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Great News! Donor Advised Giving, A New Way To Make A Win-Win Charitable Difference

Greetings Abōd® Shelters Friends!

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director Ginny@abodshelters.com

May I share a short story? Today was not my typical day. I usually really enjoy donating my time to Abod Shelters Foundation no matter what challenges we encounter. I am wired to tackle tough problems and overcome them. I feel blessed to be sharing this mission with a special group of volunteers with such character and commitment, as it keeps me joyful and smiling because I have seen the real benefits of our labor in the faces of the women and children who benefit from living in their first stable home – an Abod. However, today I came upon some pain points stemming from the complexities of directing our daily efforts, I found myself unable to muster a smile.

The act of lighting a candle and saying a prayer of thankfulness can usually jump start my positive spirit so I went about doing so while pondering over an issue while sitting in my home office waiting for the transformation to take effect. My husband passed my door to take a short walk to our mail box and returned offering me an envelope, handwritten, addressed to me. Hmmmm… Today, very few people send paper letters so I wondered who it might be from as no return address was apparent.

With my favorite letter opener in hand, I gently edged the seal to find a lovely handwritten note. Surprisingly, enclosed was a check written to Abōd Shelters® Foundation with a very generous donation figure. Well that melted my heart in a moment! My frown turned upside down into a big smile.  It is an unexpected gesture of selfless giving like this that rocks my world. It was a sign of encouragement from on high when I needed it most. Acts of kindness like this do inspire me to continue to fight the good fight for those poverty-stricken women and children who need and deserve safe, secure shelter to have a reasonable lifestyle.

While taking a short break from building we came across children standing against their mud home in a nearby village. Photo credit to Teresa Choi.

Thank you to the special donor who sent it. They know who they are if they are reading this. Your act urged me to write this post now rather than wait for another day.

Working together building 10 Abod’s in 10 days in Tanzania.

At Abōd Shelters® Foundation I often feel I cannot say THANK YOU to our generous donors enough for their financial gifts. We have two very valuable donor groups that are the lifeblood of our nonprofit work. My heartfelt appreciation goes out to our long-standing donors as they keep both ongoing and start up projects funded. At the same time, I am encouraged by the new donors who have come into our community over the past year by way of various fundraisers we are hosting. These good-hearted people add new ideas to our efforts, energy to our activities and motivate us to keep moving forward with our mission. I do believe all these individuals are Angels of Mercy who are sent to us to make sure we keep the spirit alive.

Here is the great news. For those of you who currently are donating your hard-earned treasure to causes you are passionate about which are operated by Foundation’s like ours, there is now an innovative way to do it that is gaining attention that I want to make you aware of. I for one wish I had been informed of it in 2016, but now that I am aware of how its functions I certainly will activate it in 2017 as I personally donate to Abōd Shelters® Foundation.

Nonprofits are now working to ensure that donors have a say in where their money goes and that their donations have the maximum impact. The concept is called Donor–advised Giving via Donor-advised Funds.

Each philanthropic organization like Abōd Shelters® Foundation, works with donors in its own way, but several utilize donor- advised funds, established at public charities. They have become the fastest growing charitable giving vehicle, now accounting for more than 3 per cent of charitable giving in the United States. They offer tax benefits and allow donors oversight of how money is dispensed. To provide insight on how they work, I sourced the primer from the National Philanthropic Trust:

  • The donor makes a irrevocable gift to the fund. For example, it could be cash or proceeds from sold stock
  • The donor immediately receives the maximum tax deduction under IRS rules
  • The donor names advisors, successors or charitable beneficiaries connected to the fund
  • The gift is placed into the fund account, where it can be invested and grow, free of tax
  • The donor can allocate money from the fund at any point to be used as a grant to qualified charities

If you are interested in learning more about Donor –advised Giving via Donor Advised Funds you can contact your personal financial advisor, your family accountant or reach out to me about how you can participate with Abōd Shelters® Foundation in this manner.

Our ambition at Abōd Shelters® is to offer our donors transparency into where their gifts are going. You can participate with us in many ways that will give you the peace of mind that your donation is being used effectively to change lives. For example Chris Gardner, Founder of Bella Homes, can tell you exactly where his donation went because he looked in the faces of the children who are now living in a suitable home – he built the Abōd Shelters® with his own hands along with his team from their company.

Now that I have shared this great news with you, my spirit is fully restored.

In heartfelt service,

Ginny Shiverdecker
Executive Director

Everyone pitches in on getting the frames up and siding started including myself, Ginny Shiverdecker.


There are many options for private individuals, companies, schools, churches and other organizations to partner with us and make a real difference. Check out how to Partner With Us or simply connect to Ginny Shiverdecker at ginny@abodshelters.comYou may also donate to build an Abōd.


Great News! Donor Advised Giving, A New Way To Make A Win-Win Charitable Difference
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Introducing Abod Shelters ‘Mission to Build Better Lives’ Adventure Trips to Africa

Greetings Abōd® Shelters Friends!

Thanks so much to the Abōd Shelters® build volunteers, STEMM team and Rob Marish at Keystone Pictures for all of the pictures!

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director Ginny@abodshelters.com

Destination Tanzania marks the launch of our Abod Shelters ‘Mission to Build Better Lives’ Adventure Trip Experiences. In early January, a diverse group of volunteers with shared purpose, endured 24 hours of travel to partake in a unique opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the Maasai Tribe located in a remote village of Mbuguni.

A trip of this nature is close to my heart. An Adventure Travel offering to do good is something we felt could become a hallmark of involvement in the Abōd Shelters® Foundation, a catalyst for creating a special bond amongst our donor and volunteer community. I had the chance to witness this engagement unfold on this recent magical mission trip dedicated to building our first Abod Micro Village for our newest NGO partner, STEMM.org – a medical ministry with a 20-year record of credibility in the region.

