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Calvary Rescue Mission: A Safe Haven for Men Experiencing Homelessness

Cover photo credit to Don Perry, Photographer, Calvary Rescue Mission.

Greetings Abōd® Shelters Friends!

Previously featured in The Bridge, the below article is a follow up to Elizabeth Dinneny’s original introduction through ‘Bridging the Gap: The Power of the Street Paper’ and the impact the paper is having in Memphis, Tennessee. Thanks to Hannah Hornsey for permission to republish and to Calvary Rescue Mission for the photos!

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director

Hannah Hornsey, Editor-in-Chief, The Bridge

Convention typically dictates that women and children should be given priority over men in crisis situations. Whether this comes from the notion that men are the dominant sex and can therefore better handle any kind of emergency or the idea that women and children must carry on the human race, it’s an idea that is prevalent in our culture. Even in cases such as homeless shelters, women and children are often given precedence over men.

If there is a shortage of food or space, men will usually have to find alternative options. Is this fair? It seems like there must be some merit since it is such a ubiquitous custom, but it seems that it’d be beneficial to instead separate shelters by gender and therefore allow both sexes to have a chance of salvation.

The Calvary Rescue Mission in Memphis encapsulates this approach, but its core values do not center on gender issues. This shelter is a non-profit organization with a focus on religious salvation. Many of the men inhabiting this establishment have come from a background of drugs, broken families, and poor decisions. The Calvary Rescue Mission picks them up and allows them to change their own lives for the better.

Milton Hatcher and his family. Photo courtesy of Calvary Rescue Mission.

The mission welcomed its first patrons on April 1st 1967, thanks to Milton Hatcher. An alcoholic for many years, Milton found salvation in religion on April 7th, 1963.  According to the story, he told his wife that he knew God had something in store for him, but he was not sure what. He locked himself in a building behind his house for two and a half days until he finally came out and said that God was leading him to his own rescue mission.

His original method bringing aid to the homeless was in a hearse that he bought soon after his revelation. People said that this had a sobering effect and led many more to salvation. For those who choose to stay at the mission, they will be able to attend nightly chapel meetings, luncheons, and many more events that will help strengthen their resolve in starting fresh.

A myriad of men who have chosen to stay there have provided testimonials about their splintered past and the saving grace that the mission provided. David tells a tale of absent parents, foster homes and prison. His parents dropped him off at a police station when he was 13 and said that they just didn’t want him anymore. After this, David was shuttled from home to home and began smoking weed which put him in prison for the next 10 years. For years, he was either in jail or a drug addict and alcoholic living unsheltered. It was during this time that he met the woman who would eventually become the mother of his two children, only to take them away in May of 2013. He hit his lowest point and it was then that he was led to Memphis and the Calvary Rescue Mission. He completed the mission’s discipleship program and is currently working at the mission. There are hundreds of men with stories just like David’s that too have been given a second chance by the Calvary Rescue Mission.

So, is this Mission’s abundant success due to the faith-based curriculum, the single gender population, or a combination of both? It seems that by not taking in women or children, the mission might be missing an opportunity to change so many lives.

The population of people without homes in Memphis consists of both men and women, and they are equally in need of care. However, perhaps by taking in a fewer percentage of people, the Calvary Rescue Mission is providing these individuals with their best chance at personal success. The men who stay with the mission can dedicate their time to personal reflection.

The issue of single gender shelters has been a long-debated issue. But either way, the Calvary Rescue mission provides a fantastic service to those in need in the Memphis area. Their dedication to the individual and their spirituality has provided so many with a clean slate and a bright future. This mission has been a success for 48 years, and we hope it will continue to thrive for many more.

Student volunteers. The mission relies strictly from donations. Calvary Rescue Mission is a not for profit charitable organization that accepts no government money. 

These two young women, Hannah Hornsey, Student Writer, pictured on the right, visited Calvary Rescue Mission today to talk to the men about becoming vendors for the paper.


Abōd® Shelters, a registered 501©3 organization, are very interested in working with US and international organizations to leverage resources to provide homes to those in need.
You can get involved and help us build a sustainable Village of the Future using Abōd® Shelters through prayer, raising awareness and providing monetary support through partnership or become a Sponsor. For more information about ways to partner with us or becoming a sponsor, please mail your interest to ginny@abodshelters.com


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.

Calvary Rescue Mission: A Safe Haven for Men Experiencing Homelessness
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Combat LGBT Youth Homelessness This Pride Month

Greetings Abōd® Shelters Friends!

Thank you to Ken W. Kiser for the cover photo.

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director

Elizabeth Dinneny, Summer Intern BSB Design, Inc.

LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) individuals experience homelessness at a significantly higher percentage than non-LGBT individuals. They are often rejected by their families, discriminated against, and sometimes even prevented from entering shelters.

The Center for American Progress notes that, while the population of LGBT youth in the U.S. is between 5% and 7%, LGBT youth make up between 9% and 45% of youth experiencing homelessness, depending on the region. And these statistics reflect just those willing to identify themselves as LGBT.

LGBT youth experiencing homelessness typically have worse physical and mental health than non-LGBT youth, experience more violence, and are twice as likely to commit suicide. LGBT youth are also more likely to experience violence and discrimination on the street and in shelters. LGBT youth deserve safe environments that recognize their feelings and identities—we need to do better.

Above graph posted from the True Colors Fund.

So, as we reach the end of this year’s Pride Month, what can we do to help LBGT kids experiencing homelessness in our own communities?

Above graphs posted from the National LGBTQ Task Force.

Know what your community is doing to combat LGBT homelessness. Shelters are too often a dangerous place for LGBT people, especially LGBT people of color, who frequently face homophobia and transphobia from others staying in shelters and even from the shelters themselves. Discouraged and sometimes barred from or kicked out of shelters, LGBT individuals are much more likely to live on the streets than non-LGBT individuals. We need shelters that are accepting of all people experiencing homelessness, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Protect LGBT students. 1 in 5 LGBT students report being harassed in school, and are two times less likely to finish high school than non-LGBT students. Bullying has been shown to be detrimental to mental health, negatively affect performance in the classroom, and discourage school attendance. Teachers, administrators, and parents have a responsibility to be students’ allies, and should respond to bullying quickly and effectively. As conflict at home can be the norm for LGBT youth, school can be a safe place for youth to be themselves. Additionally, school is often a source of food and mental health services for youth experiencing poverty.

Above graph posted from the True Colors Fund.

All students have the right to go to school in a positive atmosphere, and an affirming school environment can be invaluable to LGBT youth experiencing homelessness and poverty.

