On Saturday October 28th, Melissa and her three children were welcomed home. For more than a year, volunteers, churches, donors and partner families have worked together to make the Unity 2 home possible. Every Saturday Melissa has been out on the job site working alongside everyone building her own home.
During the dedication ceremony Melissa said, “I am a mother of three, Tyree is almost 12, Damani is almost 13 and Jada is 3. I’ve been a single mom all these years and although I managed to take care of them I knew having a home of our own would make a difference in our lives.” She went on to say, “thank you for the experience of building my own home and most of all thank you for the smiles and laughs. I can’t wait to make new memories in my own home.”
The Unity 2 home was made possible through a collaboration of faith based groups throughout Albuquerque. Representing one of the organizations that has helped finance and build the Unity home was Pastor Tom Hart from the Shepherd of the Valley Church, who gave the home blessing during the dedication, “We have purpose beyond ourselves. I think we are here today not because we have something to give, but because all we find that is given to us. The blessings we find as we share ourselves, as we join in unity with others and find we are part of something much larger and more wonderful than ourselves. This home is a blessing to us and to the community and to this family.”
Melissa has worked for APS, as a clerk at an elementary school for nearly eleven years and so APS Superintendent Reedy attended the dedication ceremony and addressed the crowd saying, “A person like Melissa, who gives so much of herself, deserves to be on the receiving end of generosity and kindness. Thank you for providing that. You chose a good person, a good family, to support.” She went on to say, “Too many of our families are struggling to make ends meet. Too many don’t have a home to call their own. They move from apartment to apartment or crowd into the homes of family or friends. Needless to say that’s hard on the children, who often struggle in school. It’s hard to focus on math and reading when you don’t know where you’ll be living next. We want our students to feel safe and welcome at school, and that often requires partnering with the community to make sure they feel safe at home. That is why I am so thankful to the Greater Albuquerque Habitat for Humanity and all of the other organizations supporting this project. By providing affordable housing for our families, for families like Melissa’s, you are helping us do our job of educating children. And we all benefit from that.”
Habitat believes that everyone deserves a decent place to live, a place to call home, to feel safe and create memories. Welcome home Melissa – we hope this new chapter in your life open doors to more opportunity and a brighter future for your children.
GAHH implements a culture of environmentally sound practices, both in the office environment and at the building sites of Albuquerque’s Habitat for Humanity homes. A comprehensive office-wide recycling program was put in place a couple years ago by GAHH employees to ensure responsible disposal of paper, plastics, and aluminum. On the construction sites, every home built by GAHH is fitted with Energy Star windows, appliances, and ceiling fans. GAHH participates in the Albuquerque Green Path and SEED Network Programs, is a member of the US Green Building Council, and observes LEED for Homes Guidelines.
These office and building practices are in place not only for the benefit of the environment, but also for the benefit of GAHH employees, volunteers, and first-time Habitat homeowners. It is in this character of environmental responsibility that GAHH requested a grant from the PNM Fund’s “Reduce Your Use” program to install tubular skylights to the windowless environment inside the administrative offices.
“The natural sunlight from solar tubes installed in the ceiling over the volunteer computer area and conference room will help conserve energy and decrease overhead expenses, allowing GAHH to allocate more resources to providing affordable homes for low income families,” says Joan Costello, GAHH Executive Director.
The natural light from the solar tubes will also provide a better work environment for employees and volunteers. Research by Northwestern University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that office workers exposed to natural light slept better, were happier, reported better health, and were more likely to be active throughout the day than their counterparts in windowless offices.
GAHH anticipates energy savings by installing tubular skylights, each providing 30 ft. candles of light. The goals of the project are to save money and energy by reducing the use of fluorescent tubes, and to strive for enhanced health and satisfaction for office workers and volunteers as they experience increased natural lighting, reduced eye strain, increased comfort in the sun-lighted office environment, and potentially, better productivity.