As partners, we agreed to set an extreme challenge; to build 10 Abods in 10 days as a dramatic way to prove the Abōd Shelters® value proposition. Abōd homes can be built faster, better, cheaper than traditional block housing in Africa. This endeavor demonstrates, for NGO’s interested in building structures, that by embracing the Abōd Shelters® way together we can deliver a more satisfying solution for all parties involved. It is a winning project for;

  • the NGO who desires to provide the shelters,
  • for the local tribe’s families, women and children who are beneficiaries of the Abōds,
  • for the local leaders of the tribe and community where they can see tangible, lasting outcomes in service to their people and,
  • for our Abod Shelters Foundation leaders and volunteers who set out to provide this unique humanitarian design to help improve the living conditions of one third of the world’s underserved population living under the poverty lines.

It is in striking the right balance of good outcomes for all we value most.

For volunteers who want to know more, our Abōd Shelters® Mission Adventure Trips are designed to deliver a memorable experience in three important ways:

  1. Purposeful Platform: A scalable building project offering hands-on experience assembling Abōds while being part of a team constructing an entire micro village of Abōds.
  2. Authentic Experience in Local Africa Culture: Not only seeing the beautiful landscape but also experiencing the tastes, arts, music and natural world in specific countries like Ghana, Tanzania, Zambia and areas of South Africa. It can include Safari’s, Urban Market Shopping, Hunting Adventures or Exotic Surf Beach Excursions and more.
  3. Right Atmosphere: Chances to forge new relationships and bonding with people from different walks of life who share common values. Because being a part of something needed that is long-lasting for someone else’s benefit, opens hearts.

Some trips will take the experience to the next level as this one did. The excitement on this Abōd Shelters® ‘Mission to Build Better Lives’ Adventure Trip to Africa was enhanced by having Celebrity Ty Pennington (of Extreme Makeover fame) who is also our Goodwill Ambassador join our Team of Volunteers.

To us, Ty is a ‘Prince of a Guy’! Not only did Ty and his manager help raise funds to build 5 of the homes in the Abōd Micro Village but Ty also joined us because he too wanted to have the hands-on experience of building Abōds and work side by side with our volunteers.

All work and no play does not feed the soul. Ty and our volunteers set building time line goals and when we met the team’s self-imposed deadlines we balanced work time with play time. Indeed, the building goals were met so we headed out for an African Adventure Part 2: Safari Tanzania Style featuring Tarengeri Reserve. With the help of Duma Explorer escorting us and providing the entire safari tour, we trucked two Land Rovers one hour deep into the reserve for an overnight stay at Balloon Tent Camp where the next day’s grand tour of the animal kingdom took place.

We were thrilled as we arrived into the park just before it closed. As we ventured deep into the reserve, animals that were migrating to watering holes came across our dirt trail thrilling us with their close-proximity. Darkness fell just as we arrived at the campgrounds.  Our camp hosts offered a very welcoming reception where we checked in and were given the camp tent accommodations and dinner plans for the night. Lovely, comfortable tents with all the right amenities were home for the night. As this is open range for the animals, we were escorted to and from our tents for dinner. We enjoyed cocktails and wine around a roaring campfire where we relaxed and gazed into the brilliantly twinkling night sky. The dinner bell chimed calling us to enjoy the well-appointed buffet dinner. Laughter abounded into the night as we exchanged stories and played games to get to know each other better. Midnight passed and we all decided the magic spell of the evening required sleep as we would be up at 6:30 am for breakfast and safari. Morning came quickly but it had been a restful night even if it was just for a few short hours.

Words cannot describe the brilliance of the 10-hour day we spent together among these rare and beautiful animals in their natural habitat. The landscape was as interesting and breath taking as the animals themselves. I was especially taken by the magnificence of the trees; the romantic shapes and their sheer scope and size are burned into my brain. It captured my heart with a lifetime of memories especially because I experienced it with my Abōd Community.

Everyone raved about our play day as another dimension of the trip. A quote from Will Johnston, Founder Tiny Home Atlanta Association who joined us on his first mission trip:

I am forever changed by this experience. I would have never guessed it could be so amazing and I would meet such interesting people I now calls friends for life.

What more can be said after that? Won’t you consider joining us on one of our next trips? Contact me at ginny@abodshelters.com if you want to become part of our Abōd Community.


In heartfelt service,

Ginny Shiverdecker
Executive Director


There are many options for private individuals, companies, schools, churches and other organizations to partner with us and make a real difference. Check out how to Partner With Us or simply connect to Ginny Shiverdecker at ginny@abodshelters.comYou may also donate to build an Abōd.

Introducing Abod Shelters ‘Mission to Build Better Lives’ Adventure Trips to Africa
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Part 2: Tanzania Abod Shelters Micro Village Build Accomplished with Bella Homes Volunteer Teamwork!

Greetings Abōd® Shelters Friends!

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director Ginny@abodshelters.com

Filled with anticipation for what was to come I took the 30 hours of travel time bound for Kilimanjaro, Tanzania in stride, but each passing mile fueled my energy levels.

Building our first Micro Village in Tanzania is a big dream come true with the help of Souixland Tanzania Educational Medical Ministries (STEMM) who provided us the opportunity to make it happen. Not only would we be building seven shelters as homes for the organization’s dedicated local Maasai workers, we were also building their first Birthing Center at the small hospital in Mbuguni and two Abod’s as Teacher’s Housing at the local school located between the hospital and the STEMM campus.

This would mean building 10 Abod’s in 10 days! This is the result of over one year of dreaming of the possibility and six months of diligent planning in collaboration with Dr. Steve Meyer and his wife Dana along with Tanzania campus director Diane Bannister and husband Tim.  Now the process was set in motion to make it happen. No turning back now.

It was an ambitious undertaking yet we felt it was time to prove that the premise of the Abōd Shelters® Lifestyle Village could be delivered faster, better, cheaper than traditional housing.  It would call for a dramatic demonstration to prove our product offering and service model.

We stepped out of our comfort zone to set a BHAG – Big Harry Audacious Goal!  Now we needed to make it happen.  Having worked in the creative industry for most of my career, I experienced time and again the many challenges of major productions around the world – starting with a vision on paper, then making it real for the world on deadline, is hard work yet rewarding. But doing it professionally is one thing. Doing it for an NGO where financial measures are always at play is a challenge that would call for patience, courage, team work and donors who believe in our purpose to democratize housing for the worlds neediest populations.

