Build a Home with Habitat for Humanity!

Building a Legacy

You can make a difference in someone’s life. With every volunteer, someone gets closer to having somewhere to call home. Whether you have never picked up a hammer before or you’ve built many houses, we would love to have you spend a Saturday with us! 

Our current build is taking place at 1404 Belvedere St., Kokomo, IN, 46902. We typically start building around 8:30 AM and end by 4:30 PM. Lunch is provided through our wonderful donors in Howard County.

We encourage potential volunteers to please sign-up online (via the link below). This helps us to have an idea of how many to expect for lunch and also for the type of work we might try to get done on a given work day. 
Click here to access the sign-up for the house build at 1404 Belvedere.

For more information, see habitatkokomo.com.

Tired of Renting?

Mortgage payments are often less than current rent. The next Habitat for Humanity Information Meetings will be: 

  • 10AM12PM | Saturday, September 14
  • 6PM8PM | Wednesday, September 18

Both meetings will be held in the Basement Conference Room at the Kokomo Public Library (220 N. Union St., Kokomo).

This is for people interested in becoming homeowners. This is the first step in becoming a part of the Habitat Homeownership Program.   

The essential criteria for becoming a Habitat Partner Family include:

  • Need for adequate shelter
  • Ability to pay for the Habitat home
  • Willingness to partner and participate with building your home  
  • We are looking for low-income working families with a gross monthly income of at least $1,400 per month. (Detailed income charts can be found at habitatkokomo.com.)

Some of the benefits of partnering with Habitat for Humanity include:

  • Cost of home below appraised value
  • Input into home design and interior choices
  • Support/advocacy program

Applications will be handed out at the meeting. No RSVP needed. For more information call Katie at (765) 452-2185. 

Welcome to Narrow Gate Horse Ranch

By Jessica Rolph
Reprinted from a March 19, 2019 article from First Farmer’s Bank and Trust.

The first things you notice when you get to Narrow Gate Ranch are horses. The large barn is surrounded by gently rolling acres. The horses graze in small groups, some galloping a few yards as the mood takes them, most still and watchful. It’s not far from downtown Kokomo, but the flowing land and calm presence of the horses leaves you feeling far from anything you’d find in the city. It’s a peaceful scene, and one that Susan Zody appreciates.

For the past few years, Susan has been running the Narrow Gate Horse Ranch. Susan wasn’t familiar with horses when she started on this journey. She had been searching for a way to get the kids to continue coming and engaging with a youth outreach program where she volunteered, and remembered an article she’d read about a therapy horse ranch. After raising the funds through donations and researching therapy ranches, Susan was able to take a group to a nearby facility. The funds continued to roll in, and Susan started seeing the impact the visits were making on some of the kids in the program. Grades improved. Behavior improved. The kids started making better decisions. She was impressed, and committed to continue providing this to the children.

“They come here really, to build a relationship with a horse,” says Susan about the draw for the youth she works with at the ranch. These young people have sometimes suffered abuse and neglect, and an adult seeking to mentor these individuals will often face an uphill battle. But a horse, patient and calm and not demanding, can bridge that divide.

As donations continued to come in, Susan had to ask herself if there was more that she could do. Was it just the small group of children that she currently worked with that were meant to benefit? Could something else be done? It was a crossroads for Susan. She knew the need was greater than what could be met by visiting a horse ranch an hour way. She could see the improvements, but her kids, and the kids she knew needed connection in the community, would benefit from a slightly different approach. One that focused on building relationships and making better decisions, and ultimately, one that had its foundation in faith.

This was where Susan found herself in 2016 when she invited a group of people from the community to a discussion. Would the community support an organization like what she envisioned? Were the resources there to make it successful? Her plans were met with enthusiasm and support, and a board was formed. In a short three years, Narrow Gate Horse Ranch has been established and has weekly classes.

Narrow Gate’s target audience is at-risk youth in the community. In Howard County, Indiana alone, over 4,000 children live at or below the poverty level. At the Ranch, these children are able to grow their confidence, leadership skills, and communication skills.

“I want these kids to gain some confidence and to know that if they do things correctly, there will be a good ending.”

Scott MacDonald

When we visited Susan at the ranch, we also met Scott MacDonald, the equine specialist at the Ranch, and Kelsey and Autumn, two sisters who volunteer. Together, Susan and Scott shared stories that more often than not brought tears to the eyes of both speaker and listeners. The horses at Narrow Gate have faced their own challenges, much like the youth that works with them. The kids relate to the horses. They see their own struggles, and they work together to overcome challenges. It’s a rewarding experience for everyone involved, and one the team at Narrow Gate never tires of.

