Thousands of people have had a hand in creating safe, decent, and affordable housing in Elkhart County. The housing crisis is still a significant problem in our community, state, and country, and the impact that these people have had is substantial and generational.
Through the compassion and generosity of so many people in our community, what was once a dream for the founders of Habitat for Humanity of Elkhart County, has turned into a movement of safe and affordable housing for all – one nail, one brushstroke – one story at a time.
Join us as we look back at three and a half decades of stories from people in our community involved in making home a possibility – for everyone.
Rollin & Deb Handrich
PROGRAM DIRECTORS 1987-89
In 1987, Habitat's board of directors hired Rollin and Deb Handrich to serve as the first program directors for a two-year term through the Mennonite Board of Missions service program.
Both in their twenties and newly married, Rollin and Deb accepted the role and moved from Illinois to Elkhart County. They had been offered other service positions in the US but chose Habitat partly because Elkhart County was close to their family in Illinois and Michigan. Rollin had recently graduated with his MSA degree from Central Michigan University and had been working as an administrator at a Retirement Community in Eureka, Illinois. Deb was a recent graduate of Illinois Central College and working as a business manager in Eureka prior to her volunteer service.
Habitat’s mission, of putting God’s love into action by building homes, community,
and hope was a strong draw for the Handrichs. When they began, Habitat had
already completed their first two Habitat homes and the third home was just beginning on Olive Street in Goshen.
When asked if any moment stood out while serving, they recalled the excitement of “framing day” on Mercer Street in Goshen where Habitat was to build two homes side by side. Rollin shared, “We had 60 volunteers who in one day completed the walls, trusses, and sheeting by the end of the day.”
The Habitat office at that time was located downtown Goshen, where The Window is
now located. Rollin and Deb were responsible for building relationships with the church community, identifying property to build homes, recruiting volunteers, and identifying partners within the building and construction community. They spoke at churches, service clubs and made numerous connections. Rollin was also responsible to be at the build site where his construction experience came in handy. Deb shared that her father would make the trip to Elkhart County from Illinois often to come to help build, “He helped on every house while we were with Habitat.”
Rollin talked about the homeownership program, “At that time, the board of directors
were responsible for accepting partner family applications. One of the biggest challenges at that time was securing funding for the homes, the cost of a Habitat home (in 1987) was about $25,000, and the land was donated.”
Sharing stories of their time with Habitat, they had several albums filled with newspaper articles, photos of Habitat homes under construction, volunteers, board members, partner families, and celebrations. Rollin and Deb shared, “Habitat takes volunteering and serving to a new level.”
Their first daughter Trish was born in 1988 while they worked at Habitat, and son Nick was born in 1990 after their time at Habitat, “Habitat made an impact on our family, our son did similar work years later with Habitat.”
Rollin and Deb shared they are most proud that while with Habitat they helped Habitat build six homes, helping six families achieve homeownership, “Seeing the families pride and knowing that their lives changed for the better, not just the homeowners but their children too.”
Rollin worked for Everence for 25 years after leaving Habitat, and currently works for Goshen Health. Deb has her own private practice as a Spiritual Director in Goshen.
William Howard Rogers
DEDICATED HABITAT VOLUNTEER
Howard is remembered as a man who had a heart for people and spent much of his time serving others. He received a Master of Science in Education and had a teaching career for forty-one years, after which he retired and concentrated on various hobbies.
Music was one of his favorite past times, and he enjoyed playing various instruments including the guitar, banjo, mandolin, ukulele, and harmonica. Howard also took pleasure in building houses and built a home with his wife when they were both in their early eighties.
Howard volunteered much of his time at Habitat for Humanity of Elkhart County, where he did electrical work. He spent many hours working for Habitat for Humanity and was awarded the Lifetime Honorary Award for Habitat. Howard was dedicated to people and had a heart for God.
Howard died in 2003, and in 2005 in memory of Howard, Habitat built a Habitat home known as Howard’s House.
Jim & JoEllen Dick
Jim and Jo Ellen Dick, or Jo, and their eight children, ages 3 to 13, received the keys to their home in February of 1993.
In 1992, Jim, Jo, and their family lived in a rental home on the north side of Goshen, in a neighborhood that felt unsafe, the home was in disrepair and infested with mice and roaches. Jo recalls a time when neighborhood kids
would throw bricks into their yard almost hitting their older children; Jo bought a television just to keep her children inside and safe.
Jim worked full-time for Smoker Craft and held a part-time job. They shared
that those were difficult years; Jim sometimes would work for their landlord in exchange for rent.
It was a teacher at Chamberlain Elementary School who served on Habitat's family selection committee that suggested that Jim and Jo apply for Habitat’s homeownership program. Neither thought they would be accepted because they both had college educations. Jim and Jo were surprised and excited that they had been accepted into the homeownership program.
Once accepted, they began working on their sweat-equity hours helping to
build with other Habitat partner families. As a family of 10, their concern was the number of bedrooms, the homes that they helped build were 3-4 bedroom homes and they knew that would not provide enough space for their family. Habitat agreed that their family needed more bedrooms and an additional full bathroom, their home included a basement with two bedrooms and a full bath.
Owning their own home with an affordable mortgage allowed Jim to quit all of his part-time jobs. They no longer worried about their family being displaced, and they felt safe. The kids loved their yard and their school, "the home gave our family hope," they shared.
Jim and Jo raised their family in their home for 12 years before selling their home in 2005. They built enough equity in their home to purchase a new home with a conventional mortgage. “We purchased a home in ‘The Orchard,’ I never thought we’d be able to live in a neighborhood like that,” shared Jo.
Jim and Jo’s children are all now adults, and they have 17 grandchildren. Jim currently serves as the Executive Director of Vine Ministry. Jo is retired but serves on the board of directors of Vine Ministry.
When asked what they would like others to know about Habitat for Humanity and the homeownership program, they both said that they want people to
know that families pay for their own home, “It’s an honorable program that gives people hope.”
Jim and JoEllen Dick
Bob Homan, President Homan Lumber
BOB HOMAN, PRESIDENT HOMAN LUMBER + LONGTIME DONOR
In late 1986 Bob Homan was approached by Habitat volunteers to help support Habitat build their first homes in the county, and Homan Lumber has supported every Habitat house since that time.
Homan Lumber is a family-owned company that was started by Bob Homan’s grandfather, R.G. Homan in 1940. At that time it was called Elkhart Lumber & Sawmill Co. and was co-owned along with F.R. Bratton. The mill was located on Johnson Street, they advertised that they were “the most modern and up-to-date building material yards in the state,” they provided building materials, millwork, roofing, paints, insulation…everything to complete a home.