The total project will be completed in stages, depending on funds. The PNM grant kicked off the project by providing $5,000 which covers the cost of 4 to 5 solar tubes and allows GAHH to begin saving energy and money as well as provide health benefits to employees and volunteers. GAHH is looking for additional funding to put a solar tube in each office.
Previous PNM Reduce Your Use grants awarded to GAHH over the years have provided funding for the installation of the 2.5 KW solar system and an upgrade to the HVAC with higher efficiency equipment.
Beyond the gratitude we’d like to extend to PNM, GAHH would like to thank the companies listed below for donating the labor cost of the installation for two of the tubular skylights:
When something touches our hearts, when we recall an important event or a fun or inspiring moment, it often involves people close to us. There is a common desire to create stories and to build memories with others, and when we create these stories it allows us to appreciate and support one another and build alliances that will serve us well into the future.
Now, consider the value of building memories and strengthening friendships while volunteering. Giving time not only allows us to improve the lives of others, it helps us improve ourselves and allows groups to bond over a learned experience. Working to build a house or sorting through donated goods or painting walls is a very different experience than working in an office, a church or inside a classroom. New, unique experiences help us create memories that in turn create stronger bonds between individuals.
“I work with so many groups, small and large, from corporations to local businesses to schools to church groups. It doesn’t matter their skill level, what matters is that they know their work directly impacts Habitat families,” said Regina Macias, Volunteer Manager. “It’s sort of a bonding experience really. Doing a group project and learning new skills helps everyone come together and learn about each other. It’s a great opportunity to share a unique experience and support the community at the same time.”
A recent group that volunteered out at the Mesa del Rio construction was the Wells Fargo Dealer Services. Some feedback about their experience included, “Everyone is so kind and helpful, it’s not intimidating at all” and “It’s very different then what I do every day and nice to be out of the office and learn something new.”
Another recent group included 26 amazing Magellan CPA employees who took shifts during the “Magellan Cares Week” from May 15th thru 19th helping out at the ReStore and organizing the warehouse. As a company-wide initiative, “Magellan encourages employees to use their volunteer time off (VTO) to support their community and those in need.” What a great place to work!
Greater Albuquerque Habitat for Humanity is so honored these organizations chose to support our mission. There have been numerous groups this year offering tremendous support, see the list below, and we want to thank every person who has volunteered this year!
GAHH welcomes groups to schedule a time to volunteer. Because we only build two days a week, the opportunity to volunteer at the construction site is not always available and there is often a wait list. However, the ReStore is a fantastic group volunteer opportunity as the store is open Monday thru Saturday from 9am to 5pm. We can always use extra help with accepting donations, stocking the shelves and with special projects at the store so please consider scheduling a group volunteer activity today.
If you have questions and you wish to sign up as a group, please email our Volunteer Manager, Regina Macias or call 505-359-2432.
Thank you to all of our 2017 Group Volunteers
You can always schedule your group add your company or church or school to the 2017 list!
Construction Group Volunteers:
Planet Fitness – February 18th
Dekker, Perich, Sabatini – February 25th
UNM Pre-Med Society – March 4th
Starbucks – March 8th and March 22nd
Sandia National Labs – March 11th, March 18th and March 25th
UNM Circle K International – March 25th
CBRE Cares – April 5th and April 26th
WESST – April 14th
Enterprise Holdings – April 19th
Kirtland Airforce OPEC – April 21st
Century Link – April 29th and May 6th
Omega Psi Phi – May 13th and November 11th
RPC CPA’s – May 17th
Kirtland Airforce Gravity – May 20th
Wells Fargo Dealer Services – May 24th and June 21st
Booz Allen Hamilton – June 3rd
St. Jude’s ACTS Ministry – June 24th and July 22nd
The Cheesecake Factory – June 28th, June 30th and July 12th
Department of Emergency Medicine – July 29th and August 12th
Ethicon-Johnson & Johnson – September 27th
Special Events Group Volunteers:
BBVA Compass – April 22nd
Restore Group Volunteers:
Tau Beta Pi, UNM – April 1st
Hope Church – April 1st
Red Fox Realty – April 10th
Enterprise Holdings – April 19th
RPC CPA’s – May 17th
Magellan – May 15th thru May 19th
Bob and Barbara Rieden give much more than time to GAHH, as volunteers for the past 13 years, they have not only supported the building of dozens of homes for low-income families, they have witnessed first-hand the drive and passion necessary to keep Habitat builds going strong.
