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Habitat for Humanity Ag Build

At the fairground, Habitat homes rise from the ground up

A young family soon will have a Habitat for Humanity home to call its own — and a story about thousands watching it take shape while visiting the Indiana State Fair.

September 1, 2016

Danielle has done her fair share of moving. Since leaving home at age 18, the mother of two has moved about once a year. But later in 2016, Danielle and her daughters will move into a house of their own – made possible through Greater Indy Habitat for Humanity’s seventh annual Ag Build at the 2016 Indiana State Fair in August.

“It’s an amazing blessing to know I won’t have to move again, and that this is my house,” Danielle says.

The Wells Fargo Housing Foundation provided $50,000 to Greater Indy Habitat for construction of the home, considered by local Habitat officials to be the first of its kind in the nation because the project involves building two homes on elevated steel platforms at the state fairgrounds. The houses then are to be delivered to their permanent neighborhoods. Danielle and her daughters, Jayda and Camryn — and Marcus Lewis and his wife, Landonia Malone (owners of the other Habitat home) — expect to move in by late October.

Habitat homeowner Danielle Cox-Eland and family
Danielle and family (left) helped Wells Fargo volunteers build their home — at the Indiana State Fair.

2,100+ Habitat houses and counting

More than 40 Wells Fargo volunteers helped build Danielle’s house. Since 2010, Wells Fargo team members have helped build more than 2,100 Habitat houses as part of the company’s mission of economic empowerment, which includes increased access to affordable housing for low-income homeowners, seniors, and veterans.

Editor’s note: Read the 2015 Wells Fargo Corporate Social Responsibility report (PDF) to learn more about economic empowerment.

In 2016, Wells Fargo is committing more than $7 million in grants worldwide with more than $6.5 million to support local Habitat for Humanity organizations and $300,000 for national revitalization efforts and sponsorship of the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project.

In Indiana, Wells Fargo, Dow AgroSciences, and the Kroger Company led more than 30 local businesses and organizations involved in the Greater Indy Habitat Ag Build project. Steve Troike, director of business development for Wells Fargo Business Banking in Indiana and Ohio, says the company’s sponsorship of the event is a natural extension of its work with the state’s farmers.

“Agricultural lending makes up about 50 percent of our overall Business Banking portfolio in Indiana,” Steve says. “Likewise, many of our retail banking stores serve rural areas throughout the state.”

Chris DesJean, a Business Banking manager in Indianapolis, has volunteered at every Ag Build since 2012 and is one of the team members who put in the more than 1,000 volunteer hours logged on Danielle’s home. “Team members from all across the state come together for this build each year, and going to the state fair to build a house on-site is a unique experience,” Chris says. “As we’re out in the community building banking relationships, we share Habitat’s story with our customers.”

View from drone of Habitat Ag Build at Indiana State Fair
Wells Fargo volunteers (left) celebrate the first day of building. Later, a drone captured the work in progress.

Fair build increases support

More than 731,000 people from across the Hoosier state attend the state fair annually — which is why Abri Hochstetler, marketing and communications manager for Greater Indy Habitat for Humanity, says the chapter decided to do the build at the fair. She says the nonprofit builds or renovates between 20 and 30 homes each year and will help owners repair an additional 30 in 2016.

“The Indiana State Fair initiated the partnership with Habitat in 2010 as a way to engage visitors and help us share our mission with the hundreds of thousands of fairgoers,” Abri says. “To our knowledge, we’re the only Habitat organization in the U.S. to completely build two homes from start to finish at a state fair.

“Since the first Ag Build, we’ve definitely seen increased interest from volunteers, donors, and sponsors. We could not complete these homes without the generous support of our sponsors, volunteers, and Indiana State Fair staff.”

“It’s created a life-changing opportunity for me and my family.”

And for Danielle, who put in 300 hours of sweat equity through homeownership classes and work on her home and other Habitat properties, that support means everything.

“My daughters will grow up knowing I helped build the house they grew up in, and that hard work and doing the right thing pays off,” she says. “It was awesome to work alongside the Wells Fargo team members who helped me build it and were eager to learn more about me and my family. I can’t say enough about what all the support means. It’s created a life-changing opportunity for me and my family.”

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