A family-owned business, Bob was destined to continue in his father and grandfathers’ footsteps, he shared that he was 15 years old when he began working at Homan Lumber. Bob studied Business at Manchester College and returned to work with his father and grandfather after graduation.
In the 1960s they opened a second location on the southside of town, their current location on Lusher Avenue, where they brought in retail. “We were the Lowe’s of the sixties,” Bob shared. They also started the mill to help support the local RV and mobile home industry. In the eighties, Walmart and Lowe’s took part in their market, and Homan decided to leave the retail market.
When asked why he chose to support Habitat and continued to do so for 35 years Bob said, “It was an easy decision.” Homan donates by giving Habitat a significant discount on construction materials. Bob believes, “If you’re successful and have the resources you should share.”
Bob is a humble man but did share that he is proud when he attends a Habitat dedication, “When I see the joyful new homeowners. Knowing one family has broken loose from poverty.” He is impressed by the partner family's willingness and determination to follow through and succeed.
It should also be mentioned that Bob is married to a familiar face at Habitat, Edna Homan. Edna served as Office Manager at Habitat from 2008 until her retirement this past June.
HABITAT BOARD MEMBER + BRIDGE MAKER
Braden McCormick first became involved with Habitat for Humanity when he volunteered on several “work build” days in both Dallas and Indianapolis. Years later, he connected with Habitat of Elkhart County while serving as the liaison for Habitat’s Faith Build on behalf of First Presbyterian Church in Elkhart.
Braden was invited to serve on the board in early 2015, with a background in construction and building, Habitat felt like a perfect opportunity to serve in the community. He appreciated the faith-based aspect, but also the homeowner- ship model, “Families are given a pathway to homeownership. They are invested in the process, there are no handouts.”
Braden has served as board chair twice, in 2019 and again in 2021, and believes that “Habitat is stronger than it has been in years, completing six homes in the past 12 months (despite the challenges of Covid 19). It’s a great organization, with a strong team working well together.” He also talked about community involvement, “It’s almost surprising to see how excited our corporate sponsors are to partner with Habitat,” at a recent groundbreaking the spokesperson for Winnebago Industries spoke, “her passion for Habitat was so evident. She was so happy and thankful to Habitat for the opportunity to partner.”
Talking about the impact Habitat can make in a community addressing the need for safe and affordable housing, “I’d encourage people in our community to learn about the homeownership program and the process it takes to become a homeowner.”
Braden and his wife Katie are like-minded, “We like to see people helping people,” and believe that “when you choose to serve you should do so selflessly and 100%.” He knows how blessed they are but said, “It doesn’t matter who you are or what you have, everyone can help in some way.”
A father of two, Braden often brings his daughters to Habitat’s groundbreakings and dedications and is excited to share these experiences with them. His pride is apparent, “they get it!” Recently he and his daughter were at an event where a recent partner family was working and she recognized Braden, she asked, “Do you remember me?”, before he could answer his daughter excitedly said, “McKenna! We drive past your home and my dad always honks his horn.”
While he has another year on the board, he reflected about his time on the board, “It’s been great. I’ve enjoyed the ride and having a front-row seat!”
HABITAT'S FIRST DIRECTOR
In November of 1989, Arlene Pipkin was hired as Habitat's first Director after Rollin and Deb Handrich completed their two-year service. Eight homes had been completed when Pipkin began, and an additional 18 homes were built in her four years with Habitat.
Arlene was responsible for recruiting volunteers, identifying land available for purchase, fundraising, and building relationships with the community.
Arlene and her husband Wayne moved to Moscow, Russia in 1993 where Wayne lead an English language church for several years. When they returned Arlene decided to go into ministry and studied at AMBS. Rev. Arlene Schenk Pipkin served as pastor of the Manhattan Mennonite Fellowship in New York City until her death in March of 2002.
James (Jim) Simmons
HABITAT OF ELKHART COUNTY'S FIRST BOARD PRESIDENT
In 1986, the Reverend James Simmons was Habitat for Humanity of Elkhart County’s first board president.
In a letter to the board for his consideration to serve he is described as a retired pastor and carpenter. In a note written by Rollin Handrich, “In his youth, he was a farm boy and made woodworking course his major in high school. Jesus was a carpenter and Jim states that he wanted to be one too. Throughout his years as a pastor, woodworking was his hobby. It has always been personally satisfying to take something broken; persons, furniture, or a home, and restore it to its norm.
James or Jim as he was referred to, was first asked to serve on the Goshen Housing Task Force. It was this Task Force and those who served that are responsible for founding Habitat for Humanity of Elkhart County. Jim went on to serve as the first president in Habitat’s first year of operation, and in the following years served as Vice President and chairperson of the Resources Committee which was charged with raising funds.
Jim’s enthusiasm for Habitat never waned, he always went the extra mile to ensure that Habitat continuously worked out any of the bugs in the early days. He remained involved on behalf of Habitat with his church and other organizations until his death in 1992.
Jim and his wife Betty were killed in a car accident, in a response to his obituary in the Goshen News, Habitat board member Bruce Barwick wrote, “He wasn’t much for the title. Whenever someone introduced him as “Reverand” or “Mr.”, Simmons would always say, “Just call me Jim.” Barwick went on to say, “He was a good man, the salt of the earth. If the world were populated with the likes of them, wars would cease immediately.”
Chris Lehman at the Harrison Ridge Groundbreaking.
HABITAT BOARD MEMBER + EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Chris Lehman served on the board of directors of Habitat for Humanity of Elkhart County for two years as vice president and volunteered with Habitat before accepting the position as executive director in October of 1993. Prior to his work at Habitat, he had 20 years of construction experience and owned Lehman Building Corporation for four years. While operating his construction company, he also completed his Bachelor’s degree at Goshen College with a degree in Organizational Management.
Lehman shared that his background made his work with Habitat a good fit, growing up on a farm he had to learn how to do a little bit of everything. He was inspired by Habitat’s founder, Millard Fuller, who was an early advocate for affordable housing. During our conversation, Chris shared that he met Fuller on numerous occasions, “He (Fuller) never forgot a name,” and often said, “Don’t be afraid to ask people for help.”
Lehman was a bridge builder, building relationships with many of his contacts from his construction company. He was able to build valuable relationships with churches, local businesses, community leaders, service clubs, volunteers, and key Habitat partners from our state and Habitat International. In 1998, under Lehman’s leadership, Habitat opened the ReStore in Peddlers Village in Goshen along with the Habitat offices.
Lehman served as executive director until March of 2003, in that time building 62 homes. In 2003, Lehman accepted a position with Habitat for Humanity International, serving as the Regional Support Manager in Indiana, where he worked with 35 state affiliates.