As an integral part of the Special Work Assignments Team (SWAT), Bob and Barb have donated more than 10,000 hours of time and hard work.
Bob and Barb give all the credit to their 40 person team of SWAT members, who show up rain or shine to get the job done. “I couldn’t get anything done without Hence and all the others down at the site,” says Bob, “It’s a team effort. This isn’t about me, it’s about all the men and women who make it work.”
Ask Bob about his time with SWAT and he says it’s about camaraderie – all the guys out there are used to working and when they retire they still want to be useful. “Rather than get together to have breakfast on a Saturday like some older guys do, those of us on SWAT get together to build homes,” said Bob.
Bob graduated from a technical school in Chicago, got married to Barb and moved to New Mexico to work for Sandia National Laboratories in 1962. “We didn’t know a soul,” said Barb. But the two grew to love New Mexico, making close friends and raising two children. For many years, Bob worked during the day and went to school at night, eventually earning a master’s degree. He kept moving up in the ranks at the Lab where he would manage groups of 15 to 30 employees. No doubt, this is where Bob earned the leadership skills that have come in useful down at the Habitat job site.
Bob helped on a couple of builds for Habitat in the ‘90’s, but it wasn’t until several years after he retired from Sandia Labs that he really got involved. In 2003 Bob jumped in and by 2004 Barb was volunteering with him. “My husband and family come first,” said Barb. “I like to get involved with whatever Bob is interested in and passionate about and try it out for myself. It’s been great to volunteer together.”
Bob’s passion and leadership skills claimed him the volunteer title of Team Leader. Bob orchestrates the entire build including the SWAT – he tracks every stage of the build, knows what activities can be accomplished on a given day, makes sure the materials are there and ready, organizes SWAT members as well as coordinates the specific volunteer jobs for each build. His input and work is invaluable to ensuring everyone’s time is used effectively.
Bob gives great credit to Barb for helping him achieve and participate in his varying pursuits saying, “I can’t do it myself, you have to have a strong marriage to do all the stuff you want.” He goes on to say, “I just get more and more involved and more into my activities, but doing it together is what makes it work for our marriage.”
During the 2017 Raising the Roof Breakfast, Bob and Barb Rieden were honored for giving so much of their lives and their hearts to the Habitat mission. It’s a wonderful gift they have given to our community over the years. As true leaders, this couple who has devoted several days a week for the past decade to helping others insists that this honor is not theirs alone, but it is for every SWAT member.
“I do enjoy it,” said Bob. “There would be something missing in my life if I didn’t have those friends out there on the job site.”
And there would be something missing if we didn’t have Bob and Barb on our side. Thank you both for your generosity, your dedication, your leadership and your friendship.
Julia started volunteering at the Restore 3 years ago, after she retired from UNM Hospital as a nurse. She’s a busy person, with lots of projects and a big family – Julia has three grown sons and 11 grandchildren, 9 boys and 2 girls. But volunteering allows her to use her people skills and do something she loves. She said “I have a lot of energy, I’m a little hyper I guess and volunteering gets me out of the house for the day.”
She knew about the Restore because she has been a customer for a long time saying, “I like to fix things and do projects around the house. When I was a child I would go with my uncle up on the roof. I really love painting and hammering and working with my hands. So the ReStore has always been a place I loved. Volunteering here now is great.”
She recommends that anyone interested in volunteering at the ReStore be a “people person” because “We have a lot of repeat customers. You get to know everyone because they come into the store all the time,” said Julia.
“I love the people here, they are really nice. The guys in back work really hard and they are always willing to help me. There’s always something to do and it’s never boring,” added Julia.