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Everyone Has The Power To Influence And Can Make A Difference In Just One Day

Greetings Abōd® Shelters Friends!

Thanks so much to our Dallas Team Walkers who submitted the cover photo as they were getting started walking early last Friday morning.

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director

Michelle Rothfus, Project Coordinator Abōd® Shelters

When you think of influential people, who comes to mind? George Washington, Charles Darwin, Sigmund Freud and others from our history? Or are they current pioneers, artists, leaders? Are they the top 10 most powerful women? Or do you think of the most influential leaders in technology? When you see a quote or recommendation from these individuals, you tend to listen because of who they are. The people in these positions have a lot of power to influence others, for good or for bad. But that isn’t what this article is about. It’s about you.

I know what you’re thinking, influential people are extreme, once-in-a-lifetime individuals who have had a significant impact on the world. The truth is that, to make an impact on the world, you don’t have to be a Thomas Edison or a Steve Jobs. You don’t even have to directly influence thousands of people. Just a handful can make a huge difference.

Take our BSB Design, Inc. Dallas office team…

On Friday, March 24th 7 BSB employees were out at different hours: one started walking at midnight and the others started at 6 am; some together and one on their own, for a combined total of 120 miles!

Why? Because they believe…

  • that when there is a solution to saving lives, it should be accessible.
  • that every mother in a developing country has the right to the same skilled care before, during and after childbirth as a mother in a developed country.
  • they can make a bigger impact together than separately.

No, this is not the look of being grumpy… It’s the look of determination! Meet Oscar Chavez, Senior Draftsperson (left) and Nick Blount, Job Captain (right). Both continued on even after being rained on.

Healthcare for mothers in Africa especially in remote areas is insufficient. Pre-birth care for pregnant women is largely not available. The natal care itself, which is delivery, is usually handled by a family member, neighbor or friend who is not medically trained to handle even the simplest of complications.

Over a million African babies are estimated to die in the first 4 weeks of life – but most die at home, uncounted, and invisible to national and regional policies and programmes.” World Health Organization

View the initial story of this group’s dedication from ‘When Companies Allow Employees The Opportunity To Get Involved Great Things Happen’ and learn more about these influential individuals.

For the past 4 weeks, these seven individuals shared information with as many people as they could about Abōd Shelters® Birthing Centers and the impact they are already having in undeveloped countries such as Ghana and Tanzania. Because of their power to influence, they reached out to their friends, family and clients to support their campaign to build another one in Tanzania.  This group committed to walking as far as they could that Friday to raise money for the Birthing Center. In just one day of walking, this small group ended up with donations and pledges from 70 different people and raised just under $4500!

“Despite dodging lightning storms, I believe the walk was very successful. I hope we do it again next year. Twenty miles doesn’t sound like much, but when you sit and draw all day you definitely feel it! It was a great way to have a positive financial impact, one much greater than individually donating to the cause.” Mike Penrose, Senior Designer 

You never know what to expect with the weather in Texas this time of year. Being prepared was helpful! 

All smiles… before walking over 20 miles. Far left: Andy Penrose, Designer, back middle: Kevin Bauer, Senior Draftsperson, Right: Mike Penrose, Senior Designer, front center: Dave Copenhaver, Partner.

“Getting up at midnight was something I have not done in a long time, but it was well worth it.  The night was very windy but it made for a refreshing walk.  I welcomed the morning rains so I could get a couple hours of shut eye before I was back at it.  I look forward to doing this again next year and hopefully I can double my mileage.” Chad Riney, Director of Production

Meet Chad Riney, Director of Production and from now on known as, ‘The Midnight Walker!’

They made a difference and you can to! Not only can you make a difference, you’ve probably had a far greater impact on many more people than you realize.

Think about it. When one person influences a few others, over time, these individuals in turn are like a ripple in the water and end up impacting thousands of people over generations.

Superman and Batman are not real. Ok… maybe they are for a couple of you. My point is, we’re human and most of us are social by nature. You have no idea how many people you can influence just by sharing your own experiences and insights. It’s a far more generous thing than any material gift you can ever give. Each of us can do great things even if it’s for a short time like this group did in 4 weeks. It’s the impact of those actions and what we say and do that reach far beyond our circle of people.