It was apparent that Lehman continues to believe in Habitat’s mission, and his excitement had not dulled for the work and mission. He shared, “Fuller believed that for a community to be whole and healthy, it must be based on people’s love and concern for each other.”
Charles (Chuck) Vetter
LONGTIME HABITAT VOLUNTEER
Chuck Vetter began volunteering with Habitat for Humanity nearly 35 years ago. Vetter volunteered regularly until 2018 at the age of 92, working on over 190 Habitat homes in Elkhart County. He shared in an interview with the Goshen News in 2015, “I started with the first or second house and I’ve been on almost every project since then.” Now 95 years old, he no longer volunteers with Habitat.
Vetter became a volunteer with Habitat after hearing about the organization and the types of jobs that volunteers would do while helping build. Vetter said, “I enjoy that kind of work so I started volunteering. I did a little bit before I retired and I spent a lot more time after I retired. I had some experience since I built my home years ago.”
Now 95 years old, he no longer volunteers with Habitat. He last helped in 2018 when his daughter brought him out to a Habitat new home construction site, where he helped do the trim work on a home on Stiver Avenue in Elkhart. His daughter Kathy shared that she was happy that her father was able to help for so many years.
On Vetter’s 90th Birthday he received a letter from Habitat’s CEO Jonathan Reckford who thanked Vetter for his dedication and commitment to Habitat of Elkhart County. Reckford quoted St. Teresa of Avila, “Christ has no body now but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ’s compassion must look out on the world. Yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good. Yours are the hands with which He is to bless us now.”
Vetter has certainly blessed many families in our community with his time, heart, and gifts.
Keri Gill applied for Habitat’s homeownership program in 2003. She was recently divorced, living in a mobile home with four young children at the time, ages 8, 7, 3, and an infant. She was working as a mental health technician for Oaklawn making $9 an hour. Purchasing a home with a traditional mortgage was not an option.
Like so many families when she learned that she had been accepted into the Habitat program she was surprised and excited. Keri worked full time and was able to complete her 250 sweat-equity hours helping to build alongside other families as well as her own home.
Receiving the keys to her home changed her life and those of her children.
They lived in the Wa-Nee Community School district where Keri felt that her children received a great education, and developed good friendships with other students. She shared that, “having an affordable mortgage allowed us to afford extra-curricular activities like band and sports.”
Keri also continued her education once she was a homeowner, receiving an associate's and bachelor’s degree. This past spring Keri received her MBA from Bethel College. Keri paid off her mortgage in full within 10 years of moving into her home. She sold her home and with the equity she built was able to purchase a home with a conventional loan.
When asked what impact she felt partnering with Habitat has made she shared, “Owning a Habitat home allowed me to make other choices. We didn’t have to hop around from house to house, and homeownership gave my children stability.”
Keri’s children are now grown and living independently. Keri has worked as the senior HR generalist at Utilimaster, and just accepted a new position in Atlanta Georgia as HR Manager of Boys & Girls Club.
HABITAT BOARD MEMBER + RESTORE MANAGER
Loren Stauffer has served Habitat for Humanity of Elkhart County in a variety of capacities since the mid-nineties. He served on Habitat’s board of directors from 1994-97, serving on the family selection committee. In 1997, after retiring as the Director of the Goshen College Bookstore Stauffer accepted the position of Habitat ReStore manager.
In June of 1998, the Habitat ReStore opened the doors to the public, selling new and used building supplies. Plans for the ReStore began in the fall of 1997 when Stauffer was hired to plan, oversee the buildings’ remodeling project, and manage the store upon completion.
Stauffer said that after retiring from Goshen College he was grateful for the opportunity, “The Restore was an ideal fit for me and God sent.” He shared that during his volunteer service in school he was involved with construction and masonry projects, “I enjoy construction.”
Stauffer shared that the opening of the store was a group effort. A store committee was established with former board chair Richard Kallenberg, Executive Director Chris Lehman, and auditor Angie Hohenbrink. Habitat ReStores were still somewhat new, with the first ReStore opening in Texas in 1992. Stauffer visited a ReStore in San Antonio Texas as he began planning the reconstruction project.
The building was leased to Habitat for $1 per year by Myrl Nofziger, Terry Hoogenboom, and Adrian Geenen. Located in the Peddlers Village strip mall, the former Hooks Drug Store and Auto Works had been vacant for several years and required extensive repair. With the help of the Troyer Group, DJ Construction, Middlebury Electric, and Depue Plumbing and Heating, the electricity and gas was turned on in January of 1998. After a major donation of store shelving and many volunteer hours the Grand Opening for the ReStore was held with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on June 6, 1998.
Stauffer made a conscious decision to focus on building materials and with the help of volunteers also began a salvage program where volunteers would help pull out building materials from homes that were going to be demolished.
Stauffer retired from the ReStore in 2003, but still volunteers with the ReStore several times a week. He works in the ReStore processing room where he services lighting and ceiling fans that have been donated. He feels a sense of accomplishment for his efforts in opening the ReStore just over 23 years ago.
HABITAT BOARD MEMBER + CONSTRUCTION MANAGER +
Richard Miller first joined Habitat as a board member, then joined the staff as construction manager, and in June of 2003 Miller accepted the Executive Director position. Habitat was a good fit for Miller, he previously owned and operated Richard Miller Construction, where he was experienced with land development and construction of both commercial and residential single-family homes.
From Goshen, Miller became involved with Habitat when the previous Executive Director, Chris Lehman, invited Miller to join as a construction volunteer and board member. Miller’s experience was an asset, not only because of his construction experience but for his passion for building affordable housing and his desire to see families succeed. He enjoyed working with families, “I was impressed by the families’ determination.”
Miller brought several new processes to Habitat, some that are still in practice to this day. He introduced the financial education piece of the program, where families must participate in 9 weeks of financial education through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace, Habitat is currently using 1st Source Bank’s financial literacy 12-week program. Miller also began the panelization process where rooms such as the kitchen or bathrooms were prefabricated off-site.
In the fall of 2007, Richard and his wife Kathy decided to move back to New Mexico, where they had met and married and took a position as a construction supervisor with Sante Fe Habitat for Humanity. Now retired they are living back in Goshen, Indiana.
HABITAT BOARD MEMBER
Brian Smith’s name may sound familiar to you; he is Co-CEO of Heritage Financial Group, has served on numerous boards here in Elkhart County. He believes in supporting local and that includes organizations that “help those who can’t help themselves and those that support people who want to better themselves.”
Brian grew up in Elkhart County; he has been married to his wife Lauri for 33 years and has seven children and four grandchildren. Elkhart County is home and he is passionate about solving local “long-term problems” such as the need for affordable housing. “I’m a data-driven guy.”
