Businesses chip in for Habitat for Humanity's new headquarters

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Posted: Monday, October 28, 2013 12:00 am

Habitat for Humanity of Omaha's new headquarters wouldn't have been possible without some major chip-ins from the Omaha business community.

Cubicles, filing cabinets, office supplies and other office furniture from TD Ameritrade, Valmont Industries and Streck Laboratories. Printers and copiers from Bishop Office Equipment. Shelving for the nonprofit's storage warehouse from Lozier.

Overall, the in-kind donations and discounts from businesses that helped make the new headquarters a reality added up to about $510,000, spokeswoman Tracie McPherson said.

That doesn't include the cash donations made by businesses, foundations and individuals to help the nonprofit buy its new headquarters and warehouse at 1701 N. 24th St., formerly occupied by clothing manufacturer Wes & Willy. Habitat for Humanity's warehouse was at 2204 Ames Ave. in a former fire station.

The new, 23,000-square-foot warehouse — nearly double the size of the old building —will allow the nonprofit to buy more home-building materials in bulk, which typically lowers the cost per item.

The new headquarters includes a large meeting space for neighborhood associations and for classes for homeowners and offices for Habitat's 55 employees and full-time volunteers.

TD Ameritrade has had a partnership with Habitat for Humanity since 2008, TD Ameritrade community affairs manager Tara Valentino said. As the company moved into its new Old Mill headquarters, it was looking to simplify the process.

“The timing just happened to be impeccable,” Valentino said. The in-kind donation from TD Ameritrade was valued at about what it would cost the nonprofit to build a new home for a family, she said. “It really provides the infrastructure and the space for them to help serve more families and be able to provide their services out of one location.”

Habitat for Humanity's executive director, Amanda Brewer, said of the donated furniture and work stations: “It's like new and probably saved us several hundred thousand dollars.”

The Lozier Foundation also donated shelving and installation that allows the organization to store more home-building materials in its new warehouse. Lozier Corp. also donated a company shelving architect's time to come up with a plan best suited for the nonprofit's needs, Brewer said.

The Lozier Foundation is supported by Dianne and Allan Lozier, who head Lozier Corp., an Omaha firm that manufactures store fixtures.

Bob Braun, executive director of the Lozier Foundation, said Lozier has supported Habitat for Humanity for about 15 years and also donated shelving for the organization's two ReStores, which sell gently used, discounted building materials and home fixtures.

In addition to in-kind donations, TD Ameritrade and the Lozier Foundation also donated money to help the organization buy the new headquarters.

That campaign raised a total of $6.4 million for the new headquarters and the organization's second ReStore, which opened about a year ago. The largest donation came from Rhonda and Howard Hawks, founder and chairman of Omaha energy company Tenaska. Nearly 10 donations topped $300,000.

Rhonda Hawks, president of the Hawks Foundation, said Habitat has done a great job at forming partnerships with the corporate community in Omaha. “Donating in-kind stuff, like the furniture and the cubicles ... that's wonderful because that makes their capital campaign for cash that much less,” she said.

She added that the new headquarters also allows the organization to be more efficient because it's able to house all of its staff in one location. “They don't have to have things scattered hither and yon.”

Habitat for Humanity focuses on making home ownership possible for families in need. Homes are built with donor contributions, volunteer labor and donated materials. Families who partner with the organization are required to work 350 hours of sweat equity on the homes being built, and their monthly mortgage payments are then used to build more homes.

Last year, Habitat for Humanity of Omaha built 31 homes for families in Omaha. This year, it expects to top that number with 40 or 45.

“I don't know if we could do it without being in the new space,” Brewer said.

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