For the second year, Habitat for Humanity presented its Key Awards in September. The honors are a tribute to the group’s partners in building homes, community, and hope, according to Lance Henning, executive director.
“People who received the awards are ‘bridge builders’ who make a difference,” Henning says. “They somehow have made an impact and have made a difference in housing in the Des Moines area.”
Sometimes, he notes, it’s because of their philanthropy to support Habitat’s programs. Other times it’s their vision or their physical support of local efforts. The awards honor businesses and individuals whose contributions have made a significant impact in serving low-income families and work toward eliminating poverty housing in the community.
“For example,” Henning says, “Tom Urban understands the issues and the overview in the urban core. That is invaluable in our work. And Tanner Kinzler of Kinzler Construction Services in Ames thinks through the practical applications. He helps train our volunteers in how to insulate homes and provides materials to help.”
Henning, who has led local Habitat efforts for 10½ years, says that in 1986, when the program began in Des Moines, the group built only one or two homes each year. That number now is up to 30 homes each year. “This year alone we had 12,000 volunteers. Many, of course, come from corporate groups and churches. Most don’t have specific building training, but they are willing to learn.”
Winners for 2014:
- The Principal Financial Group, Key Corporation Award, for its house and Rock the Block sponsorships, volunteerism by employees, and financial commitment to investing in the Des Moines community
- Stan and Dotty Thurston, Key Individual Award, for their contributions to ReStore through the It Starts at Home capital campaign and for their continued support of decent and affordable housing in Greater Des Moines as well as in El Salvador
- Tanner Kinzler, Key Community Award, for his contributions of time, talent, materials, and financial support
- Mary Louise Neugent, Key Community Award, for her volunteerism in Des Moines and El Salvador, cochairing the 2013 Women Build program, her support of the It Starts at Home capital campaign, and her services as a Habitat board member
- Tom Urban, Key Community Award, for his work in Des Moines neighborhoods and for bringing awareness to the need for change and growth in the city’s low-income neighborhoods
Tanner Kinzler, CEO of Kinzler Construction Services, has been volunteering for Habitat for a decade or more. “We have donated capital, materials, discounted materials and services, and staff time to consult on energy design. Recently I had the opportunity to participate in the CEO Build and Work on building a home. It was an incredible experience, and it inspired me to get our staff all out to volunteer on a build-together program very soon. I personally plan to seek out additional ways that I can further the mission of Habitat in the future. I have seen how tangible and sustainable the work they do really is,” he says.
“Habitat’s mission to put God’s love into action to bring people together to build homes, communities, and hope fulfills a very real need around the world and right here with our friends and neighbors in Des Moines. The results of the collective efforts of all the staff, volunteers, directors, donors, partner families, and community are tangible, transformative, and sustainable.”
Kinzler says the partner families that buy Habitat homes are well prepared to own them and invest in them. “These families stay in the houses, take care of them, and make positive contributions to their neighborhoods and the community. The sweat equity and loan payments from the partner families combined with the contributions of the community close the loop to sustain the mission for future partner families.”
The local Habitat for Humanity organization also is partially funded by the local Habitat ReStore, which sells new and gently used building materials such as used doors, windows, carpet, cabinetry, fixtures, and lighting. It is located at 2200 E. Euclid Avenue on the northwest corner of E. Euclid and I-235. Materials are donated by manufacturers, contractors, retailers, and homeowners. Store hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Habitat also offers a tool lending library to the public.
Henning says that besides building new homes, volunteers also do repairs, add weatherization materials, and add handicap-accessible details to homes that are already owner-occupied.
Habitat for Humanity was started in 1976 by Millard and Linda Fuller. It grew out of a program at Koinonia Farm near Americus, Georgia. The program gained much visibility when former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, began participating in it. To date, some 800,000 homes have been built or repaired and upgraded by Habitat volunteers. Some four million-plus people have been served by the program around the world.
For more information, check out Greater Des Moines Habitat at gdmhabitat.org.