Family Advocate Lois Licht found Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia after retiring from her career as a social worker. Always interested in making things and using her hands, Lois sought out opportunities to do just that. She even apprenticed with an antique chandelier repairman. And of course, she volunteered on a Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia construction site.
“Working on site and seeing the progress that is made from week to week, you can really feel the hands of the people who are involved. Habitat’s work and mission convey everything we want and need for ourselves and our world: Working together and making things better.”
Lois’ skillset and experience in social work eventually led her to our Family Services Committee. Fueled by a dedicated team of volunteers and Habitat homeowners, the committee aids the Family Services department with all aspects of the homeownership application process. Some committee members also serve as Family Advocates, working with a future homeowner throughout their Habitat journey.
Lois describes one of the joys of the Family Advocate role as “knowing someone you might not otherwise know. You might come from a different background, life experience, or culture, yet you form a warm and lasting relationship.” The offer of help and support begins this important connection.
“How can I help?” is the question that drives the Family Advocate’s role. Whether volunteering alongside homeowners and donating hours of sweat equity, or checking in that a family is up to date on their escrow savings, or liaising between a family and the Habitat office, the advocate is an important supporter during a rigorous process.
Habitat’s Homeownership Program is not easy. Imagine having children, working forty hours a week or more, and trying to balance the additional demands of completing sweat equity hours each month. “For the strongest, most focused, and stable families, it can be the straw that breaks the camel’s back,” Lois says. “That’s where the Family Advocate steps in to provide support.”
While rigorous, the homeownership program ends with the ultimate reward. “At home dedications, you are filled with emotion,” Lois says. “Homeownership doesn’t solve every problem, but you have a home – for your children, your grandchildren. It’s something you have achieved through personal effort, and the sense of pride is so big.”
Habitat homeowners benefit from renewed strength, stability, and self-reliance. Lois states that one of the best feelings as an advocate was inviting two Habitat homeowners to become advocates themselves.
Since 2005, Thrivent Financial and Habitat for Humanity have partnered to build and repair homes across the globe. We are lucky to benefit from Thrivent’s generosity and partnership at the local level, improving access to affordable housing in Philadelphia.
“When we partner together, we impact families. When we impact families, we strengthen communities. And when we strengthen communities we fuel the economic engine that benefits everyone,” says James Jackson, Jr., Community Engagement Leader at Thrivent Financial.
In the past two years alone, Thrivent has provided the funds to build two new homes at Diamond Park and repair twenty-one homes for families in need.
The Thrivent partnership provides dollars and volunteer support for our projects. James swings a hammer with us regularly: “The most memorable is working in 109 degree temperatures to place siding on the Thrivent House at 16th and Fontain Streets. This took place during the Democratic National Convention that was held in Philadelphia in 2016 and was a stark reminder for me that providing quality housing is not a political issue – it’s just the right thing to do!”
Over the past decade, Thrivent and Thrivent members have contributed $226 million dollars and 5.2 million volunteer hours to build decent, affordable housing in the United States and abroad. Thrivent’s dedication to our mission in Philadelphia and across the globe is humbling, and we are grateful for continued partnership.
“Habitat’s work is important both locally and nationally as a home is where families grow, memories are made and possibilities arise.”