Stories from the 2016 Builders Blitz
Family Partner Continues to Better Community
Klo Wah’s house was built during Habitat Omaha’s 2014 Builders Blitz. Two years later, she and her family continue to volunteer – one block over at the 2016 Builders Blitz site. Klo Wah’s children are involved in the Charles Drew Health Center “Earn-a-Bike Project,” which required them to complete four community service hours in exchange for a new bike. Klo Wah and her children, La Ku She and Lah Kpaw Wah Ky, approached Melissa Bula, Habitat Omaha Neighborhood Coordinator, asking for a volunteer opportunity. She suggested a neighborhood cleanup.
Working alongside Klo Wah’s family was Kyi Myimt, and three of her children, Shar Paw Keep, Pyi Nyaimg, and Saw Myimt Aung, who all helped in the cleaning effort. Klo Wah and Kyi Myimt were neighbors in a refugee camp in Burma before coming to the United States. Now, they are neighbors in their own community, surrounded by the joy and excitement of the neighborhood.
Klo Wah, Kyi Myimt and their children spent the morning picking up trash in the area surrounding this year’s Builders Blitz site. They cleaned all of Kountze Park, and even took the initiative to clean King Science and Technology Magnet Middle School’s recreation area, too! Although the “Earn-a-Bike Project” only requires the children to do community service, Klo Wah did not hesitate to help in the effort, saying, “I’m so happy to help and pass through the neighborhood.”
“The family came to me; they needed something to do with the kids,” says Bula. “What better way to give back, than to give to your neighborhood? It was nice to get them all together and see the kids and parents work together.”
ore than 200 bikes will be given to kids ages 8 to 15 in the community who have completed their community service hours. The kids explain what they learned doing the service, and why they want a new bike as well.
Klo Wah, Kyi Myimt and their families did a great job cleaning the area surrounding this year’s Builders Blitz site. We hope their service with Habitat Omaha helps the children earn a bike to ride around their neighborhood for years to come.
ACI Worldwide Volunteers on Global Scale
With more than 5,100 organizations around the world to power electronic payments for, ACI Worldwide still makes time to give back—in a big way.
On days two and three of the Builders Blitz, ACI Worldwide teams from across the globe divided and conquered. Hundreds of ACI employees volunteered with Habitat for Humanity affiliates around the world. The employees of ACI Omaha took part in this effort – more 90 employees volunteered over two days at Habitat Omaha’s Builders Blitz site. ACI employees could be found throughout the area building garden beds, painting houses, serving food, and much more.
ACI Worldwide employee Bill Cress enjoyed his volunteer time with Habitat Omaha. “The experience is really rewarding…seeing everyone come together for a common goal,” says Cress. “Everyone is so appreciative. We made those (neighbor) kids a lemonade stand, and they were so appreciative! Seeing the neighbors, the kids, everyone come together. Not just ACI, but also other companies to help out for a great cause. That’s what it’s about.”
ACI Worldwide is a payment systems company providing services and products that facilitate electronic payments in financial institutions, retail outlets, and electronic payment processors.
New and Practiced Building Partners Come Together to Make the Blitz a Success
The newest crew on the block at this year’s Builders Blitz is also new to Omaha. McCarthy Building Companies, in operation since 1864, has the distinction of being one of the oldest builders in the country.
Brian Lancaster, who is supervising the McCarthy build, admits, “It’s a little competitive. We check out each other’s progress. But, at the end of the day I know if we need something we can get it from another builder.”
He has participated in the Builders Blitz before, but this is his first time supervising the construction of an entire house. In the past he’s supervised office workers eager to try their hand at building or helped install siding, focusing on a single job. This year, they’re right on track.
The builds are going well up and down the block. Houses sit where there were cement slabs a week ago. Aaron Schrum, overseeing the build for Kiewit, explains why Day 3 seemed quieter. “The exteriors are complete and everyone’s moved indoors,” he says. This is Kiewit’s 7th year participating in the Builders Blitz; their long association with Habitat for Humanity of Omaha has been a blessing for many families.
