Thursday, December 20, 2012

Happy holidays to All!

With the holiday season in full swing, I would like to take a moment to say thank you to all our readers from around the world and to all the volunteers that have helped us out in numerous occasions.  Whether it be in the form of data entry at the office, working at the ReStore, manning a table or booth for us at a special event, or working at one of our construction sites, may all of you and yours enjoy the peace, warmth and happiness this season brings.

I enjoy Christmas presents just like everybody else does and I am not getting on a soapbox or anything like that, but let's not loose focus of the true meaning of the season.  As much as I look forward to getting a cool present (like a remote controlled helicopter *wink-wink*), I would also enjoy a big, warm, sincere bear hug just as much........if not more. 

Often times, we take things for granted and forget how blessed we are to have what we have.  We will often complain and wish we had more, but we shouldn't forget that there are families that are less fortunate and yet don't complain.  In our daily dealings here, we have encountered a large number of families with untold stories that simply "make do" and press onward in life.  So please take a moment to give thanks for your blessings and also say a prayer for the survivors of the horrible tragedy in Newtown CT.  Sometimes, we just don't know how good we really have it.

From our Habitat family to yours, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and happy and healthy 2013!

Embassy Suites Gives a Hand in Saticoy

Thanks to the Debbie Chica and the good folks from Embassy Suites for coming to our Saticoy Preserve a Home (PAH) site the week before Thanksgiving. They did a fantastic job priming and painting the home's exterior. Not an easy job since the wood trim was dry and deteriorated nonetheless, the results were excellent.

Thank your for helping and we look forward to having them return to another PAH site soon!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Strong Winds, Stronger Ladies

Not too long ago, we had a group of lovely ladies from LaReina High School volunteer at our Preserve a Home site in Saticoy.  On that particular Friday, Santa Ana winds were whipping wildly throughout the site.  Unfortunately, all of the day's tasks called for exterior work..........

There is nothing more difficult than working outside in the wind - there really isn't.  That is no fun AT ALL.  Yet this great group of gals toughed it out and carried on despite the adverse conditions.   Kudos to them being troopers and for doing an awesome job!  And that's not just a bunch of hot wind..........

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Saticoy's best kept secret

Well, we are finally back to posting after being busy with other projects.  We have a brand new website that is up and running.  Our "Builder's Bulletin" maintains its steady readership base and Lynzi, our hardworking intern, has updated our Facebook page and Twitter account.  So all our media resources are fresh and current.

But all bragging aside, I'm going to completely change direction in this conversation and share one of Saticoy's best kept secrets.....

Before heading out to our Preserve a Home site in Saticoy a few Wednesday's ago, I had heard that a food pantry was operating at the Jose R. Flores Community Center.  When I arrived on site, the Center was buzzing with activity.  Terri Hernandez, a local church volunteer with the Ventura First Assembly of God, was running the food pantry along with a handful of dedicated volunteers.  Terri and her crew have smooth operation going and help feed up to 120 families on weekly basis.  She procures donations, qualifies applicant families and generates a great deal of positive energy around her program.  Terri and her crew are hard workers and they are examples to be followed. 

But I was even more impressed to see that the homeowner currently receiving Preserve a Home services was also volunteering his time and helping others!  Despite his health and limited mobility, the homeowner and his caregiver were fully active in distributing foods to needy families.

This is truly an awesome story.  Many kudos to Terri for doing such a fine job with the food pantry.  And special kudos our Preserve a Home homeowner too, for being such a great example of receiving and then giving right back.  

For more information on how to volunteer at the food pantry or to make a donation, please stop by the Jose R. Flores Community Center located at 11168 Violetta Street Ventura (Saticoy) any Wednesday beginning at 8:30 a.m.  Or you can contact Terri directly at (805) 276-5906.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Cocktails in Havana 2012 was a huge success!

Last Friday night (8/10), the Ventura County Coastal Association of Realtors (VCCAR) Affiliate's Committee hosted the 2nd Annual Cocktails in Havana benefiting Habitat for Humanity of Ventura County.  And just like last year, the event was a total blast.  Lots of cool people, great food, smooth drinks, some fine cigars, an awesome atmosphere and some really beautiful birds.  Yes, you read correctly, birds!
But this post isn’t specifically about those amazing birds or how good the food and drinks were.  This is a humble “thank you” to all the attendees, organizers, vendors and sponsors that made the event an absolute success.  I don’t even know where to begin thanking people.  One thing is for certain, it could not have been possible without VCCAR Affiliate's Committee.  Special thanks to them for putting the evening together and to all our sponsors for their generosity.
Rather than describing the evening via words, I will let a few photos do the talking. 
A fun and exciting network opportunity

Attendees dancing the night away

We can't forget the tequila.....
This year's event is now in the books, but it wont be long before the Committee is back at it again, planning for 2013.  If you haven't been to a Cocktails in Havana evening, you are truly missing out on a great party for an equally great cause.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Best. Ink. Ever.