A selfie from Andy Penrose, stopping briefly from walking around a local lake near Dallas, TX.

“When we initially talked in our office about creating an event around the Abod, we had several ideas.  But we all seemed to like the concept of a walk-a-thon best.  I think we agreed it would work well in generating donations without being so strenuous that we all couldn’t participate. Needless to say, I definitely should have trained for it!  In my mind, I was still back in Boy Scouts hiking 20 miles with a 50-pound pack, but my body quickly told me otherwise!  Next year, I think we’ll all be in better shape, walk more miles and try to generate even more money for this great cause.  I guess in a way, this event will benefit us as well!”  Andy Penrose, Designer

A huge ‘thank you’ goes to our BSB Design, Inc. Dallas team for making such a big impact! You can still donate to help fund this Birthing Center at Abōd Shelters®

It takes just one person to make a difference. Interested in doing something similar with your friends, coworkers, club, church group? Reach out to Abōd Shelters® so we can partner and make a difference together!  michelle@abodshelters.com

Please help us build more Birthing Centers in remote areas to save lives. 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.

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.

Everyone Has The Power To Influence And Can Make A Difference In Just One Day
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Parents Elevate Teen Giving at Jupiter High Schools for Abod Shelters Foundation

Greetings Abōd® Shelters Friends!

Cover Photo includes the lead parents of the newly formed Abōd Shelters® Club and Board Members of Abōd Shelters® Foundation.

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director Ginny@abodshelters.com

Ah, the great rituals of spring break to slow the pace of life for a few days. While many teens and families are enjoying spring break season with getaway holidays, it is inspiring to witness a group of progressive parents who are layering another dimension to spring break conversations. It is a thought process that attempts to discuss, engage and teach teens about the rewarding balance between devoting time and treasures to the personal enjoyment like spring break rituals and that of giving back to needy causes. This spring break while these families are relaxing and having fun they are also parlaying this into planning an adventure of a different sort.

There is a trend towards creating Charitable Clubs in some high schools. This is the case in one area on Florida’s eastern coast where there is a movement toward teaching teens how to be good citizens of the world.  To parents of these teens, spring break is a great time to talk about what clubs they may want to create or join because this is the time when these clubs get organized. They pick a cause and kick off membership drives.

After spending time with a special group of parents who participated in the first Florida Fundraiser for Abōd Shelters® last December, I have come to understand their vision and therefore what values they wish to instill in their teens. I am humbled and gratified to realize their passion for Abōd Shelters® Foundation as a cause they feel takes the Charitable Club idea to a higher level of impact. One of the tenets of our Foundation which resonates with parents that attended our Florida event is the benefits of Active Philanthropy.  That is, we advocate not simply donating money but getting involved first hand in where that money goes.

Like our Abōd Community, parents of these teens place high value on learning the right balance of life between living well and giving well. This is what resonates:

  1. Philosophy: “To whom much is given, much is expected in return.” Explore passion points to get emotionally charged up.
  2. Perspective: Be engaged in understanding the issues between the highly-developed world and the massive developing world. The contrasts are stunning. Leadership is required to navigate us well into the future.
  3. Participation: Be part of the solution by actively being involved in executing programs as this promises a great adventure. The resulting relationships and rewards can last a lifetime. As you balance work with play enjoy and respect the people, the culture and the environment as they are wondrous gifts.

The concept is for parents to help students learn leadership skills and the benefits of collaboration to reach an end goal: to develop a short-term fundraising program to raise funds for the cause. Teens complete the program with a check going to the cause. It’s a win-win for all.

Supportive parents of the newly formed Abōd Shelters® Club.

Supportive mothers of the newly formed Abōd Shelters® Club with Ginny Shiverdecker (far right), Abōd Shelters® Foundation Executive Director.

The current plan calls for three Jupiter High School Clubs to participate in a year-long effort.  Each club will have Student and Teacher Champions.

Each Club’s goal is to raise funds over an 8-month period to build an Abōd. Each high school will fund one for a total of three Abōd Shelters®. The students and their parents will then join the Big Abōd Adventure and go on a mission trip to build the Abod’s in Africa at one of the six potential locations where Abōd villages are in different stages of development: Tanzania, Ghana, Zambia or one of 3 locations in South Africa: Limpopo, Johannesburg or the Eastern Cape.

