Kim Gollings is a lifelong resident of Urbana. She grew up in the yellow farm house at Meadowbrook Park before the park was developed as we know it today. She met her husband, Ward at the Old Blind Pig where he was booking bands and she was bartending while finishing school at the University of Illinois. They have three boys; Cameron who is working as a financial advisor in Minneapolis, Lukas who is a trombone player and participates in discus and shotput for track at Urbana Middle School, and Caleb who is in third grade at Leal and always outside on his trampoline or playing soccer and baseball. Kim is a mentor with the Champaign-Urbana One-to-One Mentoring program, and has been with her mentee for five years. In her down time (which really isn’t any) she is taking pictures of clients for her photography business, LimeLight Photography, striving to keep her doula certification active, attempting to make it to as many baseball games as she can with her family, and pretends to have a garden in her yard!
See why we think Kim Gollings is a Chambana Mom to Know.
Tell us a little bit about how you came to be involved in Habitat for Humanity in Champaign-Urbana, and what your role is there.
I have always been involved in social justice causes. I spent some time in east Africa and realized how important it was for me to not only be involved globally in social justice, but to get involved at the grass roots level in my community. Habitat for Humanity just makes sense to me in that we all want a decent, affordable place to live where we know our family is safe. I fill a myriad of rolls at Habitat. I recruit, train, and develop our volunteers. You can find me every Saturday at a job site with our Construction Manager building houses next to our partner families and volunteers. I keep our website fresh and current so information is easy to find. You will find me in the community being an advocate for Habitat, our community, our neighbors.
How many homes does Habitat build in Champaign-Urbana per year?
We are excited to be growing in this area. For 2013 we are building four houses and we plan to build at least six in 2014 and 2015. The other exciting news is in 2014 we will be initiating NRI (Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative). NRI is a program where we will be able to perform exterior repair and maintenance to owner occupied homes in targeted neighborhood and assist with energy improvements and weatherization services. We will also continue to offer homeownership education, counseling and policy advocacy. This will allow to continue to build sustainable, energy efficient housing while meeting other needs in neighborhoods.
What does it mean to get a Habitat home, and who generally moves into them?
Habitat offers homeownership opportunities to families who are unable to obtain conventional home financing. A common myth is that Habitat “gives away” or someone just “gets” one of our homes. Because houses are built primarily by volunteers, mortgage payments are kept reasonable for those who may not otherwise be able to obtain a mortgage loan. Our partner families meet the requirements of need, ability to pay, and willingness to partner with Habitat to be eligible for purchasing a home at a 0 % interest.
How long does it take to build a Habitat house, and how many volunteers?
That is such a hard question to answer as volunteers are used in every aspect of our organization. Typically a house will take approximately 16 weeks to build depending on weather and community support. However, 50% of the volunteer work is done before the first nail is ever hammered into a house. Corporations, businesses, churches or civic groups can sponsor a Habitat for Humanity home by donating the funds needed to build all or part of a house. Often their employees or members also provide the labor. This year, two of our homes are being sponsored by local churches: First Mennonite Church and Windsor Road Christian Church both have committed funds as well as volunteer labor. Our ReStore could not operate without our small resilient staff– and the volunteers who help keep us running. The donations to, and purchases made from the ReStore cover our administrative costs. This ensures every dollar donated to Habitat goes directly to build homes! We also have organizations, clubs, and businesses who hold events, raise funds, donate materials and professional services, all before a house can begin to be built.
What can Champaign-Urbana residents do to help and get involved?
We have an amazing community here in Champaign County, and I have witnessed how much they participate and value “giving back”. Volunteers from all walks of life, who are over 18 years of age, can help make a home a reality for a family. We always need volunteers at our builds to work alongside our homeowner-partners who put many hours of “sweat equity” in building their own home. Building experience is not required, just energy, a willingness to learn, and ability to work as part of a team. Habitat provides the tools and materials – volunteers provide the heart. We need your donations all year long at the ReStore. The Habitat ReStore is located in downtown Champaign, along the Boneyard at 119 E. University and is open Tuesday- Saturday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. We welcome donations of household goods, electronics, furniture, small and large appliances. We even offer pickoff and drop off for a nominal fee. Want to be on a committee, volunteer in our ReStore or a house build? We will always find a way for you to be involved. Like us on Facebook as a quick easy way to stay informed! You can register for any upcoming build or shift at the ReStore through our volunteer database: Volunteer Up!
What’s the best thing about working for Habitat for Humanity?
The best thing is definitely the dedication ceremony where families get the keys to their new home right before their official closing. This is the moment where everyone’s hard work through sweat and labor, monetary and goods donations, special events, and advocacy make everything worth it. This is where you see dreams come true. I give witness to our community coming together and saying, “ I do not know you, but your well-being, safety and future matters to me”. Watch the video “For Your Love” written and sung by Habitat for Humanity homeowner Christian Riley. She and every partner family out there is why I am honored to work for Habitat for Humanity Champaign County.
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