Max and Jessica’s Home Will Be Full of Love

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There is no doubt that Max and Jessica’s Habitat house will be full of love and laughter. We were blessed to have partnered with this couple to build a new home for their SIX children.

Max and Jessica both come from large families, and love parenting their own large crew—Nathaniel, 16, Maximiano, 13, Yahaira, 11, twins Gabriel and Gabriela, 9, and Jeremiah, 7. They work hard to care for their beautiful family—Max as a mechanic and Jessica as a certified nursing assistant.

We all know the challenges of finding affordable housing for working class families. For large families like Max and Jessica’s, the challenge is even greater—rent is higher and landlords can be discriminatory. The largest home they’ve even been able to afford had three bedrooms, which left all four boys sharing one room. Often, they’ve been turned away by landlords simply because of their family size, told their children would “destroy” the home.

In addition to high rent, the family has dealt with landlords who refused to make repairs—including a broken water line that led to a $1,500 water bill and the development of black mold.

Max and Jessica are both originally from Chicago, growing up in the neighborhood of Little Village, which they loved. But as much as they loved the neighborhood they called home, they couldn’t find work to support their family. Eventually, they moved to North Carolina so Max could take a job in Huntersville as a mechanic.

Max and Jessica love being here and feel much safer than they did in Chicago. But even with better jobs here, decent, affordable housing was still out of reach—until a co-worker talked to Jessica about Habitat. Jessica tells us when they received the call from Our Towns Habitat letting them know they had been accepted into our program, “it was like a weight was lifted from our shoulders….we had hope.”

But even after getting accepted, the family had a long road ahead. Because they couldn’t find an affordable place with a short-term lease while they built their home—alongside our partners at Davidson United Methodist Church—the family has been separated. Jessica and the children are staying with one friend, while Max stays with another. With their work schedules, many nights the only way Max gets to see the kids is through video chat on their phones.

On top of that, Max and Jessica have worked hard to earn their 400 sweat equity hours—which is not an easy feat for parents juggling full-time jobs and caring for six children.

But in their new Habitat home, Max and Jessica begin a new leg of their journey. They have worked hard, with the help of many volunteers and donors, to build a more stable future for their beautiful family. They now know that the search for an affordable place to live will no longer be a constant worry, and they can focus on what’s truly important—raising their children to be happy, strong and healthy. Thank you all for helping Max and Jessica build strength, stability and self-reliance through affordable housing.

The World I See

August is always such a busy month! In our home, August is also a special month filled with cake, ice cream, friends and presents. On August 7th, my daughter Molly turned 8 years old, and she’ll soon start third grade.

While most 8 year olds may be busy playing video games or riding bikes, Molly (like Belle, the princess she most loves) tends to have her nose stuck in a book. If not, she can be found writing her very own books complete with preface and author’s note.

Her latest book is titled “The World I See.”
In it, she talks about the world she sees: a world where people fight and argue with one another, a world where innocent people get hurt or even killed, and a world where so many children go to bed hungry. She then tries to imagine the kind of world God dreams to see: a world absent of chaos and hate, a world where innocent people go unharmed, and a world where the hungry have plenty to eat. Finally, the author’s note concludes: “Being a human isn’t easy. If you try to change the world…you will. And others will follow. I’m Molly and I won’t let anything stop me.”

At Our Towns Habitat, our vision is a God-sized vision: our vision is a world where everyone has a decent place to live. This vision is the heart of our work and the goal toward which we and our partners strive every single day. In the Old Testament, as far back as Genesis 12:3, God calls Abraham to leave his home, his family, everything he has ever known and go to an unknown land. As part of this radical call, God makes three promises to Abraham. First, Abraham will be given land, a land that God will show him. Second, Abraham and his family will become a great nation. And lastly, God says to Abraham, “in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” All the families, everyone, will be blessed by the faithfulness and righteousness of Abraham. Everyone.

In the New Testament, Jesus is found time and again eating and drinking, healing, and forgiving those who were considered the worst of the worst. Jesus ministers to everyone, regardless of age, race or nation, everyone.

Alan Hirsch, leader in the missional church movement, is known for writing, “It’s not so much that the church has a mission, it’s that the mission of God has a church.” The mission of God is loose in the world precisely because of the love of God for everyone. God’s mission of love, of service, of humility, of Kingdom building on earth as it is in heaven,–isn’t that the kind of world we long to see?

One home at a time, one family at a time, one board at a time, even one nail at a time, with every dollar so generously given and with every volunteer who steps foot on a build site, this is the world we are helping to build: a world where everyone has a decent place to live. By working together, and with the help of God, we can indeed change the world.