His first experience with Habitat was shortly after graduating from Indiana University, he worked for a CPA firm in Indianapolis and they organized a
“workday” helping to build a Habitat home. He enjoyed building alongside the partner family and learning more about the Habitat mission of bringing people together to build homes, community, and hope. Brian was impressed to learn that to participate in the program, families must agree to “partner” with Habitat which includes; 250 sweat-equity hours building other Habitat family homes and help build their own home, paying a down payment and paying an affordable mortgage with 0% interest. “All of that together appealed to me.”
Years later Brian and his family had moved back to Elkhart County and he was a member of Elkhart Rotary Club, he volunteered again alongside other Rotarians for an Elkhart Rotary Club sponsored build. “It’s just a terrific program”, he shared and he had a desire to engage with the organization. He contacted Habitat’s Executive Director at that time, Chris Lehman, and expressed his interest in serving on the board. Brian served on the Habitat Board of Directors from 2002-2011.
Whether volunteering with Habitat as a board member or volunteer helping to build homes, “It’s tangible and gives you a warm feeling. It’s different from just writing a check,” shared Brian.
Arlene Fisher Walter
Arlene Fisher Walter
HABITAT PARTNER FAMILY
Arlene was accepted into Habitat’s homeownership program in January of 2012. Arlene and her two children, Kaleb 15, and Breighton 10 were living with her parents after a recent divorce and health issues that required bed rest, and she was ready to get her independence back. Arlene found out about the Habitat program through one of her sisters who encouraged her to go to a meeting
Arlene grew up in Goshen and worked at Salon J in downtown Goshen as their front desk concierge. She wanted to remain close to family, and work and she chose a lot on 6th Street in Goshen. She also required a home that was wheelchair accessible, having been in a car accident as a teenager, one of the challenges to independence was having a home that would be liveable. Habitat worked with her in planning a home that she would be able to get around comfortably.
During the construction of her house, Arlene shared that she was constantly amazed at how many volunteers helped, “I would stop by the site and see old friends, from high school and work. It was truly humbling."
Today, Arlene is newly married and her children are grown. Kaleb has a family of his own and Breighton is a student at Bethel College. She shared that her home has been the boost she needed, “My home has provided our family stability and security, it has given me a better life and independence. She and her husband plan on remaining in her home but have talked about some remodeling.
When asked about her experience with Habitat she said, "The program taught me responsibility and gave me my independence. It's not a hand-out.”
Richard & Janet Fox
HABITAT VOLUNTEERS + DONORS
Janet Fox began volunteering with Habitat in 2009 when she was invited to help with the Women Build home. It wasn’t until after they both retired in 2015 that they each became regulars. Janet retired as an engineer with Utilimaster and Richard from Bayer (Siemens) as an analytical chemist.
You can’t help but be impressed with both Richard and Janet after learning their history. Richard and Janet met at Vincennes University, where he was studying pre-veterinary medicine, and she studied drafting, she was the first female to graduate in Drafting from Vincennes. Richard served in the United States Army, stationed in Germany, (three years, eight months, and 22 days to be exact). They were married while he served in Germany and their first daughter was born there. Once they returned to the states, Richard completed his studies in Microbiology at Indiana University.
When asked why they dedicate so much of their time volunteering with Habitat, they both said that they enjoy the teamwork that comes with volunteering at the construction site, they like trying new things and problem-solving. Although Richard shared that his favorite thing to do is teaching groups new skills out at the construction site.
There was one project in particular that they enjoyed. Tom McArthur, Habitat executive director at the time, asked if they would help a family whose son was disabled and used a wheelchair. Their son wanted a swing and they asked if Habitat would help them build a wheelchair assessable glider-swing. They were up to the task, with their love of problem-solving and Janet’s engineering background they were the perfect volunteers for the project. Janet admitted that she put in 100 hours in engineering the project. They became good friends with the family and have remained friends. They visit the family each year and come prepared in case the glider swing needs any repairs.
Richard and Janet continue to volunteer with Habitat, whether it’s helping with small projects on a Partner Family home or helping at the build site, they have been averaging about 125 volunteer hours a year for the past 5 years. They enjoy volunteering. When asked why they continue to volunteer and support Habitat, they shared “It’s the right thing to do!”
Trent Kauffman, VP Sales
TRENT KAUFFMAN, VICE PRESIDENT SALES + SPONSOR
Trent Kauffman first became familiar with Habitat for Humanity during his Student Service Term as a student at Goshen College. Kauffman served in the Dominican Republic where he volunteered with Habitat for Humanity and helped construct safe and affordable housing for local families.
Kauffman, Vice President of Sales at L&W Engineering, has been a Habitat advocate ever since his time in the Dominican Republic and when L&W began discussing ways their employees could be involved in the community, it was he who suggested Habitat for Humanity of Elkhart County.
Since 2019, L&W Engineering has brought out teams to volunteer and build, sponsor events, and in the Spring of 2021 L&W was the Raise the Roof Build Panel Sponsors when 50+ employees helped to build the interior and exterior walls of the home of partner family Dominique White.
Kauffman shared that he was impressed with Habitat’s program requirements, “The families have a time investment and are required to but in sweat equity hours,” he said, “they are not taking their home for granted.”
Kauffman participated in Dominique’s home dedication in July, and said he felt a sense of pride in L&W’s partnership with Habitat and Dominique’s home, “Seeing the impact on the family, her face and her smile.”
He encourages organizations to become involved with Habitat and shared that employees still thank him for giving them the opportunity to help with the panel build, “It was an impactful day for our employees, working alongside the partner family and seeing her interaction with our employees.”
When asked if Habitat has changed his view of housing and homeownership
he shared, “A home completes a family.”
Dale Bourdon began volunteering for Humanity of Elkhart County in 2001, and volunteered from 2001 to 2016, with an impressive 9,750 hours. He would start his day early, around 6:45 AM, and then would greet volunteers and staff at the site at 8:00 AM. Dale was instrumental in the work of Habitat, he helped on every house during that time, and put in more volunteer hours than any other volunteer.
Dale was as much a part of the family at Habitat as any staff member or AmeriCorps member. We are truly appreciative of his work and his dedication. He is a kind humble man and would shrug off any compliments and continue with his work, he preferred to stay out of the spotlight and just work faithfully behind the scenes.
Bill & Sue Templin
BOARD MEMBER + RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR
In 1993 Chris Lehman, Executive Director, invited Bill to join the board. Bill served on the board of directors from 1993-1999 and then accepted the position of Resource Development Director in 2000.