This is a very exciting new initiative for Abōd Shelters® Foundation. Thank you to these parents for their vision and belief in the difference we can make together. We will be sure to share more information on this as the program progresses this coming year.

  1. Generate interest and participation by fellow students to join the Club.
  2. Club member’s meet regularly to develop a fundraising program that they will execute to raise funds to build each Abōd.
  3. Will host a celebratory event to hand over the donation to Abōd Shelters® Foundation leaders.
  4. Teens and parents take the Abōd Shelters® Adventure Mission Trip in January 2018 with the Abōd Shelters® Foundation Team to build the three Abod’s and partake in the local culture, enjoy a safari and travel the country side to experience it first-hand.

So, dear parents, as you head off to Spring Break – consider the nature of your conversations with your teens. Perhaps your teen will lead us into in a new way to work and live together where everyone benefits more harmoniously?

A few of our volunteers from the most recent mission build trip in Tanzania where 10 Abōd Shelters® were built.

Many homes and a birthing center were built in Tanzania by these amazing volunteers. Thanks to Ty Pennington for the great selfie of the group and to Teresa Choi for sharing the photo!


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.

Parents Elevate Teen Giving at Jupiter High Schools for Abod Shelters Foundation
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Donate Your Time and Have Fun During Spring Break

Greetings Abōd® Shelters Friends!

Thanks to Teresa Choi for providing the cover photo. Our Abōd Shelters® volunteers celebrating with the community on building 10 Abōd’s in 10 days in Tanzania. These volunteers came from all over to help and in addition to providing homes for the community, they’ve made new friends for life.

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director

Michelle Rothfus, Project Coordinator Abōd® Shelters

With Spring break upon us, especially students, who doesn’t daydream about a warm tropical vacation and lounging on the beach, skiing in the mountains and shopping in the unique villages or just staying home and taking a staycation? Did you ever consider doing something different instead and donating your time and energy while having fun? There are many options to get involved as an individual, family or group. There are also many options to get involved with something that you already love to do or want to learn. To help inspire you we’ve come up with a list of ideas.

  1. Check out opportunities through your local college or university

Many colleges and universities provide opportunities for their students to spend Spring break volunteering in the local community, across the country, or abroad. Contact your school’s student affairs office.

2. Contact charitable organizations and choose a local community or location you are interested in

Many large charitable organizations for example, Habitat for Humanity, enthusiastically will take individual, family or group volunteers for short stints. Participant fees typically cover food, lodging, and ground transportation once you arrive. Participants are responsible for travel to and from their selected location.

3. Check into opportunities abroad

If you are interested in a longer trip, perhaps abroad, make sure you take the time to research and raise funds to finance it. For an overview of the types of opportunities available and the places you might go, look at the below options:

Go Abroad is a one-stop information center for those wishing to travel and volunteer abroad. It links prospective travelers with organizations providing international opportunities.

Go Overseas is a small company, with a staff of enthusiastic travelers, that goes to the source to get information about international volunteer and education programs and shares inspiring stories.

Cross-Cultural Solutions (CSS) A cross cultural service that improves the health, education and economic opportunities for vulnerable women, children and elderly. They are an international social enterprise with no political or religious affiliations.

If you’re not up to traveling but still are interested in making a difference, clean out your closet or garage and donate items you will no longer use to a local thrift shop, send care packages or write a letter for different groups for troops serving or for additional ideas read my previous blog on ‘How Can One Person Make A Difference?’ and learn how ONE person can make a significant impact on just doing the simplest of things.

Packing for a humanitarian trip is much different than packing to go on a vacation. Be sure to read ‘How To Prepare For A Humanitarian Trip Abroad: Five (Not So Easy) Lessons I Learned’ for some great advice on what to pack and how to prepare.

If you find that you need something to do on the way to your destination or if you decide on that staycation, be sure to grab a book that is worth reading. If you’re traveling, find a book about the local community, project you’ll be working on or more about the local culture and language. Here are some additional recommendations:

  1. Making a Difference: A Matter of Purpose, Passion & Pride by Steve Gilliland
  2. Dude Making a Difference by Rob Greenfield
  3. Outlive Your Life: You Were Made to Make a Difference by Max Lucado
  4. I Can Make A Difference: A Treasury to Inspire Our Children by Marian Wright Edelman

There are many ways to have a meaningful and unique spring break while still having fun. If you have a passion for helping others, learning new things and making new friends, be sure to check into these options and get involved.

