They could just throw parties and pop open bottles of champagne. But that’s not how Steve Titzer and Ron and Kathy Hollander like to celebrate milestones.
Titzer, who retired from Harding, Shymanski & Co. after 37 years, and the Hollanders, who will observe their 50th wedding anniversary on Nov. 23, are building houses for Habitat for Humanity of Evansville. That means they will be hammering nails into wood, maneuvering screws to fasten hinges on doors, and painting walls.
Habitat for Humanity of Evansville has built, renovated, and preserved homes for families since the organization was founded in 1984. The nonprofit seeks to eliminate poverty housing in the world by working with people in the community to create a better neighborhood in which to live and work. Habitat homes are sold to families that contribute 300 hours of sweat equity based on a 25-year, zero-interest mortgage. Families are selected based on their need for housing, ability to repay a no-profit mortgage, and a willingness to partner with Habitat.
“We couldn’t begin to address poverty housing without financial generosity and volunteer labor,” says Jo Beth Bootz, communications manager of the local Habitat for Humanity organization. “We believe that every person has something to contribute and gain from creating communities in which all people have decent, affordable places to live.”
Bootz believes that the milestone builds by Titzer and the Hollanders showcase a creative approach to philanthropy.
“We all achieve personal and professional milestones in our lives and often celebrate in traditional ways,” Bootz says. “These sponsors are passionate about our mission and vision and have therefore chosen to celebrate these achievements by giving back to the community in which they live.”
Ron and Kathy Hollander have committed to being partial sponsors of the new Habitat home, which is in the process of being completed. Sara and Dwayne Johnson and her family will purchase the home, which is located at 509 Covert Ave. Construction on the house began on Sept. 18. It is expected to be finished in early 2014.
"As a family, we discussed a way that we could celebrate 50 years that didn’t involve gifts,” says Tricia Hollander-Henning, senior vice president of The Hollander Group at Hilliard Lyons and one of Ron and Kathy’s daughters. “We wanted to celebrate the accomplishment of 50 years of marriage by helping another family have an opportunity for that same success.”
Ron and Kathy became acquainted with Habitat through Resurrection Catholic Church midway through their marriage. They’ve worked on “Blitz Builds,” week-long events where professional builders partner with local Habitat for Humanity affiliates to help fully construct or make repairs to a certain number of houses. Also, the Hollanders supported a Habitat home through their parish in 1992.
“They are a family that understands the value of hard work,” Hollander-Henning says. “Watching the Johnsons on the job site and watching their new home come to life has been very gratifying. I think for us it means we can help a family through a hand up and not a hand out. It gives us hope.”
Habitat for Humanity of Evansville offers numerous opportunities and levels of sponsorships for donors and supporters to provide simple, durable, and affordable homes to families.
“We believe that no one lives in dignity until everyone can live in dignity,” Bootz says. “I believe the safe and affordable homes that Habitat builds are fundamental to providing an environment for strong families, and strong families are essential for breaking the cycle of poverty,” Titzer says.
He has been involved with and served on the board of Habitat for Humanity of Evansville for 22 years. He recently retired from Harding, Shymanski & Co. after 37 years with the firm. Instead of throwing a retirement party, Titzer decided to donate to Habitat for Humanity of Evansville.
The Titzer home, located at 2211 Margybeth Ave., will be purchased by Rosalind Robinson. Construction on that home began on Aug. 24 and should be completed before the end of this calendar year.
“I wanted to give something back to the community that has been so good to me,” Titzer says. “As a member of Harding, Shymanski & Co., we always have been strong believers in supporting our community, and this seemed a natural expression of celebration.”
The public accounting firm is now a partial sponsor of a future Habitat home and intends to raise the rest of the money through donations. The project is in honor of Steve’s leadership and commitment to the Evansville community.
“I believe I have the responsibility and the opportunity to give back, and giving back in this way gives me much satisfaction,” Titzer says. “It is a meaningful way to celebrate a milestone event.”
Habitat for Humanity of Evansville has many participants who can sponsor a house wholly at $55,000 or at the half-house level for $27,500. Others provide funding to weatherize or repair homes. Whatever the commitment, sponsors are always welcome to work alongside families while they build their homes.
“On our end, the house is just the vehicle,” Bootz says. “These sponsors are making an investment in a hard-working family which, in turn, supports positive change in our community.”
“We believe their passion and generosity will show others how they can use their time, talent, and treasure to give back in such a lasting and powerful way through affordable housing.”
For more information about Habitat for Humanity of Evansville, visit evansvillehabitat.org.