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Luke Ferris

Seeking to put God's love into action, Habitat for Humanity of Kent County brings people together to build homes, communities, and hope.

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Luke Ferris

Luke Ferris

Stories change the world and change lives. As the Habitat for Humanity of Kent County Communications Specialist I desire to share these powerful stories with you. 

Latrice has owned her home in Grand Rapids for six years. She reflects on the journey of becoming a homeowner and how it has strengthened her family and provided stability for her future. At Habitat Kent, every memory is a shared inspiration and motivation to others.

Special thanks to WKTV Community Television for production equipment. Music from Drew Davis and mobygratis.com.

You can create strength for people like Latrice.

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     Stephanie Harris got involved with Habitat for Humanity in high school and has continued to be a driving force in raising up the next generation of volunteers for Habitat Kent. Stephanie is currently the president of Habitat Young Professionals of Kent County, which is a group that helps support Habitat Kent’s work through volunteerism and giving. HYP also provides a platform for networking and fellowship for young professionals through service.

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      “My position is trying to get everyone equipped with what they need,” Harris said. She serves as a liaison between the group and Habitat Kent staff in order to most effectively create opportunities for service and fundraising.

      Harris has been around Habitat for many years locally and in her hometown of Cincinnati, giving her a unique perspective on the impact of Habitat.

      “Everyone is coming because they're looking for something,” Harris said. “People connect and people find community and people get houses in safe places.”

      When Harris went to college she actively pursued involvement with Habitat Kent that led her to join HYP as a student. Harris said her connection to Habitat as a student and now as a young professional has changed her view on unity and serving with others.

      “I’ve become more aware of the beauty of diversity.”  

      HYP will be hosting their 4th Annual Build-a-Spike Volleyball Tournament on June 18th at the Score in Grand Rapids. This will be an opportunity for corporations or groups to sponsor a team, have fun, meet new people, and raise money for Habitat Kent. Email Membership@hypkc.org if you’re interested organizing a team, sponsoring a table, or donating a silent auction item.

Click to learn more about HYP

Listen to Beyond the Home on iTunes 

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     On March 9th Habitat Kent hosted a lunch dialogue on embracing justice in your organizational strategy. The goal was to create an inclusive space for community members and friends of Habitat to discuss how justice can be incorporated into the work that we do, no matter if it’s in ministry, nonprofits, or the corporate world. The dialogue was helmed by three panelists: Kenyatta Brame Executive Vice President of Cascade Engineering, Roberto Torres, Executive Director of the Hispanic Center of West Michigan, and Reverend Doriane Parker-Sims of Kingdom Life Ministries.

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     When most college students traveled south in search of some fun in the sun, a group of enterprising students from Boston College headed to Grand Rapids to serve with Habitat Kent.

     Last week 13 Boston College students donned their work boots and hard hats and serve at two Habitat Kent builds.

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“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” – Malachi 3:10

     The definition of a tithe within Habitat for Humanity is essentially the same as the biblical definition of tithe – to take 10 percent of what we have been blessed with and give it back to God. Through Habitat’s Tithe program, Habitat affiliates in the United States are encouraged to donate 10 percent of all unrestricted cash donations each year to further the organization’s work in other countries.

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For Habitat Kent homebuyers, even an average day can be challenging. Balancing work, family, and earning sweat equity takes organization and commitment. Listen how one of our homebuyer's makes time for a home maintenance class and learns valuable information for her future home. 

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    Every month Donaldo Hernandez leads members of his church on a journey that could change the trajectory of their lives. The church members are seeking immigration consulates over 150 miles away in Chicago and Detroit. Donaldo helps provide his congregation with the knowledge and resources to become United States citizens.

     “There’s a lot of fear in the immigration process,” said Hernandez, a Habitat Kent homeowner who works at Church of the Restoration in Wyoming, MI. “There are lots of people in Michigan who are good people and indigenous people that are suffering.”

     Hernandez and his family applied for the Habitat Kent homeownership program in 2011 after having his own personal immigration struggles.

     “I was deported in 2007 and I was in Honduras for three and a half years working through this process.”

     While Hernandez was thousands of miles from his family, he got a first-hand experience of Habitat’s impact globally.

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     Home connects us all. It is a place we feel peace and community. Renewal Real Estate reflects this truth to connect the homes of their clients to the homes of Habitat families. 

     Located in Caledonia, MI Renewal Real Estate “invests in the future of Michigan by contributing 10% of all gross profits to organizations making a difference in the lives of people, neighborhoods, and cities throughout the State.”

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The Beer City Saxophone Ensemble played a concert this holiday season to benefit Habitat Kent. I sat down with one of the bandleaders of the group, Gary McCourry. He shares his Habitat story that began in New York City and has flourished in West Michigan. Music can be a platform for powerful change in the simple and big ways. 

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change in the simple and big ways. 
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     In a community where many of us have never known growing up without a home, the impact of homeownership can be diluted. At Habitat Kent, we’re honored to partner with families who experience the impact of the homeownership process and beyond.

     The living situation before many of our homebuyers start the Habitat program is dire. Families are living in cramped apartments or rental units while overpaying for rent and utilities.