Develop an environment that is safe for LGBT youth. Shelter is a human right. Without shelter, children’s psychological and emotional development suffer, and they are left more vulnerable to violence, drug and alcohol addiction, mental health problems, and suicide. We cannot improve the lives of LGBT youth experiencing homelessness without facing the fact that, despite being a minority, LGBT youth experience homelessness so unbelievably more than non-LGBT youth. It is our responsibility to LGBT youth to fix this problem. We must make the United States a place that is not complicit in discrimination against children to the point of homelessness. We must make the United States a place that believes children deserve real, affirming shelter.

Above graph posted from the True Colors Fund.

Above graph posted from the True Colors Fund.

Above graph posted from the National LGBTQ Task Force.

Advocate for non-discriminatory housing for LGBT people experiencing homelessness. Even in foster homes, LGBT youth are often treated differently and are sometimes abused by adults and kids in their foster homes. Transgender youth can and are often placed in homes according to a gender with which they do not identify, and are denied clothing and health care that is in line with their gender identities. Denying an LGBT child’s identity puts them at a higher risk of mental health issues, suicide, and running away—more homelessness.

There are no laws protecting LGBT youth from discrimination in foster care, and, like shelters, many foster care systems don’t provide sufficient LGBT education that would help adults be allies to LGBT youth. We need to do better.

Ultimately, we need to cultivate a society in which LGBT children do not feel threatened, and in which the systems that are meant to protect and house the homeless do not achieve the opposite.

We at Abōd Shelters® affirm that shelter is more than a roof over one’s head. A safe home leads to better mental and physical health, better performance in school, privacy, increased likelihood of employment, safety from abuse, and being happier in a room of one’s own. There is a variety of organizations dedicating to ending LGBT youth homelessness, and they have made strides toward that goal. Still, there is work to be done. Whether it’s donating to non-discriminatory shelters, starting this conversation within our own communities, or helping Abōd Shelters® become a part of the solution to LGBT homelessness in the U.S., we all have a responsibility to fight this inequality in our own country.

For more information regarding LGBT youth homelessness and its solutions, you can visit “At the Intersections,” an online resource created by the National LGBTW Task Force and the True Colors Fund. You can also view the resources provided by the National Coalition for the Homeless on their LGBT Homelessness page.

Read more about the history of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month (LGBT Pride Month) on the Library of Congress site.

Elizabeth Dinneny is a junior at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee and the Summer Intern at BSB Design’s D.C. office. She is a section editor and the summer layout editor for The Bridge, a street newspaper in Memphis, TN. We are very grateful for Elizabeth stepping up to support Abōd Shelters® in making a difference and to bring awareness to important topics such as this one through our weekly blog.


Abōd® Shelters, a registered 501©3 organization, are very interested in working with US and international organizations to leverage resources to provide homes to those in need.
You can get involved and help us build a sustainable Village of the Future using Abōd® Shelters through prayer, raising awareness and providing monetary support through partnership or become a Sponsor. For more information about ways to partner with us or becoming a sponsor, please mail your interest to ginny@abodshelters.com


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.

Combat LGBT Youth Homelessness This Pride Month
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Reaching Out to Universities for Interns: It’s a Win / Win

Greetings Abōd® Shelters Friends!

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director

Michelle Rothfus, Project Coordinator Abōd® Shelters

It takes a lot of hard work and effort running a non-profit. For those of you experienced in this sector, you will understand the importance of having an amazing team of committee members and volunteers to support your project. Still, there are many responsibilities and items to be completed that drop to the wayside because there is just not enough time or there is not someone available with that skill set to complete it at a top-notch level it deserves.

One of those items for Abōd® Shelters was updating our online shop. A few years ago, we had a t-shirt design contest that resulted in some really cool designs from students that supported our mission. At the time, we made them available online and when individuals purchased one, $5 from the purchase was automatically donated to Abōd® Shelters Foundation to support a family in need. Having merchandise available supports our overall mission by providing a small funding source and getting the word out about Abōd® Shelters and the impact we can make on an individual, family, community, etc.

A few years have passed and while our designs are still really cool, our online store has become outdated. Yet with the daily ongoing responsibilities, the online store kept getting pushed further down the ‘to do’ list.

Original Winning T-Shirt Designs provided by Deanna Sargent, Brittany Hardin, Julia Rothfus and Shawna Snyder in the 2012 Design Contest for Abōd® Shelters

Reaching out to a local University in this circumstance was the answer. Why? We desperately needed a motivated, full of fresh ideas and skilled person to come in and give our store a face-lift. Did I mention we are a non-profit? We don’t have highly paid consultant fees in our budget.

Utilizing an intern just makes sense. It allows us to take advantage of skilled, yet short-term support. The extra set of hands are able to tackle projects that no one else had time for. It’s not just the extra set of hands that make interns advantageous. Especially in an organization when there is only 1 other employee that handles the philanthropic project. New people bring with them novel perspectives, ‘outside the box’ fresh ideas, and specialized strengths and skill sets.

I am excited to introduce you to…

Kira Mann, a Junior at Iowa State University, Majoring in Graphic Design. She is coming in to our West Des Moines, IA BSB Design, Inc. office this summer a couple days per week to tackle some Abod projects; Projects that I haven’t had a chance to keep up with, and to tell you the truth… I don’t have the skill set for!

Kira focuses her time on;

  • updating our shirt designs and revamping our online store
  • designing graphics for social media
  • designing pages for online giving

You will be able to view her work in the very near future.

Kira Mann, Summer Intern for Abōd Shelters®

Some of Kira’s favorite things; Spending time with her mom, eating sushi, and art museums!

You may have noticed that our store is empty at this time, but if you could see her graphics of what she has come up with so far, you would be as excited as I am!  And don’t worry, our original designs will still be available!

Kira hopes to end up in a city either working for a graphic design firm or running a successful freelance career. Based on what I’ve witnessed so far, Kira is very professional and going to greatly benefit who ever her future client is. She has already inspired us with her ideas, suggestions and insight into changing things up a bit to reach out to our broader audience. Did I mention she is very professional? She’s a great communicator and is a fun addition to our group!


Top Reasons for Reaching Out to Universities for Interns:


Motivated: while their wage requirements are modest, they’re among the most highly motivated members of the workforce.

Free Recruiting: Many, if not all Universities, allows companies to post employer profiles completely free. This means you get extensive exposure to the top colleges and candidates without putting a dent in your recruiting budget.

Give Back: Abōd® Shelters is a giving nonprofit so we rely on others, especially our community, for support. Providing an internship is an excellent way to give back! Hiring college interns not only helps students in our community get started; it enhances the local workforce as a whole.

Win / Win – Internships provide students numerous perks. They gain experience, develop skills, make connections, strengthen their resumes, learn about a field, and assess their interest and abilities. Abōd® Shelters is the beneficiary of their ideas and skills.


