FIELD: Building a Dream

Last summer the Field Team became a house sponsor for the Rockford Area Habitat for Humanity. The entire team was excited to participate in something that would make a positive effect on the community. This wasn’t just about sending another check; it was about our team getting out there and rolling up our sleeves, putting in the work, and getting it done. While many of the team members signed up to volunteer to learn new home building skills, or to teach someone a skill that they already knew, strange things started happening to our team. While our entire team knew that we were building a house for ‘someone,’ when the family showed up to help and we worked side by side, it suddenly became real. It was no longer just a house we were building; it was a home for a family that we knew. And while all the realness of the build set in, other things started happening to the team as well.

During the build, team members worked with others they rarely got to work with; we saw team members face new challenges and learn how to overcome them, and it helped the team as a whole to find a new perspective on priorities. The Habitat build was also a great way for those without home building skills, to become a project leader on part of the build to enhance their leadership skills. Even those without experience in leadership took on leadership roles in the home build and we saw those team members develop and enhance their leadership skills. During the build we saw team members who were usually shy at work, take charge and come out of their shells. We saw confidence grow by leaps and bounds in others; we saw an increase in team work, an improvement in communication skills, and a new bond being formed throughout the team. But most of all, because of the realness of the build, we saw an entire group of people put aside their own fears and help someone else build a dream.

Partner family, Dandridge

The build became more than just sending a check; it was a way to make a real, tangible, positive difference for a family. It was about doing something extraordinary for someone who needed a hand up. It was about getting the team out of their comfort zones and doing something unique for someone else that would change their lives. It was about doing something selfless for someone else. It became the team’s mission to impact this family’s life and improve their future.

Looking back at what we did last year, we know that we did something amazing. How many people can actually say that they built someone else a home, from the ground up? It was a wonderful experience in many ways and one of the most rewarding experiences for the entire Field team. So if you’re thinking about sponsoring a Habitat Home Build, it’s a lot of work, a lot of time, a lot of money. Organization is crucial, volunteers to help will be even more crucial. It will be overwhelming at times. You will become a contractor, a motivational speaker, a weather tracker, a teacher, a leader, a painter, a roofer, a drywalller, and most importantly you will become a hero in the eyes of a family that needs you.

Where Can I Donate My Items?

Donating your new and used items to charity is a great way to support your local community! Here’s a list of several donation centers, and guidelines about what they accept.

Tel: 815-713-3184

We accept items like: furniture, cabinets, tools, appliances, doors, windows, lumber, sinks, electrical and plumbing supplies. Here’s a complete list of accepted ReStore donations.

Tel: 1-800-SA-TRUCK (1-800-728-7825)
Commonly donated items include: clothing, furniture, household goods, appliances and color televisions.

Proceeds are used to fund Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Centers, where those in the grip of addiction find help, hope, and a second chance at life.

They Accept: clothing and accessories, electronics, cell phones, household items, small appliances, toys, books, bikes.

They Cannot Accept: tires and car batteries, chemicals of any kind including paint, all TV’s, carpeting.

Goodwill Industries of Northern Illinois is a community-based not-for-profit organization that creates opportunities for individuals with barriers to enhance their lives.

Tel: (815) 965-3795
They accept: household items, furniture, toys, books, clothing, shoes, and working appliances, consumer electronics, including TVs, in working condition.
They cannot accept: computers, monitors or printers.
Donation pick-ups available for furniture items. To schedule a pick up, please call Jeff at (815) 969-8127.

The Rockford Rescue Mission thrift Store provides operating income for Mission programs. It also provides training opportunities for Mission residents.

Tel: 815-963-6236, EXT. 245
They Accept: building materials, tools, large appliances, electronics, furniture, kitchen and bath fixtures, cabinets, doors, hardware, windows, insulation, lumber & plywood, roofing, floor tiles, lighting, patio furniture, air conditioners, etc.
They Do Not Accept: exercise equipment, automotive parts, propane tanks, medical supplies, footwear, clothing, baby cribs, strollers, sports equipment, seasonal decorations, used mattresses.

CCS, Inc. supports its employment, education and skills training programs through grants, contributions, and through the sale of quality donated goods.

Tel: (815) 964-4105
Critical needs: paper products, personal care items, socks & underwear, cleaning products, beds, furniture & household items, clothing and shoes.
Carpenter’s Place provides the tools necessary for rebuilding the lives of the homeless.

Tel: 630-443-6910 ext. 190
Most needed items: cereal, whole grain pasta, brown rice, canned fruit, vegetables, chicken & tuna, dry beans, peanut butter.

Northern Illinois Food Bank relies on the support of corporations, foundations and community organizations, in addition to individuals, to support our goals of solving hunger in our community.

Tel: 815-713-8843

Accepts donations of: cooked meals, and paper products (toilet paper, paper towels, napkins, paper plates, plastic silverware, Kleenex).