It was an honor to meet with Susan and Scott at Narrow Gate Horse Ranch, to be introduced to the horses, and to meet some of the youth benefitting from this wonderful operation.

The Old, Old Story

Listen up–it’s the old, old story.
Christ in me, my hope of glory.
He came to die, His life to give,
To abide in us so we could live
Not just breathe, then speak, then die,
But so we could live with Him on high.
Christ inside is the key.
It’s the hope for you and the hope for me.

By Margarett Inez Bates

Christian philosopher, Bible teacher, author, and prolific poet, Margarett Inez Bates is a graduate of Mount Vernon Bible College with a Bachelor’s degree from the Christian International School of Theology. Actively involved in Christian service for over forty years she currently resides in her hometown, Kokomo, Indiana. Margarett has published two books: Poetical Insights: Lifting Up a Standard, and Poetical Insights Vol. 2: A Closer Look. You can read more of her work at Kokomo Poet.

Choosing Life When Faced with Death

Nancy Gibson is living out her life without chemotherapy after being diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer; surpasses prognosis on July 1.

By Alyx Arnett
Reprinted from the June 24, 2019 issue of The Kokomo Perspective.

When a local woman was faced with death after being diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer, she chose life. And she did it while opting to go the less-traditional route by forgoing chemotherapy.

In January 2018, Nancy Gibson, 56, was diagnosed with the disease, and it didn’t come as a surprise. The symptoms had been there off and on for years, but she had been taking care of her husband who was sick with cancer and later died in 2015. The symptoms were there as early as 2013, but Gibson said she put her own health on the backburner.

“I’m self-induced colon-cancer, and there were signs along the way I didn’t pay attention to. I was taking care of my husband, and after he passed, you know, you just don’t take care of yourself,” said Gibson.

On Jan. 1 last year, Gibson woke up in the hospital with an ostomy bag after suffering a complete blockage. She had the bag for six weeks before she underwent surgery on Feb. 19, 2018, to reverse the ostomy and remove a foot-and-a-half of her colon. Doctors found two cancerous tumors in her liver and several in her lymph nodes, which classified her cancer as stage 4.

Gibson was told, with chemotherapy, she could live another two to four years. Without it, she could expect another 12 to 18 months.

Having watched her husband undergo chemotherapy for three years to treat melanoma, Gibson said she didn’t want that, never mind the fact that she didn’t have the income to pay for it anymore. She had quit her job as a superintendent at Haynes International to care for her husband years prior and wasn’t working a job that could pay for expensive treatments anymore.

Her husband’s chemotherapy cost $2,600 a month after insurance, she said, and it was hard on him. Most days, he was bedridden, and when he was able to get around, he tired quickly.

When it came time for Gibson to make a decision on whether to undergo chemotherapy, she decided against it.

“When it came time for me, I was like, ‘OK, number one, I don’t have that kind of money now, and number two, I’d rather take part of that money and travel and work out and do the things I love to do when it comes to life because the end game is the end game. You’re going to die.

“Everyone is going to die, so for me, it’s what goes on between here and there because I don’t like being sick. I don’t want to be sick for two for four years. What the heck. I’d rather be like this for 18 months than like that for two to four years,” she said.

Having an expiration date put on her life was eye-opening and forced her to figure out what really was important in life.

Prior to her husband’s diagnosis, work was what was important to her and striving for the next promotion and the next pay raise and more responsibility, like most people, Gibson said. All of that, she realized, wasn’t what life was about. When faced with death, she said she realized she wasn’t living to begin with.

“My cancer is the biggest blessing of my life, and I would not go back and have anything change if it meant that I couldn’t be who I am today.”

Nancy Gibson

“Our whole concept of life and death and what we think of life, to me, is really death. What do we do? We set an alarm. We go to work. We hate the day. We go home. We get up, and we do it all over again. We never really learn to live, and this has forced me to,” she said.

Since her diagnosis, she’s been to San Diego, Boston, Key West, and Chicago. And she’s taken up exercise again, something that once was important to her. Twice a week she works out with a trainer at the Kokomo Family YMCA and takes yoga classes. She also picked up a job that she always daydreamed about doing while working at Haynes: watering flowers in a greenhouse.

