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The Ideal Community? Let’s Build Together

Cover Photo: Johnathon Sim Chikanta High School students located in southern Zambia. Abōd Shelters are being used as dormitories because they were lower cost and quicker to build than the traditional cement structures. The students have their own sense of community which is shown through their closeness in sharing with and supporting each other throughout the school year. Photo credit to Michelle Rothfus, Abōd Shelters Project Coordinator.

Greetings Abōd® Shelters Friends!

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director

Michelle Rothfus, Project Coordinator Abōd® Shelters

I grew up on a farm quite away from anywhere, so when we did go to town we made sure it was a worthwhile trip. In the meantime, if we needed something we went to the nearest neighbor or did without. This seemed to be normal as other neighbors came to our house for a cup of sugar or flour from time to time or to get help if their cows got out. After I had my own family and moved to a small town, I remember heading next door when I needed just one egg and receiving the strangest look and a comment, “You know the store is just 20 minutes away.” I didn’t return to their house for items in the future.

As we lead our own families we tend to gravitate toward what is familiar or convenient and we’ve grown to have certain expectations on where we choose to live.  By the way, other neighbors we got to know found this item borrowing very normal. As a ‘thank you’ they’d bring back a portion of whatever they made!

When you think of the ‘Ideal Community’, what comes to mind?

Are certain amenities important to you when choosing where to live? For example, good schools, medical clinics nearby, shopping and entertainment in close proximity? What about having open green space or parks, bike trails and access to a community building or shelter for events? Or is it more about being around like-minded individuals that work and support each other?

An impromptu question of “What does community mean to you” from Thornton Place in Seattle, WA resulted in some interesting answers when people on the streets were asked. View their short video here.

Abōd Shelters understands that our communities in which we live are very important because they are essential to our wellbeing. It doesn’t matter where in the world we live, a sense of community matters everywhere. That’s why we have a land plan already developed that not only includes homes but schools, classrooms, technology centers, medical solutions and community buildings to allow for the flexibility of meeting spaces – all in one community. It’s no surprise that Abōd Shelters are highly functional, sustainable, can be built in one day and are customizable.

Abōd Shelters also understands that it’s not just about having a home or physical structure that makes a community so powerful.

Sense of Community is a feeling that members have of belonging, a feeling that members matter to one another and to the group, and a shared faith that members’ needs will be met through their commitment to be together.”

McMillan & Chavis (1986)

Read more about the most influential research on The Psychological Sense of Community: Theory of McMillan & Chavis (1986) and the four elements that Sense of Community are composed of.

Abōd Shelters believes that having a home supports and provides a foundation to creating a sense of community. We also believe:

  • We believe in the potential of human spirit; Personal space is important to well-being.
  • We believe that everyone is deserving of an affordable, quality home that lasts.
  • We believe in producing social good in the largest measurable form possible.

Jacques and Lee-Ann Hammer, Abōd Shelters Manufacturers located in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Our foundation is purpose driven, focused on long term social impact. We are dedicated to envisioning and designing quality, low cost housing solutions in lifestyle communities. We work with Strategic Partners to raise the standard of living for families to enhance overall well-being.

Abōd Shelters are currently being manufactured in Johannesburg, South Africa. Watch and listen to Jacques and Lee-Ann Hammer’s, our South African manufacturers, story to understand the severity of the housing situation and how Abōd Shelters can be a solution.

Interested in getting involved? We are looking for partners to build and transform living conditions for the needy in Africa. Are you an individual or do you belong to an NGO with a need for housing, dormitories, classrooms, birthing units, etc? Small scale or large scale, let’s build together!

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. Be sure to send the link to someone who might be interested in sponsoring a home or to partner with us to transform living conditions for the needy. 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. 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.


The Ideal Community? Let’s Build Together
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It’s the ‘Little Things’ That Make a Big Difference

Greetings Abōd® Shelters Friends!

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director

Michelle Rothfus, Project Coordinator Abōd® Shelters

Have you ever noticed that it’s the ‘little things’ that make a difference in the choices we make? The college our son or daughter chooses, where we buy our groceries, what car we drive, where we live or travel, what coffee shop we frequent or what activity we choose to participate in. The ‘little things’ that make a difference could be as minor as someone calling us politely by our name, having the door held open for us and being welcomed inside, the cleanliness of the store, the color, the distance, the temperature, etc.

