“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” – Henry Ford
“Home” is a word that instills a feeling of love, comfort, and cherished memories in me. A place full of family. A place of celebration. A place to return to. Yet, in my years in this country, living in Michigan, to Miami, and now Los Angeles, I’ve come across the disheartening fact that a significant amount of people don’t have this “home” to return to. Whatever their circumstance may be, they have lost their home. They are left in a constant struggle to make ends meet, provide for their family, and find temporary housing.
When I moved to Los Angeles, I immediately got involved in local charities. I was raised Catholic and was always very active in my community in Michigan, whether it be volunteering for animal shelters, soup kitchens, or house builds in Appalachia. I wanted to continue that service in Los Angeles.
I was introduced to Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles by some friends I was creating a philanthropic social network with, called Be UnYted. I couldn’t wait to get to my first build. I was paired with a wonderful team from William Morris Endeavor (WME) and had an incredible (and tough) build day. We painted, we tore up the yard, we helped with plumbing. Hello workout! (Skip the gym and do a build day with Habitat!) My arms were ripped after! It was so wonderful to get my hands dirty and actually see the fruits of my labor.
This is what I love so much about Habitat: You can actually get involved. So often we get busy in our lives and think we only have time to write a check. While donations are always appreciated, the soul appreciates the labor much more. Another bonus is meeting the families that are going to be living in the homes. During the build, they are right there alongside you swinging a hammer too! This brings me to another very important fact about Habitat: It’s not a hand out, it’s a hand up. These families are required to put hundreds of hours of “sweat equity” into their homes, on top of keeping up a mortgage that Habitat makes sure they can afford. Habitat truly embodies this following quote: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
I have also been honored to attend Power Women Power Tools for the past two years with Habitat. This is an incredible day where “Power Women” from all over Los Angeles gather together and frame walls for future homes in the area. It is a fun-filled celebration, with hard hat decorating, silent auctions, photo booths, and most importantly, building the frames for the homes! This year someone let me use the power saw, and I was covered from head to toe in sawdust…#fail. There are always incredible, inspirational speeches and a chance to meet some of the families receiving the homes. It is also a wonderful opportunity to network with other like-minded, charitable women who are making a huge difference in this community. It’s a truly wonderful day that I always look forward to! (And the silent auction is to die for. I scored an amazing “Behind the Scenes” tour to “Young and the Restless” that pretty much made my mom’s dreams come true.)
So get involved with Habitat today. They have built over 600,000 homes in 80 countries, and have helped millions. It’s something you can get your family, friends, and workplace involved in too! Schedule your own build day, do a fundraiser, and check out their ReStore. There’s nothing like swinging a hammer and knowing that those nails are going to be the foundation for someone’s home for the rest of their lives. Everyone deserves a home to return to.
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