Parade celebrates nonprofit-church partnership in building Habitat home

Lakeshore Habitat for Humanity, Thrivent Financial, and 22 area churches came together to build a new home for the Morales family. Long-delayed by the COVID-19 shutdown of construction work, the home is ready for the family.

“Even though we all might have some different doctrinal stances, we can come around someone and love them as our neighbor. In turn, we love God in that way, too,” says Nate Schipper, Pastor of Congregational Engagement at Fellowship Reformed Church, one of the lead gift-givers on the project. 

The congregation donated $21,000 and more than 30 volunteers to the effort to bring the Morales family home.

“When it’s not just a check being sent, it’s a relationship that can be formed, too,” Schipper says.

One-float parade

Lakeshore Habitat hosted a parade for the family on July 22, with signs, balloons, and noisemakers to welcome the family to their new Holland home.

The Morales family rode on the Lakeshore Habitat parade float down Columbia Avenue to their new home at 132 E. 37th St., where an outdoor dedication was held.

More than 480 volunteers put in 2,249 hours to build the home for the family. Edwin and Yenifer Morales have four children, ages 16, 7, 5, and 2.

‘New chapter’

“We are excited, happy, and ready for this new chapter with our kids,” Edwin Morales says. “Our three kids will not have to share one room, and we will live in a neighborhood where there are other kids for them to play with. We have actually been visiting the neighborhood two to three times a week to get to know the neighbors and allow our kids to start making friends.
“This home will also bring financial stability and less stress for our family,” he says.

Thrivent, a nonprofit financial services organization, donated $85,000 toward the Morales house. Thrivent is the largest non-governmental supporter of Habitat for Humanity International, donating more than $12 million to projects worldwide in 2019.

“It is such a privilege for us to see what can happen when churches partner together, and with nonprofits, for the sake of the community.” said the Rev. Izzy Rhodes with the Thrivent community engagement team.

Now more than ever

Lakeshore Habitat has built 152 homes since its founding in 1990. For details about local volunteer opportunities or more about Lakeshore Habitat’s mission, visit lakeshorehabitat.org.

“In a time like we are in, it is even more important to provide a safe place for a family to call home,” Lakeshore Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Don Wilkinson says. “We are excited to be able to help the Morales family take a step into homeownership and for the memories they will make in their new home.”

Read more stories about efforts to address Ottawa County's housing issues:

Renters avoid eviction, landlords get back rent with new state program

Nonprofits join forces to tackle affordable housing shortage in Ottawa County

Foundation’s $1.5 million investment targets creation of workforce housing

How collaboration is growing affordable housing in Ottawa County

One vision for adding affordable housing to downtown Holland

From homeless to helping: Holland leader shares his Habitat story

How volunteering helped turn a homeless man’s life around

Emergency housing programs ‘saved my family,’ mom says

Mission takes extra steps to protect homeless from COVID-19

Being homeless during the COVID-19 crisis
Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.