Elevation Love Week demonstrates God’s love in action

Elevation Church’s Love Week is seven days out of every year dedicated to service, compassion and giving. The congregation partners with more than 200 charities to donate time and effort to those who need it most.

Love Week 2017 began on July 22 and will end July 29, and Elevation Church has once again partnered with Our Towns Habitat for Humanity to aid us in building homes and renewing hope in our communities.

This year, Elevation Church graciously donated $50,000 to Our Towns Habitat. By volunteering on build sites, church staff and members can see their donation at work.

“It’s great to see it in action,” said Elevation staff member Valerie Hunter, who was volunteering for the staff build day. “This is what my money is going toward.”

It’s worth getting your hands dirty to serve God by building a home for a family in need, she said.

“In church, we give our resources, but using your hands and feet is a whole new step,” Valerie said.

Staff member Roseanna Parker has participated in other Elevation Love Week events before, but today was her first Habitat for Humanity build.

“It’s our responsibility to serve our community; this is our calling,” she said.

Being active in your faith by physically serving people in your local communities through Habitat for Humanity proves to be a humbling and rewarding experience.

“You can look at a finished house and say, ‘I helped build that house,’” Elevation staff member Jeremy Fiske said. “It’s an easy and tangible way to be the hands and feet of God.”

The hands-on service of Elevation Church members this week, with Our Towns Habitat and its other partner charities, is a perfect example of the Habitat mission–seeking to put God’s love into action by bringing people together to build homes, communities and hope.

Come be a part of something greater by volunteering with Our Towns Habitat. Visit our Volunteer Opportunities page or contact Volunteer Program Manager Cathy Petriano for more information. Learn more about Elevation Church’s Love Week here.

About The Author: Madison Seals is a rising sophomore at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she is majoring in Editing and Graphic Design. She has been a volunteer with Our Towns Habitat for Humanity from a young age, supporting the organization through fundraising efforts before she was even old enough to volunteer on a build site. 

Amy Freeze Works to Build Faith & Community Relations

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The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. In Amy Freeze’s case, the grass might be the same, but the view is certainly different.

Amy has joined Our Towns Habitat as the new Manager of Community & Faith Partnerships. Before joining Our Towns, Amy served 12 years in ministry as a pastor with the United Methodist Church. In her new role, instead of leading congregations, she will work with them and their pastors as they serve in the ministry of Habitat.

“It helps to understand the dynamics of the church, how decisions are made, and the challenges pastors face,” Amy said. “Pastors are always looking for ways to get people out of the church building and into the mission field, to grow as disciples. Habitat offers a very accessible way for congregations to fulfill that Biblical mandate of loving God and loving your neighbor.”

Amy most recently served as pastor of Christ United Methodist in Drexel. Prior to that, she was pastor of Broad Street United Methodist in Mooresville and an associate pastor at First United Methodist in Newton. During her time in the ministry, she focused heavily on serving those in need and vulnerable populations.

At Christ United Methodist, she led the church’s Habitat team of 25 volunteers and partnered with the local elementary school to help provide food and clothing for children in need. At First United Methodist, she organized two mission trips to assist with Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts.

One specific experience from Amy’s time at Broad Street United Methodist really stuck with her, and was one reason she wanted to work with Habitat. While volunteering at the local soup kitchen, she met a single mom of two children, whose home was in horrible disrepair. The family did not even have a fully-functional bathroom. Amy led the church to partner with two other churches to help renovate the woman’s home.

“It really stuck with me, to see how happy those kids were in their home, and how thankful that mom was, that people she didn’t even know came together to love her, give her a life and give her hope,” Amy said. She sees the mission of Habitat in the same way.

And clearly the propensity to serve runs in the family. Amy’s daughter Molly, 7, is already an active philanthropist. One Sunday morning, while getting ready for church, Molly saw a commercial for the organization No Kid Hungry that moved her to tears. Feeling led to help hungry kids, Molly and Amy researched the organization after church and created a donation sign-up form and collection envelope. Then Molly went to work fundraising, asking “anybody who breathed” to support her cause. Soon, she had raised $268—enough for 2,680 meals—to donate to the charity.

For Molly’s next charitable endeavor, she plans to open a Habitat ReStore in the Freeze family’s new home to help support Our Towns Habitat.

Our Towns, Thrivent Financial & Local Faith Community Team Up to Build 3 Homes

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Our Towns Habitat for Humanity is partnering with Thrivent Financial to build homes for three families in our service area, through the Thrivent Builds Homes program. Thrivent Builds Homes is one of three Thrivent Builds programs which partners the financial, volunteer and advocacy resources of Thrivent Financial together with the affordable housing construction leadership of Habitat.
These three builds will all be in partnership with churches and other houses of worship in the communities where the homes will be built. Thrivent members and volunteers from the faith community will work side-by-side with the future homeowners to build their new homes.