In Abōd® Shelters situation, hiring Kira resulted in an absolute win / win. She benefits from the experience of overseeing an entire real-life design project from the beginning stages and presenting her ideas, communicating throughout the project and gaining feedback from our BSB Design, Inc. Marketing Department until the end of posting the designs and finalizing the visual look of the store. Abōd® Shelters benefits because several large, overdue projects will be completed at a top-notch level in a very short amount of time.

We provide shirts to our volunteers who help us on our projects. One of the most popular of the original designs we provided to our volunteers who helped us on our most recent build in Tanzania, where we built ’10 Homes in 10 Days’ with Ty Pennington.

Our family photo showing off my daughter’s winning Abōd shirt design. Yes… a proud parent moment.

Look forward to choosing one or several of our new cool designs on new merchandise and combine the good feeling of gift giving and supporting a worthy cause! Stay tuned for a midsummer reveal!


Abōd® Shelters, a registered 501©3 organization, are very interested in working with US and international organizations to leverage resources to provide homes to those in need.
You can get involved and help us build a sustainable Village of the Future using Abōd® Shelters through prayer, raising awareness and providing monetary support through partnership or become a Sponsor. For more information about ways to partner with us or becoming a sponsor, please mail your interest to ginny@abodshelters.com


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.

Reaching Out to Universities for Interns: It’s a Win / Win
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Bridging The Gap: The Power of the Street Paper

 Cover Photo courtesy of Mark Voitik with The Bridge!

Greetings Abōd® Shelters Friends!

Meet…  Elizabeth Dinneny, a rising junior at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee and the Summer Intern at BSB Design’s D.C. office. She is a section editor and the summer layout editor for The Bridge, a street newspaper in Memphis, TN. We, at Abōd Shelters® Foundation, are excited to have her share how she and other college students are volunteering to make a difference in the lives of the homeless in Memphis, TN. We are very grateful for Elizabeth stepping up to share her experience with our weekly blog effort.

Elizabeth Dinneny, Summer Intern BSB Design, Inc.

When I started working at BSB and heard about Abod Shelters, I was drawn to the scope of its vision—I saw the understanding that having shelter means more than just having a place to sleep. The stability that permanent housing provides is invaluable. It improves learning, employment opportunity, and mental and physical health.

It seems obvious, but too many people live without a place to sleep at night, and too many of us don’t think about the struggles that can result from that insecurity. It’s something I started learning a few years ago when I began volunteering with The Bridge.

Street papers are an invention of the past few decades, and since their genesis they have proven to be invaluable resources to cities all over the world. Each paper has a slightly different model, but the purpose is the same: by producing a newspaper that can be sold by homeless vendors, street papers raise awareness of homelessness and poverty and provide economic opportunity to people who are experiencing those very things.

The Bridge is a 16-page, monthly non-profit street paper that features articles and artwork relating to or produced by people who have experienced or are actively experiencing homelessness and poverty. We sell the paper to trained vendors for 25 cents each, then they sell papers on the street for one dollar and keep 100% of the profit.

Photo credit of The Bridge!

We celebrated the fourth anniversary of the paper in March, and right now we have over 6,000 readers. Vendors have made over $19,000 selling the paper.

Unlike other street papers, like The Contributor in Nashville and Street Sense in D.C., The Bridge is the only street newspaper in the world that is completely run by volunteer college students. We write articles that appear alongside vendor articles, take the photos, design the pages, run weekly distribution, man the delivery hotline, do the accounting, and send the paper to print.

Photo credit of The Bridge!

I started out as part of the distribution team, so every Thursday afternoon some volunteers and I would meet up at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church to interview new vendors, make their badges, sell papers, collect their articles and artwork, and talk with them about their experiences. Most people who haven’t faced poverty don’t know much about it, and meeting vendors opened my eyes to the complexities of being homeless. A lot of people don’t know, for example, that most shelters are not free and not overnight, or that there are fewer beds for men than women. In Memphis, an overnight shelter can cost from $5 to $15 per night—and there’s a general shortage of beds, regardless of one’s gender.

It seems obvious, but too many people live without a place to sleep at night, and too many of us don’t think about the struggles that can result from that insecurity. “

Elizabeth Dinneny

The cost of shelter makes it difficult for the homeless to focus on anything but making enough money to sleep under a roof, so their living is very day-to-day. Street papers can alleviate some of that stress by providing vendors with an opportunity for daily income, which helps pay for vendors’ shelter, food, and transportation. We also give bus passes to vendors who purchase a certain number of papers at Distribution.

With less pressure to find the money for shelter every night, vendors can invest their time and energy into finding a job or stable living place. I’ve seen vendors buy cars, find more permanent places to live, and get stable jobs so that they don’t need The Bridge anymore. That’s the goal. Street papers are not a solution, but a means to the end of homelessness.

Photo credit of The Bridge!

The Bridge doesn’t pause when most of our volunteers are home for the summer—it’s a 365-days-a-year operation that can’t afford to take a break. During the last week of every month, my phone blows up with texts from department heads confirming that, even though we’re scattered across the country, we’ve all done our jobs so that the paper is ready to be printed for Distribution in a few days. We have weekly meetings over the phone to make sure everyone’s on the same page, and no matter where we are, we always produce something that vendors and volunteers are really proud of.

Photo credit of Mark Voitik.

The Bridge is run on passion for combating homelessness in the Memphis community. Our volunteers are full-time college students who still put an enormous amount of energy into the paper every month. Sometimes we are required to stay up late before final papers and exams to copy-edit or design pages, because there are hundreds of vendors relying on the paper’s production. If there’s a sickness going around and we’re low on Distribution volunteers, there’s always someone willing to step in. The Bridge is a priority because housing for all is a priority. It’s a human right. And then, of course, there’s the hundreds of vendors who sell the paper and write articles that bring attention to poverty with a personal voice and extensive knowledge, because this is their story.

The Bridge has soul. It’s not about politics or furthering some self-serving agenda—it’s about doing the right thing.

The name The Bridge references the Hernando de Soto Bridge, a defining feature of the Memphis skyline, but it also references our mission: to bridge the gap between the homeless and the sheltered by spreading awareness, facilitating conversation, and providing economic opportunity to those in need.

The International Network of Street Papers (INSP) has created an interactive map of street papers around the world. I strongly encourage you to check if there’s a street paper in your city, and to support the homeless community by purchasing street papers locally and when you travel. When you purchase a street paper, you’re joining the conversation and becoming a part of the solution.


Abōd® Shelters, a registered 501©3 organization, are very interested in working with US and international organizations to leverage resources to provide homes to those in need.
You can get involved and help us build a sustainable Village of the Future using Abōd® Shelters through prayer, raising awareness and providing monetary support through partnership or become a Sponsor. For more information about ways to partner with us or becoming a sponsor, please mail your interest to ginny@abodshelters.com


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.