     “My whole life I’ve been always moving, all the time,” said homebuyer Jasmine. “As a kid, if I didn’t switch schools three times per year then it wasn’t normal to me. I couldn’t make friends or call anywhere home. It was really hard for us. Life was chaotic.”

     Each homebuyer story is unique, but each member of the program shows a need for homeownership, ability to pay for a home, and a willingness to partner with Habitat Kent

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I sat down with Habitat Kent homebuyer Steve Jones who is on the finishing end of the homeownership program. Steve shares his story on how going through the homeownership program changed his family and his own personal life. He talks about sweat equity and how giving to Habitat Kent has a powerful return on investment. 

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     On October 7, Habitat Kent and local Bank of America Merrill Lynch volunteers participated in the Bank of America Global Build Week by working on a new construction build in the Roosevelt Park Neighborhood. This volunteer day is part of the long-standing commitment from Bank of America to help individuals and families achieve home ownership.

     “At Bank of America Merrill Lynch we believe in the positive change that affordable housing and home ownership can have on a community,” said Jeff Dykstra, Merrill Lynch financial advisor and Habitat Kent board member. “Our Habitat for Humanity Global Build Week allows our employees to support our partnership with Habitat by rolling up their sleeves and volunteering.”

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     Art Prize is Grand Rapids’ largest and most visible event of the year. In six years, Art Prize has hosted 10,688 artists’ entries and had 1.9 million visitors. This year, Habitat Kent decided to join the Art Prize fever by partnering with SiTE:LAB, a nomadic all-volunteer arts organization.

     By using the three-acre parcel of Plaza Roosevelt project land (breaking ground in 2017), SiTE:LAB was able to create their 2015 Art Prize entry called the “Rumsey Street Project.”

     The above video explains the relationship between Habitat Kent and SiTE:LAB working towards Plaza Roosevelt in 2017.

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Carl has been a part of the ReStore family since its beginning. Hear how he helped build the first ReStore in Kent County and why he loves working with the ReStore donors and customers. Pictured below is a greenhouse made from materials purchased at ReStore South in Wyoming. The customer dropped off this photo to Carl after they talked about what project the materials were being used for. 

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     There are a little over 1.5 million nonprofit charities in the United States with unique missions and ideals*. But remaining sustainable over time can be crucial to the success of a nonprofit's vision. Habitat Kent is thankful to have over 30 years of building hope in Kent County through a sustainable model.

     Habitat Kent cannot build a home without volunteers and donors. The past two years Habitat Kent has engaged over 19,000 volunteers that helped make the building and repairing of homes possible. By volunteering free labor, the construction team can build a home for a sliver of the cost of a commercial build because of the overwhelming volunteerism on sites.

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     The no. 1 “myth of Habitat for Humanity of Kent County” is that they build and give homes away for free. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

     Not only do Habitat Kent home buyers actually buy the home, they have to earn 300-500 hours of sweat equity in order to move in. This sweat equity includes working on their home and other Habitat Kent homes as well as participating in 40 hours of required educational programs. 

     These educational programs cultivate an understanding of owning a home. From budgeting to lawn maintenance, the knowledge learned by Habitat Kent homebuyers lasts a lifetime. 

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Hear the story of Ignace and his journey from Mozambique to Grand Rapids. Together with his wife and four daughters he was able to apply to the Habitat Kent homeownership program, complete his 325 hours of sweat equity, and build a home for his family. The Karageyas new home at 1045 Dorchester Ave. will be dedicated on Tuesday July 21st. 

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     Habitat Kent desire’s to create permanent change in people’s lives. We do this by building affordable and sustainable homes while empowering neighborhoods to create a positive change in the community. But as crucial as owning a home can be for a family, a reliable job can be just as influential. 

     Desire was born in Burundi and then moved to Rwanda with his parents at a very young age. He came to America to help support his family with opportunities not found back home. Because English isn’t Desire’s first language, he had trouble getting plugged into a stable career opportunity. Enter Express Employment Professionals. 

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     Growing up in Tijuana, Mexico as a missionary's son helped prepare Danny Geurink in the business of building hope for people in need. Listen to Danny, the construction program manager at Habitat Kent, discuss the importance of green building practices as well as the innovation of Habitat Kent construction. 

     Welcome to Beyond the Home. Habitat for Humanity of Kent County’s look into the people, places, events, and stories that brings us together to build homes, communities, and hope.

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     Since 2007, every Habitat Kent constructed home has been LEED certified. This certification means that each home represents the highest standards of sustainable building practices and healthy living quality. According to their website LEED “is a green building certification program that recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices.”

     Out of 150 built LEED certified homes by Habitat Kent, one of the most recent homes in Grand Rapids, MI is a flagship in construction quality. 1561 Rathbone SW was originally an ignored home in near inhabitable conditions. This rehab project began construction in the summer heat and was host to hundreds of volunteers toiling through the dust and rotting lumber. But in half a year, the once debilitated structure stood out among the crisp winter snow as a beautiful new home for Blu and his young family. 

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HABITAT FOR HUMANITY OF KENT COUNTY

CONTACT US
616-774-2431
425 Pleasant Street SW
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

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