When it comes to many things involving my time and how it is used, I am NOT a patient person. There are just too many other more important things that need my time. I don’t want to walk through a huge grocery store just for a gallon of milk. I don’t want to sit for an hour getting my hair cut. I absolutely hate having to try clothes on just to have an appropriate outfit to wear. Can you relate?

It’s the little things that make a big difference even in the daily choices that we make.

Abōd® Shelters Foundation work in areas where the average daily income is less than $1.90 per day. Yes, you read that right. Go ahead, do the math. There is nowhere in the world, where a person could live on this amount. So, my rant about having to take extra time walking through a large grocery store for milk is nothing compared to the daily little things that many people do just to survive. For example, walking several miles each and every day… just for water!

The Johnathan Sim Chikanta Secondary School in Twachiyanda, Zambia has a bore hole on their campus that the local villages and the school use for water. Picture credit to Michelle Rothfus.

Local women walking home after retrieving water from the bore hole located at the Johnathan Sim Chikanta Secondary School. I was unable to find out how far they walked every day for water. Picture credit to Michelle Rothfus.

Abōd® Shelters Foundation believes every aspect of a project is important – even the little things. We can have an impact on many people and we understand that when our partners projects are successful… we’re successful.

Here are FIVE things that we believe make a BIG difference when we work on our projects:

  1. We play well with others – We know that collaborating accomplishes much more than working individually, that’s why Abōd® Shelters Foundation collaborates with other non-profits or non-government organizations to provide housing for families, teachers, students, provide schools, medical and birthing clinics in areas in need. Read what we’ve done collaborating with Blessman International in South Africa. We recognize the value of collaborating with like-minded individuals and groups to benefit both through: Cost savings; increasing resources, skills and abilities; and improving efficiency. Most of all, collaborating allows both sides to accomplish much more, better, faster and smarter. In our case, it is providing as many homes to those in need as possible.

Dr Jim Blessman, President and Founder of Blessman International. Learn more here: http://www.blessmanministries.org/index.htm

Two of the 10 homes that were built earlier this year in Tanzania. Photo credit to Will Johnston, Tiny House Atlanta, who helped on this build.

2. We’re successful when you’re successful – We share what we’ve learned, what works and what doesn’t, tips and tricks from previous projects, etc. so that the same challenges don’t reoccur. Abod wants to make certain our partners have the support from the beginning to the very end of the project. Read ‘Basic Human Rights: Abod Shelters Has Shown What’s Possible’ to learn more about what we’ve accomplished with our partners. We don’t just deliver the materials to build, we are there during the early planning stages and follow up after families move in to make certain everything goes as planned.

3. We invite YOU on the build. What better way to see how Abōd® Shelters is making a difference? Get involved and build side by side with the locals and learn about the culture and their needs first-hand. Read about one small group from Iowa and their experience in ‘Introducing Abod Shelters Mission to Build Better Lives’.

4. We purchase everything that we can locally. We want to strengthen and support the economic base of the community where the Abod’s are being built so we use as many local materials, tools, services, vendors, etc that we can in the locations that we build.

The amazing group of volunteers that helped build 10 homes in 10 days earlier this year in Tanzania. Picture credit to Rob Marish at Keystone Pictures.

One of the 5 original Granny homes built at Del Cramer Campus through Blessman International in South Africa. Picture credit to Jacob Sharp Photo.

Partner with us as an individual, small group or organization in making a BIG difference with homelessness, disaster relief, refugee housing. Abōd® Shelters Foundation, 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.

5. We hire locals to participate in the build. What better way to support the community, teach new skills and learn new skills than hiring locally? You’d be surprised at what WE learn from the locals about the culture along with tips and tricks and what works and what doesn’t with building in specific locations.

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


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.

It’s the ‘Little Things’ That Make a Big Difference
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Family: Making Them a Priority

Cover Photo credit to Michelle Rothfus. This picture was taken in Willits, Ca as we were carrying dinner items from one house to another.

Greetings Abōd® Shelters Friends!

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director

Michelle Rothfus, Project Coordinator Abōd® Shelters

As I fly over the Colorado Rockies and view the beautiful mountains from above I reflect on the last 3 ½ days spent with extended family that I’ve only seen a handful of times. I made a very last minute decision to take time off from work and go see my grandmother’s siblings and their families. Much of the information that I heard about these individuals came from my grandmother who was one of 9 and passed away a couple of years ago at the age of 102. She had 7 children and we used to have regular family dinners and gatherings at her house with all of her children and their families.