Bridging The Gap: The Power of the Street Paper
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STEMM’s Recent Tanzania Trip is Devine Intervention: Saving Lives and Changing Hearts

Cover Photo Courtesy of the Des Moines Register: A school bus in Tanzania crashes into a ravine on May 6, killing 35 people. Sioux City missionaries helped rescue three surviving kids. (Photo: Special to the Register)

This is a rare and compelling story about our Partners at STEMM Medical Ministry. When you come to the end, if you feel moved to offer support please contact me at Ginny@abodshelters.com.

Greetings Abōd® Shelters Friends!

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director Ginny@abodshelters.com

Many of you know we made a trip to Tanzania in January to build 10 Abod Shelters Partnering with Siouxland Tanzania Educational Medical Ministries (STEMM), operating in Mbuguni. It was an amazing experience building an Abod Micro Village with Ty Pennington, especially with a video film crew creating a level of excitement beyond our expectations. We made many close friendships with the STEMM leaders, Dr. Steve Meyer and wife Dana, along with Diane and Tim Bannister who direct the STEMM Campus activities.

The focus of the campus is to provide a safe and secure children’s care home and school that is sustained by a farming enterprise. The campus is also base camp for the medical ministry where college students studying to be medical professionals join mission groups to practice in real third word settings. Under the guidance of Dr. Meyer, they administer all types of health care in remote rural areas within a one-hundred-mile radius of the campus.

The Meyer’s have worked tirelessly to elevate the thinking of Tanzania’s leaders, to open their hearts to sincere US involvement to help its children grow up healthy, educated and capable of creating good productive lives. Lives that can nurture and care for the Tanzania of the Future –  to help it and its people get out of cycle of poverty and begin to prosper so they can take care of their families.

In recent years, the government has taken a hard stance on increasing help of the US on the position the country needs to rely on itself. At this juncture however, there does not seem to be evidence of positive change based upon this stance.

The STEMM Team inclusive of Dr. Meyer, his wife Dana and Board of Directors along with a group of medical students returned to Tanzania in late April. Part of these trips include experiencing the beauty of a game reserve. On Saturday, May 6th, seven of the STEMM Team were traveling to safari near Karatu, Tanzania, but were very upset with themselves for being over one hour late. The reserves have strict closing rules and once the park gates are shut at sunset no one can gain access until the next morning. The team was upset because they didn’t think they would have enough time to get through the park before the gates closed.

Personally looking back on life, many times when a delay in plans occur, I have come to realize ‘The Devine’ has other plans so we best just breathe deep and go with the flow. This proved to be true once again. The team, while upset about running late, were the third vehicle to come upon the most horrific school children bus accident in Tanzanian history.

Not thinking, we just acted on our training. “

Dr Steve Meyer

Dr. Meyer told me this story: “Miraculously, we had put together a medical team only three weeks before the trip and three of them were in our vehicle. The two vehicles ahead of us left earlier and did not have any medically trained passengers. It was just our van. The good news is our team was there acting as Triage Coordinator and First Responders who miraculously pulled three children out of the carnage with a heartbeat. Not thinking, we just acted on our training.

Unfortunately, while three were saved… thirty- two seventh graders, two teachers and the bus driver were all killed in the crash. The scene was horrific to say the least.”

Dr. Meyer went on to share what unfolded, “Our team loaded the three with obvious multiple fractures into a van which took them to the nearest hospital. They watched them disappear down the dirt road to what they hoped was competent resources at their destination. Amazingly, the next day our team saw a newspaper with the story of the terrible accident in it and asked the local newsboys where the children were. Once again, divine intervention was at play because the three children were taken to a hospital a few blocks away from the Game Reserve.

Understandably, the STEMM Team felt incredibly compelled to see the children particularly since one of them was for all intents and purposes dead on the scene. When they arrived at the hospital there was such tight security protecting the children, they had no hope to get in to see them.

Remarkably as they stood there wondering what to do, a well-dressed Tanzanian approached them who said he recognized them from their photos on YouTube and as Secretary of Health Minister he would be happy to take them to see the kids!”

Upon seeing the kids, Dr. Steve spoke with his STEMM Team and “it was decided to do everything in our power with God’s help to get them to America for the best professional body restoration possible.” Despite the Tanzanians government recent firm rhetoric that as a sovereign country they did not need Western assistance, incredibly they suddenly reversed this mandate. Not only did they agree to allow the children to travel to America but also agreed to work tirelessly attaining passports for the children and allowed their mothers to come with them. In addition, on the American front, despite the incredible financial challenges at Sioux City’s Mercy Hospital, they amazingly agreed to fully underwrite all the medical care required for the three children.

STEMM founders Steve Meyer and Lazaro Nyalandu, also a member of Tanzania’s National Assembly, visit the three survivors at Mt. Meru hospital in Arusha. (Photo: Special to the Register)

The Tanzanian government agreement came only after an astonishingly arranged meeting between Dr. Meyer and the vice president of Tanzania. After 60 hours of urgent, non-stop lobbying and phone calls, the only option left was to pay the $300,000 for private air ambulance to get the children to the states quickly so they could get the reconstructive care needed to offer them a life worth living again.

As this was unfolding for Dr. Meyer, an orthopedic surgeon himself, was wrestling with the agonizing decision of departing with his team back to America or stay behind to care for the kids. But then the greatest miracle of all occurred. Dr. Steve took a phone call from Franklin Graham’s Samaritan’s Purse. Mr. Graham explained, as-a-result of lobbying from Congressman Steve King, he was willing to do all he could to transport these children back to America. And so, it was to be.

After a 40-plus hour flight across the ocean and a full week of series of surgeries these children are now on their way to physical, emotional and spiritual restoration. These children will now be a legacy of light and a living memorial to one East Africa’s greatest school children’s tragedies.

Divine intervention yields a change of heart as the result from the episodic situation is the entire heart set and dialogue in Tanzania has changed from unbearable grief to exhaling Joy and Hope. The witness of love for humanity and compassion for these children is a paradigm changing occurrence and an example for the world to see and understand. It raises us above our difference to celebrate our common ground – our humanity. This is a stellar example of how together we can honor life as a precious gift.

We wish the children of Tanzania a positive recovery and salute Dr. Meyer, wife Dana and all those at STEMM for the incredible work. Your friends at Abōd Shelters® will do all we can to help you through this recovery and to help at the campus when the kids return to Tanzania. Readers please come back for follow-up reports.


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.

STEMM’s Recent Tanzania Trip is Devine Intervention: Saving Lives and Changing Hearts
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Basic Human Rights: Abod Shelters Has Shown What’s Possible

Greetings Abōd® Shelters Friends!

The cover photo was taken during our project of building 10 Abōd® Shelters in 10 days in Tanzania. Photo credit to Will Johnston, Tiny Homes Atlanta, who helped with the build.

