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Free giveaway: Habitat stories are a steady drumbeat of change

Every story we share with you here on the blog is a cause for celebration.

We find such joy, hope and inspiration in the homeowners, volunteers and Habitat staff members who share their experiences and insights, and we know that you do too. These stories represent the very real transformations that occur every day through the work we do together.

We also know just how many more stories there are out there in Habitat’s world, and we’d love nothing more than to help you beat the drum of the wonderful work that’s going on in your community.

Share an example of a Habitat anecdote, build or project that inspires you in the comments below. We will select 10 random winners to receive a free Habitat for Humanity drum —a reminder of the steady drumbeat of change that results when we all work together to help build safe, decent, affordable housing.

Tell us: What story would you most like to share?

Entries will be accepted beginning at 9 a.m. EST on Jan. 28, 2014, until 11:59 p.m. EST Jan. 31, 2014. Winners will receive a Habitat for Humanity drum, valued at $5. No purchase or donation is required to win. Only one entry per person. The odds of winning depend on the number of entries. Ten winners will be selected randomly and notified via email. Winners will have 14 days to respond. Unclaimed prizes will be awarded randomly to other entrants. Please allow 6-8 weeks for delivery. Must be over 18 years old to win. Contest is void where prohibited. Good luck!

Comments

Kay Sylvester wrote:

I've worked on one build in Santa Ana, which was well-run, productive, and joyful. I'm about to head to Nicaragua for a one-week build and I can't wait!

Karla Young wrote:

I am a regular volunteer with the Greater San Francisco affiliate and I feel so much joy when I am on the job site. Not only do I get to build side by side the future homeowners, but I get to share my passion for service with day volunteers. Can you imagine the joy at the end of the day when a day volunteer tells me that she will be back and that she will let me know when she books her next volunteer day. That happened to me this past Saturday.
It is the little things in life that make me happy and the way I describe is that i get to feel my "spiritual gas tank" every time I volunteer with Habitat.

I also have been going on GV trips for the past 4 years and this year I get to serve in El Salvador along my team leaders and returning volunteers from a previous GV trip. We become friends and family when we build houses and dreams on a Habitat job site. I feel so blessed to be part of this great organization.

sarah lynch wrote:

When we lived in Sacramento CA, my husband and I were able to volunteer on a few renovation projects, enjoyed the company and of course the cause. When we moved here to Frankfort, KY, we called the local office and left messages, hopefully soon we will hear back :)

John Webster wrote:

I am in my second year as an AmeriCorps member for Springfield/Eugene Habitat for Humanity. I have learned a ton in time I have been here, and made many friends and met many other acquaintances as we joined forces to help build and repair homes for those in need...but the biggest thrill I have gotten out of my time with Habitat for Humanity is the community that I have learned from and help to build. It is a magical thing to experience the connections that can be made when people from so many different walks of life come together for a common cause. This joy of participating in my community has also spread to my family at home, as I recently saw in my 10 year old daughters (twins). When I asked them what they want to be when they grow up, they told me about how they could not wait to be old enough to volunteer!

Jennifer Butler... wrote:

From working to reinvigorate the campus chapter for HFH at Rhode Island College to breaking concrete sidewalks to hanging sheet rock to meeting Millard Fuller to shopping at my local ReStore, I have so many fond memories and moving experiences associated with Habitat. Thanks so much for making this world a much better place to live.

Harrison Shapiro wrote:

My first ever project was when I was a sophomore in high school. The home belonged to a volunteer firefighter who was working as many shifts as he could to support his mother who lived with him and had some kind of mental faculties issue that was never fully explained to us. I never met the firefighter who owned the home, and the other students with me were all a little bit insular as they'd been with the group longer. I found myself on a team with no other students, just some of the homeowner's fellow volunteer fire fighters. After the obligatory jokes about who would be fighting fires if they were all with me, I really began to talk and hear them open up about their colleague. They could have just heard his story, patted him on the back, and made that hollow offer of "Let me know if I can do anything" that so many people do when they hear stories like his. Instead they were standing with me in a dirty, flooded basement on a Sunday morning, pulling chunks of dirt and debris out from drains, and carrying enormous bags up and down stairs until there wasn't even a point of wiping the sweat away any more. Those firefighters were my heroes that day, and spurred my involvement in Habitat for the rest of my time with the organization.

William DeRuyter wrote:

I shop at the original Habitat for Humanity Restore in Austin,TX at least once a month . Its a win win .

Allison Curci wrote:

In 2011 my daughter and I received a Habitat home. Since then, I have continued to work on a variety of projects. I have to say, I feel so blessed to work with such angels. Knowing the love and compassion that each volunteer brings to a build, makes my home so much more of a blessing. Thank you again to anyone who volunteers. Your generosity is appreciated more than you'll ever know.