The Veteran’s Drop In Center is a place for Rockford area veterans and their families to gather with their peers – without some of the formalities that come with other veterans’ organizations.

Accepted Items: cars, trucks, boats, RVs with proper title.

Habitat for Humanity’s Cars for Homes program helps people in your community build a house and the hope of a better life.

“So Why Do You Do It?” by John Hargrove

“So Why Do You Do It?”

As a fairly new member of the retired fraternity of Rockford, I was told by many friends, both working and retired, that I might find it hard to “stay busy” in retirement. My first reaction to such warning comments was “you’ve got to be kidding.” I had just finished a rewarding 42 year management career in retail, and my last concern was worrying about how I might fill up each day in retirement.

After a few months of well deserved leisure time, which included the reading of several books, dabbling in some family history research, and in general not being tied so closely to an overwhelming daily calendar of tasks, I did find myself thinking about what I wanted to do with this new gift of time. I determined I really didn’t simply need items to fill a weekly “to-do” list, but I needed to get involved in activities that allowed me to apply my work and life experiences.

That’s when I met a guy. While doing some volunteer work for my church, I met a really nice guy who happened to be on the Board of Directors of the local Rockford area Habitat for Humanity affiliate. As he told me about his activities and experiences with Habitat for Humanity, I heard about a volunteer opportunity that sounded like a good fit for me. After some further investigation, I was asked to become a member of their Board of Directors.

As I enter my third year with the affiliate, I share my experiences with others who I hope will consider becoming involved in the great work of our Habitat for Humanity affiliate. When I talk about our affiliate, I often get asked “So why do you volunteer at Habitat?” After thinking about that question, here are some answers:

1. It’s Important – I fully support the approach that Habitat for Humanity takes to help those in need. We help provide the opportunity for a deserving family to purchase their first home and provide their family with their first ever safe home of their own – it’s life changing.

2. It’s the Right Approach – As we all learn new ways to provide care, support and opportunities for families in need, we are becoming more aware how hand-out and giveaway programs are not only ineffective, they are “toxic.” I am proud to align my support, time and efforts to our local Habitat for Humanity affiliate because their approach has always been to offer a hand up, but never a hand out. Our partner families are required to become personally invested in the process of becoming a home owner through their own sweat equity, and by educating themselves to prepare themselves for the new responsibilities of home ownership.

3. It’s Needed – We all know some families who have so many challenges in their lives, that they are often never given an opportunity to get out of a unsafe or unhealthy housing situation. I have seen how these families can turn their futures around after becoming an owner of a Habitat home.

4. It’s Personal – When you volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, you get to meet, work with, and get to know some wonderful families. You get to know their children, their parents, and you get to see their great potential and how owning a safe and healthy house changes the lives of several generations of their family.

5. It’s the People – Volunteer work puts you side by side with some of the nicest, most generous people I’ve ever met. The volunteers with the Rockford Area Habitat for Humanity affiliate have big hearts, great talents, and a real commitment to making a positive difference in the lives of families in our great city. I’ve learned a lot from this interesting cast of volunteers, and they have inspired me to do more to support positive, lasting improvements in our great community.

That’s why I volunteer at our local Habitat for Humanity affiliate. If you are looking for a meaningful volunteer opportunity, consider investing some of your time at our ReStore retail outlet on Riverside, as a Weekday Wonder who helps build our houses every summer, or by supporting this deserving not-for-profit with your wallet. I urge you to jump in and get involved – you won’t be disappointed!

John Hargrove – 2015/2016 Vice President, Board of Directors

A safe, stable home to call one’s own- Michael’s Story.

We walk into the apartment and our eyes immediately fall on two little girls in matching red shirts. One of the girls, Aryana, tells us she and her sister are in kindergarten. Made brave by this announcement, she draws out a beat-up, beet-red toy cell phone from a holster near her hip and hands it to me to admire. I tell her that it’s nicer than my phone, and her laugh reveals a front-tooth-less grin. Her dad, Michael, a clearly kind and gentle soul, tenderly tells the girls that the adults need to sit down to talk. As we gather around the living room, the girls continue to periodically come over and touch their father’s hand or arm or knee in soft gestures of childish love.

While the atmosphere is made safe by the small family’s love, the apartment itself is anything but. Our short tour of the apartment reveals a stray bullet hole in the living room window, an air conditioning unit teetering precariously in a molding wall, and a decaying kitchen floor that lurches dangerously under our weight. Michael pays $150 more per month for this apartment than he would for his Habitat mortgage. What’s more, Michaels’ situation is far from an anomaly— in any given year, we will visit dozens of apartments as substandard as, if not worse than, Michael’s. These home visits—a requirement to be accepted into our housing program— never fail to remind us of the enormity of the need for safe, decent housing in our community.