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director

Michelle Rothfus, Project Coordinator Abōd® Shelters

Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family. From dormitory housing in a remote area in Zambia to emergency housing to a family in South Africa to life saving birthing centers in Tanzania, Abod Shelters have made a difference for many in Africa. We started as an idea for those in need and now have a proven model that can be built anywhere in Africa. Check out some of what we have accomplished below and reach out to get involved!

Blessman International, South Africa


Many children are orphaned as a result of the Aids Epidemic. Blessman International and Abōd® Shelters collaborated to create an orphan community project using Abōd® Shelters. Since then several other projects have been completed;

Five Abōd® Shelters were built as a community on Del Cramer Campus in 2013. One single mother, Annah, and her two-year old son, Danita, were the first to move in. Grandmothers, which they are referred to as “Grannies” in this village, moved into the homes next with children they were already caring for in addition to a few homeless children.

Five Abōd® Shelters were built for the Children’s Village located in Zebediela, South Africa in 2009. This is a small successful school system where 120 children attend daily to get educated and are able to play together safely.

Five Abōd® Shelters were built at Shikwaru Lodge in 2013 to house lodging staff and students from Iowa State University completing internships through Blessman International.

One home was provided to Talent and his family in 2015 after their home was destroyed by a tree falling on it.

Blessman International conducts numerous sustainable outreach programs in Africa to aid those in need. Housing is one of our programs and using Abōd® Shelters has allowed us to provide a low cost housing solution to support our brothers and sisters in South Africa build a sustainable future.”

Dr. Jim Blessman, Blessman International

Abōd® Shelters values Blessman International’s long-time presence in South Africa and values its understanding of the areas environment and culture. Learn more about Blessman International and how they are serving in South Africa.

Hoops of Hope


The Johnathan Sim Chikanta Secondary School was built and started in 2007. It is the only secondary school in a 70-mile area. The dormitories were soon overcrowded and teacher housing was desperately needed. The school’s challenge was the time that it took to build housing as well as the expense.

Working with Hoops of Hope and World Vision, Abōd® Shelters were chosen because they were simple and quick to build and very affordable. The Abōd® Shelters manufacturers traveled from South Africa to the remote area of Twachiyanda, Zambia. The Abōd® Shelters are being used as girl’s dormitories and several were built to be homes for teachers.

Abod did an amazing job with these structures and the girls love them. Each structure will house approximately 10 girls.”

Dan Gutwein, Hoops of Hope

Acts2Collective


Childbirth is the number one cause of death in the village of Asikuma located in Ghana, Africa. This is one of the reasons Acts 2 Collective, a non-profit organization with work in Ghana, Chad, Central African Republic, Zambia, Africa and Des Moines, Iowa, has focused their outreach in this location. They have improved the lives of many in this village by providing health care, education, orphan care and athletics.

In March of 2015 Abōd® Shelters were built in this small village to create birthing and maternity centers with the goal of decreasing mother and baby mortality rates. Additional Abōd® Shelters were built to support the local fish farm. The purpose of these are to house workers and consultants of this project as well as create mobile storage for fish food and equipment.

Doug Vander Weide, CEO and President of VW Advisors is a key player in everything they have accomplished. He traveled from Des Moines, IA USA to Ghana to be part of the Abōd® Shelters build.

“Building the Abod Shelters birthing center and providing a home for the maternity nurse has caused quite a stir. The nurse said all of her senior colleagues have requested to be transferred to this area to use these nicer facilities. In addition, providing a new home for our manager at the fish farm will make a huge impact on growing that business. People traveled from all over the area to see the Abod Shelters and how they were being used. I believe we’ve made quite an impact on Ghana with these new additions.

Doug Vander Weide, Abōd® Shelters Chairman

Siouxland Tanzania Educational Medical Ministries (STEMM)


STEMM was organized in 1997 to develop a relational bridge between Siouxland and Tanzania by addressing the priorities of spiritual growth, medical care, and educational opportunities. Over the past several years they have supported many Tanzanians in through education and medical programs. They’ve also branched out into health education and support for orphans.

Abōd Shelters® were built to provide homes for teachers, local workers and a birthing center for mothers to be.

Everyone has the right to a home, food, clothing, medical care, necessary social services and the right to security. While the NGO’s that we partner with have specific target areas they work in along with established relationships and local resources in the area, there is typically a housing need of some sort where the traditional building structure is cost prohibited. Abōd Shelters® collaborates with NGO’s on housing needs and provides the solution.

Abōd® Shelters Foundation can’t succeed alone, which is why we work with Partners to provide a choice, not charity. We’ve shown what’s possible but we have a long way to go. Abōd® Shelters, a registered 501©3 organization, are very interested in working with US and international organizations to leverage resources to provide homes to those in need.

If you know of an organization that we could work together with to make an even bigger difference, I’d be very grateful if you’d forward it and share it on Twitter or Facebook. Thank you!


Abōd® Shelters, a registered 501©3 organization, are very interested in working with US and international organizations to leverage resources to provide homes to those in need.
You can get involved and help us build a sustainable Village of the Future using Abōd® Shelters through prayer, raising awareness and providing monetary support through partnership or become a Sponsor. For more information about ways to partner with us or becoming a sponsor, please mail your interest to ginny@abodshelters.com You may also donate to build an Abōd®.


Basic Human Rights: Abod Shelters Has Shown What’s Possible
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Alas! Seattle Takes First Step With Tiny Home Community

Greetings Abōd® Shelters Friends!

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director Ginny@abodshelters.com

Last week my email in-box was inundated with emails from around the country calling my attention to an article appearing in the Wall Street Journal about an experiment going on in Seattle.
The article which I read over morning coffee as the sun rose evoked excitement although it is tempered with a healthy dose of cautious optimism. My heart skipped a beat as it felt like a small victory for many homeless. Private parties were stepping up. The headline offered hope.

The Wall Street Journal article, ‘Growing Homelessness Problems Spur Interest in Tiny Homes’ explores the issue well by providing insight not only from a negative perspective but from a positive human impact perspective as well.

This subject is dear to my heart. Our Abōd Shelters® Foundation has been advocating the role of Tiny Home Communities as transition housing for the homeless to city leaders across the country over the past 5 years. Many city officials are willing to open their doors and their hearts to hear about tiny homes like Abōd Shelters® and discuss their homeless challenges but the conversations seem to stop there. When we presented the Abōd Shelters® at International Builders Show (IBS) in Las Vegas we had many such conversations.

Jacques Hammer, Abōd Shelters® Manufacturer located in South Africa, having a conversation during the International Builders Show held in Las Vegas 2016.

Conditions need to reach a point of critical chaos like in late 2015 when Seattle’s Mayor declared the city in a state of emergency due to the random camps growing to uncontrollable scale. Every conversation with city leaders reveal a formulaic approach wherein they rely on a government partnership with NGO’s and key agencies to deliver solutions to help the homeless. It takes the private sector to ‘own the problem’ like the homelessness, for real action to be taken to help. Today it is left to the private sector to create ideas, the solutions and run the execution of a program to deliver the solution. Knowing this on-to itself is very revealing.