Our Bella Homes Volunteers from Huxley, IA USA with Ginny Shiverdecker, Abod Shelters Foundation Executive DIrector.

Bella Homes Volunteers taking a quick break while building one of the Birthing Centers.

This is our first Mission trip of such magnitude. We wanted everyone to have a meaningful and memorable trip with the right balance of work and play. It is our goal to set the right tone with anyone who volunteers to join an Abōd Shelters® build. A total of 30 people came together around this project with most meeting for the first time. This coupled with unfamiliar locations, celebrity guest, Ty Pennington our Ambassador, joining the build along with talented video production people would call for major focus and juggling of priorities. I am up for it, now worries.

As I flew over the Atlantic Ocean from Atlanta to Amsterdam, sleep eluded me. Many unanswerable questions rolled around in my head:

  • Would everyone on this mission trip make it to the STEMM Campus without delay?
  • Would they embrace their new team mates long enough to get the job done?
  • Would all the vital materials be there on time as one container was delayed in port?
  • Would the locals embrace working with our team on the Abod’s and take to the type of work?
  • Would there be time for a safari adventure for the people coming to Africa for the first time?

These are the large trucks leaving Johannesburg, Africa with the shipping containers full of Abōd Shelters® destined for Tanzania!

Two completed homes that will be used by teachers for the local school.

Through experience we know the saying TIA – This Is Africa. No matter how well you plan contingencies, things move forward with very different methods and timing than we Americans are accustomed to.

Our Foundation Chairman, Doug Vander Weide with Valiant Wealth, and I worked together closely to organize the many aspects of the build with our hosts.  We already know these are tremendous people at STEMM who have achieved great things over their 20 years of work to help Tanzania. So with great heart, can-do spirit and a belief that anything is possible, we let go and let God guide us.

Once I arrived and met everyone face to face, my questions began to dissolve into thin air. This was a diverse group of people coming from all walks of life, yet we shared a common bond around our belief in Abod’s purpose. The Abod could have a transformative effect on the country of Tanzania. It is a point of pride for everyone present to build the first Micro Village to support Dr. Steve Meyer and his wife Dana to honor their past, present and future endeavors to help. Every volunteer brought their best self to the experience and a willingness to do whatever it took to get the job done. Everyone was ready to do their part to build 10 Abods in 10 days. Once we started working, the project built momentum and carried through to a successful completion.

Abod’s being built on the STEMM Campus for teachers and workers with the help of Ty Pennington.

An aerial picture of some of the Abod’s built on the STEMM Campus for teachers and workers.

In this post, I would like to give a special shout out to Chris Gardner, Founder of Bella Executive Homes in Huxley, IA USA and his partner Mark DeYoung who funded the way for their amazing professional team of building experts to help get the job done.

It’s the good heart, talent and hard work of the volunteers that made the building of 10 Abod’s in 10 days successful.

My heartfelt THANK YOU to these great guys and new friends:

  • Barry Engelman
  • Dan Overman
  • Grant Tjemagel
  • Jordan Ries-Wandry
  • Mark DeYoung
  • Chris Gardner

They not only worked full days, they even took on a covert late night trip to stage the right materials before the last morning building to make sure we could get the last two Abod’s ready for the next day’s ribbon cutting and handing over of the keys.  Now that is commitment! These great guys were an answer to my prayers!

Abōd Shelters® friends, do come back soon to hear more stories about how this amazing Tanzania experience of great people coming together to do great things unfolded.


In heartfelt service,

Ginny Shiverdecker
Executive Director


There are many options for private individuals, companies, schools, churches and other organizations to partner with us and make a real difference. Check out how to Partner With Us or simply connect to Ginny Shiverdecker at ginny@abodshelters.comYou may also donate to build an Abōd.

Part 2: Tanzania Abod Shelters Micro Village Build Accomplished with Bella Homes Volunteer Teamwork!
read more

Ten Abods To Be Completed in Ten Days in Tanzania with STEMM and Ty Pennington

Greetings Abōd® Shelters Friends!

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director Ginny@abodshelters.com

Taking part in another Abod Shelters adventure is an incredible way to start the New Year! I find myself writing this from the Atlanta International Airport and am grateful to Delta for offering Wi-Fi before I board the flight to Amsterdam and then on to Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. This adventure goes beyond the customary experience to the uncustomary.

For our avid Abod Shelters Followers, you may recall back in July, I shared a story, ‘New Partnership Blossoms: Abod Shelters Foundation and STEMM in Tanzania’ about Siouxland Tanzania Educational Medical Ministries (STEMM) who we are partnering with on a build starting this week.

PARTNERSHIP BACKGROUND 

The STEMM organization has a medical mission and children’s home that operates in a small village called Mbuguni (Pronounced “buh-goonie”), near Arusha, Tanzania. 2017 marks the 20th Anniversary of Dr. Steve Meyer and his wife Dana’s first visit when they were inspired to make a difference. With the support of the local people and political influencer named Lazaro, whom Dr. Meyer met at a college in Sioux City, Iowa, STEMM has made an incredible impact on the Maasai people – especially the women and children.

Doug Vander Weide, Chairman of Abod Shelters Foundation, and Dr. Meyer forged a relationship based on shared values of our board missions. Doug made a trip to the STEMM campus back in June to work through the possible opportunity for a partnership.

Mbuguni, location marked with a red star, is in northern Tanzania just southeast of Arusha.

The STEMM campus was growing so the leaders were at a point where they needed to provide more housing for teachers, caretakers, agri-workers and the people who operate the campus.

As our organizations collaborated it became apparent that Abod Shelters could offer them a faster, more sustainable and affordable solution than traditional block housing.  Dr. Meyer and our Doug felt it was a match made in heaven when they met and set in motion the plans to build an Abod Shelters Village in January 2017.

