Story by Caleb Anglin, Jake Williams and Tori Smith / Inform Muncie
Editor's Note: This story was originally published in October, 2022.
In the Muncie community, there are non-profit organizations that try to make an impact for everyone in the area. Habitat for Humanity is one of those organizations that look to make a long-term impact.
This organization was made to help families fulfill their dream of owning a home in the community. It allows them to have hope when it feels impossible. Habitat for Humanity does home rehabs, buys houses that are significant to certain neighborhoods, and builds homes.
The Resource Development Director, Eileen Oaks Molter, said this has been the best organization she has been a part of. Starting as a journalism major, Molter found it difficult and had some doubts about working in the journalism world. She was able to work for a small non-profit in Northern Indiana for a while. Molter then moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she found her husband. Molter got involved in real estate while living there. After that, she made a move down to Muncie, Indiana, where she is now.
“I love Habitat,” Molter said.
Molter has found her new passion and her home for the foreseeable future, it seems. One of the biggest reasons she decided to join Habitat for Humanity was because it is a “long term solution to a generational issue,” she said. According to her, that’s what it’s all about at the end of the day.
“We are not just giving people a fish for a day; we are letting them fish,” Molter said.
Habitat for Humanity allows families to have a chance at getting the home of their dreams. One of the most notable things about volunteering for Habitat for Humanity is that the families can have no experience building whatsoever. Molter said that one of the biggest joys from being involved with the organization is “seeing people who don’t have to lift a hammer to help.”
Another influential employee of Habitat for Humanity is Ryan Payonk, the Homeowner Services Manager.
He said that it’s quite common for families to get approved on their second or third application. Habitat for Humanity’s application is based on three elements: need for housing, willingness to partner with the organization and ability to pay the mortgage.
The willingness to partner with the organization includes the entire life cycle with the company, from the moment the first nail is hammered into their house to their last monthly payment toward Habitat for Humanity.
Lindsey Arthur, CEO of Muncie Habitat for Humanity, said “Habitat for Humanity is uniquely poised to provide collaboration and partnership in our communities because we provide families with a hand up and not a handout. We work alongside families— not for— but with families who are desperately trying to change their family situation.”
Payonk exercises both the good and bad parts of his job, but he balances his emotional intelligence with the rewarding parts of his position.
“When a family is finished with their house, we celebrate for 20 to 30 minutes in their new home,” said Payonk. “The family gives a little speech, and it is a culmination of everything. It usually happens four to five times a year.”
The same day the family gives the speech, Payonk and the family typically close the home at the title company. For Payonk, that moment is a major “sigh of relief.”
Even though Payonk and Molter showcase the relationship created between family and organization, Jim Morris, the President and CEO of Indianapolis’ Habitat for Humanity, shared his thoughts on what the organization can do for communities.
“We believe that no one lives in dignity until everyone can live in dignity. When the broad community is engaged in addressing the urgent need for adequate, affordable shelter, we all become less vulnerable and more resilient,” said Morris. “Our collaborative work sets the stage to allow neighbor to love neighbor.”