Thanks and Safe Travels!

Our Abōd Shelters® Tanzania build with our volunteers, including Ty Pennington. Photo credit to Teresa Choi.

Several families that were friends volunteered on this Abōd Shelters® build in South Africa. Photo credit to Jacob Sharp at Jacob Sharp Photo’s.

Working together, these families built 5 Abōd Shelters®. Photo credit to Jacob Sharp at Jacob Sharp Photo’s.


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 in 2017. 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.

Donate Your Time and Have Fun During Spring Break
read more

Open to Opportunity: Blessings Emerge to Expand Abod Birthing Centers

Greetings Abōd® Shelters Friends!

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director Ginny@abodshelters.com

Getting deeply involved with mission work in a developing country like Africa means never knowing where an opportunity may surface. One unfolding opportunity we currently are seeing is consistent with one advocated by Melinda Gates, Founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It is in the medical arena where the spotlight is going on women’s birthing conditions and processes, especially in rural Africa where long standing cultural practices are deeply entrenched.

The facts are stunning:

  1. According the World Health Organization women in Africa are 175 times more likely than women in developed regions to die in child birth. Each year in Africa over a quarter of a million women die of pregnancy related causes. Although we believe many are not tracked because they are not known.
  2. An estimated 4 million babies die in the first 4 weeks due to labor complications but most die at home unaccounted, and invisible. Over 1 million babies are stillborn, of whom at least 300,000 die during labor. A further 1.16 million babies die in their first month of life – up to half on the first day.
  3. Complications from child birth have increased incidence of cerebral palsy.  A baby’s fate is to be cast out of the family most times left to orphanages and if not left without anyone to care for them.

The idea of establishing the first Medical Birthing Clinic in Asikuma, Ghana sprouted from mission adventures of Doug and Dawn Vander Weide, of West Des Moines, Iowa, working as volunteers with Acts 2 Collective. They began with the desire to build a basic medical clinic to provide care for ailing children of the community, many of which were orphans arriving at the Acts 2 Collective campus. While observing the situation when laying the ground work, it became apparent many children’s physical impairments began at birth. Contributing factors include no trained assistance at the time of birth, unsterile conditions or the inability to provide the right care immediately after the baby is born. If the birth is attended by a midwife, she may lack the knowledge necessary to help when the process gets complicated.

Abōd Shelters® were built in Asikuma, Ghana  to be used as Maternity Centers for safer deliveries and care.

Motivated by this insight, Doug and Dawn worked toward developing a solution that would be a two-pronged approach. Firstly, to raise funds to secure and build two Abōd Shelters® to act as the first Birthing Center. Secondly, to upgrade the mid-wifery education and training to modern standards by bringing in a certified Midwife Medical Expert to help train local mid-wives.  The plan has taken time to implement but progress has been steady. Identifying the right Medical Expert to complete the education mandate took time. However, now that the Midwife Expert who came from the major city of Accra is practicing on site, we are happy to share Asikuma’s local Mama’s and babies are now being born in a much better facility.  The flagship Abōd Birthing Center is now functioning and making a difference in the lives of Mama’s and their children thereby improving their chances for a better quality of life.

One good thing leads to another… In working with another medical ministry STEMM.org in Tanzania, it became apparent the birthing conditions in rural Tanzania are in as dire conditions. One of the primary ways the Abōd could help was to build an Abōd Birthing Center as an adjunct to the community medical hospital. We have a great basis of learning to build upon from our work in Ghana.

Inside the community clinic where a large room of beds are located. Photo credit to Rob Marish with Keystone.

Outside the community clinic. Photo credit to Rob Marish with Keystone.

However, you will see in the above picture the very challenging conditions of the hospital. Thankfully, with generous donor funds in place we not only built the Abōd structure but were able to complete it with key features. To start, the new Abōd Birthing Center is a modern clinical environment for Midwifes to help Mamas through the birthing process. Its features include tile floors, proper drainage, a shower and sink with water access and medical supplies for easier access. There are two birthing theatres with specialized beds and curtains for privacy. Donors contributed funds for the beds, while others for the sink and shower.