I grew up playing with and having my cousins as friends. My children only knew a couple of my cousins because they lived close to us. They didn’t grow up close to or see their immediate cousins very often. One would think you’d be able to see and remain in contact with your relatives but as is typical these days, time gets away and the normal day to day stuff takes over.

Looking at the mountains from high above reminds me of how overwhelming life can be. Being eye level with the clouds allows me time to relax and think. Being trapped in a small seat on a plane may have something to do with this situation but I welcome this time for myself. Sometimes it is good to sit back and look at everything from a distance. For example our philanthropic project, Abod Shelters, brings life-saving changes to its recipients but the tasks and responsibilities can be overwhelming. We recently had a wonderful summer intern who accomplished many things that I didn’t have the time or skill-set for. Read ‘Reaching Out to Universities for Interns: It’s a Win/Win’ to understand the true benefits of having someone come in for a short time, particularly a college intern. She accomplished much in just a short 3-month period. Be sure to check out the designs she came up with for our online store. A percentage is donated back to Abod with every purchase!

Kira Mann, our summer intern who is sporting one of her favorite Abod shirts but also came up with these designs.

Kathryn Wilson, Senior Draftsperson at BSB Design, and Michelle Rothfus, Project Coordinator for Abod, happened to wear their favorite design the same day.

Teresa Thomason, Abod Shelters new Administrative Coordinator, pictured third from the left with her children.

I recently welcomed a new individual to our Abod team. Her name is Teresa Thomason (pictured left with her children) and she has a broad base of experience including bookkeeping which is again, one of the skills I lack! She lives in a small town in Iowa, US close to her grandchildren and really enjoys having them around. She’ll be working with us part time and I know that her passion to help others will spill over in her new role.  Look forward to hearing more about what we’re doing and what Teresa is accomplishing.

Many of the families that Abod Shelters work with live in the same house or in the same small village as their extended family which is different than Americans. After completing school young adults in America most often move a great distance away from their parents usually for employment or career reasons.  Our cultures are different in many ways but I believe one thing is the same in every culture; whatever is the most important is what we make the priority.

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


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.

Family: Making Them a Priority
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Be Prepared: 7 Disaster Hacks

Greetings Abōd® Shelters Friends!

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director

Michelle Rothfus, Project Coordinator Abōd® Shelters

My daughter attends college in Florida so when the warnings came out for Hurricane Irma, it was difficult as a parent living in the Midwest US not to scream at her to “come home!”. The recent hurricanes, the fires out west and the earthquake in Mexico have affected everyone in SOME way. Whether being a direct victim of, knowing someone who was or hearing about a relative or friends experience during the disaster, it’s difficult to not feel your emotional heart strings being pulled – hard.

There have been several disasters just in the last few years that have caused a lot of damage. See the recent article on ‘The costliest natural disasters in US History.’ As Hurricane Irma was ripping through islands and coming closer to the state of Florida, people had time to prepare or leave depending on their location and situation. In most disasters, people do not. Or even if they do have time to evacuate, they have no where to go.

My daughter learned a few things from friends as far as how to protect herself and her belongings in case her city encountered a storm surge. She stated one friend instructed her to place her favorite pictures and smaller treasured items in the dishwasher and then make sure it was sealed shut. Friends also forwarded me ideas on what to instruct her to do. I couldn’t believe how my mind went blank in the moment so I was thankful for this. So I thought I would share these good, doable ideas that you can do now to be prepared. While these are not guaranteed to work in every situation, emotionally, it is helpful to have a plan just in case. Having a ‘go to’ kit can help with the feeling of being prepared. It’s important to discuss with your family or friends what your plan is in case of an emergency; where to meet, who to call and where the emergency items are that are listed below.

  1. Pack an emergency kit for yourself / family or winter emergency kit, depending on where you live; include a med kit, wet wipes, water, snacks, matches (see #5 below), batteries, flashlight and small radio.
  2. Pack an emergency kit for your pet(s) to last at least 3 days; include a towel, leash, food, water, dish, copy of medical records and small garbage bags. Make certain they have updated ID tags secured to their collar or even better, get them micro-chipped.
  3. Have a 3-ring binder with plastic protectors to contain your important phone numbers, documents and copies of identification.
  4. Stock up on batteries and keep them organized and in an airtight container to protect them from water damage.
  5. Store matches in a mason jar with something to strike the matches with on the inside.
  6. Keep flashlights in strategic areas and let your family know where they are.
  7. Store extra jugs of tap water to flush the toilet and properly deal with human waste if you lose water. (Thanks Connie!)