Austin Williams wrote:

I am a Habitat volunteer from Oregon State University and am in my 4th year of Civil Engineering. My future career goals are to implement my Civil Engineering knowledge and skills to help rebuild infrastructure throughout the United States and to third world developing countries. My goals are fueled by the passion to help others and then be able to see the fruits of my work benefiting and enriching the lives of others. Habitat for Humanity has given me the opportunity through construction projects in Albany, Corvallis, and Portland, Oregon to begin to see the blessings of my education and experiences. Volunteering on the construction of a large neighborhood in Portland a few summers ago, I had the chance to work alongside the future homeowner and the joy and gratitude myself and others received from him for the simple work we were performing was the greatest reward I could imagine. Thank you Habitat for Humanity, for all of your generosity and hard work!

Diane McDonald wrote:

I've been volunteering as a crew chief for about 12 years now. Over that time, I've seen so many blessings, watched homeowners' dreams come true and smiled over the discovery new volunteers make in their new-found skills. Our affiliate has an annual youth build, volunteers are 15 to 25 years old. One favorite memory is a high-school boy on framing day saying, "Most Saturdays, I'm still in bed at this hour. But here it is 11 am and we've stood up a wall. Pretty cool." I thought it was pretty cool too!

Erin Stamm wrote:

I volunteered several times rebuilding the same home. It was great to witness the home transform into a beautiful place for a family to live. Each time I volunteered I was able to see it come together into a bright and lovely home. It was amazing.

Joy McKay wrote:

I have been blessed to be the Executive Director of Fremont (Nebraska) Area Habitat for Humanity for almost 2 years. I love my job, mostly because of all the people I come in contact with - our homeowners and our volunteers. Every time I see or talk to one of our homeowners, no matter what they are going through, they are still grateful for having a home of their own. And our volunteers continue to amaze me with the hours and devotion they give to Habitat. We couldn't do what we do without them!

Emily McAfee wrote:

I help Habitat by running the college chapter at Aquinas College. I hold meetings, organize builds for the students to go to, plus much more. Helping Habitat has been a huge part of my life since I started at Aquinas College. My favorite memory of helping out Habitat would be this past September when I attended a build with my best friend. Everyone was so friendly, and even though it took us 8 hours to work on two window frames, the amount of appreciation was unbelievable. I wish I had more days like those in my life.

Heather Harmon wrote:

I started helping with Habitat when I knew I had to do something different for my children and self. I got accepted in the program and as I was doing my required sweat equity hours, it was a great feeling to be able to help build houses for families in need. After my house is finished I will still volunteer, because it's a wonderful organization. I love my new Habitat family.

Emilie Morse wrote:

Habitat has built several new homes in my city. It is revitalizing this area and changing lives one home at a time. Habitat for Humanity offers peace and stability to families who otherwise would not have the opportunity of home ownership. This not only changes the lives of those family members, but reaches to future generations. They can literally change the culture of a community.

Denise Greenway wrote:

My 17 year-old son has been involved in many community service activities through school, scouts & church. When it came time for him to think about his first part-time job, I offered him the option of taking a part-time volunteer position rather than working in the more common fast-food or retail industries. In exchange, I would continue to pay for his gas, car insurance & a bit of spending money. I asked him to research & select the organization that he would serve.

I'm so pleased that he chose to volunteer with Habitat. He is working 2 afternoons a week and 2 weekends each month, splitting his time between job sites and the ReStore offices in Macomb County, MI. He is getting great work experience while giving back to his community. I know that we are fortunate to be in a position that he doesn't need to work for a paycheck. Nevertheless, I am proud of him for choosing to serve others. I'm particularly pleased that he is working with Habitat, as he will be able to continue his ministry while living at home and while away at school. I hope this turns into a lifetime passion for him.

Sincerely,
Denise Greenway

Ray Aubrey wrote:

I have seen the joy of home ownership on the face of a single mother in Arizona, the laughter of a young child showing me her new room in Georgia. I have shared in the excitement of a Father opening his front door for his children's new home in Tennessee and helped a family hang siding on their new home after the hurricane in Mississippi. All of these great moments inspired me to participate in the Carter Work Project in Haiti which brought stability and hope for a future to families of our neighbor to the south-east. Habitat for Humanity has provided me opportunity to share my passion and my love for my fellow man. Thank you to the men an women who labor daily to make H4H the organization I look forward to working with for years and years to come.

Tracy wrote:

I have had the privelage and blessing to be part of the San Joaquin County Habitat for Humanity affiliate for over 10 years. I have been a volunteer, donor, and current board member and believe I have gained more from giving then one could think possible. I, along side many volunteers, employees, donors and soon to be homeowners have sweat together, cried together, prayed together and continue this mission together. My husband, my children, many family members have come aboard to watch this community grow. If you have never been involved, now is the time. God bless Habitat!

