection, conservation and pollution prevention. Alongside other great local organizations, we will be sharing information on the steps we take to lessen our environmental impact and strengthen communities.

We build green because it is the right thing to do for the environment and our partner homeowners, as it helps them save on utility costs. Our Gardena and Norwalk ReStores are also a big part of putting our commitment to sustainability into practice. Since our ReStores were established, they’ve helped to divert over five million lbs. of reusable materials from local area landfills.

Besides great exhibitors, EarthFest L.A. will also feature educational panels on green jobs and urban gardening and even a jazz concert! California Greenworks and West L.A. College are organizing EarthFest L.A.. Click here for more info.

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Monday, August 6, 2012

HFH GLA Youth United members help build hope, lives & communities in South Korea!

Blog entry by HFH GLA Youth United Chapter President, Jenny Sim
On June 11th-15th, 2012, nine Webb students, (Zoey Choi, Jeainny Kim, Thomas Kim, Taco Lee, Sam Nam, Chaewon Park, SangUk Park, Jenny Sim, and SuYeong Yang) participated in Habitat for Humanity's A Brush with Kindness project in Beobwon-eup, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea with the Paju-si Affiliate. For quick background info, Beobwon-eup is a city north of Seoul with a lot of Korean and U.S. military bases for protection. The Paju-si Affiliate covers most of the cities in Gyeonggi-do, and the city of Paju is located south of 38th Parallel and right next to the DMZ. Most Webb students had to commute nearly 2 hours each day on public transportation to get to the work site. This year we were planning on building series of houses but the primary land donor bailed out last minute. Again, the Seoul Affiliate (like last year) had more support and projects, but we thought it would be meaningless if we built a house in such a big city.

In addition to the nine Webb students, three international students and one post-graduate from Korea joined us. Our job was to renovate an entire house. Throughout the week, we dug 70 cm ditches, renovated the study/guestroom, rebuilt a port-a-potty like restroom (no toilet!!!), wallpapered the bedrooms and reinstalled the kitchen ceiling. We worked from 9 AM to 6 PM every day! Everyone got to use all the tools, from hammers and nails to using power tools like nail guns, electric saws and drills. Most people were new to Habitat, but they were AWESOME! Jeainny was the goddess of nail guns, Sam the god of wall papering and Sang was really really good at digging. :)

Throughout the week, Sam and Jamie (IIS) worked on the study/guestroom renovation while Sang, Zoey, SuYeon, Thomas, Eunice Lee (KIS), Joseph (IIS) and Chaewon dug the ditch and connected the water purifier. Taco, Yoonji (post-graduate), Jeainny and I tore down the restroom and rebuilt it from scratch. When the ditch and restroom teams finished (day 3), Sam, Jamie, Sang, Chaewon, Eunice and I worked on dry walling the study/guestroom and wallpaper while the rest of the group worked on the kitchen and bedrooms. On June 14th, Seoul University Law School Habitat club joined us and helped us wallpaper the bedrooms.

Overall, the projects were all relatively difficult, especially for students who were new to Habitat. However, we were able to finish all the work that was assigned to us. Since we have been extremely active with the Habitat Korea, the HFH Korea Headquarters gave all Webb students a gift basket with a Letter of Appreciation, volunteer authentication, Habitat blanket, mug and notebooks. As always, this project would not have been possible if it wasn’t for Webb and its support for Habitat for Humanity.

To see our adventure, click here:
South Korea Team

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Choose Cartons to Benefit the Environment and Habitat for Humanity!

We are big believers in making small changes because we know that they can add up to have a big impact! One very easy change that everyone can make is buying products that are packaged responsibly. Evergreen Packaging is on a mission to spread the word that packaging matters with its recently launched interactive website and campaign, called

Buying products packaged in carton is a responsible choice because cartons are made with renewable materials and also can be recycled to make products such as tissue, office paper, wall boards and other building materials.

By joining the Choose Cartons conversation on Facebook and Twitter, you will learn all about the many benefits of cartons while helping to benefit Habitat for Humanity at the same time. Click here to share the Carton Story and once it is shared 1, 500 times, Evergreen Packaging will make a $15,000 donation to Habitat for Humanity.

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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Isabel Lee Celebrates 10 Years at Habitat of Greater L.A.

(l-r) Isabel Lee & Erin Rank
Isabel Lee recently celebrated her 10th anniversary with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles so we thought it fitting to shine a spotlight on her.   Isabel is a joy to work with and a valuable member of our team.  She truly is the sunshine that helps our garden grow.

Q:  How long have you worked at HFH GLA? 
A:  This year marks my 10 year anniversary.

Q:  What inspired you to join a nonprofit? 
A:  I was part of a community service group in college and we worked really closely with a local non-profit that helped with social services.  I ended up working there part-time until I finished college and wanted to continue to work where I could make a difference in someone’s life.

Q:  Tell us about the growth you've witnessed with your affiliate. 
A:  It’s been really amazing to see our affiliate grow to this size and capacity.  When I started, there were only about 6-7 staff members and now I’m hard pressed to keep track of all of our 70+ staff members.  I love that we help more and more families every year.

Q:  Tell us about some of the families you've worked with. 
A:  I’ve met some incredible partner homeowners over the years and it’s always inspiring to be with them.  Last year, our partner family in Cambodia, who didn’t speak English and had only smiled at us when we introduced ourselves the day before, came up to me in the middle of the day and gave me the biggest hug and said “Thank you, I love you.” She then went and said it to every single person helping to build her home and I know we all agreed that it made being in that blistering heat completely worth it. 

Q:  Tell us about where in the world you've traveled to build homes. 
A:  I’ve had the honor to travel to lots of interesting places, some that I never even thought that I would visit or knew about – Houma, Louisiana, Thailand, Cambodia.  Each time I come back inspired by the work that I’ve witnessed and helped with.   Habitat’s work makes an even bigger impact in some of these places and seeing what can be done in such a short amount of time for families is like watching a miracle happen. 

Q:  What does "home" mean to you? 
A:  Home means a safe haven…a place no one should be without.

Q: Do you have a favorite memory in your 10 years?
A:  Probably one of my favorite memories was when we hosted the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project in Los Angeles in 2007.  It was a lot of work and long nights of preparation, but watching everything come together was almost like magic.  I never slept so little in one week but the energy of all the volunteers from all over the world and the excitement of hosting such a large event definitely kept all of us going.  I’ll always think back on that week and have something to smile about. 

Thank you, Isabel, for your years of service and friendship!

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