To help prepare your kiddos for disasters without scaring them be sure to read the blog, ‘Teaching Kids About Disasters.’

Disasters can happen with little to no warning and humans are pretty innovative when it comes to surviving even in the harshest environments. Be prepared by organizing an emergency kit, talking with your family / friends about your plan and being informed about the different types of emergencies that could occur in the area that you live.

In every country all over the world there are housing needs. Many people believe that there are just too many issues or too much is needed to accomplish anything worthwhile.  Abod Shelters have proven what’s possible for individuals in need and that it is worth it to get involved. Be sure to read, ‘Getting Involved… Is It Worth It?


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


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.

Be Prepared: 7 Disaster Hacks
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No Really, What If…?

Greetings Abōd® Shelters Friends!

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director

Michelle Rothfus, Project Coordinator Abōd® Shelters

There are literally millions of crazy, fascinating and hypothetical “What If” scenarios that fill up books that have people intrigued about technology, medicine, business, planets, etc. There are even movies made with the title of “What If”. These different scenarios get you thinking and dreaming about all the endless possibilities.

A couple of days ago, I was asked to think strategically and complete the sentence, “What if…?” I hadn’t had a chance to respond yet and as most people do when they write regularly, stumbled this week for a new and fresh topic for the Abod blog. I immediately went back to this sentence and began thinking about Abōd® Shelters because over the years we’ve dreamed many times on “what if’s” actually coming true! The ‘we’ve’ in the previous sentence refers to everyone who has ever been involved with Abod; the initial designers, board members, volunteers, partners and those that go and help on our builds.

In under 20 minutes I came up with the below list.

What if…

Abōd® Shelters had a constant revolving door for interns? I mean this in the most positive way. They could come in for just a few short weeks and share their novel perspectives, provide ‘outside the box’ ideas and then make them happen. They would receive real life experience in a local community non-profit and gain valuable experience, develop skills and make connections… all while growing their resume! Read more on ‘Reaching Out to Universities for Interns: It’s a Win / Win’.

Kira Mann, Abōd® Shelters summer intern

Every city provided jobs for the homeless? I know there are already programs available and in place for those who qualify. But what about everyone else? ‘Bridging The Gap: The Power of the Street Paper’ shares how college students are volunteering to make a difference in the lives of the homeless in Memphis, TN. What if… every college did this?

Thousands of people bought our shirts with the NEW designs? Every purchase results in a percentage back to the foundation to provide homes for those in need. Now THAT would be helpful. It would also be fun to see thousands of people sporting our shirts with innovative designs!  Go directly to our ‘Shop’ here. Thanks to our summer intern, our shop is now open with NEW designs. Read more about our super hero intern here.

What if…

Abōd® Shelters had manufacturing available in every country all over the world? We already use local materials and a few local laborers on our builds but this would mean stable jobs and a steady stream of business for the locals. It would also reduce shipping, customs and duty costs because they wouldn’t need to be transported across countries or shipped internationally. 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. Read ‘Basic Human Rights: Abōd® Shelters Has Shown What’s Possible’ and learn more about what we’ve accomplished working with others.

More organizations encouraged their employees to ‘Give Back’ as part of their work culture? At BSB Design, Inc. employees sign up yearly to build locally with Habitat for Humanity, participate in CANstruction for the local food bank, Airplane Pull for the Special Olympics, provide designs to HomeAid’s “Project Playhouse” and Design and build for Make-A-Wish Foundation. Our employees ‘adopt’ families at Thanksgiving and Christmas to provide food and gifts and many, many more activities. Most recently, our Dallas office participated in a ‘Walk-A-Thon’ to raise money for an Abōd® Shelters Birthing Center in Tanzania. Really, getting involved is worth it.

BSB Design employees participating in the local Greater Des Moines Habitat Build.

BSB Design employees participating in the CANstruction event to support the local food pantry.

BSB Design Dallas Team early morning walkers to raise money for an Abōd® Shelters Birthing Center.

What if…?

There were warehouses full of Abōd® Shelters all over the world? Could you imagine how quickly a response could be to provide homes to people after a disaster? Hurricane Matthew, a Category 4 hurricane, that hit Haiti last October is just an example. Every month of every year there are natural disasters, terrorist attacks, accidents that hundreds and thousands of people experience. I’m thankful for the organizations and volunteers that immediately respond to areas after horrific disasters. They come in with medical supplies, food and water. If there were Abod’s ready to be deployed when the next disaster happened, they could provide more than just a temporary, safe solution. Read ‘Abōd® Shelters Picks Up Where the Temporary Solutions Leave Off.’  The flexibility of the layout provides many options to those in need in any circumstance.