Abōd Birthing Center built in Tanzania. Photo credit goes to Doug Vander Weide.

The new Abōd Birthing Center was built next to the current hospital. Photo credit to Rob Marish with Keystone.

During the building process of the Birthing Center. Photo credit to Rob Marish with Keystone.

After completing the project, we welcomed Mamas of the community to an opening celebration. This celebration alerted everyone to the official opening of the Birthing Center. Mamas from all around expressed enthusiasm for its arrival and came to see the center first hand. They arrived beautifully dressed for the occasion to demonstrate and share the joy.  They lined up to do a tour to get a first-hand look. Village Elders addressed the women announcing from this day forward they no longer needed to give birth at home. They were welcome to come to the center to give birth with much better care.

Local pregnant women walking to the village to tour the new Birthing Center. Photo credit to Rob Marish with Keystone.

Outside the Birthing Center. Photo credit to Rob Marish with Keystone.

While in the early stages of program development, the Abōd Birthing Center as a concept captured the hearts of many. To those of you who caught the spirit first, donating to help us build this Abōd dream in both Ghana and Tanzania – THANK YOU from all of us at the Abōd Shelters® Foundation. We can see and feel the positive impact from the first step. With your encouragement and donations, we can do much more.

Now with our valued NGO partners, we are looking hard at ways to expand Abōd Birthing Centers in a program across rural areas like Tanzania and Ghana, where ever they are needed most. If you are interested in helping us move this program forward – perhaps you are a donor or have an organization that has interest in bringing a Birthing Center to your community, please be in touch with me at ginny@abodshelters.com. We are keen to work with you to advance this worthwhile cause.


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.

Open to Opportunity: Blessings Emerge to Expand Abod Birthing Centers
read more

When Companies Allow Employees The Opportunity To Get Involved Great Things Happen

Greetings Abōd® Shelters Friends!

Thank you to Rob Marish at Keystone for the Cover Photo. 

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director

Michelle Rothfus, Project Coordinator Abōd® Shelters

When an Abod was built to be used as a Birthing Center in rural Tanzania in January, we really had no idea how it would be received. But when 30 pregnant women from the nearby villages showed up for a tour during the ribbon cutting ceremony, we knew we provided the right solution that was long overdue. Building one Birthing Center and providing education to the local midwives will make an ongoing and lasting impact in this community. But many more Birthing Centers are desperately needed throughout the country.

Many expectant mothers in Tanzania prefer to deliver in their own homes which in most cases is a mud hut. The reason they choose their own home is that the medical facilities are too far away, are unsanitary or are not private. When expectant mom’s deliver in their own homes they usually have a family member, neighbor or friend assist who is not medically trained to handle even the simplest of complications.

The prevalence of Cerebral Palsy is higher in Africa and neurological damage occurs much more frequently during home births because of complications such as birth asphyxia and neonatal infections which a trained medical person could prevent.

While the infant mortality rate has decreased in recent years in Tanzania, maternal deaths related to childbirth have not. The fact that more than half of all births in Tanzania occur at home also contributes to the elevated maternal mortality rate.

Local village homes where the Maasai live. Many women give birth in their own home. Picture credit to Doug Vander Weide, Abōd Shelters® Chairman and volunteer on the project build.

Dave Copenhaver and his wife, Beth, who passed away in late 2016.

When Dave Copenhaver, Partner and Architect at BSB Design, Inc. in Dallas, TX, learned about the impact one Abōd Shelter® Birthing Center could make on the mortality rate of women giving birth he volunteered to have a fundraiser so that more Birthing Centers could be provided. Dave committed to raising money in memory of his wife, Beth, who passed away in late 2016. View Dave’s personal RallyUp campaign page.

Chad Riney, Production Director with BSB Design, Inc. in Dallas, TX with Dave, suggested having an office Walk-a-Thon in Support of Abōd Shelters®. There are many benefits to walking from improving circulation, weight loss to strengthening muscles and improving sleep. So choosing this campaign activity is a win-win for everyone involved. View Chad’s personal RallyUp campaign page.