While it can be daunting to acknowledge the extent of the need in our community for safe housing, Habitat also knows that we can change— and have changed— the landscape of affordable housing in this city one house at a time. Housing is a central concern for all families, everywhere. Home is the central place where families conduct their lives. It is where they get ready to have a successful day at school or work, where they come together to eat meals, and where they lay their heads at night. So much more than a mere structure, our home is the very context of our lives. In a recent survey, we asked our homeowners to share their observations about changes in their children’s health since moving into their Habitat home. Of those who responded, 72% reported a decrease in illnesses like asthma and allergies in their children since moving into their Habitat homes. One homeowner wrote: “We are stable now. We are not moving from place to place, always keeping half of our stuff in boxes. My son no longer has asthma attacks from mold and dirty carpets… My daughter is playing outside more.” Perhaps the most significant investment we can make towards a strong community is in one of the most basic needs that exists: a safe, stable home to call one’s own.

ReStore Volunteers Needed

Are you good with people and able to make change?  We need a reliable, trustworthy people to help run our cash register.

We’re looking for individuals to fill the following shifts:

Wednesdays, 10a – 2p
Wednesdays, 2p – 6p
Fridays, 3p – 6p
Saturdays, 10a – 4p

This opportunity is a great way to support our construction process without having to swing a hammer!  All profits from the ReStore are used to purchase construction supplies, and we could not do that without the help of our volunteers.  Please consider becoming part of the ReStore team!

Call 815-713-3184 if interested, and ask for Steve

Congratulations to Rolf Egeland, 2015 winner of the Floyd and Helen Rickard Volunteerism Award

Every spring, RAHFH recognizes one of their own for excellence in volunteerism.  The Floyd and Helen Rickard Volunteerism Award is given to a volunteer who has dedicated themselves to Habitat’s mission year-after-year, just as the Rickard’s family did since nearly the first home was built in our community in the early 1990s.

This year’s Floyd and Helen Rickard Volunteerism Award went to longtime construction site volunteer Rolf Egeland, who has been building as part of the First Free team for 15 years. Rolf was also selected as the featured volunteer in our newsletter this year, the story from which is below:

“It has been 15 years already since my construction days with Habitat for Humanity began in Rockford. I grew up in the Chicago area, and I always had an interest in building— it was Glenn Johnson who first inspired me to act on that interest for Habitat in particular. On the build sites, I do many of the necessary jobs, but my specialty is mudding and taping drywall. It’s not a job that most people like, but I enjoy it. I volunteer with Habitat because the Bible encourages us to help people who are in need. I feel that the goals and principles of Habitat for Humanity are Biblical and rewarding. I believe that we have a spiritual mandate to serve with the energy and ability and strength that God gives us. There’s a scripture that reads to whom much is given, much is required— and we have been given so much. That’s why volunteering is important to me, and I am thankful to the Lord that at 90 I am still doing it!”

WIFR: Habitat For Humanity Helps Rockford Family

Another Rockford family can now say they’re homeowners all thanks to a local organization.

ROCKFORD (WIFR) — Another Rockford family can now say they’re homeowners all thanks to a local organization.

The Rockford Area Habitat for Humanity has built another home. This time for the Garrett Family who will be moving into their new house in the eleven hundred block of Geneva Avenue, in a few days. The ceremony featured a home blessing, the opportunity for the Garrett’s to thank volunteers and sponsors, home tours, and the turning over of the keys. The organization has now helped roughly 130 families over a 27 year span.

“I love my ceiling fans. That’s my favorite part, the ceiling fans and just seeing it being built from the ground up is so amazing. That’s a once in a lifetime thing to see that,” says Shanica Garrett.

Habitat families are qualified and selected based on their need for simple, decent, and affordable housing, along with their ability to pay back zero-interest home loan, and their willingness to partner with the organization.

Source: Habitat For Humanity Helps Rockford Family

WREX: Local Habitat for Humanity dedicating four homes to round out the month

Habitat for Humanity is keeping busy these last couple weekends of August, giving four local families homes in four days.

On Sunday, Janessa Shaw and her family moved in on 28th Street in Rockford.  Community members helped bless the house.  Rockford Area Habitat for Humanity’s executive director says she remembers Janessa applying for the program exactly one year ago.

“We went on a home visit to her home and recognized that she was a generational Habitat family, her grandmother purchased a habitat home in the early 1990s and so it was obvious that this was a legacy we wanted for Janessa and for Habitat as well,” says Executive Director Keri Nelson.

Families qualify for Habitat for Humanity based on financial need.  They pay back a zero-interest home loan and complete “sweat equity,” which is volunteer work on the home they move into.

The local Habitat for Humanity group dedicated another home Sunday afternoon and it’ll bless two next weekend.

Source: Local Habitat for Humanity dedicating four homes to round out th – – Rockford’s News Leader