Thursday, December 11, 2014

I really don't like good-byes

As the month of December comes to a close, as does the traditional school semester, we get ready to bid "adieu" to our wonderful Intern - Natalie Stone.  She came to us from California Lutheran University and currently plays for the Women's Basketball team.  She was a welcome addition to our Staff this semester and would brighten up our office with her positive energy and attitude.

Time is really flying.  Natalie started Interning for us back in July and now, she is wrapping up her assignments and preparing to leave next week.  Her assistance came at a key moment since thanks to her, many open or pending projects were completed dutifully and efficiently.  But before leaving, I was able to ask her a few questions about the time she spent here with us, sort of an exit interview I guess I can call it, and the following is her response:

During my six months at Habitat for Humanity of Ventura County I have met some of the nicest, most genuine people who right away welcomed me onto their team. The employees have the biggest hearts and want to help as many people in their community as possible. Everyday I came into the office I had the chance to help on different projects. I was able to learn from each staff member and I am taking little pieces of advice with me from each of them. The greatest lesson I learned from Habitat is concept of time. The employees and volunteers of Habitat for Humanity make a difference in people’s lives and the community everyday. Just by giving your time and going the extra mile when needed the staff and volunteers from Habitat amaze me with what they are able to accomplish each day. The staff uses their time and effort to help others around them daily.
I absolutely loved helping with the Hearts for Hammers dinner in early October. I had the chance to have my hand in many aspects of the event. From planning, decorating, the silent auction, and tear down I really got to see the work that goes in behind the scenes of this nonprofit. Hearing the testimonies from the Habitat home owners was such a humbling experience and makes all the work in the office and behind the scenes so worth it to see that Habitat for Humanity really does change people’s lives for the better. The event was a total success, and I am so happy I had the opportunity to be apart of it.
I will miss the staff here at Habitat for Humanity of Ventura the most. Each staff member has taken me under their wing to teach me new skills and help me succeed. I could never thank them enough for welcoming me on their team and always being there to answer all my questions. This is a really special group of people and I feel honored to have gotten the opportunity to learn from them and work along side this remarkable staff.

Thank your time and effort Natalie!  We will absolutely miss you, but we will certainly not forget you!  Your Habitat family wishes you the best of luck in all your future endeavors!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Wall Raising at Trinity Lane - Home #1

This is a great video.  I'm not even going to write some sort of narrative to try and describe what is happening here.  Good people, doing good work.  Period.  For more really cool videos, please visit our YouTube page: Habitat Ventura videos.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

"I feel happy"

Last Saturday night, our affiliate held it's second annual Hearts & Hammers Dinner and Auction.  The evening was nice, good friends, warm atmosphere and a wonderful meal.  Bob Carey, resident photographer, did an awesome job again capturing the spirit of the event.  We celebrated the fact that we have begun to build again, after a 2 year hiatus.  We celebrated the exciting direction where we are headed and most of all we just celebrated all things "Habitat".

The evening was truly enjoyable, I'm not kidding, it really was.  It fun to compete with other attendees for live and silent auction items and it was exciting to hear from our Executive Director as to where the affiliate is headed, now that our current development is underway.

I thought the best part of the event was hearing from Rosa, one of our 56 Habitat homeowners, regarding the life-changing event she and her family went through almost 4 years ago.  They went through a dramatic change as they moved from a small, cramped garage to a brand new, beautiful single family home.

But no one in the room captured the audience's attention like Mariana did.  Mariana is Rosa's young daughter and she put into words how she felt about the whole experience.

Obviously, Mariana's written words cannot compare to her spoken ones, but her message is one and the same - gratitude, so thank you Mariana, for sharing your thoughts with all of us.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Bar tending for Cocktails in Havana 2014 at its finest

On August 22nd, the Real Estate Partners held their 4th Annual Cocktails in Havana evening.  This event has grown to become the second largest fundraising event for our affiliate and this year, there are rumors that net proceeds are near $60K.  This has yet to be confirmed since the final tally is being added up however, anyway you look at it, that is an impressive amount.  The first year, $11K were raised and the event has raised exponential amounts since then.  We are extremely grateful to Peter and Kristina Kalaydjian and Lupe Flores for their hard work, dedication and passion for Habitat for Humanity of Ventura County - thank you yet again.  You guys rock!

On that note, I would also like to give extra special kudos to my 2 cousins, Miguel and Chuy, for stepping up and bailing us out of a bind.  Other than the beer and hard liquor sampling, we had no barman to mix and serve drinks this year.  My cousins, who were on vacation here from Aguascalientes Mexico, offered to step in and volunteer.  This opportunity was a piece of cake for them since they both work at one of the most popular watering holes back in their hometown called "La Cantina".  In any case, Miguel and Chuy got busy as they proved they were certainly no fish out of water.  Peter told them his recipe for his famous "Jungle Juice" to which they picked up on right away.  No ingredients were written down at all.

During the evening, some attendees only wanted juice while others wanted mixed drinks and this resulted in uneven quantities of remaining ingredients.  So rather than closing up the bar, they began to do what they do best - they improvised.  They made their own jungle juices and margarita mixes by skillfully combining remaining juices or soda and liquor until all ingredients were gone.

Talk about being resourceful.  Not only did they use all ingredients wisely and evenly, they put out a tip jar and raised an additional $150 that went towards our mission.  These 2 gentlemen did an awesome job and I personally will be forever grateful to them.  I love these guys.  Gracias muchachos!  Los quiero mucho!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Huge Turnout and Huge Thanks at Our Latest Family Selection Orientations

After a nearly two-year-long wait, we at HfHVC are excited to announce that new construction on Cemetery Road in Santa Paula is underway! The lot will be the site for 8 future homes, and with our first two families already selected, we've begun the selection process for the following homeowners. Two Family Selection Orientations were held at the Santa Paula Community Center this past week to guide families through the processes necessary to become HfH homeowners.

The Orientations were massive successes with a total of nearly 200 families in attendance! Due to the efforts of our extremely capable volunteers and Family Selection Committee, both events went off without a hitch. A huge thank you to them and all those who attended the meetings!

Another thank you is in order to the Boys Team Charity of Conejo Valley for their help in posting flyers advertising the event in Santa Paula. You can check out the Ventura County Star article detailing their work here.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A summertime hello to old followers and a hearty welcome to new readers! We are so excited to have you on our page, and hope you will follow along with our updates as we make strides in our new developments in Santa Paula. Habitat for Humanity of Ventura County broke ground on April 5th to build 8 new single-family homes on Cemetery Road, our largest development in over 10 years! St. Maximilian Kolbe Catholic Church, Thrivent Financial and California Lutheran University have been instrumental in making this project possible, but any group that donates their time to Habitat for Humanity is composed of motivated individuals seeking to improve their community. 

While Ventura County is a opportune area to live in, with beautiful landscapes and weather, it is also a area with great need and families that could use the assistance of their neighbors and beyond. In addition to our home builds, our Preserving Homes efforts have served over 300 home repairs since 1983. Our Brush with Kindness program consists of home improvement projects that deliver lasting impact, on both the recipient and volunteers. Spending time with Habitat is a worthy and fulfilling experience that deepens community connections. 

If you have made it this far, consider joining with us in person in this new chapter. For upcoming volunteer dates, check back often to Building Homes, Changing Lives, and Habitat for Humanity of Ventura County's official event page at