Angie's List and Habitat for Humanity help build dream for Indianapolis woman
Lena Allison watched her dreams of homeownership begin to come true as 225 Angie's List employees built the frame and wall panels for her new house during the first part of a nine-week Habitat for Humanity build at the company's Indianapolis headquarters. Allison worked alongside company volunteers, assembling panels that would become the frame of her brand new house on the city's Near Northside.
Allison's two-year journey toward building her home included hours of financial literacy courses and 450 hours of community service, all while she attended college and worked full time at Goodwill. "I feel like 2013 is my year," Allison says, adding that this year she paid off her first car, will own her first home and graduate from Indiana Wesleyan University with an associate's degree in business in October.
The 26-year old currently alternates betwen living at her cousin's apartment and her grandmother's house, and keeps most of her possessions in the trunk of her car. Allison says she began having financial troubles in 2005, when she racked up a sizeable debt while attending Indiana University in Bloomington. Eventually, Allison filed for bankruptcy and moved back to Indianapolis, where she worked in several entry-level positions. "I couldn't live like that anymore," she says. "I made a goal to change my life and didn't let anything get in my way."
As she stood in her future living room on June 7, she told Angie's List volunteers: "This isn't just about me, it's about everyone coming to help me. We are a family now."
Lindsey Koehler, an Angie's List employee and president of the company's Developing Professionals Network — an employee-run program that focuses on fostering leadership, growth and giving back to the local community — says the Habitat build marks the company's largest volunteer initiative to date. "Watching Lena and knowing her story, it's heartwarming to see Angie's List help her make this wish come true," Koehler says.
Angie's List sales representative Ashley Cornacchione says she enjoys volunteering for the Julian Center and the Boy Scouts outside of work, so when organizers asked for captains to direct her colleagues through the build, she welcomed the opportunity. "Giving back is one of the best things you can do for others," she says. "This house will truly make a difference for Lena."
Abri Hochstetler, a spokeswoman for Habitat for Humanity, says the turnout of Angie's List volunteers impressed her. "It's important that homeowners like Lena know that others besides Habitat care about their futures," she says. "This project is huge for the community."
Hochstetler says after the build, volunteers transported the assembled panels and framing to Lena's new property, located near 30th and Broadway in the Mapleton/ Fall Creek neighborhood of Indianapolis. Beginning next week, volunteers from across the city will spend the next nine weeks helping to complete the two-story, three-bedroom home, Hochstetler says.
Angie's List continues to accept donations of household items for Allison's new home and facilitate additional opportunities for employees to help build the house, says Aubrey Mullins, employee communications liaison at Angie's List. "With all the employees that came out for this philanthropic event, we'll definitely do another Habitat build next year," Mullins says.
Allison says she felt humbled by all the support and kindness she received from company employees. "This is a day me and all these Angie's List volunteers will remember forever," Allison says.