Aaron has been personally involved the last five years. From the front porch of this year’s house, he can see homes completed during the previous two Blitzes. He’s seen a lot of changes. “It’s more streamlined. It just gets better and better every year.”
Both men are spending long days on the build site. During the week, their families came out to lend a hand. Brian’s wife Kari stayed to help out, telling him she didn’t want to clean up or paint. “Guess what she’s doing,” laughs Brian. She’s a good sport, prepping a door for a coat of paint, cleaning drywall dust off the surface.
“Every year this lands on his birthday and our anniversary,” she confides, adding, “it’s worth it when we see the families at the dedication.”
Builders Blitz Cuts Down on Landfill Waste
According to a study by the National Association of Homebuilders, constructing a 2,000 square foot home produces an estimated 8,000 pounds of waste. Building nine homes in nine days produces almost 36 tons of waste, but not at our building site! Once again, Habitat for Humanity of Omaha is working toward reducing our carbon footprint during this year’s Builders Blitz.
At our recycling station in the neighborhood, there are 15 different recycling categories. Some included are drywall, cardboard, wood, plastic wrapping, and steel. Materials will be hauled off in full semi-trucks to be recycled.
This is the fourth year that Habitat Omaha has recycled during the Builders Blitz, and every year gets bigger and better, both for the homes and the recycling efforts. Each building site has an area for waste to be collected. Volunteers then collect the waste from the building sites, take it to the recycling station, and sort it into respective bins. Last year, Habitat Omaha was able to keep almost 6.5 tons of waste out of the landfill!
“Every year we get better and better. Without First Star giving us bins to sort the waste into, it wouldn’t have been possible,” Michelle Shearer, recycling supervisor states. “People are paying attention to where things should go.”
In 2013, Americans produced around 254 million tons of waste; of those tons, only 34.3 percent of it was recycled according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Brothers Open for Business while Awaiting New Neighbors
Courtney and James are brothers who live in a neighboring house on this year’s Builders Blitz block. During the hottest time of the day, the two decided to beat the heat while making a little extra cash. They set up their own candy and juice stand to sell to builders and volunteers.
Being true, young businessmen, Courtney and James made sure to ask everyone who passed by if they were interested. The brothers plan on continuing their small business throughout the Builders Blitz, and volunteering for Habitat Omaha someday when they’re older.
James is excited to have new neighbors, while Courtney enjoys seeing the houses come together. While we are expecting to see them volunteering on a Habitat build site someday, we also expect to see their names listed in Forbes Magazine for “Entrepreneurs of the Year”.
James already feels they have everything they need to make it in life, “if you have a house to live in, you can have all of the other things you need for a decent life.”
Long-time Resident Volunteers to Better Neighborhood
Tondeleya Newson has been a life-long resident of North Omaha. On the kickoff day of Habitat for Humanity of Omaha’s Builders Blitz 2016, Tondeleya joined her co-workers at Bank of the West in volunteering. In addition to the $25,000 community investment grant Bank of the West awarded to Habitat Omaha, she discussed how the bank provides a number of opportunities for employees to volunteer. She jumped on-board! Although this is her first time volunteering with Habitat Omaha, she is not new to giving back to her community.
Tondeleya owns a home in a neighborhood near this year’s Builders Blitz site. She understands the pride and respect for one’s property that comes with being a homeowner. She hopes by the end of this year’s Builders Blitz, the work done will foster a stronger community and “bring the neighborhood up.” She also thinks the higher number of homeowners in the neighborhood will start a “trickle of positivity for kids in the area.”
Tondeleya spent her volunteer day in a house that needed a lot of demolition work done before it could become a new home. Mona McGregor, Renovation Construction Specialist noticed the hard work, “She’s been hauling barrels all day! She’s been working really hard.”
In the future, Tondeleya plans on volunteering more with Habitat Omaha and getting her kids involved as well. She hopes they’ll learn what it truly means to give back. “I try to tell my kids, ‘it’s not what you get that’s important, it’s what you give, that’s important’.”