“They love it, they love it,” Laura Rice says, describing what her children think of the Habitat for Humanity home they moved into three years ago. “My 10-year-old son is still getting used to having his own room. I keep telling him you don’t have to sleep with your sister anymore.”

Rice, who works in a bank, had been living in a two-bedroom apartment when a friend mentioned her new Habitat for Humanity home.

“The funny thing is that I’d never heard of Habitat until a friend of mine went through the process and was raving about it,” she says.

Her friend’s enthusiasm inspired Rice to apply, a process that included a credit check, an agreement to live in a neighborhood where Habitat was building homes, a willingness to attend required workshops for success in homeownership and the completion of at least 400 hours of sweat equity toward the building of Habitat homes.

“I worked on my home and my neighbor’s home,” says Rice. “I was so anxious about it because I work and it was hard finding the time but Habitat worked with me and my schedule so I could get it done. Everyone was really nice; you feel a part of a family, and they make the transition so easy.”

Ross, who lives in Gary, says her home is on a corner next to a park and fire station.

It’s perfect, she says, because she can sit on her porch and watch her children play.

“When Habitat builds a home, they also build a community,” says Amy Blaker, development director for Habitat for Humanity of Northwest Indiana. “It’s not just helping one family at a time, it’s helping a city. Our homeowners pay taxes; they become community members. We build homes on what were vacant lots or rebuild abandoned houses—all of this benefits a neighborhood.”

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Habitat for Humanity, founded by Millard and Linda Fuller in 1976 in South Georgia as a grassroots organization, has become one of the leading global nonprofits. Working in local communities, Habitat has a reach in all 50 states and more than 70 countries. The Fullers believed in the concept of partnership housing, where those needing a place to live work alongside volunteers to build decent and affordable homes. People in need and people wanting to help creating residences — as well as interest free mortgages — that offer stability to families. 

But the partnering doesn't end there. For several years, Habitat has teamed up with the Home Builders Association of Northwest Indiana to raise funds to build more homes. This year the nonprofit trade association of builders and associated industry professionals dedicated to promoting the American Dream of home ownership will again be hosting its 2018 Winter Gala, with auction proceeds benefiting Habitat for Humanity Northwest Indiana and Porter County Habitat for Humanity. 

“This is the second year we have partnered with Habitat to have a charity auction,” says Eddie Castellanos, executive officer of the Home Builders Association. “At the Home Builders Association of NWI’s Winter Gala last year, the HBA donated a check for $11,545, which is what was raised in the auction. This year, we expect to raise even more money, as we have unique auction items, including a trip for two to the 2019 American Music Awards in Los Angeles and a trip for two to the 2019 ESPY (Excellence in Sports Performance) Awards, also in Los Angeles.”

This year’s event is being held Nov. 16 at Sand Creek Country Club in Chesterton and includes gourmet appetizers, dancing, live and silent auctions to benefit Habitat for Humanity NWI and Porter County Habitat for Humanity. Tickets — $60 for association members and $75 for nonmembers — are available at http://www.hbanwi.com/events/workshops/

The home builders also will be announcing its HBA SHAREity Raffle winners at the Winter Gala. The raffle benefits organizations in Northwest Indiana including Opportunity Enterprises, Housing Opportunities, St. Jude House and the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Northwest Indiana. Tickets cost $125 each.   

“This is the first year we’re raffling a house,” says Castellanos. “Our members really like giving back to the community."

“We very much appreciate our partnership with HBA,” adds Blaker. “They’re reaching out to a different audience and can help get out our message that Habitat helps everyone.”