Her faith also has become increasingly important, as well as her focus on her health. As lifestyle factors, such as diet and exercise, are known risk factors for developing colon cancer, Gibson has been working to swing the pendulum back the other way after she said she let herself go. One of her late husband’s doctors, who happens to be her own cancer doctor now, had given him a book called “Anti-Cancer: A New Way of Life” by David Servan-Schreiber, MD, PhD, and Gibson has been working to incorporate healthy foods into her diet. Since her diagnosis, she’s lost 70 pounds.

“Before my diagnosis, I drank too much. I ate too much. I had a high-stress, high-pressure job in the plant,” she said. “Unfortunately, I lost track of my health, and I ended up with cancer.”

A Milestone

On July 1, Gibson will hit the 18-month mark, the date she wasn’t predicted to make it past. And the past 18 months, she said, have been some of the best in her life.

“When I made the decision not to pursue chemo, I only had one other choice. That’s my faith, and that’s just trusting and knowing that there is something greater for us, a greater reason for us being here than what I knew going to work and having a job,” Gibson said. “Through this experience, this has been the biggest blessing of my life. My cancer is the biggest blessing of my life, and I would not go back and have anything change if it meant that I couldn’t be who I am today.”

She’s also been on the receiving end of some of the stigma attached to not having chemotherapy. A lot of people, she said, assume she’s giving up.

“What’s really important for anyone that’s out there is for them to know it’s their choice, and you can’t imagine the peer pressure when you say you’re not going to do treatment. People are like, ‘Oh my gosh, you’re not going to fight,’” she said. “Well, I freaking fight every day.”

Gibson thanked her oncologist, Dr. John Salter at Community Howard Regional Health, for his support and not putting “undue pressure” on her. She said he’s given her great suggestions as far as ways to improve her health diet-wise.

Her hope, she said, is that she’s able to continue living her life as she is now for as long as possible and to remind people that no matter how bad their situation seems that there’s always hope.

“I just want everybody to have a good outlook no matter what your circumstances are. You can change your life by changing your thinking. We are in control of so much within ourselves,” she said. “We’re living in a time when there’s so much negativity everywhere that it’s hard to turn away from it, but when you do, man, look out because it’s beautiful.”

Gibson also wished to remind people not to get so caught up in the day-to-day aspects of life so much that they miss out on living it.

The Disease

Excluding skin cancers, colon cancer is the third-most common cancer diagnosed in men and women in the U.S. and also the third-leading cause of cancer-related deaths, according to the American Cancer Society.

The death rate for the disease has been dropping for the past several decades, and part of that is attributed to the availability of screenings for early detection. The five-year survival rate for those with localized colon cancer in which there is no sign the cancer has spread is 90 percent. Those with distant colon cancer, such as Gibson, which has spread to other parts of the body, is 14 percent.

According to the American Cancer Society, people being diagnosed now may have a better outlook than those numbers show, as they’re based on people who were diagnosed and treated at least five years earlier, and the numbers also don’t take into account factors such as age, overall health, and how far the cancer has spread.

Lifestyle risk factors include being overweight or obese, physical inactivity, certain types of diets, smoking, heavy alcohol use, while other risk factors can’t be changed, such as age, family history, and personal history of inflammatory bowel disease.

Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, Onstage!

Runs April 14–May 10, 2020
Indiana Repertory Theatre (140 W. Washington St., Indianapolis)
Adapted by Jessica Swale

Three sisters and their widowed mother lose their family home and must create new lives for themselves in a tiny seaside cottage. Along the way they face kindness and cruelty, duty and deception, as they try to navigate the complex social rules for proper young ladies. What will lead to lasting happiness and true love: practical good sense or following the sensibility of your heart? Sit back and indulge yourself in the wit and wisdom, the beauty and charm of Jane Austen.

Approximate Run Time: 2 hours and 45 minutes, including a 15-minute intermission

Sense and Sensibility is a period romance by Jane Austen. Recommended for patrons 9th grade and above.

“Jane Austen originally published her novels anonymously; today, she is one of the most wildly popular classic authors. Why? Her best books are breathlessly compelling; I find that once I get started, I can’t put them down. Jane Austen writes about the emotional and economic tangles of family and relationships with clear, direct honesty, warm-hearted humor, and gripping storytelling. Our production of Jessica Swale’s stage adaptation of Sense and Sensibility offers a timely and timeless point of view on today’s ongoing struggle to make equal space for women in a man’s world.”

Richard J. Roberts, Resident Dramaturg

Tickets begin at $25. For more information or to order tickets, visit the Indiana Repertory Theatre online!

Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express, Onstage!