Dave and Chad worked with the Marketing Department at BSB Design, Inc. and shared what they had in mind for the fundraiser. While there were many platforms available, they decided to go with Rallyup.com because of its:

  • low cost
  • simplicity
  • supporters could either make one general pledge or could pledge a per mile amount
  • walkers could easily share in real time how many miles they completed and post updates.

Chad Riney, an outdoor enthusiast, suggested having an office Walk-a-Thon in Support of Abōd Shelters®.

Utilizing technology allows us to really optimize the online donation experience, which ultimately creates an efficient, user-friendly way of processing donations that makes fundraising a far more manageable experience.

Five additional employees from the BSB Design, Inc. Dallas office have joined in the walking campaign and will walk as many miles as they can on Friday, March 24th with the goal of raising funds to build a Birthing Center.

Mike Penrose, Senior Designer / View Mike’s personal RallyUp campaign page.

Kevin Bauer, Senior Draftsperson / View Kevin’s personal RallyUp campaign page.

The group is really excited about being able to fund an entire Birthing Center and make an impact on the mortality rate of women when giving birth. As of this post, approximately $2800 has been pledged. There seems to be some competition with the top two rankings and pledges, which is good and they still have 3 weeks to accept pledges. Take an opportunity to look further into the details of the campaign, who the walkers are and then pledge your support to your favorite team member!

When companies allow employees the opportunity to get involved and support them in charitable giving to great causes, such as we did in building the RallyUp site for this Walk-a-Thon, and allowing them the time to participate… not only does the non-profit benefit, but the employee feels good about their company as well.

It takes just one person to make a difference. Interested in doing something similar with your friends, coworkers, club, church group? Reach out to Abōd Shelters® so we can partner and make a difference together!  michelle@abodshelters.com

Inside the Abōd Birthing Center recently built. Additional medical equipment has been added along with partitions to separate the beds and provide privacy. Photo credit to Rob Marish with Keystone.

Inside the community clinic where a large room of beds are located. It is used by anyone that is ill and there is no privacy. Photo credit to Rob Marish with Keystone.

Local pregnant women waiting in line to tour the new Birthing Center. Photo credit to Rob Marish with Keystone.


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 in 2016. 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.

When Companies Allow Employees The Opportunity To Get Involved Great Things Happen
read more

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

Greetings Abōd® Shelters Friends!

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director Ginny@abodshelters.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In heartfelt service,

Ginny Shiverdecker
Executive Director

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


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


Great News! Donor Advised Giving, A New Way To Make A Win-Win Charitable Difference
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Getting Involved… Is It Worth It?

Greetings Abōd® Shelters Friends!

A special ‘thank you’ to Jacob Sharp Photos for providing the cover photo!

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director

Michelle Rothfus, Project Coordinator Abōd® Shelters

I hope you can identify with me when I say, when trying to balance work and life it can be very difficult to find time to take anything additional on… let alone volunteer! I have been involved with Abod Shelters for about 11 years. Eleven years ago, I would have predicted that we would have had manufacturing in place in countries all over the world and there would be thousands of Abod’s built for people in need. I would have also predicted based on the positive communications we were receiving that we would have hundreds in storage all over ready to be deployed at a moment’s notice when a catastrophe hit.

We do have manufacturing set up in South Africa and have built approximately 50 Abod’s in different parts of Africa. We do not have extra in storage ready to be deployed. So… Is It Worth It?

I think of myself as a ‘people person’ and enjoy the communication I have with individuals and presenting Abōd Shelters® to groups. I respond to many email inquiries about what we do, organize and post all social media, coordinate project information, oversee financials, provide presentation materials and am Secretary on the Board. Oh yes, I also work full time and have a family!

It would be super easy to only focus on myself and family but when you understand what is going on outside your world, so to speak, how can you NOT get involved in some way?

After helping build dormitory housing all day in a remote area of Zambia, I spent the evening watching the local kids play soccer in an open field. Needless to say, they loved having their pictures taken.