Last weekend, we had the good fortune of having Justin from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, serve as a volunteer on our Preserve a Home site in Ventura.

We couldn't help but notice the unique tatoo on the back of his left leg.  If you look closely at the photo, you will see what it is.

And no, it's not temporary.  Is that dedication or what?  We love our volunteers and it looks like they love us right back!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Way to go Kim!

Yesterday afternoon, Stacy Swanson our Executive Director, gave Habitat Board Members and Staff some great news regarding Kim Larkins, our Board of Directors Chair, Construction Crew Leader and friend.

Kim (on the right) hard at work with volunteers
It just so happens that Kim is one of a select few that is being recognized for her dedication by Amgen.  She is receiving the 2011 Amgen Excellence in Volunteering Award.  And with this honor, our affiliate will receive $5,000.  For more info on Amgen's contributions and Kim's accomplishment check out:

The funds will go a long way and that's awesome.  What's even greater is Kim's achievement.

Way to go Kim!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Women Build 2012 is underway

As most of our followers are aware, this week is Habitat for Humanity International's Women Build Week 2012.  Locally, there are many great ladies working hard to build homes for our next two homeowners, which happen to be women as well.  It's a wonderful event and just below is a narration from Angela, one of yesterday's awesome volunteers. 

HFH homeowner Rosa pitches in during Women Build 2011

"Today was a great build day for the 18 Monsanto people, and the 6 Lowe's crew that showed up. Everyone involved was gracious and giving. The major projects today comprised of laying shingles, painting, and some inside pre-drywall work. Everyone met Maria and she even made new friends. It was very hot and we encouraged sunblock and water intake....some lost track of their bottles. Lowe's brought some bags to give away and will again tomorrow. Debra brought oranges and Angela brought crystal light. We had pizza for lunch instead of McDonalds, but no one seemed to mind, and munched on the trail mix snacks while waiting for delivery. The toilets the park were open which made it very nice. Matt and Mike were great and helpful as well as the regular very experienced volunteer crew. Coffee was brought in by Denise from Monsanto....Starbucks makes gallon to go insulated containers....I had forgotten how innovative Americans are when it comes to convenience items. I think that covers most of our day. Thanks so much for allowing me to participate." 
Kind regards,

Thank you Angela, for sharing your thoughts with all of us.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

INTUIT chips in at the office

Last Thursday, the weather didn't cooperate and as a result, we couldn't host any volunteers at the Stroube site. The good folk from INTUIT, which have become regular volunteers with us, had signed up to to work but had no where to go.

Well, taking advantage of their humble disposition, we asked if they could pitch in at the office and help with some much needed routine maintenance.  We also had gobs and gobs of data entry that needed to be taken care of.  So without batting an eye, they jumped right into the fray, no questions asked.  Some of them even helped at the ReStore.  Thanks to them, part of our modest office had some fresh paint applied, the day's ReStore donations were processed quickly and the data entry work was completed - ALL of it.

How cool are these volunteers?

Their spirit of service is awesome!  This goes to show that whether it's volunteering at a construction or home preservation site, at either ReStore or pitching in at the office, the cause is one and the same, a county where everyone has a decent place to live.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Louisville H.S. does their part

While spending most of last Friday morning on the Minor Repair site in Ventura, Matthew O. stopped by to pick up some tools and equipment to take back with him to the Stroube St. site.  He mentioned how stoked he was since the ladies from Louisville High School out of Woodland Hills were doing an awesome job.

I had already heard that these ladies did excellent work so I decided to stop by the Stroube St. site on my way back to Oxnard and see what they were up to.  When I arrived on site, they were as busy as can be completing a fence, staging materials for the next day and keeping the site clean.  As expected, this great group of gals lived up to the reputation they are known for - exceptionally hard workers.  Kudos to all of you!  Thank you so much for your time and effort!

That particular Friday was cold and a bit blustery however, these wonderful ladies showed up, braved the weather and helped us in our mission to fight homelessness - way to go Louisville! 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Many thanks to volunteers from CET and St. Maximilian Kolbe!

We are well into the new year and I'm proud to announce that we have graduated to the next component of our Preserve a Home program.  It's called Minor Repair and it encompasses a greater scope of work than A Brush With Kindness.  This particular component is exciting since we actually go into the home and address weatherization and safety issues, not to mention re-freshening interior walls with a new coat of paint (and maybe a change of color/decor???).

So work is underway for our first Minor Repair home and before the project evolves any further, I wanted to give kudos to the crew from Center for Employment Training for their hard work in removing the old asphalt driveway and the concrete walkway on Friday 3/9.  There are several tasks in the overall scope for this preservation project and they undertook one of the hardest.