So much has happened between then and now. As we outlined the build possibilities it became apparent that this would be no ordinary experience.

2017 TANZANIA BUILD BEGINS THIS WEEK

Ty Pennington, Abod Shelters Foundation Celebrity Ambassador

To me actions speak louder than words. Ty Pennington continues to show his deep caring heart by his deeds to help us democratize housing for the worlds neediest people.

In addition to his fundraising efforts, “Ty is hoping to turn (the construction of the housing) into a new television series,” Dr Meyer explained.

Project Build Overview

  • To demonstrate the innovative nature of Abod Shelters, the project will include building 10 Abod’s in 10 days with a team of 30. This has never been done before. The building project begins this week, January 4th 2017.
  • Ty Pennington raised funds in 2016 to build the first Abod Shelters Micro Village. Five of the Abod homes will be a result of Ty’s donation. He is especially excited to do this as our Goodwill Ambassador.
  • To take his commitment to Abod even further, Ty is joining us in building the Abod Shelters with some of his friends. We have a talented video crew joining us who will be filming the experience. Stay tuned as he will be sharing the results of this experience with the public soon!

ALSO BUILDING BIRTHING CENTER

One of the biggest outcomes of the positive conversations about the opportunity to serve the Maasai people is the identification of a way to utilize the Abod Shelter as a Clinical Birthing Center.

We had our first experience creating this environment in Asikuma, Ghana with great success in 2016. The below pictures show one of the birthing centers. Far left: The assembly crew is finishing the construction process. Middle: The inside with 2 birthing beds, curtains for privacy and a full bathroom in the back with plumbing and water availability. Far right: the birthing center is back to back with the home that the nurse midwife stays in while she is on rotation.

Dr. Meyer indicated the desire to adopt the same concept for Tanzania. Here is why; According to UNICEF “close to 8000 women die every year during pregnancy and child birth as a result of conditions that could have been prevented or treated.” Mid-wifery is the acceptable practice which has been in place for centuries although it is not progressing at the rate of medical advances in the developed world.

After witnessing the results in Ghana with the addition of the Birthing Center it became apparent that with an organized system of Birthing Centers as well as progressive education for the local mid wives many women could be saved during pregnancy and childbirth. The result? We are building our first Abod Birthing Center in Tanzania.

This is just the first step for Abod in Tanzania with the support of caring people like Dr. Steve and Dana Meyer.  Once we understand the culture and the people better we will work side by side with the Maasai people to offer the stability, safety and security like the Abod can provide. We will be adding more homes to the village over the next 6 months and welcome your support.

YOUR SUPPORT IS STILL NEEDED

If you wish to help the Abod Shelters Village expand in Tanzania or help us add more Birthing Centers to reduce the death rate, please go to Abod Shelters to donate. Your donation will make a big difference in the lives of women and their children.

Stay tuned: More to come when I land in Kilamanjaro, Tanzania and be sure to follow our adventure on Twitter!  #TyAbodBuild.


In heartfelt service,

Ginny Shiverdecker
Executive Director


There are many options for private individuals, companies, schools, churches and other organizations to partner with us and make a real difference. Check out how to Partner With Us or simply connect to Ginny Shiverdecker at ginny@abodshelters.comYou may also donate to build an Abōd.

Ten Abods To Be Completed in Ten Days in Tanzania with STEMM and Ty Pennington
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Abōd Shelters Foundation Debuts in Florida at Valiant Wealth Fundraiser

Greetings Abōd® Shelters Friends!

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director Ginny@abodshelters.com

‘Tis the season. Magic happens when hearts align around a cause that rings true and demonstrates tangible impact on lives of those who suffer in severe poverty.
This magical feeling permeated the air at The Woods, Harbourside in Jupiter Thursday evening December 1st. Entrepreneurs, business owners and medical professionals gathered for the first Florida Valiant Wealth Africa Philanthropy Mixer for Abod Shelters Foundation. It thrilled me to see this event unfold.

Doug Vander Weide, Founder, Valiant Wealth and event sponsor, also Chairman of the Abod Shelters Foundation welcomed guests. He was joined by Paul Hassebroek, his partner. Doug’s remarks explained the Foundation’s purpose to be first to democratize housing for the worlds neediest populations, as over 4 billion people live in below poverty conditions, a worldwide epidemic.

I believe Abōd helped sparked the trendy tiny home movement. Its distinctive design based on the catenary arch, connects emotionally with people from all parts of the world.

From left to right: Doug Vander Weide, Ginny Shiverdecker and Paul Hassebroek 

The design is the result of a competition among architects of BSB Design, a nationally recognized firm of residential and commercial developments. The promise of this humanitarian design is Abōd Shelters: One House, One Family, One Day. The Abōd is delivered as a kit, is proven to be 50% cheaper, 80% faster to build and lasts 100% longer than traditional block housing.

The Abōd is quite versatile. Abōd Villages are established in partnership with NGO’s in a growing number of Africa locations, like Zambia where Abōds are devoted to dormitories for high school age students and housing for teachers. In Ghana, Abōd homes are built for working families at a fish farm enterprise on Lake Volta, Asikuma. In Limpopo, Abōds serve as homes and classrooms for children, teachers and caretakers.

The ‘Invitation Only’ event was created to raise funds for an Abōd Medical Center Surgery and Birthing Centers (they refer to them as Theaters) in the heart of a Abōd Tiny Home Village planned in Mbuguni, Tanzania operated by Siouxland Tanzania Educational Medical Ministries (STEMM). The project breaks ground in January 2017. Guests generously donated after hearing the real stories of how Abōd projects positively impact children and women’s lives. As Valiant Wealth Director of Development and Abōd Shelters Foundation’s Executive Director offered this message: The birthing center is the first step toward saving lives as over 8,000 women die during child birth in Tanzania every year. By providing clinical settings and educating Maasai women to elevated midwifery practices, we can change the death rate and help prevent the high degree of cerebral palsy in children who are born in such poor conditions.  Watch for more on STEMM in next week’s post as we head to Tanzania after Christmas.