Bill and his wife Sue owned the music store in Elkhart, Templin’s Music, and was closely connected in the community. Bill enjoys giving back to the community and liked Habitat’s mission, “you have certain causes that have a heart for.” He was proud of the work he did to support Habitat, “without Habitat many families would not have been able to own their own home.”
Templin enjoyed serving as the Resource Development Director, “I like asking for money. It’s okay if they turn you down, they eventually say yes.” Templin was responsible for organizing fundraisers and was proud of the Golf Outings during those years. “I didn’t play golf, I am a tennis player,” he shared, “but I ran them.”
Templin left Habitat in 2003 but was still giving back to his community. He served as development director at Boys Scouts of America –LaSalle Council before retiring. Templin is also a member of the Elkhart Noon Rotary and he and his wife are members of Trinity on Jackson Church.
BOARD MEMBER + EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Tom McArthur first became involved with Habitat for Humanity of Elkhart County after overhearing coworkers talking about Habitat and a vacant board seat. Having lived down south for several years, he was familiar with Habitat’s mission and Jimmy Carter’s connection, and he was intrigued. He reached out to Habitat’s board chair Dick Kallenberg and asked about the open seat, shortly after he received a call from executive director Chris Lehman. In 1998, McArthur was asked to join the board of directors.
McArthur moved to Elkhart from Cleveland, Ohio where he was working for NIBCO. He and his wife Deb quickly discovered that they liked the sense of community they felt. He shared that joining Habitat’s board helped expand his connection to Elkhart County. He served on the board for nine years or three - three-year terms, the last term as board chairman.
During his years of serving on the board, he saw Habitat build 50+ homes. He said one of the highlights while serving as board chair was the opening of the ReStore, “The ReStore doubled in sales in the first two years.” He was also happy that the board decided to include a washer and dryer for the homeowners, “it didn’t make sense for the families to have a new home yet have to go to the laundry mat.”
When Richard Miller stepped down as Habitat’s Executive Director in the fall of 2007, McArthur accepted the position to lead the affiliate. He shared that while it had its challenges he also found it very rewarding, “I enjoyed building, we had a great team and we helped a lot of families.”
When asked about specific memories of his time with Habitat he was quick to share the story in 2005 the Carter Work project was in Benton Harbor, Tom was a board member and he and Richard Miller were part of a clean-up crew for the Carter Work Project. They went late one afternoon to help set up for the next build day when they saw a large shiny black vehicle pull up and the car door opened. “It was President Jimmy Carter, he got out of the car and walked up to us and told us that he was looking for his glasses.” They quickly asked if they could get a photo with him (the President did not find his glasses).
McArthur served as Habitat Executive Director until the spring of 2017 and now serves as Executive Director for Church Community Services.
Tom McArthur, President Jimmy Carter, and Richard Miller.
Courtney and Rhylain
HABITAT PARTNER FAMILY
Courtney Harris applied for Habitat’s Homeownership Program in the fall of 2020 because her current living situation was not stable. Courtney and her 6-year-old daughter Rhylain currently rent a two-bedroom apartment in Elkhart where management changes often, maintenance is slow, rent increases yearly, and where she feels unsafe.
Courtney was familiar with Habitat’s Homeownership Program when she worked for Habitat’s ReStore. I knew my job was helping Habitat raise money to build homes. It (the program) appealed to me in the way that they create stability for families.” She was excited to learn that she was accepted into the program, “I immediately thanked God for opening the door and granting me the opportunity to become a Habitat homeowner.”
Courtney currently works with Elkhart and St. Joseph Counties Head Start Consortium as a teacher's assistant and graduated this past May with a bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice. While working, and finishing her degree she has also been hard at work putting in her 250 hours or “sweat-equity” hours by volunteering in the ReStore and helping to build alongside other Habitat homeowners.
She chose her lot in Elkhart on Belmont Avenue. With support from the community, her home will be the 2021 Women Build home.
“This home will change our lives by creating a space that is affordable and safe.” Courtney shared. She wants to encourage individuals to not give up on their dreams.
Rev. Richard Kallenberg
VOLUNTEER + BOARD MEMBER
Rev. Richard Kallenberg moved to Elkhart County from Wisconsin in 1987 to serve as the Rector of St. John Episcopal Church In Elkhart. New to the community he was looking for faith-based volunteer opportunities for his parish and learned about Habitat for Humanity of Elkhart County. Kallenberg met with director Arlene Pipkin and learned about Habitat’s mission and homeownership program. He quickly became involved first as a volunteer and within a few years, he joined the board of directors, serving from 1992-1998.
Kallenberg shared that he enjoyed serving on the board and making connections. In 1997 Kallenberg helped connect Myrl Nofziger with Habitat by reaching out and asking if he had any commercial spaces available for Habitat’s new ReStore. Nofziger and his partners leased Habitat space in the Peddlers Villages strip mall for $1 per year, and in 1998 the ReStore opened.
He was also impressed with the Habitat team, “the staff and board were all dedicated people.” Kallenberg served with Arlene Pipkin, whom he remained good friends until her death, and with Chris Lehman.
When asked why he decided to serve on the board of directors for Habitat he was quick to say, “the program works.”
Rev. Richard Kallenberg
HABITAT OFFICE MANAGER
Edna Homan was familiar with Habitat for Humanity of Elkhart County, her husband Bob Homan, President of Homan Lumber had been a long-time supporter and sponsor of Habitat. She and Bob also were good friends with Tom and Deb McArthur through their church. Tom, Habitat’s Executive Director, asked Edna to consider applying for the Administrative Assistant position at Habitat. She was hesitant because of their friendship, but in 2008, she accepted the position.
Edna self-identified as the “mom” of the Habitat team and described her role as a “Generalist,” having broad general knowledge of the many tasks and positions. Edna became the Office Manager in 2011, after Diane Tretheway retired, and took on more responsibility. Edna’s strengths lie in her ability to maintain detailed and accurate information for necessary reporting. She was the friendly face that greeted all who entered the Habitat offices, would make everyone feel welcome, and would always have a story to share.
Edna retired at the end of June 2021, and when asked how Habitat has changed her views of affordable housing, she shared, “I became more aware of the needs that Habitat’s partner families. We (Habitat) can’t solve all of our families' problems, but affordable housing may help families achieve the next steps for success.” She also shared that she is proud when she sees a single mother accept the keys to her new home, “It’s an ‘aha’ moment for them like I just achieved this.”
Waypoint Community Church
Waypoint Community Church was founded in 2005 by a small group of individuals who met at homes and a barn (true story). In 2006 Waypoint Community Church held its first public meeting at Heritage Middle School, in 2007 Pastor Blair Carlstrom accepted the position as their lead pastor, and by 2012 they had built their permanent home on US 20 in Middlebury.