Lindsey B. Harline wrote:

Hi, Habitat strikes a chord with me so deep. Last year I volunteered all summer on a little Island off the Coast of Cap Cod, Massachusetts called Nantucket Island. We got really close to the workers there, and before I left I played a song for them on my ukulele believe it or not. The song was about how God built a 'Habitat for Humanity' and made up a 'blue print' and stuck us all here and we all are learning and growing and building it up together. This was one of the greatest experiences of my life! :)

Karolena Declercq wrote:

Proud Homeowner since 1999. Currently proud owner of Jacobs Ladder Family Assisted Living and our New project is underway. Volunteer on our local woman's build. The program gave me confidence and the ability to achieve my goals one step at a time. My heart now beats to a different drum! Thank you Habitat for more then a great home.

Sarah kwiatkowski wrote:

One idea I'd like to see habitat get involved into would be taking in homeless people to work as volunteers. Like families in need homeless people need that encouragement giving them a chance to help themselves by helping others.

Jay Shotel wrote:

Being retired means doing the things you want to do not the things you have to do. Working at the ReStore allows me to work with young adults with disabilities who are my fellow volunteers, and as a team we accomplish great things.

Emily Wageman wrote:

I have been helping plan the Mr. Habitat fundraiser in our community. It is going on its 4th year and has made so many new faces aware of what an impact Habitat has on families' hope for the future. The fundraiser has raised between $30,000-$55,000 each year.

cat wrote:

Habitat helped my dream come true by giving me a place to call my own. Home sweet home!

Elizabeth Luiz. wrote:

Being a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity has always been on my bucket list ..and for past five years it has been a wonderful journey.... I've meet wonderful people from all walks of life,made new friends that are now my Habitat family ....With each home built I've walked away feeling I've been a part of something extraordinary and I'm anxious for the next build to start....If I'm lucky maybe someday I'll be able to check another off my list and volunteer abroad ...... Habitat for Humanity has brought great joy to many families and I'm grateful to have been a part of it ....Thank you ...

Janice Chang wrote:

I started volunteering with Habitat for Humanity through my college campus chapter, and more than 10 years later, I have found ways to stay involved and share my belief that Habitat does some of the most impactful and meaningful work out of any "charitable" organization in existence. On my last build, I organized 14 friends (many of them first-timers) to join me and we raised over $1,700 for our local chapter in the process. I currently volunteer my time with my chapter speaking to build groups and community organizations about Habitat programs and benefits as part of a Speaker's Bureau to get more people involved. In the process, I have met super passionate volunteers, seen people's minds open when they learn the real story of how Habitat works, and have hugged and cried with Habitat homeowners who every day feel so blessed and thankful to have Habitat come into their lives. I joined Habitat for Humanity because I wanted to build and help but I have stayed because there is so much more to be done and more I can contribute.

Debbie Ritthaler wrote:

Hi my name is Debbie. My 4 sons and I received a home built by Habitat volunteers in 2001. It has truly changed our lives. I currently volunteer with our local affiliate in Columbia County, Oregon. We just opened a ReStore here and try as much as possible to help fuel the fires under the store. Every penny we earn goes to build new homes for people just like me who would not ever have a chance of homeownership.

Barbara Tichy wrote:

My most inspiring build was my very first Women Build in 2008. I haven't stopped building since and I beat the drum for Habitat wherever I go.

michaela wrote:

Everyone deserves a Home

wynnie korup wrote:

Though unable to assist physically... i always shop my local habitat for humanity thrift stores when reworking something in my home. And i donate all usable materials right back into them.

Hamsila Samuel Rajan wrote:

Went to the local Habitat office in Bangalore, India to see how my daughter and her classmates could work as volunteers as part of the Global Citizenship coursework. Accompanied the HFH team and the kids on two "A Brush With Kindness" projects at a settlement near our school. The hospitality of the families whose homes were being painted and the joy at seeing their homes getting a fresh coat of paint was an eye-opener to the children. We will surely be volunteering even after the coursework is done!

aileen wrote:

I don't have that much to give in the community but the heart of sharing info of hope to others is what I could do immediately.. It maybe a small thing but the willingness to do such is a big deal for some..

kylene quinn wrote:

Being a part of Habitat saved my life. I was newly divorced and lonely 10 years ago, when my friend took me on a Habitat build in Thailand. The experience was so meaningful, I did it 6 more times - leading 3 - to Romania, Tajikistan, Ecuador, India, Peru and New Zealand. Such great hosts in country, such kind people who volunteer and the helpful staff at Americus. Now I lead a collegiate chapter at Seattle University planning to take students to Argentina this summer. Thanks Habitat for making my life have more meaning in the world.