Tesla offers tours of the Model X along with the Model S for guests to experience.

To enhance the authentic African fun factor participants toured the highly sought after Tesla Models S and X with product specialists. Tesla is founded by South African born Elon Musk.

To help bring the Abōd Village concept to life, guests could try on the Oculus Rift Virtual Reality Glasses to see how Abōd can be designed as classrooms, homes or medical facilities.

The personal stories and activities inspired guests to participate in the African Silent Auction featuring artisan jewelry, South African wine, tribal paintings, a sculpture and one of a kind hand craft creations.

In addition, guests were offered the chance to win an Abōd Shelters African Adventure Trip for two with Ty Pennington of Extreme Makeover fame, for a once in a lifetime learn, build and safari experience. Pennington signed on as Goodwill Ambassador two years ago believing the cause meaningful and to help build awareness.

When I was asked if there would be a future event, I said, “Absolutely!” Our intent is to start a conversation around our mission and make connections to build a community of like-minded people who care passionately about providing women and children stability that comes with better living conditions. We received tremendous feedback on the quality of experience and raised funds to build and furnish a desperately needed Birthing Center. This enthusiastic response encourages us to create the next Valiant Philanthropy Experience for Abōd Shelters projects. Stay tuned for the next event announcement.

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director Abod Shelters Foundation sharing story of building tiny homes in Africa with guests at The Woods, Harbourside in Jupiter.

Iris Melecio participates in the Door Prizes and Silent Auction Fundraising Gift Collection.

From left to right: Kelly and Tom Callahan , Jermey Oxer, Bob Harbour, Heather Oxer

To donate to build a Birthing Center or one of the homes for this project, visit our donation page at Abod Shelters. Any amount will be helpful.

There are many options for private individuals, companies, schools, churches and other organizations to partner with us and make a real difference. Check out how to Partner With Us or simply connect to Ginny Shiverdecker at ginny@abodshelters.comYou may also donate to build an Abōd.


In heartfelt service,

Ginny Shiverdecker
Executive Director


Abōd Shelters Foundation Debuts in Florida at Valiant Wealth Fundraiser
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Philanthropy Day Is November 15th: Saluting People Who Change the World With a Giving Heart

Greetings Abōd® Shelters Friends!

Phi-lan-thro-py: Greek origin – philanthropia – love of humankind

Noun: Altruistic concern for human welfare and advancement, usually manifested by donations of money, resources, or work to needy persons.The practice of giving time and money to help make life better for other people.

Synonyms: Generosity, altruism, social conscience, magnanimity, humanity, kindness, compassion, benevolence, charity.

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director Ginny@abodshelters.com

Philanthropy – what a beautiful word so full of promise and positive energy. It is not uncommon post our national presidential election, to experience a feeling of optimism no matter the outcome. To me, it is the perfect time to express gratitude for our freedom and way of life. I recently visited the website of the National Philanthropy Day® (NPD) and was inspired by the information they provide and wanted to share some of the background of this impactful day with you.

You can actively support National Philanthropy Day® (NPD) on November 15th – the day thousands of people around the world come together to both: (1) put that word into action and (2) recognize the change that word has brought to our communities.

From the National Philanthropy Day® Official Website:

NPD is a celebration of philanthropy; giving, volunteering and charitable engagement that highlights the accomplishments, large and small, that philanthropy and all those involved in the philanthropic process, makes to our society and our world. National Philanthropy Day® is both an official day and a grassroots movement.

Every year, since 1986 when President Ronald Reagan first proclaimed November 15th as National Philanthropy Day®, communities across the globe have celebrated by hosting events to recognize activities of donors, volunteers, foundations, leaders, corporations, and others engaged in philanthropy. Since that first NPD, participation has grown year after year.

Today it has become a platform for charitable work that EVERYONE does to make a difference and create impact in their communities. Whether you’re a donor or a volunteer (or both!), young or old, no matter how much you give or what causes you support; what you do from the heart makes a difference!

To that end, this coming November 15th is the day I wish to salute YOU: All of the caring and generous people who compose the Abōd Shelters® Community of Supporters.

There are so many people who have touched our mission and forever change us for the better:

  • All the talented associates within BSB Design  – fondly referred to as BSB Nation, the original creators of Abōd Shelters® for their ongoing engagement and support.
  • Valiant Wealth Family Office & Financial Advisors for their leadership and generosity.
  • Our committed Abōd Shelters® Foundation Board of Directors  who I am honored to work with every day.
  • Our dedicated Abōd Shelters® Manufacturer in Johannesburg, South Africa – HMR Homes for embracing the possibilities of Abod’s role in improving lives of Africans everywhere.
  • Our trusted NGO partners who put Abod to work in service that transforms real lives.
  • Ty Pennington Abōd Shelters® Goodwill Ambassador for his creative leadership, talent and time to help us spread the word about of Mission to democratize housing.
  • The EPICS professors and students at Purdue University who challenge us.
  • Our generous donors – companies, sponsors, families and individuals who are true believers.
  • All the devoted volunteers who answer the call of service – we have so much fun.
  • The spouses and partners of our givers who sacrifice their loved one’s time for us.
  • Finally, those of you out there who have yet to discover Abōd Shelters® but are destined to do so. We await meeting you with open arms.

Chris Korte, Steve Cashman and Matthew Sharp assembling one of the arches to a home that was built for a granny and her grandchildren on Del Cramer Campus through Blessman Ministries in Mokopane, South Africa.

Local women relaxing and enjoying their accomplishment of building an entire Abod in one day on their own as a prototype for the South African Government.

THANK YOU for having a giving heart of your time, talents, spirit and energy. The journey would never be as much fun, successful or rewarding without you!

May the way these special people live their lives through acts of philanthropy be an inspiration to others to get involved. It takes one small step forward to experience a new world of meaningful connections, happiness and satisfaction. I thank my lucky stars every day to be amidst such quality individuals.

