Habitat Omaha is on the Move
After saying good-bye to the old fire house on Ames Avenue, Habitat for Humanity of Omaha staff and volunteers are finally together under one roof. We have made the final move into our new, unified, headquarters at 1701 N. 24 Street. As of September 30, 2013 all Habitat Omaha business will be conducted at this location. The new space not only reunites staff, but it also improves service to families with additional room for meeting and training. The large attached warehouse eliminates the need for off-site storage of supplies and vehicles. Set at a prime location along the 24th Street corridor with twice the square footage of the old space, Habitat Omaha's new building will help the organization to serve a record number of families in the coming years. Thanks to the new space Habitat Omaha has the capacity to grow now and into the future.
Students Gain Hands-On Experience
North High Engineering Students Partner with Habitat Omaha
This fall, Habitat for Humanity of Omaha is teaming up with twenty-three North High School engineering students to design floor plans for two Habitat Omaha renovations. In September, both of Dr. Lee Kallstrom's Civil Engineering and Architecture classes had a chance to tour the homes and see the space they are working with. Long-time Habitat Omaha volunteer Mark Butler, one of the construction leaders for the renovation, pointed out unique aspects of each, discussing issues with the current construction and opportunities for improvement. The students will finalize their projects this month and present them to Butler.
Butler and Kallstrom developed the idea last spring and knew they were onto something when they saw how much the students enjoyed it. Butler attributes their excitement to the fact that students could actually drive by and see the house they were working on.
This year, the two homes are within a 10-minute drive of North, and students had the chance to see both before deciding which to work on. One is in significantly better condition, but Kallstrom and Butler are quick to point out that while the second may be a challenge it also holds a lot of potential.
Both homes will have three bedrooms and two bathrooms, in addition to a kitchen and living area. While the engineering students are developing their plans, Butler is working with the city and other Habitat Omaha staff to figure out the specifics on his end. So far, the projects are coming along very well, he says.
"We're already swiping ideas from them to use in the house," Butler says. "To be able to use some of the bright ideas the kids have...that's the thing I get most excited about."
The students are equally excited. On a recent morning, they presented their drafts in class, listening closely as Butler gave his feedback. He hopes to incorporate bits and pieces from each plan into the final design-either way, all of their contributions help, he says, because the students come up with ideas he does not.
Later in the semester, Kallstrom hopes to be able to show his students how their designs will be used.
"Timelines get really tricky as sometimes it takes longer than a semester to see notable results," Kallstrom says. "(But) even if the houses we design aren't finished we will tour similar houses that are completed."
The North High School Civil Engineering and Architecture class is part of the Project Lead the Way program, which takes a "hands-on, real-world problem-solving approach to learning."
Learn more about Project Lead the Way.
2013 Spirit of Humanity Recipients
Habitat for Humanity of Omaha will celebrate the 5th Annual Raise the Roof Gala at the Harper Ballroom on the campus of Creighton University on November 1, 2013. During the event Habitat Omaha will present three Spirit of Humanity awards to our outstanding community partners. This year's Spirit of Humanity honorees are:
First National Bank - Corporate Partner
First National Bank continues to make a difference in our community. They support Habitat Omaha in a variety of ways including: supporting the loan sale program, special events, Habitat ReStore, the Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter Work Project in Haiti, the Adopt-a-House program and Global Village program in addition to donating properties. This year First National Bank is building and helping to fund their second Habitat Omaha home. All 365 volunteer slots were filled by their employees in a few short weeks and there now is a waiting list. With the bank's support over the years, Habitat Omaha has been able to serve more hardworking families right here in our community and abroad. Habitat Omaha looks forward to many more years of partnering with First National Bank.
Faithful Builders Coalition - Faith Partner
This year marks the Faithful Builders Coalition's 20th year partnering with Habitat Omaha. Over the years, the ten churches involved have donated funds and spent thousands of hours volunteering to help plan and build a home each year. But the coalition's involvement doesn't end there. Several of the coalition members serve on other Habitat Omaha committees such as Family Selection, Land Acquisition and members of the coalition were instrumental in helping to open Omaha's second Habitat ReStore. Throughout the years, coalition members have helped Habitat Omaha expand our work in the community by encouraging dozens of skilled volunteers to offer their expertise helping the organization to grow. Just as their name suggest, Faithful Builders have helped build more than homes over their 20 year history with Habitat Omaha.
Faithful Builders church partners include: Holy Cross Lutheran, Luther Memorial Lutheran, Rejoice! Lutheran, Saint Elizabeth Ann Catholic, Saint James Catholic, Saint Leo Catholic, Saint Michael Lutheran, Saint Paul's Lutheran, Millard, Saint Wenceslaus Catholic and Westwood Community.
Leadership Team & Donors of "Build The Future" Campaign - Collaborative Partners
After years of steady growth, Habitat Omaha found itself at a crossroads as its ability to increase the number of homes built, repaired and demolished was limited by the physical space of its facilities and ability to acquire properties. In order to build capacity and serve 1,000 more families over the next 10 years, Habitat Omaha formed a leadership team to evaluate and implement a capital campaign. In September 2012, we kicked-off the "Build The Future" campaign to raise funds for new office and warehouse space, strategic land acquisition and a second Habitat ReStore location. Thanks to the generous support of 125 individuals, foundations and corporations, Habitat Omaha had surpassed its $6 million goal by April 2013. As the organization settles into its new "home" where all staff, material and equipment are finally under one roof, service to families and efficiencies in building improve. Land acquisition funds are beginning to be used to develop entire blocks at a time and the West Maple Habitat ReStore is successfully wrapping up its first year of operation while generating enough revenue to build five additional houses each year.