Thrivent awarded $75,000 to support construction of these three new Habitat for Humanity homes, and this funding will be matched by donations from the faith community. Our Towns will build one home in each of our current active build neighborhoods—Poole Place in Cornelius, Burke Crossings in Mooresville and Partnership Way in Statesville.

Construction began for Fabiola’s home in Cornelius home in early May. Building and purchasing this new home with an affordable mortgage allows Fabiola to move her family out of overcrowded conditions—she and her four sons currently share a two-bedroom apartment—and into a decent home. Fabiola has already earned many of her sweat equity hours helping in the Our Towns Habitat office, and has quickly become a familiar and friendly face for all the staff.

Volunteers will frame the walls of a Statesville home for Rafael and Elvira on June 3. Rafael and Elvira also face overcrowding, living in a two-bedroom apartment with their two sons and daughter. Their daughter is confined to a wheelchair due to cerebral palsy, so she faces great difficulty navigating their tiny, non-accessible apartment. Rafael and Elvira have already earned more than 600 sweat equity hours—50% more than the 400 required hours—before construction even begins on their own home.

In late August, we begin building a home in Mooresville for Larry, a single dad with five children, ranging in age from 2 to 16. Larry has been on disability since 2008, but has faced physical challenges for quite a bit longer than that. In 1994, he broke his left femur and six bones in his left foot in a car accident and had to re-learn to walk. Larry and his children currently live in a mobile home that is overcrowded and in need of serious repairs.

Thrivent Builds with Habitat for Humanity is an ongoing partnership between Thrivent Financial and Habitat for Humanity International. Thrivent Builds Homes focuses on building new homes alongside future Habitat homeowners who will pay an affordable mortgage for their home and will contribute hundreds of sweat equity hours in the construction process or complete other tasks. Thrivent Builds Repairs is a program that focuses on helping complete external repairs on existing homes, and Thrivent Builds Worldwide sends teams of volunteers across the country or across the globe to build homes with Habitat families.

Gary Samuelson, a financial associate with Thrivent Financial said “The Thrivent Builds program provides us with more options to serve our area. The support we receive from the local community for projects like this is incredible and we look forward to working together in 2017 to make a difference.”

“We are so grateful for Thrivent’s support of our efforts to build homes in partnership with families working toward strength, stability and self-reliance” said Jeff Porter, Our Towns Habitat Executive Director. “Together, we are helping a family and strengthening the community.”

From the national partnership’s inception in 2005, Thrivent Financial and its members have now committed more than $226 million and more than 5 million volunteer hours. This has resulted in thousands of families and individuals living in safe, decent and affordable housing, as well as hundreds of communities banding together to make a positive impact. In 2017, Thrivent has committed nearly $14 million to support the Thrivent Builds with Habitat for Humanity partnership, along with thousands of Thrivent members and other volunteers who will provide their hands and their hearts for construction.

Faith partners sponsoring and/or volunteering on the Cornelius build include Davidson College Presbyterian, Life Fellowship, Grace Covenant, Mt. Zion United Methodist, Bethel Presbyterian, Community in Christ, Hopewell Presbyterian and St. Alban’s Episcopal.

Sponsoring and/or volunteering on the Statesville build are First Presbyterian, Fairview Baptist, Grace Baptist, Western Avenue Baptist, Diamond Hill Baptist, Broad Street United Methodist, Holy Trinity Lutheran, Mountain Road Baptist, First Baptist, Pisgah Trinity United Methodist and Congregation Emanuel.

In Mooresville, Central United Methodist, Williamson’s Chapel United Methodist, St. Mark’s Lutheran, Prospect Presbyterian, Christ Community and First Presbyterian are all providing sponsorship and/or volunteer support.

Additional support is being provided by the Leon Levine Foundation, Wastequip, Kewaunee Scientific Corporation and the Mooresville Rotary Club. We anticipate even more partners will join us in these efforts as the three home builds progress.

Thrivent Teams Up with Our Towns, Faith Community

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Our Towns Habitat is partnering with Thrivent Financial Services and the local faith community to build three new homes before the end of the year. Thrivent is awarding a grant of $75,000 to co-sponsor construction of new homes in Cornelius, Mooresville and Statesville.

As a faith-based financial planning company, Thrivent has a strong focus on service and a long partnership with Habitat. Thrivent is partnering with Habitat affiliates nationwide through the Thrivent Builds program. Thrivent’s grant will be matched with funds pledged by local congregations representing diverse denominations and faiths.

Thrivent members and church members will also volunteer on construction of these three homes, working side-by-side with future homeowners as they build strength, stability and self-reliance through shelter.

Construction on the first Thrivent home will begin this May. Construction on the final home is expected to be completed this fall.