The NPD website highlights the extraordinary work of donors and volunteers around the world every day. The site will feature finalists in the National Philanthropy Day Honors program. More than 70 video nominations were received in six categories: Philanthropist, Volunteer Fundraiser, Corporation, Foundations and Youth in Philanthropy (Youth and Individual). The public is asked to vote on the nominees who most impacted their communities and the world. A group of judges choose the final honoree in each category, who will be recognized at the National Philanthropy Day Honors program in New York City in November. You will find great stories on ways to give more effectively and profiles of unique and inspiring philanthropists… just like you!

In closing, I would like to also applaud the efforts of the National Philanthropy Day operating team for their efforts to increase public interest and awareness of the importance of philanthropy, as well as knowledge on giving, volunteering and engagement at the charitable level so people can practice EFFECTIVE philanthropy.

Doug Vander Weide and son, DJ, finishing the loft on the Abod built for the fish farm on Lake Volta in Eastern Ghana through Acts 2 Collective.

New Abod Built via Blessman Ministries with one of the builders and the new homeowner, Talent.

Thank you for all you do to build trust in what NGO’s do to made a difference in the world.


In heartfelt service,

Ginny Shiverdecker
Executive Director


There are many options for private individuals, companies, schools, churches and other organizations to partner with us and make a real difference. Check out how to Partner With Us or simply connect to Ginny Shiverdecker at ginny@abodshelters.comYou may also donate to build an Abōd.

Philanthropy Day Is November 15th: Saluting People Who Change the World With a Giving Heart
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Meet Apricot Lane Farms, Setting the Pace in Modern Traditional Farming

Photo credit goes to Apricot Lane Farms, John and Molly Chester.

Greetings Abōd® Shelters Friends!

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director Ginny@abodshelters.com

One thing leads to another, right? I was introduced recently to Apricot Lane Farms through a friend of Abod Shelters, Will Johnston, founder of Tiny House Atlanta. He knows a great couple who have spent vacation time working with the innovative directors at the farm.

Kevin Bates, a Sales Executive with IBM with a passion for being in the countryside of beautiful Southern California, specifically likes to get his hands into farming because it brings him outdoors and closer to nature. This brought him to Apricot Lane Farms, the dreamscape of Molly and John Chester, a husband and wife team, who left their job titles of ‘documentary filmmaker’ and ‘private chef’ to become farmers and pursue their vision of starting Apricot Lane Farms in 2011.

In December 2015 they welcomed their first son, Beauden, into the family. Molly is an old school chum of Kevin’s. Hope you followed the introduction links.

The Chester’s are a unique, highly spirited couple who are the modern architects of a traditional foods farm. They each bring passion and perspective to the farm’s development and direction that is capturing the imagination of more and more people. In fact, they have even attracted the attention of The Queen of Network TV, Oprah, who now features short segments about Apricot Lane Farms on the O Network each Sunday. It’s a sign they are doing something right.

Molly and John Chester, Owners of Apricot Lane Farms

Their farm is located in the natural, rich environment of Simi Valley California, along the southern portion of California’s Coast. Interestingly, the farm is just 40 miles north of Downtown Los Angeles and 20 miles east of Ventura in Moorpark, CA. It is worth a visit to Apricot Lane Farm’s charming website as it explains the special world they are creating. Check out their Films and Photos too.

The Chester’s Farming Team have been charged with the mission of creating a well-balanced ecosystem and rich soils that produce nutrient-dense foods while treating the environment and the animals with respect.

The Farm’s residents include pigs, goats, sheep, chickens, ducks, guinea hens, horses, highland cattle, and one brown Swiss dairy cow named “Maggie.” The land consists of Biodynamic Certified avocado and lemon orchards, a vegetable garden, pastures, and over 75 varieties of stone fruit.

To inspire you further, here is a new twist, they want to encourage you to experience firsthand as they love to share the farm with you. You can experience farm life by visiting, volunteering in the garden, becoming a culinary intern or even a film intern.

It is because they are expanding such opportunities on the farm, that they are exploring the possibility of using our Abod Shelters solution to provide tiny guest homes for the growing number of visitors to the farm. Abod’s can be easily rotated around the farm and can be arranged in small pods or ‘tiny villages’ to encourage interaction between the guests who come to work on the farm for various periods of time.

We’ve discovered thus far, that we share similar values of putting humanity first, committing to sustainability and a ‘less is more’ philosophy. So if all things line up right we may be seeing a rainbow of Abod homes on the landscape of Apricot Lane Farms in the near future.

I salute Molly and John Chester for their courage and commitment to pursuing their dreams while transforming our view of farming in our current world in ways that benefit mankind.


In heartfelt service,

Ginny Shiverdecker
Executive Director


There are many options for private individuals, companies, schools, churches and other organizations to partner with us and make a real difference. Check out how to Partner With Us or simply connect to Ginny Shiverdecker at ginny@abodshelters.comYou may also donate to build an Abōd.

Meet Apricot Lane Farms, Setting the Pace in Modern Traditional Farming
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Living with Hurricane Matthew Where Fear Meets Gratitude

Greetings Abōd® Shelters Friends!

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director Ginny@abodshelters.com

Surviving Hurricane Matthew is a memory that will linger for a long time to come for me. Here on the eastern coast line of Florida the storm blew in unanticipated effects. In the aftermath we are compelled to take a few steps back to refocus, rethink and reframe our view of life.

As the hurricane approached, I was thinking about a local news headline I had just read about homeless children on the Florida coast. My heart sank as I thought about the level of deep fear these children must feel at a time like this. What would they do for protection?

Working for the Abōd Shelters® Foundation, I have been researching the growing homeless situation in our country. The statistics are staggering. Yet in an election year the issue of our growing homeless population across America has gone unaddressed.

According to the Covenant House, every year, more than 2 million kids in America will face a period of homelessness. In addition, children who lack a stable home are vulnerable to a number of adverse outcomes. Some threats, such as poverty and hunger, may precede episodes of homelessness; others stem directly from living without a home. Homeless children are more likely than other children to have moderate to severe acute and chronic health problems, and less access to medical and dental care. Read more information at Child Trends.