Governments were easy to work with? I know… this comes across as a bit sarcastic. There are just too many issues, basically RED TAPE, to deal with. But what if… large pieces of land could be set aside for low cost housing. What if… bribes were not needed, having to know someone in a high up position everyone just had good intentions? What if… Abōd® Shelters Village of the Future came to fruition? What if…the local municipalities provided the needed utilities to have clean, safe, welcoming neighborhoods that families could flourish in?

What if… Abōd® Shelters had your help? Let’s make a difference together.

Global need

  • Today, 1.6 billion people live in inadequate shelter around the world; 1 billion of those live in informal settlements. More than 100 million people worldwide are homeless.
  • About one in four people live in conditions that harm their health, safety, prosperity and opportunities.
  • By 2030, UN-HABITAT estimates an additional 3 billion people, about 40 percent of the world’s population, will need access to housing. This translates into a demand for 96,150 new affordable units every day and 4,000 every hour.
  • By 2050, 70 percent of the world’s population is projected to be living in urban areas, causing slums and unplanned settlements to swell.
  • Estimates of homelessness in the United States vary from 1.6 million to 3 million people. Most studies conclude that about one-third of the homeless are children.

The impact of adequate housing

  • Adequate shelter is a critical foundation for breaking the cycle of poverty.
  • Adequate housing is vitally important to the health of the world’s economies, communities, and populations.
  • Homeownership is a form of wealth accumulation through equity and forced savings from mortgage repayment.
  • Good housing attracts economic investment and development.
  • Decent shelter contributes to thriving school systems, community
  • organizations and civic activism.
  • Safe homes and neighborhoods help to build social stability and security.

Key Facts obtained from http://www.habitat.org/getinv/events/world-habitat-day/housing-facts

Special thanks to Dan Swift, President of BSB Design, Inc. for always encouraging and asking the ‘What if’ question.

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 let us know. Also, please forward this 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


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.

No Really, What If…?
read more

New Design Reveal – Part 2

Greetings Abōd® Shelters Friends!

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director

Kira Mann, Summer Intern Abōd® Shelters

I am so excited about going live THIS WEEK with our new apparel shop (see info at the bottom of this post) and there is still a lot in store for the rest of the year! While I have been updating the apparel website and all of the t-shirt designs, there has also been opportunity for me to create social media graphics to blend the bold look of the new apparel with the bold and graphic looks of our social media posts.

I introduced a cohesive and structured look to many holiday and special occasion posts throughout the year. These posts, in stride with the new shirts, feature the Abod logo and incorporate the logo’s great design into scenes fit for individual holidays. Can you guess which holiday is celebrated in the below graphics?

My time at Abōd® Shelters has been a great learning experience. Starting at a new place always provides an opportunity to work with new people. Special thanks to Lindy, Erin, and Carly with BSB Design, Inc. for all their guidance and critique – they are a huge force behind the re-opening of the apparel shop and the masterminds behind the beautiful branding of Abōd® Shelters. The internship has allowed me to gain more practice with the design computer programs and strengthen my problem solving skills – not every website and program that you’ll use as a designer will be (ironically) designed well… this means many hours behind the screen clicking my mouse too many times to correct issues. Those hours were fueled with coffee and podcasts.

Fun and Expectant Things Discovered While Working Behind the Screen

  1. Podcasts are your friend. I recommended ‘99% Invisible’, ‘Stuff You Should Know Podcast’ and ‘This American Life’
  2. Find a great place to go after work to reward screen-exhausted eyes. I recommend Blu Thai Food and Sushi – ask Danny, the Sushi Artist, for a Chef Special!

I believe that passion fuels hard work. Michelle; the organized, kind and admirable energy behind everything Abod, is what it means to do something you love. She has a full heart that is guiding a helping cause to greatness. She reminds us all in this short life that it is important to love what you do and to use your work to make a difference for someone else. Thank you, Michelle!

In the future, I hope to see Abōd® Shelters grow into this great vision. Community, student, and family involvement in the building trips, donations that open doors, and the spread of awareness is everything to look forward to. Thank you for a great summer, and enjoy your new apparel!

Kira

Thanks to Kira, we’re excited that our shop is now LIVE with our NEW designs! The best part? $5 for every item purchased goes toward building homes for those in need.