David MacDonald wrote:

Last spring, I had the privilege of serving as the advisor for the Ohio Northern University Habitat for Humanity spring break trip to Jackson, Mississippi. This was our university's 19th year going to Jackson, and my first as the chaplain. It was such a joy to watch, as 50 students helped to build a house from the ground up! Working alongside the homeowners really made the project special, as we learned more about them, and about their dreams for safe and affordable housing for the child they had on the way. I will never forget the smiles on our students faces as they worked hard to help make those dreams a reality. I am blessed every day to be a part of Habitat for Humanity through our campus chapter. This year, we are sending three trips during spring break--Jackson, MS, Davidson, NC, and Dade City, FL. Can't wait to see what wonderful things we can help accomplish this year!

Jessika wrote:

I am a first year AmeriCorps member with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Baton Rouge. A long way from my home in the Northeast. The first house that I worked on in Baton Rouge was home to Jane. She is one of the most loving, caring, and genuinely nice people I have ever met! She moved from Kenya to try to make a better life for herself. She is also a single mother working late nights so that she can spend days with her daughter. Jane made me feel like family from the first day I met her and that was so comforting being far from home myself. She was exactly the person I needed to meet to reassure myself that I made the correct decision moving here. Seeing that transformation from slab to home is a truly amazing experience. Jane was there every step of the way. She never missed a volunteer day and every one left site feeling like their help was truly appreciated! I remember the day that she finished her hours. All of the volunteers had left and she was sitting there counting. She jumped up and said "I have finally finished my hours"! This wave of happiness came over me, like it was I who had just finished my 255 hours of sweat equity. I gave her a big hug and then we did a little dance in her soon to be front yard. I named it the "you're done with your hours dance". I could go on for days with stories I accumulated from working with Jane, but I think that that was by far my favorite. Her dedication was bittersweet for me. I was so happy that she was able to move into her home for the winter holidays, but I was going to miss working with her on site! Jane told me I am allowed to come back to Baton Rouge and visit when I am done with my term, she even has a spare bedroom for me (which she joked was the storage shed)! I am so thankful that I met her and that I took this position. This is the best job that I have ever had and I am truly going to miss our partners, homeowners, staff, and volunteers when my term is over.

Tristan Richards wrote:

I'll share a poem I wrote last year--(note: this was originally published in Firethorne: The Gustavus Journal of Literary and Graphic Arts)

I worked with my college's Campus Chapter all through college, went on 5 Collegiate Challenge trips, and now I am serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA with Habitat. I've had a lot of really meaningful experiences, and this poem was a way to communicate some of the bigger lessons I've learned through working with Habitat.

---------------------

How to Build a Home
by Tristan Richards

Step one:
Stake the lot.
You need to figure out
your boundaries
before growth can happen.
Pick somewhere
that will challenge you.

Step two:
Lay the foundation.
You learn a lot about people
when you’re constantly hearing,
“You’re a quarter inch too high.”
Scrape off some mortar
and ask another question.

Step three:
Raise the walls.
You’ll be impressed
by how important each person is
in bearing their weight.
Let this framework
guide your actions.

Step four:
Add the roof.
You’ll need patience,
because this step
takes energy and balance.
Be thankful for
the people helping you.

Step five:
Insulation.
You can’t build a house
without guarding it
from the cold.
Think about the family
sitting around a fireplace.

Step six:
Paint.
You’ll be tempted to leave messages
on the walls.
Don’t hold back—
it'll connect you to your work.

Step seven:
Trim the walls.
You’ll notice that
houses come together
like puzzles do.
Realize that you’ve assembled
a beautiful picture.

Step eight:
Build a yard.
You’ll be covered in dirt
after laying sod,
but don’t be discouraged.
After a couple rains,
things will grow naturally.

Megan Frank wrote:

Thank you everyone for all your terrific responses! We are in the process of selecting the winners and will be contacting them soon. Many thanks for all your work with Habitat. 

Cheers,

The Habitat World blog team

Melissa Korik, ... wrote:

It’s always inspiring to me to see the families at their dedication and home settlement. After all their hard work filling out forms, working on site, attending fundraising events plus working a full time job and being a parent, the dedication and settlement is the final stretch before homeownership. There is nothing more exciting than to see the family rush out the door of the office and drive to their new home, where the moving truck is already waiting. A Habitat family who received their home last year literally ran to the car in the parking lot!! It’s fulfilling to know you are helping make their dream of owning a home a reality.

One other instance that stands out was a month or so ago. Brooke Andrews told his story of how the effects of the economy had affected him and being able to repair his own home on his own. Just seeing him elated and crying from gratefulness at the opportunity of receiving a “hand up” made me realize all that we do here at Sussex County Habitat for Humanity. Sometimes, you forget that your service and hard work is helping real people in the community. Serving as an AmeriCorps I feel I am doing my part in helping change the world!

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