Photo credit to: Getty Images, blog by Kevin M Ryan, President and CEO, Covenant House

For 7 days last week I felt the real fear of losing our home. My husband and I recently relocated from Tampa, to the Stuart area, north of Palm Beach, Florida, to be closer to our dear family members.

We just became fully settled into our newly constructed house. We especially love our enclosed patio with seating and dining to make it an inviting tropical atmosphere for family and friends.

It seemed a cruel twist of fate as we watched the machinations of Hurricane Matthew forcefully make its way off the African Coast. Creating devastation to Haiti and resulting in hundreds of deaths, it then turned toward Cuba. It was predicted that it would turn due north toward Florida’s East Coast with a trajectory moving it further up to the Carolina Coast and impacting millions of people. It had been 10 years since any storm of this magnitude found its way here. I felt chills running down my spine.

Personally experiencing a storm of this magnitude was a first for me. The storm was nothing less than surreal. The range of emotions are indescribable and even to this moment I am still processing it all.

Once we began to realize the situation was REAL we took stock and mobilized. Making plans helped us feel in control to a degree and then physically getting ready helped us deal with the inevitable. What did we need to do? We had less than three days to prepare. The weather forecast was full of ferocious predictions that it would hit land here – likely right where we live!

Things you never think about surface like; What if my life or those of my loved ones is threatened? What if the severe winds and rain inflict intense damage or even worse, we lose our home completely?

As we were mobilizing in our neighborhood I witnessed others do the same. The stores were over run with people. My hubby and I faced the crowds to stock up on provisions to last us for a while. Why? The loss of electricity would be the biggest issue. One does not know how long we would go without.

Photo from EUMETSAT

https://www.ready.gov/hurricanes explains what actions to take when you receive a hurricane watch or warning alert from the National Weather Service for your local area. It also provides tips on what to do before, during, and after a hurricane.

Once we accomplished this task we moved on. What did we need to do to protect the house? I brushed away the sadness to be productive. Thankfully, we did not need to put up protective shutters because our home was built with major storm protection in mind. Older homes were not protected so we went to help family and their neighbors get shutters up quickly. There was intermittent rain that eventually did not stop for hours. We pressed on and got the job done until we dropped from exhaustion.

Storm day arrived so we sat tight waiting for it to arrive. The anticipation was so stressful. Will it hit land with 130 mph winds or hug the coast and creep northward? One seeks any distraction possible to stay sane knowing the worst of it was due to arrive in the deep, dark of the night at 3 a.m.! We retired that night not saying very much but knowing our hearts and minds were full of anxiety. Suddenly our electricity went off.  All we could do was to wait it out. Eventually, dawn came with us wide eyed as kids on Christmas morning wondering what we might discover. Looking out our windows much to our surprise, we found our neighborhood was spared tragic damage to homes. The neighbors were appearing on their front lawns to check on each other, to talk and connect. We survived but what of the rest of the area?  Time would tell as we began to venture out into the community.

Vero Beach resident Michael Banks found a tree in his side yard split in two, but there was no major damage. (Photo: JON SANTUCCI/TREASURE COAST NEWSPAPERS)

All through the night, I wondered if those homeless children were in shelters and out of harm’s way. Hours into the day when the storm passed the electricity was restored. I checked the headlines to see if everyone had made it through safely along our coast.

What good comes from an experience like living through Hurricane Matthew? I learned long ago in every challenge there is a gift. We just have to wait for God to reveal it. If we are open, it will surface in the form of a blessing that helps us just when we need it. We all feel we were spared the traumatic evil that could have befallen us. We feel humbling gratitude for safe family, friends and strangers. For now, that is the overwhelming emotion here on the Treasure Coast of Florida. I will share the blessing once it reveals itself. I trust it will. But for now I am going to make a donation to the homeless kids in the area who need it most.


In heartfelt service,

Ginny Shiverdecker
Executive Director


Hurricane Matthew was the worst natural disaster to hit Haiti since the earthquake of 2010. The country is still trying to recover with some areas just recently starting to flourish again. Hurricane Matthew’s forces caused many deaths, injuries and destruction along with new cases of cholera being reported. Read about one town, Jérémie, that was directly in its path.

Abōd Shelters® are a good fit for disasters as they can be swiftly deployed and quickly built to provide immediate housing. We currently are looking for partners to help make this happen. Are you an NGO or do you have contact with one?

There are many options for private individuals, companies, schools, churches and other organizations to partner with us and make a real difference. Simply connect with Ginny Shiverdecker at ginny@abodshelters.comYou may also donate to build an Abōd.

Living with Hurricane Matthew Where Fear Meets Gratitude
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Feeling Joyful: A Proven Result of Giving Back

Greetings Abōd® Shelters Friends!

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director Ginny@abodshelters.com

Want a Lift? Feeling joyful is a proven result of giving back. As with all things in life, time passes quickly and good intentions often remain just that without an actionable plan. Giving back has to be adopted as a life plan – and joy will follow. I’m sharing this ‘giving back’ life plan with two thoughts in mind:
1. If you are like me, you may be looking over your shoulder thinking “where did the last six months go?” As we move into the remaining days of 2016 it is timely to reflect on our state of affairs
2. With a clearer understanding of where we have been, we may look forward to identifying how we can amp up giving during the upcoming holidays.

Here is some food for thought: Have you considered how various forms of giving back benefits your level of joy? Read to the end to uncover the pearls of wisdom.

One of my favorites topics to discuss with Abōd Shelters® Foundation’s Chairman of the Board of Directors, Doug Vander Weide, is how to cultivate more joy in life.

Doug is a man of purpose and character with a range of successful clients that includes professional athletes. In a world of bad characters, Doug is one of the white hats with a fully developed life as he cultivates the vital dimensions of what he calls a ‘wealthy lifestyle.’ For him it’s about living through your values – not feeling rich because of accumulating wealth. It’s about feeling wealthy by focusing on making the right lifestyle choices along the journey to financial independence. A big part of living a ‘wealthy living’ is the role of giving back and philanthropy.