While 11 years seems like a long time, it really has been a blink of an eye. For a few years, approximately 2008 – 2012, the project was on hold because of the US housing crisis. Since then we have worked hard to establish long term relationships with individuals and groups that have the same values and vision as Abōd Shelters®. As a result, we have made strong partnerships with organizations that target different areas but each has a need for housing that Abōd Shelters® was able to provide a solution for. For example;

Hoops of Hope focuses on raising money to reduce the AIDS epidemic. They were able to provide a machine in a remote area in Zambia that identifies how much medication an AIDS patient needs. Since installing this machine, hundreds of lives have been saved. They also focused their efforts on building a school in the same area. This school is the only secondary school in a 70-mile radius. It has over 500 students attending. Abōd Shelters® were built as dormitories to house the students and homes for teachers because they were much less costly and quicker to build than traditional housing.

Blessman International focus on the practical needs of people in order to open the door to spiritual needs in South Africa. They not only provide wells for clean drinking water and meals to those in need but educate locals in many different areas and trades to help them build their own businesses or earn a living. Abōd Shelters® were built for several different projects; day schools for orphans, homes for grannies and the homeless children they care for, lodging for interns when doing rotations and a home for a family whose home was destroyed by a falling tree.

Acts 2 Collective work with locals in the communities they work in to identify what is needed. The areas typically identified are;

  1. Farming and agriculture training so locals can grow their own food,
  2. Orphan care for children without parents and providing the children a place to call home and helping with the adoption process,
  3. Providing healthcare programs for pregnant women, safe child birthing and infant care, teaching smart health practices, providing HIV testing and treatment plans,
  4. Providing basketball academies to engage young people and build relationships,
  5. Building private schools and creating curriculums for existing schools and
  6. Building water wells to provide access to safe drinking water.

Abōd Shelters® were built through Acts 2 Collective to be used as birthing and maternity centers and to provide homes to a local farm to house workers.

Siouxland Tanzania Educational Medical Ministries (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.

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.

Ty Pennington has also been working with Abōd Shelters® since November 2014 as our Celebrity Ambassador. He not only helped raise funds for 5 Abōd homes which were recently built in Tanzania but he also traveled with our group to help with the build.

“As I travel the world, I see a huge unmet need for sustainable, low cost housing for families living in poverty here in America and in places like Africa and India. The ‘Abōd Shelters® Village of the Future’ is a forward looking idea that provides not only secure homes but an emotionally healthier community environment for children to grow up.”

Ty Pennington

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. It takes one person to make a difference.

Is It Worth It? Definitely! I personally invite you to get involved today.

2017 brings lofty goals of building additional Micro Villages that consist of homes, classrooms and medical clinics. We’ve recently learned that Birthing Centers are desperately needed especially in remote areas. With your support, Abōd Shelters® can be a solution to those in need.

If you wait until you can do everything for everybody, instead of something for somebody, you’ll end up not doing nothing for nobody.”

Malcom Bane

We look forward to working with individuals and NGO’s to collaborate on their housing needs and providing a solution. Be sure to join us on our next build! Partner with us at www.abodshelters.com or simply connect with ginny@abodshelters.com. You may also donate to build an Abōd.

Blessman International Project build in South Africa. These homes were built for Grannies, their grandchildren and other children they had taken in because of the Aids Epidemic. Thank you to Jacob Sharp Photos for providing pictures.

Blessman International Project build in South Africa. The individuals that provided the financial support to make the build happen built the homes too!  Thank you to Jacob Sharp Photos for providing pictures.


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 in 2016. 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.

Getting Involved… Is It Worth It?
read more

Introducing Abod Shelters ‘Mission to Build Better Lives’ Adventure Trips to Africa

Greetings Abōd® Shelters Friends!

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

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director Ginny@abodshelters.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


In heartfelt service,

Ginny Shiverdecker
Executive Director


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

Introducing Abod Shelters ‘Mission to Build Better Lives’ Adventure Trips to Africa
read more

Abod’s Flexible Design: Allows for Greater Impact

Greetings Abōd® Shelters Friends!

Thank you to Rob Marish at Keystone Pictures for the cover photo!

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director

Michelle Rothfus, Project Coordinator Abōd® Shelters

The original Designers of Abod Shelters® knew that the flexibility of the layout would provide many options to those in need but didn’t realize the extent of the impact the design would make on others.

Abod homes are high concept design, often lower in cost than standard construction and can easily be personalized while the natural light, cross breeze and open loft spaces provide helpful comforts. Abōd Shelters® are structures that were intended to address the social need for organized community design including secure homes, schools, safe play areas, community buildings and more.