“We are so grateful for Thrivent’s support of decent, affordable housing,” said Executive Director Jeff Porter. “The Thrivent Build homes are a wonderful opportunity for us to bring people from different faiths and backgrounds together to work alongside a future homeowner building a better life. These builds are a chance to focus on what unites us more than what divides us.”

Thrivent Builds with Habitat for Humanity started in 2005 with a mission of providing affordable housing to families–a cornerstone of becoming financially secure. It also gives Thrivent members meaningful opportunities to volunteer and make a difference in their local communities. Together, Thrivent and Habitat for Humanity have partnered in communities across the US and across the globe to make a real difference for families and individuals.

“The Thrivent Builds program provides us with more options to serve our area,” said Gary Samuelson of Thrivent Financial. “The support we receive from the local community for projects like this is overwhelming, and we look forward to working together.”

Davidson United Methodist Church begins building 19th Habitat home

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Davidson United Methodist Church is one of Our Towns Habitat for Humanity’s most loyal partners. This year, the church is sponsoring its 19th home with Our Towns. Through financial support and committed volunteer labor, church members have changed the lives of 19 families, as together they build strength, stability and self-reliance through shelter! DUMC volunteers started working on their newest Habitat home this March, on the church’s Day of Caring. About two dozen volunteers came together to frame the walls that will become a home for Jessica, Max and their six children.

 

Raising the Walls – Mooresville Faith Coalition

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Thanks to Central United Methodist Church, Williamson’s Chapel United Methodist Church, St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, St. Paul United Methodist Church, First Baptist Church, and West United Methodist Church as well as the Town of Mooresville who have come together to build this new Habitat home in Burke Crossings in Mooresville.
If you’ve ever felt the urge to come out and support Habitat in some way, now is the time! We need Saturday construction volunteers. You would be on site from 7:45-1:00 (with a snack break at 10). This is a great way to spend a Saturday morning by meeting new people, learning new construction skills, and helping to build a house. With the accompaniment of a parent or guardian, youth ages 12+ can work on landscaping and punch and clean days, and youth ages 14+ can work in a variety of tasks including foundation prep and painting.

All volunteer groups requesting a TEAM BUILDING DAY should contact Cathy Petriano at 704-896-8957 x108 or cathy@ourtownshabitat.org. Youth ages 16+ can work on all sites, but are unable to use power tools or work on roofs. To sign up, go to www.ourtownshabitat.org and register at the Volunteer Up tab. Soon enough you will be wielding a hammer and helping create a new home for a member of our community.

Faith News

Seeking to put God’s love into action, Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities, and hope.
Five Statesville congregations (First Presbyterian, First Baptist, Landmark, Western Avenue Baptist, Trinity Episcopal) met on August 27th for an initial interest meeting for a Faith Build to take place in Statesville, early 2016. If you want to get your congregation involved or learn more contact jamie@ourtownshabitat.org or 704-574-5960.

The Davidson-Cornelius Interfaith Build dedication was on August 23rd. Thank you to our eleven participating congregations and new Homeowner Dawn Minster! We had a great turn out at the dedication!

Final preparations are underway for the Mooresville Faith Coalition Build kick off in Burke Circle at the beginning of October. We are excited to build with Central United Methodist Church, Williamson’s Chapel United Methodist Church, St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, St. Paul United Methodist Church, First Baptist Church, and West United Methodist Church as well as the Town of Mooresville.

Calling all Huntersville congregations! We are looking to build a house in late October and need your help. If you are interested in joining the Huntersville Faith Coalition to sponsor and build a house, please contact Jamie@ourtownshabitat.org or call 704-574-5960 for more information. Help us get 18 families in 18 homes in 12 months!

Davidson-Cornelius Interfaith Build

11 Religious organizations throughout Davidson and Cornelius joined together to offer volunteers, donations, time and prayers.

Habitat for Humanity prides itself in being an ecumenical Christian organization that serves everybody regardless of faith. The religious organizations of Davidson and Cornelius, NC have illustrated this perfectly in their sponsorship of Dawn’s house. Along with Grace Covenant, ten other religious groups, including Davidson College Presbyterian Church, St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, Davidson Presbyterian Church, Gethsemane Baptist Church, Davidson Friends Meeting, Temple Kol Tikvah, Community in Christ Lutheran Church, Lake Forest Presbyterian, Unitarian Universalists of Lake Norman, and Reeves Temple AME Zion Church, have united in the Interfaith Build 2015, donating months of time, thousands of dollars, hundreds of volunteers, pounds of snacks, and many prayers to assist Dawn. It has been a roaring success.

Special thanks to the dedicated weekday volunteer crew and all the Habitat volunteers, staff and Americorps team who took part in building this home.