Waypoint has a history of engaging with our community through service. Stepping out in faith Waypoint’s leaders have encouraged volunteers to be the hands and feet of Christ by working side by side with Habitat partner families. Since 2017, they have been Faith Build partners providing both sponsorship and volunteer support.
BOARD MEMBER + FAMILY SELECTION COMMITTEE
Lori Copsey first joined Habitat for Humanity of Elkhart County in 2011, when her cousin asked her to meet with the executive director, Tom McArthur. She was no stranger to Habitat, she also went to church with the previous executive director, Richard Miller, at College Mennonite Church in Goshen.
With a social work background, her focus was on how partner families were identified and selected. She felt strongly that families needed support not only while going through the homeownership program process but also after they became homeowners. Copsey quickly joined the Family Selection Committee while serving on the board and became an advocate for the families.
Growing up in Elkhart County, after graduating with a Master's Degree from Bowling Green State she moved to Goshen. Copsey is a Behavior Consultant with Elkhart County Special Education Cooperative and is also involved in her church.
Copsey served on the board from 2011 to 2019 when her board term ended. She remained on the Family Selection Committee, and in 2020 came back on the board. “I am excited to see where this affiliate Is going,” she shared. She has seen many changes over the years but has a passion for the mission.
Copsey shared that for her, “It’s rewarding to see the transformation of a family.” She told the story of meeting a single mother who had recently been accepted into the homeownership program she had the opportunity to volunteer with the young woman, “she was fearful and couldn’t make eye contact, but by the time she received the keys to her home at her home dedication, “She was confident, and was able to speak in front of the crowd.” Copsey believes that homeownership is the turning point for a family, “Homeownership puts you on level ground!”
When asked what her hopes for Habitat for Humanity of Elkhart County’s future Copsey shared, “The future is the people that we serve. I hope we never lose sight of our mission.”
VOLUNTEERS - MEMORIAL BUILDERS
Rick Fennell Rick died suddenly on September 16, 2015, from a pulmonary embolism at the age of 61. His family did not have the opportunity to say goodbye. The family asked in lieu of flowers for memorials to be given to Habitat for Humanity of Elkhart County because of Rick’s passion for building and giving back to his community.
Rick was a builder, working for Mast Construction in Elkhart for years and then owning his own construction company. Stephanie and her siblings, Sarah and Shane have memories of their father driving past a place and saying, “I helped build that home or that church.” He would often help his children, once they were grown, with their home projects, from construction, to tiling and grouting, “he was a great teacher. He wouldn’t do the work for us but would teach us how to do it ourselves,” said Stephanie.
A few months after Rick’s death, the family was having dinner together and discussed that they wanted to do something special to continue to honor their father’s memory and decided that volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, as a memorial build, seemed fitting. They asked a family friend to design t-shirts for the family and “Rick’s Crew” began volunteering as a family each year in September.
Stephanie said that she has been bit by the Habitat bug, “I don’t know how you can only volunteer one time. I love volunteering for Habitat.” Stephanie works for Interra Credit Union as a mortgage loan originator and shortly after her family volunteered with Habitat she recruited co-workers to volunteer for the Women Build. She has brought a group from Interra to build each year.
This September will be the family’s sixth year volunteering as “Rick’s Crew.” Stephanie shared, “volunteering as a family has been healing. Especially being able to write “Rick’s Crew on the wall studs and then we each sign our names. They hope that other families will consider volunteering as part of their family’s legacy or in memory of a loved one. “He’d be so proud of us,” she said. “We even have our own hashtag #HeallingWithHammers.
Rick's children; Ryan & Stephanie Weldy, Andy & Sarah Wesselhoft, Shane & Ashley Fennell, and Rick's sister Pam Shultz.
HABITAT EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR & PRESIDENT
In April 2019, Greg Conrad accepted Habitat’s Executive Directors position after a nearly 40-year healthcare career. After 28 years at Beacon Health System, Conrad retired in 2017 as President of Beacon Health Ventures.
Conrad’s family has a long history in this community, his father was born in Goshen, and his grandfather had a farm in Elkhart County. Conrad’s wife Kathie
is an elementary school teacher in the Baugo Community Schools, and their children (now grown) attended Elkhart Baptist Schools, now Elkhart Christian Academy.
Conrad was drawn to Habitat because it is a faith-based Christian organization he shared, “It was a divine appointment, and the timing was right.” He appreciated the rich history and roots of the organization, addressing racial injustice, and the need for affordable housing. He also appreciates the requirements of the partner families, “families are required to invest their time by attending classes, sweat-equity and make low down-payment.”
Homeownership has long been part of the American dream, and the need is nationwide, “Affordable housing has always been an issue, but now it’s huge, it is constraining our workforce because of the lack of affordable housing.” Conrad shared his thoughts on the importance of homeownership, “It is a predictor of success.” He believes that homeownership is one of the most transformational impacts that a family can experience, “it breaks down the barriers of poverty and helps provide stability, equity, and independence.”
Conrads favorite moments are at the home dedications, remembering his first Habitat home dedication and again a dedication last fall, “I enjoy seeing the partner families express their gratitude.” Remembering a young mother, “she was so focused, driven, and goal-oriented. She worked hard for everything and was so grateful.”
Habitat for Humanity of Elkhart County is currently building its 209th home. Conrad wants to be able to see Habitat make an even bigger impact in the future by helping even more families, saying, “it will take motivation, the right culture, and divine perspective.” He believes that to achieve success, “Decisions must be made through the filter of the mission, “Seeking to put God’s love into action by bringing people to build homes, community and hope.”
STEVE FIDLER, COMMUNITY SUPPORTER AND DONOR
Kuert Concrete has been a longtime supporter of Habitat for Humanity of Elkhart. In 1986, Fidler Concrete donated the concrete for Habitat’s first home on 6th Street in Goshen. Since that time, the Fidler family and Kuert Concrete have supported Habitat for Humanity.
In 1946 Lewis Fidler started a sand and gravel business, and in 1955 he bought a ready-mix concrete company. Steve Fidler, Lewis’s grandson talked about his grandfather Lewis, “He was an entrepreneur, having had several ventures before starting the sand and gravel business. He owned a filling station, and even had a miniature golf course.” Lewis grew his business over the years by acquiring other family-owned ready-mix companies and eventually becoming Fidler Concrete. In 1988, Steve’s father John Fidler sold Fidler Concrete to Kuert but maintained ownership by purchasing stock in Kuert Concrete. Steve joined Kuert in 1991 and eventually became President of Kuert.