The work they completed wasn't easy but that didn't matter, they still dug in and got the job done.  Towards the end of the day, Ivan was wearing down as he swung an axe as part of the tree stump removal project we have going on there.  As he was slowing down between swings, Armando reassured him and says "That's right, keep swingin', you make that axe get tired".  Well, it's safe to say that the Armando's will prevailed..........the axe did get tired before Armando did.

Special thanks are also in order for Freddy Kailer from the U.S. Navy for his hard work too.  We look forward to his return to one of our Habitat for Humanity of VC jobsites along with the rest of his crew soon.

Another group of awesome volunteers we owe thanks to came from St. Maximilian Kolbe Catholic Church in Westlake Village CA.  There was extensive landscape work to be done in the backyard and these fine young men and women did an outstanding job clearing out brush and trimming trees and hedges.  And none of them quit despite the spiders, cobwebs and other really cool bugs that were discovered while cleaning out the backyard.

The landscape work was also one of the larger tasks that needed to be addressed and thanks to them, it was substantially completed.  As Linda their Coordinator put it, "Thank you for spending your Saturday with us".  I could not have said that better myself.................

These workdays are really a great deal of fun, not to mention rewarding.  In just a few short hours, you see the fruit of your labor and how your work dramatically transforms the home.  Would you like to help us transform homes?  No experience?  No worries, it's not necessary.  Sign up through our website at  I will be looking for you at the site!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Searching for Homes That Need Repair

As the Preserve a Home program develops its A Brush With Kindness (ABWK) throughout Ventura County, we continue our search for more homes that need some "TLC".  ABWK is Ventura County Habitat for Humanity's program that helps lower-income homeowners complete simple, exterior home improvements.  In the past 6 months, we have "brushed" 3 homes and the 4th is nearing completion.  But that's not enough, we need to find more families and homes to serve.  We are accepting applications from all throughout the County, but for this next particular wave of ABWK homes, we are specifically looking for owner-occupied homes in the Nyeland Acres/El Rio area and/or in the City of Ventura's westside.  
The ABWK program is simple in nature.  Habitat for Humanity provides the donated volunteer labor and the homeowner pays for the necesary materials to repair the home's exterior through a zero interest loan.  Yes, you read correctly, a zero interest loan.  You don't see too many of those nowadays, especially in construction.  These loans can range up to $5,000 and payments are individually tailored for each famliy based on financial need. However, to qualify for this program, homeowners must meet a minimum criteria.
As part of our search, we will be having a presentation on the ABWK program and how it works at the Nyeland Community Center (3334 Santa Clara St.) on Thursday February 23, 2012 at 7:00 pm. We will feature some cool before and after pictures of the homes we have transformed and answer questions as well.
Do you have a home that can use some work? Or do you know of someone that can benefit from this great service? For further information, details on how to qualify or to download a Pre-Application, please visit our website or call (805) 485-6065, ext. 202.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Hungry for Sharky's?

Last month, we had the opportunity to start our "Brush With Kindness" home #4 in Simi Valley.  We were fortunate enough in having some hard-working young men and women from the CLEAR Program, as well as students from Agoura and Westlake High Schools participate in this latest Preserve a Home project. 

We also had the good folks from Sharky's Woodfired Mexican Grill help us out.  They had the clever idea of celebrating their holiday party by volunteering for us about a week before Christmas.  How cool is that?

The crew from Sharkey's worked hard all morning as they prepped the home for the primer application.  They power-washed, caulked, spackled and left everything ready so the painting volunteers could do their thing the following day. 

And making good on a promise made, I have posted their group picture on this blog.  For one reason or another, I never got around to posting their picture.  But as the saying goes, it's better late than not at all. 

Gracias Sharky's!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

So here we are, the inagural post for Habitat for Humanity of Ventura County's very own blog page.  It's been sometime in the thinking because I wasn't too sure how to share funny, heartwarming and interesting stories and pictures that staff and volunteers come across in our daily tasks of fighting homelessness.  On the flip side, there are also difficult and heartbreaking stories that are worth passing along.  No worries though, this blog is certainly not meant to alarm, but it is intended to help raise awarness of the homelessness plight that is abounds right here in our own backyard. 

In any case all anecdotes, whether they are from one extreme to the other, are worthy of sharing with all our friends and followers of HFHVC.  Due to the characteristics and type of postings, I get the impression that perhaps our website or Facebook pages might not be the best forum to share these.  Therefore, this informal and hopefully informative space should help us do just that.  

As we roll into the new year and build homes #55 and 56, keep an eye out for some wonderful reads, inspiring folks, praise to everyone who helps with our mission and even some real cool stuff for sale at the ReStore.  And did you know that a new ReStore is coming to East County (aka Simi Valley)?  Stay tuned for details and for the date of the Grand Opening!