It is revealed in the article through various remarks that the Tiny Home Village is a better solution for everyone. I love the quote from Low Income Housing Institute’s Executive Director Sharon Lee;

“Business owners and residents are more receptive when they see a bunch of tiny houses.”

Sharon Lee, Low Income Housing Institute’s Executive Director

Our belief that private citizens stepping up to create Tiny Homes Villages is the first sign of a positive sustainable solution.

However, this good news was tempered with bad as the truth revealed in Los Angeles, Denver and Seattle when builder style micro homes appeared anywhere on city property replacing pop up tents and shacks made of scrap by the homeless that were removed. In Los Angeles, the city eventually returned the micro homes to the builder and told him to find private land to build them. I see evidence they see this issue as the charge of non- profits, all the burden falls on them to obtain the land, build the houses, figure out who can live there, how they fit into the SYSTEM and for how long.

When does government become an active part of the homeless solution versus magnifying the problem with disruptive action?

Statistics indicate every major city in the US has a rising homeless problem. The good news is many cities are addressing the veteran’s homeless population with the help of private sectors and NGO’s. It is the right thing to do, however that is just a percentage of the need. Local government officials continue to ignore one of the biggest segments as women with school aged children are homeless living under the poverty level but cannot get on their feet, much less find secure homes. In Florida for example, kids without home addresses can be enrolled and attend our public schools where there is a feeding program for all kids. Sadly, a high percentage, almost 25%, leave school each day to return to the family car to sleep and wash up inside Walmart restrooms.  Does that take hold of your heart? It does mine!

After much reflection my conclusion is this – By and large we in America have become experts at turning a blind eye toward pain and suffering of homeless in our communities. Our local municipalities are too slow to respond to their needs. If it is left to the private sector to do the work, how can we come together to up our game to another level?

Here are my questions for you:

  1. How can more NGO’s come together to align behind addressing the unmet needs for women and children? It is a place to focus that can really help?
  2. Who can provide land to allow us to build an Abōd Shelters® village?
  3. What will it take to wake up America to respond?

We at Abōd Shelters® want to help be part of the solution in America.  Won’t you help us make the right connections? Please reach out to me with your thoughts. May you be amply blessed in all you do for others in need.

Simple and easy to build, yet structurally sound design is the premise behind Abōd Shelters®. Photo credit to Jacob Sharp at Jacob Sharp Photo’s.

Photo credit to Grace Vander Weide.


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.

Alas! Seattle Takes First Step With Tiny Home Community
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Use Your Life Experiences to Help Someone Else

Greetings Abōd® Shelters Friends!

It’s a big decision to share a personal story. But when someone decides to, just the act of sharing is caring. Stories bring hope to the person who has not made it to the other side of their circumstance yet – who may feel isolated or ashamed. Personal stories also bring humanity to a problem that motivates others to help in a way that all of the stats and facts shared about the problem cannot.

There are many reasons why people across this country and around the world are homeless and there are many stories behind the Abōd Shelters® and why people choose to help us with our mission to provide affordable housing wherever it is needed. Some stories are from people, like Doug Sharp, who have witnessed the extreme poverty of third-world countries in their travels. Other stories are first-hand accounts from people who have survived homelessness.

Many times, we never get to know the story behind someone’s passion for and involvement with Abōd.  But Elizabeth Kandle, volunteer and guest blogger, relates through the following story that some people are homeless because they have escaped an abusive or oppressive situation. For them the streets at least offer freedom from their circumstance and the hope of finding a new path of their choosing – and hopefully, eventually a place they can feel safe and call home...

A Journey of Sharing Gives Hope

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director

Elizabeth Kandle, Business Developer, BSB Design, Inc

Watching the sun rise from the corner of a doorway in a building in San Francisco, I look around to the group of displaced children who didn’t sleep again last night. What are we looking for as we wander the streets? An underground sea of music and art? How did we find each other?

There are now five of us walking the streets shivering with unsteady hands. We are tired, but we have no choice but to walk on through the day. Too smart for our own good, we all ended up in college as high schoolers trudging a path of boredom that led us to look for something else. Asking random strangers to help us with nickels and dimes for cheap fast food. Sour cream is a luxury. It cost a quarter, but that quarter could almost feed another one of us with tacos at fifty-nine cents.

That was twenty years ago.

Life isn’t like that today and I am ashamed to say I throw groceries away now without a thought. I should give it more thought. I let my kids play with nickels and dimes that once added up to a feeling of a nearly full stomach. We were not homeless by coincidence – some of us sought homelessness because we were not happy with what we had, some of us were not safe where we were, and then there was me who was just wondering what else was out there.

After I experienced the fire as a child, life was different for me. I saw and learned things at too young of an age. I continued to excel at school in a way that allowed me to leave the regular school set up and take things at my own pace, but this also opened a world up to me that I was not ready for or equipped to navigate. And I was allowed the opportunity to try and figure it out on my own.

Perhaps that is what makes me different. Perhaps that is what allows me to never give up.

Sometimes we would walk all day. Miles upon miles. Meeting strangers and asking for spare change for food. At night we would retreat to old buildings long condemned to make art and share our stories. Stories about changing the world, why we were different and what we each did to survive. Sharing our stories kept us going. From so many walks of life we came together to keep each other company and to give each other hope.

One of the girls was 19, had 3 children living with her father and was 6 months pregnant. She was deaf in her right ear and had a muscle disorder that made her clench in a strange and awkward way. She asked me to pray for her children. In my mind, I prayed;

God, please help give this young girl strength and courage, please hold her in your arms as she walks slowly down her path to you, please be gentle on her weak soul, may her road be paved with less heartache and loss than the rest of ours. Please help her find her way home.”

Elizabeth Kandle

Most of us were in our early to mid-teens and a long way from home. We found a common thread of faith among one another and believed that there was a reason for us to be where we were. We felt that we were wandering through a life that was always being met with resistance, but at least we were free. Not free of rules or breaking them necessarily but free in the sense of knowing we didn’t give up. Instead, surviving something and then experiencing the feeling of relief and satisfaction of accomplishment.

There is also a freedom in not having anything, but that is not met without fear. A friend told me the other day that my fear is very different from anything he has encountered before and it is in that raw emotion that I am more human to him. We all seem to hide that humanness. But it is this characteristic in my mind that can help someone else. Just like 20 years ago when sharing our stories kept us going. We can give each other hope.

Abōd Shelters® works with Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO’s) to provide housing, medical clinics, dormitories, classrooms etc. Many of the individuals that end up using Abod’s have next to nothing. One of the benefits of getting involved in our mission trips and helping with the builds is being able to meet these individuals first-hand and hear their stories. Their stories are true testimonies of survival.

