Posted by Steve Lettau on May 11, 2022

By Randy Bretz, Rotary Club of Lincoln, Nebraska, USA

A woman from Africa and her six children will soon have a new home in Lincoln, Nebraska, thanks to our Rotary club and Habitat for Humanity of Lincoln.

Construction will begin soon on the home for Martha and her children, giving them a place to live that isn’t cramped and even with a yard for the family to enjoy. Martha’s salary can only afford a two-bedroom apartment, but with the help of nearly $40,000 from our club, Habitat for Humanity will be able to construct a three-bedroom home on a lot in Lincoln that she can afford to buy.

The co-chairs of our annual fundraiser, Rise.Shine.Give, were overwhelmed at the support and donations that came in. Kate Holman and Penny Johnston note that sponsorships, silent auctions, and a lottery drawing resulted in more than $86,000 raised at our event on 12 February. After a year off because of COVID-19, nearly 150 people gathered at Nebraska Innovation Campus for the event.

We have a custom of donating half of the money raised to a charity of the club president’s choice. Club president Christina Usher said she selected Habitat because “it is an organization that is focused on building community and helping provide affordable housing.”

The annual event began several years ago when then president, Mark Stephens, asked club members Erin Dobesh and Brett Ebert to put together a brunch event. They conceived a plan to seek corporate sponsorships, silent auction donations, and a lottery drawing for a special prize. In recent years the event has provided funding to refurbish a playground at a local elementary school, support our local South of Downtown project, help build a home in one of our neighborhoods, and provide a new HVAC system for a local nonprofit organization.

"I was thrilled at the amount raised, which will help us finance the construction of the new home for Martha and her family. They will actually buy the home, which helps give them pride and encourages them to maintain it.” - JOSH HANSHAW, HABITAT FOR HUMANITY

The local branch of Habitat for Humanity was founded in 1988, and since that time they’ve built, rehabilitated or repaired nearly 200 homes for needy families. Each home constructed involves oversight by a professional construction company with help from hundreds of volunteers. Many of the furnishings in those homes come from the organization’s “Resale Store. Josh Hanshaw, CEO of the organization, shared his excitement during the Rotary event. Hanshaw talked about the family and how involved the children are in their school activities and sports. He also said that all six of the children who are in elementary, middle and high school grades, want to go into medical careers which will give them an opportunity to help others.

Our club’s nearly 300 members represent a cross section of business, education, and nonprofit companies and organizations in Lincoln. We not only support projects such as this one for Habitat for Humanity but have funded major renovations of two elementary school playgrounds and installation and maintenance of facilities in several of Lincoln’s parks.