Giving back to the community was modeled by Steve’s grandparents, Lewis and Elizabeth, and his parents John and Lois. Steve shared, “The community helped Fidler become successful, giving back is easy, and it’s the right thing to do.” Steve has served on numerous boards throughout Elkhart County and currently serves on the board Boys and Girls Club, Wellfield Botanic Gardens, and the Community Foundation of Elkhart County’s Placemaking Committee. Steve is community-minded and is attracted to causes that help create a better community. He shared that he and wants to be part of missions and organizations that are transformational, “Habitat breaks the cycle of poverty.”
Steve is now Chairman of the Board for Kuert Concrete and his nephew Brad Webb became President of Kuert in June. Brad is the 4th generation of the Fidler family to take this leadership role. Both Steve and Brad remain supporters of Habitat for Humanity of Elkhart County by donating the concrete for Habitat homes. Steve talked about his appreciation of the homeownership program and requirements of the partner families, “Families are not just given a home, they put in sweat-equity. Habitat helps to provide families socio-economic stability ”
When asked why he continues to support Habitat, he said, “I want to help when I can. Happy to do it.”
First Baptist Church Elkhart
First Baptist Church Elkhart (FBCE) first partnered with Habitat in May of 2018 during Habitat’s 2018 Women Build, the home was being built just a few miles down the road from and the church provided lunch to the volunteers. The Women Build dedication was the following month, and both Pastors Phil Byars and Jeff Zimont attended the celebration and blessing of the home. Soon after the dedication, they reached out to Habitat to learn more about volunteer opportunities. Byars and Zimont wanted to create opportunities for the church to give back to the community and appreciated the alignment of FBCE and Habitat, demonstrating God’s love through action.
Pastor Jeff Zimont has a history with Habitat, serving from 2005 to 2010 on the board of directors for Habitat St. Joseph County Michigan. Zimont shared, "We are serving Christ by serving others and Habitat gives us an opportunity to demonstrate the love of Christ." In the fall of 2019, FBCE included Habitat in their Season of Generosity and brought a team of volunteers to help with the Faith Build. "We believe we should be generous and serve when we can, the Season of Generosity is a great way to partner with Habitat," Zimont said.
Zimont also shared a story of when FBCE staff ladies volunteered for the Women Build, "They truly enjoyed their experience, they sided the house that day, they’ve never sided before, and it took all day to get it right. The construction director had the patience of Job.”
When asked what he hopes for Habitat's future he responded, "That Habitat continues to be sustainable and grow their impact in our community. Habitat is a force to be reckoned with, and they will continue to build affordable housing." He also shared, "If we've ever needed to break through barriers of socio-economics and race, it is today.”
BOARD MEMBER + BOARD CHAIRPERSON
Dawn Bloch joined Habitat’s board of directors in 2019. Dawn is the Director of Business Development at NIBCO, and her interest in the Habitat board comes from her desire to see others succeed.
Dawn is from Peoria Illinois, where her grandfather worked for Caterpillar and her parents both worked in manufacturing. Friends of her parents had moved to Goshen, Indiana due to the job market and encouraged her parents to move to Goshen because of the abundance of jobs tied to van conversion and recreational vehicles. Her family moved to Goshen in the late 1980s.
Dawn went to high school in Elkhart, after graduation she received her medical assistant certification and worked for River Oaks OB/GYN Associates. At the age of 25, she was divorced, with four young children, and wanted to be able to provide a stable home for them. Bloch's sister-in-law encouraged her to apply for a customer representative position at NIBCO, and she began working for NIBCO shortly after.
Five years after starting at NIBCO Dawn had the opportunity to meet NIBCO’s Chief Revenue Officer, Alice Martin. Martin at that time was Chief People Officer and helped employees advance in their careers. Dawn credits Martin for pushing her to obtain her Bachelor’s degree and MBA in Business Administration. “Alice challenged me; she would ask me ‘What do you think Dawn?’ and taught me to stand up for myself.” The two eventually formed a bond and a friendship over the years. “Alice taught me that as we climb we must also lift others up,” shared Dawn.
Dawn is NIBCO’s Director of Business Development and Customer Service. Dawn currently serves as Habitats board chair, and shared that her favorite moments of serving with Habitat are at the house dedications, “I get tears each time I hear the kids ask ‘Do you want to see my room?’ they are so proud of their bedrooms and having something of their very own.” As a single mother herself, she understands the importance of having a safe and stable environment for your family. “I know the struggle and it’s hard. Habitat helps those who work hard.”
When talking about the next 35 years for Habitat of Elkhart County, Dawn said, “My hope is that Habitat can help every family that qualifies for the homeownership program, that Habitat has the lots (land) and funds to help more families.”
HABITAT PARTNER FAMILY
Kylee Vogel applied for Habitat for Humanity’s homeownership program in the Spring of 2021 in hopes of owning her first home and providing a safe place for her children. A mother of four children, Riley 16, Keegan 11, Jeremiah 15 months, and a 5 week-old. Kylee became a foster parent in her twenties when a family friend who worked for the Department of Child Services talked about the need for foster families. Kylee mentioned that she would foster children, but she didn’t think she could because she was single. Once she learned that she could become a foster parent she began fostering right away.
To date, Kylee has fostered over 50 children, adopted two, is in the process of adopting her third, and fostering an infant. She wants to provide her children a home where they feel safe and have a space to play. Currently living in a three-bedroom apartment, she shared that her children have seen and heard things at the apartment complex that concern her. “I want to give them what I had growing up,” she shared. Kylee talked about her family and support system. She grew up in the Baugo Community Schools, with two older siblings, “My family has been a great support, my mom and sister, both help with my children.”
Kylee works for the Baugo Community Schools as a Special Education Paraprofessional. She received her Associate's Degree from Vincennes University in Early Childhood Education. Kylee applied for Habitat’s program earlier this year and was accepted into the program in late June. Working for the schools she has the summer months off, she quickly went to work on her 250 “sweat-equity” hours by volunteering on the Women Build home. In just two months, she reached 100 hours allowing her to choose her lot for her home. Plans to begin Kylee's home have begun and Habitat hopes to start this fall.
Kylee said she was surprised by how quickly homes are built, confessing that she knew nothing about construction but now enjoys it. She also appreciates the required homeownership and financial education classes, “I wish we had these classes in high school.” Kylee said she would encourage others to apply for the homeownership program, “Don’t give up on your dreams.”
HABITAT CONSTRUCTION MANAGER
Aaron Lehman began working for Habitat for Humanity of Elkhart County in 2007. Some may say it was in his blood, his father is Chris Lehman the Habitat Executive Director from 1993 to 2003. In 2007 Richard Miller was the Executive Director and he knew Aaron from church, Miller asked Aaron if he would volunteer for a few days, and shortly after he offered Aaron the position of Construction Manager.