It is in our experience that we can reach out with what we have, even if it is only an unsteady hand, we can still help someone else. Help someone else by sharing your experience.

How can you help?

  1. Partner with us or provide an introduction to a potential partner. We can make a greater impact working together than separately. We have been able to build homes, dormitories, medical buildings and classrooms as a result of working together. Reach out to Abōd® Shelters so we can partner and make a difference together! partners@abodshelters.com
  2. Get involved as an organization or individual through prayer, raising awareness or providing monetary support. We’d love to be able to share our Abōd® Shelters Story with your organization or group.  ginny@abodshelters.com
  3. Follow us on social media, like, share and invite others. Abōd® Shelters values the relationships we have made and we’re thankful for all of the support our friends have provided.

End of Day 1 building 5 homes in Mokopane, South Africa.

End of Day 2 building homes for Grannies partnering with Blessman International.

End of Day 3 building homes for Grannies, their grandchildren and additional children that would be homeless if not taken in by these wonderful women.

Thanks to Michelle Rothfus, Abōd Shelters® Project Coordinator for above 3 project images.

From Elizabeth:

I was offered an opportunity to do some writing for the company I started working with a year ago. I thought it was a nice gesture and it was certainly something I was going to keep on doing anyway.  I have been a writer my whole life; spinning the narrative, selling the stories, and sharing in an obscure and vulnerable way that somehow feels safe to me. I wonder sometimes which event led me to hide behind a rough exterior only to share the true intimacy inside me with people who I don’t necessarily know. It’s like bad timing I guess. I don’t trust people all of the time, but I do have a sense that everything is going to turn out. Not like some innate religious or spiritual concept, but the feeling that it’s going to be ok is deep inside of me.

One House. One Family. One Day.

www.abodshelters.com

 If you enjoyed this post, I’d be very grateful if you’d help it spread by emailing it to a friend, or sharing it on Twitter or Facebook. Thank you!


Abōd® Shelters, a registered 501©3 organization, are very interested in working with US and international organizations to leverage resources to provide homes to those in need.
You can get involved and help us build a sustainable Village of the Future using Abōd® Shelters through prayer, raising awareness and providing monetary support through partnership or become a Sponsor. For more information about ways to partner with us or becoming a sponsor, please mail your interest to ginny@abodshelters.com


Use Your Life Experiences to Help Someone Else
read more

A First-Hand Account Of The Lasting Impact of Childhood Homelessness

Greetings Abōd® Shelters Friends!

Abōd Shelters® values every donation and volunteer effort. One regular source of support we are most grateful for comes from BSB Design employees. Many of them choose to contribute a portion of every paycheck to our cause and others regularly donate their time to help raise awareness and money to make Abod’s available for families or to serve community needs, such as for birthing centers. We are excited to introduce you to one such BSB Design employee who has stepped up to help us with our weekly blog effort. If anyone blogs, they understand that keeping up with a regular schedule can be a challenge.

When we put Elizabeth Kandle from our Charlotte office on our schedule as a guest blogger, we were glad to have a slot filled and expected nothing more than for her to say what drew her to helping us or why she thinks Abōd Shelters® efforts are important. But the most powerful and personal story Elizabeth delivered, and you will read, was much more than we anticipated. We extend heartfelt thanks to Elizabeth for her willingness to share through her own first-hand perspective how being suddenly displaced from home or never having a home impacts a child and follows them into adulthood.

The Flame That Changed Everything In An Instant

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director

Elizabeth Kandle, Business Developer, BSB Design, Inc

“It lives inside me. And it breaths. Big full breaths. Inhaling and growing. It expands. It has life and cannot die.”

It’s 3 am now and I feel it. I also feel cold.

I have small hands and small bones and they are tired. I have been walking on these same two feet for a long time now. I haven’t slept well since I was a child and I often feel like a stranger in my own home, or perhaps my home is the stranger to me. As I think back to the writing I committed to, the tears come to the surface. I think back to how safe I used to feel. Before the fire.

Things can change in an instant. You always hear stuff like that. You never think that it’s going to happen to you. Displacement.

What do you do with two children and no home… how do you keep it together as a mother and create safety when your life catches flames before your very eyes? What was my mother thinking when she sent us away after the fire?

Like orphans, we wandered around each day in strange towns and strange homes with people we did not know. With my twin sister as my lifeline, my mom tried to find someone to care for us after the fire.

This experience created something inside of me. I was in the 8th grade and I didn’t know hunger. I had never known sadness – the real kind that creeps into your heart in the earliest of hours. I had never lived amongst people that didn’t want me there. I had never had to make my space so small or had to hide inside my own body… trying to disappear.

We lived in an old home in a small historic district. We had just moved after my parents separated and the house we rented was broken up over 3 floors.

My twin sister, my mom and I shared the two bedrooms in the middle. I don’t remember the woman on the first floor. It was her comforter stored too high in a closet that was subsequently below our traditional floor heater that burnt the house down. We had left for school that morning just like we had for about 3 weeks after the move.

We came home to nothing. At least someone had saved the cat.

With her heart in her hands, my mother drove us to extended family that we had never met. A lot happens in a divorce and I quickly learned that the people that were by our side one time did not stand beside us then. As an adult I get it, but as a child it terrified me. People can leave? Houses can disappear? You can wake up one day with only the shoes on your feet?

I seem to wake up at this time of night more often now. This new house seems funny, and I sleep in a room with no doors. It’s not a bedroom, but no one was intended to sleep here until we came along. Confused, I stumble in the dark to the slider and see the moon. That’s the one thing that didn’t change.

Have you ever spent nights alone in your head… just wondering how you got here? How you really got anywhere? There seems to be so much promise in the world. It feels like a ribbon running through all of us and tying us together. Hope lives inside of me. After all that has happened, how can I not have hope? What I choose to do with this experience is up to me. I am strong, fierce and unstoppable. I know what is right. I know that if I take one breath in and out each day with stability in my soul I can change the world.

“Will you come with me?”

All around us are things that we did not choose and we are not always as charmed as we had hoped we would be, as we once were. Together we can take a stand.

You never know when a disaster or accident may happen where an entire family is uprooted, mentally affected and scrambling for support. The picture on the left is an image of Talent and his family in front of their Abōd Shelters® home. Two years ago, a tree fell on their previous family home and it was destroyed. See the full story by reading “Project Update: Newest Abōd Design Came to South African Family – by Accident?!” They recently had a baby and are doing well.

Abōd Shelters® understands that housing is one important aspect needed in supporting a family and getting them back on their feet.

Please help us provide homes to those in need. How can you help?