Every Abōd Shelters® project has been a learning experience for the Abod team.

Learning Experience Examples:

  • There are children that are unable to go to school in South Africa because there are either no schools within walking distance and / or they cannot afford a uniform. Several Abod’s were built in Zebediela, South Africa as classrooms through Blessman International in 2009. Blessman International provides the uniforms for this small successful school system where more than 120 children attend daily to get educated and can play together safely.
  • It’s very common especially in remote areas for families to have their kitchen area outdoors. For those living near each other many combine their resources and cook and eat together while keeping a close watch on the young children. Five Abod’s were built on Del Cramer Campus through Blessman International in 2013 in a circular fashion to meet the Granny’s and their grandchildren needs. They cook and do laundry together in the center while keeping a close eye on the children.
  • Most schools in Africa provide housing for their teachers. When a growing school in Twachiyanda, Zambia needed homes fast for their teachers, Abōd Shelters® worked with Hoops of Hope to provide several extended Abod’s to meet the teachers and their larger family needs. Additional regular sized Abod homes were also built quickly for their growing population of students. Each home / dormitory can sleep 8 students with plenty of room for their personal belongings.
  • Childbirth is the number one cause of death in the village of Asikuma located in Ghana, Africa. In March of 2015 Abōd Shelters® worked with Kingdom Hoops to build birthing and maternity centers with the goal of decreasing mother and baby mortality rates. Additional Abōd Shelters® were also built near the village to support a fish farm and house workers and consultants.

“Building the Abōd 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.  I believe we’ve made quite an impact on Ghana with these new additions.”      – Doug Vander Weide, CEO and President of Valiant Wealth

Many people in 3rd world countries do not have access to a doctor or medical care. They would need to travel or walk several hours, sometimes days, to reach a doctor. This results in people only going to the doctor in an extreme emergency or in many cases, not at all. While working with Siouxland Tanzania Educational Medical Ministries (STEMM) on a project just a couple of weeks ago, Abōd Shelters® learned that many expectant mothers prefer to deliver their babies in their own homes, which in most cases is a mud hut. The reason they choose their own home is that the medical facilities are too far away, are unsanitary and are not private. When expectant mom’s deliver in their own homes they usually have a family member, neighbor or friend assist who is not medically trained to handle even the simplest of complications.

It was communicated to us that the prevalence of Cerebral Palsy is higher in Africa and neurological damage occurs more frequently during home births because of complications such as birth asphyxia and neonatal infections which a trained medical person could prevent.

While the infant mortality rate has decreased in recent years in Tanzania maternal deaths related to childbirth have not. The fact that more than half of births in Tanzania occur at home also contributes to the elevated maternal mortality rate. Of all pregnant women, only 46 percent are assisted during childbirth by a doctor, clinical officer, nurse, midwife or maternal and child health aide.

“In 2005, the infant mortality rate was 68 deaths per 1000, a vast improvement from the 1999 figure of 99 deaths per 1000. The under-five mortality rate also decreased from 147 deaths per thousand in 1999 to 112 deaths per 1000 in 2005.”

When Abōd Shelters® learned of the mortality rate and that it could be prevented, we worked with STEMM to get an Abōd dedicated to be used as a Birthing Center and built as soon as possible in a remote area of Tanzania. On January 11th, an Open House Celebration for the Birthing Center was held. The first in line to tour the inside… were 30 pregnant women!

I am certain that the original Designers of the Abōd had no idea that this low cost, safe structure would positively impact the lives of so many women and their newborns.

Abōd Shelters® isn’t just a home. They are a place of comfort and safety. They are emergency disaster relief that provide shelter and security. They are classrooms and libraries that nurture learning. They are technical centers and offices that provide an optimal working environment. They are medical clinics that save lives. They are dormitories and hostels for students to feel at home while attending school. They are sanitation facilities that provide privacy. They are churches and meeting rooms that bring people together.

Please help us build more Birthing Centers in remote areas to save lives. 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.

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 in 2016. 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.

Abod’s Flexible Design: Allows for Greater Impact
read more

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

Greetings Abōd® Shelters Friends!

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director Ginny@abodshelters.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


In heartfelt service,

Ginny Shiverdecker
Executive Director


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

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