Twenty Years and Building: Faith Coalition Reaches Milestone
This fall Habitat for Humanity of Omaha's Faithful Builders Coalition will complete their 20th Habitat Omaha home. Over the years, the 10 churches involved have donated their time, talent and treasure including thousands of hours in volunteer labor to help plan and build a home each year. Just as their name suggests, Faithful Builders have helped build more than homes over their 20 year history with Habitat Omaha. Throughout the years, coalition members have helped Habitat Omaha expand our work in the community encouraging dozens of skilled volunteers to offer their expertise and help Habitat Omaha grow.
Several of the coalition members serve on other Habitat Omaha committees such as the Family Selection Committee, Land Acquisition and were instrumental in helping to open Omaha's second Habitat ReStore.
Faithful Builders Coalition: Holy Cross Lutheran, Luther Memorial Lutheran, Rejoice! Lutheran, Saint Elizabeth Ann Catholic, Saint James Catholic, Saint Leo Catholic, Saint Michael Lutheran, Saint Paul's Lutheran in Millard, Saint Wenceslaus Catholic and Westwood Community
Urban Abbey Serves Good Coffee for a Good Cause: Habitat for Humanity of Omaha
This October, Habitat for Humanity of Omaha will partner with Urban Abbey, a nonprofit coffee house located in downtown Omaha and operated by First United Methodist Church.
Each month, Urban Abbey selects a local nonprofit to receive 10% of all coffee bar sales as well as 100% of sales of the "Urban Abbey Blend" of whole bean coffee. Beansmith Coffee, a La Vista-based specialty coffee roaster, donates the whole bean blend each month, making it possible for all proceeds to go directly to the designated nonprofit. Past community partners include Nebraska AIDS Project, Pearl Pantry and Children's Scholarship Fund of Omaha. To date, Urban Abbey has donated more than $22,800 to local nonprofits.
As part of its partnership with Habitat Omaha, Urban Abbey will host a social Sunday, October 6, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. The event will offer community members a chance to meet one of Habitat Omaha's Partner Families and learn more about the mission while enjoying food, music and (of course) coffee.
"Urban Abbey's support of Habitat for Humanity has been a true blessing for our organization, and we appreciate that they have found a new and different way to put Christian service into action," says Janneane Gerot, Faith Engagement Manager for Habitat for Humanity of Omaha. "This year our partnership with Urban Abbey will help the Carpenter's Crew, one of our seven faith coalitions, complete a new home for a Habitat family, bringing the hope and stability of homeownership to another family."
The coffee shop's slogan, "coffee with a cause," underlines its mission to support the nonprofit community by selling quality coffee and foods and providing a space for people of all faiths (or no faith) to connect, share stories and take action to serve.
"It is community and faith partnerships like the one we have with Urban Abbey that are allowing Habitat to make a real difference in Omaha," says Gerot.
Building a Strong Foundation: Homebuyer Education and Financial Fitness Classes
For most people, a home is the single most expensive purchase they'll ever make. To help ensure homebuyer's success, Habitat for Humanity Omaha depends in part on a couple of workshops given at Family Advisory Services, Inc. - Homebuyer Education and Financial Fitness.
Originally just one program started in the late 90's, Homebuyer Education helps participants take an objective look at their finances as well as all those pieces that have to fit together before they can finalize the purchase of their home. Topics range from types of insurance to saving for emergencies and even touch on building community. They also stress the importance of devising and sticking to a budget and paying bills first and on time.
After several years, they recognized the need to address credit separately and set up a Financial Fitness workshop, emphasizing the need for good credit and a healthy relationship with a financial organization.
©Habitat for Humanity/Steffan Hacker
One area covered in this workshop is the psychology of money, starting with a look at spending habits and triggers and then getting parents to think about the behaviors they are modeling for their children. In our society life rushes at us so fast and they teach the need to slow down and think things through.
Participants also learn to protect their credit and if they want to, can find out their credit scores and work individually with a counselor to create an action plan. "It's never too late to fix your credit," emphasizes Donna McFadden, the Program Director.
Family Advisory Services is both a United Way and a HUD agency and their instructors are all certified. They work with a number of clients in addition to Habitat Omaha homebuyers.
|Habitat Omaha's 2012/2013 AmeriCorps team: Kielen, Rayan, Lula, Marcy, Amy, Zach and Leigh (not Pictured).|
Over 75 AmeriCorps members from Habitat affiliates across the country spent a week building with the Wild Rivers affiliate working in and around Saint Croix Falls, Wisconsin. Each spring Habitat AmeriCorps members spend a week in a different city helping to build homes. The Wisconsin group was divided across two new builds and multiple A Brush with Kindness projects.Unlike most other Build-a-Thon sites, these members served in a rural area with an affiliate that serves two counties. Each site was in a different town spread out from each other. Habitat Omaha AmeriCorps members each served at a different site and were able to work with others and build new friendships. The end of the busy week was marked with a dedication of a new home and a pig roast at a local church. It was truly an unforgettable experience.