  1. Partner with us or provide an introduction to a potential partner. We can make a greater impact working together than separately. We have been able to build homes, dormitories, medical buildings and classrooms as a result of working together. Reach out to Abōd Shelters® so we can partner and make a difference together! ginny@abodshelters.com
  2. Get involved as an organization or individual through prayer, raising awareness or providing monetary support. We’d love to be able to share our Abōd Shelters® Story with your organization or group.  ginny@abodshelters.com
  3. Follow us on social media, like, share and invite others. Abōd Shelters® values the relationships we have made and we’re thankful for all of the support our friends have provided.

From Elizabeth:

I was offered an opportunity to do some writing for the company I started working with a year ago. I thought it was a nice gesture and it was certainly something I was going to keep on doing anyway.  I have been a writer my whole life; spinning the narrative, selling the stories, and sharing in an obscure and vulnerable way that somehow feels safe to me. I wonder sometimes which event led me to hide behind a rough exterior only to share the true intimacy inside me with people who I don’t necessarily know. It’s like bad timing I guess. I don’t trust people all of the time, but I do have a sense that everything is going to turn out. Not like some innate religious or spiritual concept, but the feeling that it’s going to be ok is deep inside of me.

One House. One Family. One Day.

www.abodshelters.com

 If you enjoyed this post, I’d be very grateful if you’d help it spread by emailing it to a friend, or sharing it on Twitter or Facebook. Thank you!

Abōd® Shelters, a registered 501©3 organization, are very interested in working with US and international organizations to leverage resources to provide homes to those in need.
You can get involved and help us build a sustainable Village of the Future using Abōd® Shelters through prayer, raising awareness and providing monetary support through partnership or become a Sponsor. For more information about ways to partner with us or becoming a sponsor, please mail your interest to ginny@abodshelters.com


A First-Hand Account Of The Lasting Impact of Childhood Homelessness
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How A Conversation Led To Tiny House Atlanta Joining Abod Shelters in Tanzania

Greetings Abōd® Shelters Friends!

Cover photo credit goes to Teresa Choi, volunteer on our Tanzania mission trip in January 2017, where 10 Abōd Shelters® were built in 10 days.

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director Ginny@abodshelters.com

As I often do, I received a call recently from an NGO doing work in the United States who had heard about our Abod Shelters solution. While we had a great and worthwhile conversation, ultimately, Abod was not the right fit. But in the giving community people are often connected to other NGO’s in such a way that they can be mutually beneficial to each other. Understanding that Abod wouldn’t fit their organization needs, they knew of another organization that our solution might be a good fit for. That is how we came to be connected with Tiny House Atlanta.

I am very grateful for every conversation that I have because you never know what it might lead to. Because of this call, I met Will Johnston, with Tiny House Atlanta, a vibrant personality with courage and commitment toward helping educate and inspire Atlanta’s growing populace about the virtues of embracing the Tiny House lifestyle.  Life in the city is getting exceedingly expensive so coping is an issue.

We discovered his organization and ours had loads in common, even though the physical manifestation of the work his association performs is local and our work unfolds on different continents.  While the economic conditions between urban Atlanta and for example rural Tanzania, are dramatically different, the fundamental human dynamics that drive our desire to encourage tiny home living are much the same – security, stability, simplification.

Will expressed genuine excitement about our Foundation’s work in various parts of Africa so much so that he volunteered to join our next mission trip to Tanzania in January 2017.

Will Johnston, Tiny House Atlanta, joined in building 10 Abōd Shelters® in 10 days in Tanzania this past January.

Will Johnston with volunteers, including Ty Pennington, and local school children during the building of 9 Abōd Shelters® to be used as homes plus an Abōd Birthing Center at the Hospital. 

To my delight, he made good on his promise and joined us on his first ‘purposeful Mission trip,’ The Great African Adventure with Ty Pennington to help build 10 Abōds in 10 Days on the STEMM Medical Ministry Campus and in the Village of Mbuguni.

Will made the commitment to fully participate in all aspects of the Great Adventure Mission Trip. I can attest to it – Will did make the most of his three weeks in Tanzania. The purpose of Part One of the trip was to get hands on experience building the Abod. Like most people who fall in love with the Abōd Shelters humanitarian design, Will was intrigued about the build formula in relationship to our self-imposed mandate to assemble 10 Abōds in 10 days. This never done before challenge, would take a full effort by every volunteer member to come together and pull their weight.

As soon as Will arrived he jumped right in with full gusto and muscle. He drilled, carried, climbed and hammered, not to mention made us laugh, sang with us and cajoled the team just when we all needed it. He played his role within the volunteer team and with Ty Pennington to accomplish our extreme goal of building 9 Abōd Shelters® to be used as homes plus an Abōd Birthing Center at the Hospital.  Once much of the hard work was accomplished, Will joined us on a wonderful Safari experience in the Tarangire Reserve Camp with a memorable overnight stay the night before at a campsite one hour into the reserve.   It was the perfect way to expand on our friendships, relax after hard day’s work and share quality time together.

Photo credit to Teresa Choi.

It seemed during that first call potential existed to strike up a rewarding friendship but I underestimated how powerful sharing this Mission Trip could be in kindling so many connections for a lifetime.

When I asked Will to reflect on his experiences on the Tanzania Mission Trip he offered,

The entire trip was a life changing experience for me. I see so many benefits from participating in a purpose driven trip like this where you come together with common goals around building a Abōd Micro Village that really makes a difference. While you are contributing physically you are benefiting emotionally. Plus, you are making new friends and discovering things about yourself in the process. Allowing time to taste and be part of the culture and go on a Safari trip are icing on the cake. They expand your point of view. When you get back to the US you see things differently.”

Will Johnston, Tiny House Atlanta

Learn more about ‘Will Johnston On Why Tiny Houses?’ Since then the impact has gone even further. Now Will wants to expand our relationship to help us even more. I am happy to share Will has asked Abōd Shelters® Foundation to participate in his Tiny House Atlanta Festival in Decatur, Georgia on September 29th –  October 1st, 2017. We are working out the details of how we will be featured so stay tuned, especially if you are in the Atlanta area and want to know more about Tiny Homes and the Abōd Shelters® Foundation, our design solution and our humanitarian work.

We were all grateful for Will Johnston’s volunteer spirit, joyful personality on this milestone African Adventure Mission trip and especially his willingness to champion our message to those people genuinely interested in the many dimensions of the Tiny House Movement that Will is fostering.  Thank you, Tiny House Atlanta.   We wish you much success and are excited about working together.

A picture taken during the build of a couple of the homes that will be used by the local school. Credit to Will Johnston for the photo.

A picture of the inside of the Birthing Center that was built in the local village. Photo credit goes to Doug Vander Weide, Chairman of Abōd Shelters® Foundation.


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.

How A Conversation Led To Tiny House Atlanta Joining Abod Shelters in Tanzania
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