Need a gift or an item for someone special? Please consider choosing one that keeps on giving. Shopping for good is more popular than ever and there is no easier way to shop than online. Everyone on your gift list will appreciate knowing that what they received and are going to wear help provide a home to someone in need.  Have fun choosing one or several of our cool designs and combine the good feeling of gift giving and supporting a worthy cause! There’s nothing extra you need to do because a portion of every sale automatically goes directly to Abōd® Shelters Foundation.

Take advantage of FREE shipping through August 20th! Use Code: FSO817


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.

New Design Reveal – Part 2
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Gearing Up for New Design Reveal – Part 1

Greetings Abōd® Shelters Friends!

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director

Kira Mann, Summer Intern, Abōd® Shelters

“Anywhere but Iowa State”. This was my response when I was younger about my future college plans. My hometown is Ames, Iowa, which is well known for Iowa State University (ISU). I wanted that feeling of excitement of going somewhere else, stepping outside my comfort zone and exploring something new. Just like everything else, once I made that plan it sure did change.

I decided on Graphic Design during high school and the ISU Design Program trapped me into loving my hometown even more. The challenge of the course load and the high expectations for creativity provided that excitement of ‘something new’ which I looked forward to exploring into the summer of 2017.

I was very lucky that a classmate directed me to Michelle at Abōd® Shelters Foundation, because I was instantly captivated with Abod’s vision and the new challenge of designing for a non-profit.

In high school, I followed my favorite teacher and a group of students to Uganda, Africa. While there for a month we fell in love with the people and the culture. We were put to work building student housing and educational buildings within the local community. Abōd® Shelters offers a solution to many of the obstacles I saw while in Uganda and is one of the reasons why I believe it is so important to raise awareness and visibility to the opportunities that a well-designed building can bring. In Uganda, it took us a full month to construct a single building. We left without seeing the roof attached.

Although solid, these buildings required heavy materials to be carried and wheeled to its proper location. The drying of the bricks, the mixing of the concrete, and the manpower to put it all together required many hands and many days. Abōd® Shelters offers an alternative to all of these issues. The shelters can be manufactured in large quantities, are easy to deliver and it only takes 4 – 5 people to assemble a unit in one day. Abōd® Shelters can create the same student housing and educational buildings in less time and less cost. This high-quality, thoughtfully designed and lasting structure can encourage so much positive change in that culture that is so easy to love.

This is what brought me to Abod and fueled the designs that will hopefully bring more patronage, funds, and interest to something that is so special.

The main focus for my internship with Abōd® Shelters for the summer was introducing new designs and styles to the online store. This is a place that anyone; individuals interested in doing good, volunteers and supporters can buy new gear while supporting the cause. With every item purchased from the store, $5 of the sale will be directly donated to Abōd® Shelters. This gave me a good reason to design something that will be worn!

While keeping with the same messaging from the previous designs, I introduced a bold, clean, and graphic look. I researched what styles students were wearing around campus and looks that other non-profit organizations found successful and then created designs that also tie back to Abod’s mission.

View the picture (right) for a sneak peak of one of my favorite designs.

  • “Realizing a dream of making the world a better place” is a re-occurring phrase used in Abōd® Shelter’s blogging, website, and social media posts. It is a great way to communicate to others the importance of the designed shelters.
  • There is a continued use of the color “Abod Orange” that is complimentarily paired with a bold blue.
  • The interesting typography is overlaid on an imagery of the world, Abod’s values and mission stretches internationally.

This shirt and many more can be bought on our online store starting Tuesday, August 15th. As if our grand re-opening can’t be any more exciting? Next week will also offer FREE SHIPPING. We’ll provide the details soon. While you’re checking out with your full cart, remember that $5 of every purchase is directly donated to Abōd® Shelters, with the addition of free shipping… there is no reason NOT to go check it out!

Stay tuned for Abōd® Shelters online store Grand Re-Opening next Tuesday and choose your NEW favorite design!


Kira Mann, pictured left, is a Junior at Iowa State University Majoring in Graphic Design. She came in to the West Des Moines, IA BSB Design, Inc. office this summer a couple days per week to help with Abod projects that included;

  • revamping online store including updating shirt designs which will be revealed and available starting next week,
  • designing graphics for social media
  • designing pages for online giving

For more information on Kira and her intern responsibilities with Abōd® Shelters be sure to read,  ‘Reaching Out To Universities For Interns: It’s A Win / Win’.

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.

Gearing Up for New Design Reveal – Part 1
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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
read more