Aaron said his first 3 years with Habitat were like an apprenticeship. He grew up around construction with his father owning a construction company and then as Habitat’s director, but he had no formal construction training. He relied on both Richard Miller and his father for guidance. He also credits Habitat volunteers Dale Bourdon and Ron Breniser.
What he enjoyed most about working with Habitat was the camaraderie, “The moments that stand out for me are the days working with the volunteers. The retired men’s group could run circles around the younger volunteers.” He also enjoyed working with the groups during the Women Build, laughing he shared, "They were so much fun to work with!”
When asked why he chose to stay in construction instead of going into ministry, he shared, “Jesus was a carpenter.” Aaron also shared that he enjoyed a challenge, “I always try to be the best at what I do and learning new things.” He also said, “I want to help people. There but for the grace of God I go. I’ve been fortunate in my life I do not take that for granted. I want to help families find safe and affordable housing.”
Aaron currently works for Lacasa as their Housing Development manager, where he continues to work with families and the community, providing stability through housing.
Mary Rasp began volunteering with Habitat for Humanity after retiring from teaching in 2011. Mary taught for 24 years in the Elkhart Community Schools and was not interested in joining the quilting club in her retirement. A good friend invited Mary to volunteer with her at Habitat for Humanity, and almost 10 years later she continues to volunteer once a week.
Mary enjoys helping others and found a place that she feels accepted, even with no construction experience. “I felt fortunate to be accepted and valued, even with no construction skills. When I began volunteering Molly and Duffy were so patient,” said Mary. She shared that over the years she has learned new construction skills, “hanging siding is my favorite.” Trusses are her least favorite day, saying, “I am amazed at the volunteers who can lift the trusses and help place them.”
Mary has been a member of First Presbyterian Church Elkhart since she was young, and has been the church’s liaison with Habitat as the nail captain for Habitat’s annual Women Build. She recruits a team of women (and men) from her church to participate and help build each summer. She is also proud to share that First Presbyterian Church Elkhart has been a sponsor of the Women Build. She credits Chuck and Vivian Vetter, members of the church, for creating a culture and appreciation for Habitat, “The Vetters worked quietly and behind the scenes doing so much for the church and also supporting Habitat.” One of her favorite memories with Habitat is when she worked side-by-side with Chuch Vetter helping to build a Habitat home.
Mary’s goal is to volunteer 100 hours every year. She appreciates the days that she gets to volunteer alongside the partner family or future homeowner, “I enjoy getting to know the family and their story.” Mary recently joined Habitat’s Family Selection Committee and shared her appreciation for all involved with Habitat, “Everyone is compassionate and caring.”
HABITAT BOARD MEMBER
Bill Born first became involved with Habitat for Humanity of Elkhart County in 2011 as a volunteer with Goshen College, when an employee of the college and his family were accepted into Habitat’s homeownership program. Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students, Born lead a student-involved fundraiser and recruited volunteers for Habitat.
Reflecting on that time, Born is proud of his involvement sharing, "The students helped to raise over $20,000 for Habitat, and I was very pleased with both the student response and faculty engagement." It was this initial involvement with Habitat that lead him to join Habitat's board of directors in 2013.
Born was attracted to Habitat’s mission of putting God’s love into action by building homes, community, and hope. Born shared, “Habitat provided an opportunity to live my faith by loving thy neighbor. It also allowed me to be part of a diverse community.” Born appreciates Habitat’s financial model, “Every home generates more, which helps to sustain the organization. Building more homes, helping more families."
Born served on the board from 2013 to 2020 and saw many transitions in that time. Born's experience in organizational leadership, staff development, and team-building was an asset to the organization. Born is now a Colleague Development Specialist at Goshen Health.
HABITAT VOLUNTEER SERVICES MANAGER
Faith Brummet joined Habitat in October of 2019 as the Volunteer Services Manager. She came with volunteer management experience from Trinity Lutheran Church and School. Faith enjoys working with volunteers and building relationships.
Faith’s early career was in teaching, elementary education, but her real passion lies with working side-by-side with people and volunteers. She shares, “I enjoy the ability to meet new people and build relationships with them. I love it when volunteers and groups come back again and again.” She is most proud when she sees a volunteer come back, “I know that we gave them a great experience when they return.”
She is inspired by the ability to touch the lives of not only the volunteers but also the partner families, “We are changing people one life at a time, not by giving them a home but by giving them life skills.” Faith’s strengths are her ability to make volunteers feel valued and appreciated, “Volunteers can have a tangible experience and know that they are bettering themselves and our community.”
HABITAT FAMILY SERVICES SPECIALIST
Bonnie Waltz began working for Habitat in November of 2018 as the Family Services Director. Waltz came with a social services background, with both her undergraduate and a graduate degree in social work from Bethel College and then her Master’s from Indiana University South Bend. Waltz worked for Elkhart’s Welfare Department after graduating and worked there for 22 years.
Waltz was influenced by her father, a Missionary minister who was also in social work. She had a desire to work for a faith-based, organization “Habitat felt like a perfect fit for me.” Waltz has a heart for people and gets enjoyment when she sees families become successful, “ I am proud when I can help families who lived paycheck to paycheck and teach them to sacrifice and save money. Helping them see the big picture.”
As the Family Services Director, she is often the mother figure to partner families, being stern when needed, she is also their biggest cheerleader. Waltz meets with the partner families, those who have been accepted into the homeownership program, every month. She goes over their monthly spending and savings, talks to the families about life's successes and challenges, and encourages them to get their required sweat-equity hours. She greets every partner family with a hug and genuinely cares for every family.
Waltz has recently reduced her hours and now serves as Habitat's Family Services Specialist. She has no plans on retiring, "I still have something to offer, even though I could retire, I enjoy working with the families and making a difference in their lives."
OUR DEDICATED SUPPORTERS AND DREAM MAKERS
Yes, that’s right! You’ve been part of a legacy spanning three and a half decades. A legacy that has not only created safe and stable housing for over 200 families but has also created generational wealth that will impact lives for decades to come.
Thanks to your support, whether you donated, volunteered, advocated – anything, families have brighter futures. Also thanks to you, our community is stronger, more inclusive, and continues to thrive!
We cannot say it enough – THANK YOU.
Our goal is to put ourselves out of work, but that can only happen once everyone in Elkhart County (and the world) has a safe and stable place to call home. You’ve gotten us through the last three and a half decades – imagine what we can do together in the few years.
Your support allows us to continue our mission of building homes, community, and hope. One home- one family at a time - you make a difference!