In light of a recent conversation I had with Doug about balancing the role of philanthropy in my life, he recommended a book that would allow me to delve deeper into the psychology of joyful living. Having established a successful financial management firm, Valiant Wealth, when Doug offers insight, I listen. The book Doug recommended was, ‘The Thin Green Line, The Money Secrets of the Super Wealthy’ by Paul Sullivan.

I picked up a copy the night before my trip from West Palm Beach, Florida to Los Angeles, California, last week for an important Abōd Shelters® Foundation development meeting with Ty Pennington, our Goodwill Ambassador.  Doug and I met with Ty, and his agent Bill Stankey, to plan an Abōd Shelters®  Village of the Future in eastern AfricaInvesting a portion of my time to help guide Abōd Shelters® efforts to improve shelter conditions for the worlds neediest populations is a passion of mine for very personal reasons. But I wondered how does this work really affect my level of joy or my well-being?  How can others experience this form of joyfulness too?

The author provides a well-researched and personal account that is both readable and informative. Paul Sullivan sheds light on many valuable ways to think about our relationship with money as few others have. He includes the positive impact giving back offers us and how it not only makes us feel good, it actually impacts our financial well-being for the better.

Sullivan highlights many lessons in his book and I wanted to share my favorite one with our Abōd Shelters® followers. Many wealthy people have various reasons for giving, but it is the act itself that makes us feel good. Paul calls these Givers, members of the pure-joy club. I love these words. Their mix of planning to give and spontaneity of giving can serve as a model to others because it can be adapted by people in all income levels. One wealthy couple shared that they never kept track or spent a lot of time planning to have great impact on a cause, they responded to the moment and the authenticity of the need whether big or small. The wisdom is not the amount you give, but that you give. Therein lies the rush of feeling joy.

Furthering this insight is information from the American Enterprise Institute which indicates people who give to charity regularly were generally more affluent, all other things being equal. Also, people who volunteer do better financially. The data showed that people who give to charity are forty-three percent more likely than people who don’t give to say they’re very happy people. If you give blood, you are happier. If you volunteer, you are happier. You cannot find any other service that will make you happier.  The data indicates the positive impact on life is extraordinary.

As we look toward our plans for the holidays, remember the joyful boost you will experience by giving from the heart in various ways. If you are a habitual giver, consider the benefits of being spontaneous or change it up by giving in any way you can to a different need or organization than what you have given before.

If Abōd Shelters® finds its way to your list, we THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts. It will be used to build homes for one of our communities in Africa in January 2017.

Lastly, remember it is not just about giving money, it is about volunteering too.


In heartfelt service,

Ginny Shiverdecker
Executive Director


There are many options for private individuals, companies, schools, churches and other organizations to partner with us and make a real difference. Check out how to Partner With Us or simply connect to Ginny Shiverdecker at ginny@abodshelters.comYou may also donate to build an Abōd.

Feeling Joyful: A Proven Result of Giving Back
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New Way to Do Good: When Traveling Makes the Journey More Worthwhile

Greetings Abōd® Shelters Friends!

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director Ginny@abodshelters.com

If you’re reading our blog you most likely are a caring soul who look for ways to make a difference both big and small. You then may also enjoy hearing about this latest discovery.

Many of our friends through Abod Shelters travel pretty regularly. Some travel for business, others travel for pleasure and many others go on mission trips with the goal of volunteering their time to do good works in remote places of the world. When you are on the road, there is nothing more important than having safe, comfortable shelter to spend the night. For those who have spent time in third world countries where amenities like electricity, hot water, heat or air conditioning are non-existent, you come to really appreciate all the hotel room details you once took for granted.

Classroom in a remote area of Ghana where Abod homes were built to support a fish farm and house workers and consultants.

Bed provided by World Vision staff with needed mosquito / insect netting in southern Zambia.

Traveling through Asikuma, Ghana where Abod homes were built to be used as birthing and maternity centers.

Traveling is not an easy matter. It starts with the online search which takes more time than it used to. In order to get the best rate, you need to spend time searching several sites. Sometimes it depends on the day that you search. It may seem like a game that the online sites play, but this is just the first step in the journey.

If you’re like me, you look for a good deal to get the best possible hotel room rate. This weekend while reading the New York Times, I came upon an article, ‘Donate to Charity, Get a Hotel Discount’ by Elaine Glusac. It sounded worthy of noting, so I wanted to share it.

If you are driven by finding the deal perhaps there is a new way to approach the pursuit that can make a difference to more than your heart – it can also touch the heart of others in need. 

A new hotel booking website, Kind Traveler aims to link discounted rates to charitable donations. It began in early August with mostly boutique and style-focused hotels in 11 locations in the US, Mexico and the Caribbean. Users who make the minimum donation of $10 a night to a charity through the website will get 10 to 25 percent off published rates.

“Kind Traveler’s mission is to transform travelers into a force that benefits local and global communities, the environment and animals,” said Jessica Blotter, the chief executive and founder of the site.

The hotels select local charities they support. Kind Traveler users can also allocate their donations to go to a dozen global charity partners.  Kind Travelers vets its partner hotels based upon wellness features, sustainability measures and community impact. Charities are organized on their site by the causes they represent. Hotels participating include 1 Hotel South Beach, Virgin Hotels Chicago and the Benjamin in New York which is close to where I used to live in Manhattan.

Kind Travelers founders say the rates are comparable to those at online travel sites. After all, we all know there is wiggle room in the costs.

This certainly sounds worthy of checking out if you are bound for any destination where they have a hotel partner. Perhaps booking through this site will also offer the emotional benefit of an enhanced night sleep knowing you made a difference.

Do you have experience using this site or have others that you feel make a difference and are worthy to share? I would love to hear from you.

There are many options for private individuals, companies, schools, churches and other organizations to partner with us and make a real difference. Check out how to Partner With Us or simply connect with me at ginny@abodshelters.comYou may also donate to build an Abōd.


In heartfelt service,

Ginny Shiverdecker
Executive Director


New Way to Do Good: When Traveling Makes the Journey More Worthwhile
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