Runs March 3–29, 2020
Indiana Repertory Theatre (140 W. Washington St., Indianapolis)
Adapted by Ken Ludwig

A luxury train trapped in a snowdrift, a dining car full of glamorous passengers, a dead body with multiple stab wounds, a suspicious intruder who keeps disappearing, and mysterious links to a far-distant murder case. Hercule Poirot, the world’s greatest detective, must interrupt his holiday to solve this fiendishly intricate and clever plot—before the snow is cleared and the train moves on. A golden-age detective story springs to life from the pages of the world’s best-selling author.

Approximate Run Time: 2 hours, including a 15-minute intermission

Murder on the Orient Express is a thrilling Agatha Christie whodunit and contains profanity and onstage violence. Recommended for patrons 9th grade and above.

“After directing Jeffrey Hatcher’s Holmes and Watson last season, it is exciting to come back to IRT and work on a very different kind of mystery play: Ken Ludwig’s adaptation of Agatha Christie’s masterpiece Murder on the Orient Express. It is widely believed that the kidnapping and murder of Charles Lindbergh’s son in 1932 inspired the sub-plot of this 1934 novel. When Christie wrote the book, the killer was still at large. The play begins with a kidnapping reminiscent of the real one, but quickly transports us to Istanbul where we meet 10 delicious characters about to take a journey on the luxurious Orient Express. These complex, eccentric, passionate individuals hail from all over the globe from all walks of life. And they all have secrets! Put them together on a train stranded in a heavy snowstorm, and who can tell what might happen? I can tell you these ingredients make for a highly entertaining evening in the theatre.”

Risa Brainin, Director of Murder on the Orient Express

Tickets begin at $25. For more information or to order tickets, visit the Indiana Repertory Theatre online!

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Onstage!

Runs November 16December 26, 2019
Indiana Repertory Theatre (140 W. Washington St., Indianapolis)
Adapted by Tom Haas

A delightful ensemble of players brings Scrooge, Tiny Tim, four spirits, and all of Victorian London to life on our snow-covered stage for this holiday treasure infused with music and song. In the darkness of winter, we all need the shining light of forgiveness, redemption, and love. Come celebrate the joy of the season and the spirit of giving.

Approximate Run Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes, with no intermission

A Christmas Carol is an adaptation of Dickens’ classic tale that contains imagery that may frighten young children. Recommended for patrons 4th grade and above.

“I am excited that A Christmas Carol is getting a fresh new look! Linda Pisano’s new costume designs are beautiful and her research and attention to detail lifts this important story in a magical way. We will have some long-time Carol actors and Indy favorites joining us again this holiday season, while inviting some new spirits into the tradition. Additionally, there will be new songs along with our favorite Christmas Carols. All of these new investments of time and love to Carol come from our commitment to keeping the production fresh, accessible and relevant for our community.”

Benjamin Hanna, Associate Artistic Director and Director of A Christmas Carol

Tickets begin at $25. For more information or to buy tickets, visit the Indiana Repertory Theatre online!

Twelve Angry Men, Onstage!

Runs September 429, 2019
Indiana Repertory Theatre (140 W. Washington St., Indianapolis)
By Reginald Rose

A young man’s life hangs in the balance as a trial jury meets behind closed doors to debate his guilt or innocence. Did he kill his father? Or is there reasonable doubt? What is justice, and how do we achieve it? You will be on the edge of your seat as a dozen men with different viewpoints try to agree on one verdict. This classic American drama from the 1950s could have been written yesterday with its provocative look at power, prejudice, and clashing perspectives.

Approximate Run Time: 1 hour and 40 minutes, with no intermission

Twelve Angry Men is a classic American drama that contains profanity and mild violence. Recommended for patrons 9th grade and above.

“The season opens with the classic American 1950s courtroom drama Twelve Angry Men. We select a play of this nature to unite the adult and student populations with a play that holds power for its strong dramatic tension, as well as its heated debates on the efficacy of the American justice system. It will pack a content and a style punch, and we’re excited to open our season with this quintessentially American high-stakes debate play that feels ripped out of today’s headlines.”

Janet Allen, Executive Artistic Director

Tickets begin at $25. For more information or to buy tickets, visit the Indiana Repertory Theatre online!

The Screwtape Letters, Onstage!

4PM | Saturday, November 2, 2019
Clowe’s Memorial Hall, Butler University (4602 Sunset Ave., Indianapolis)

“I have no intention of explaining how the correspondence, which I now offer to the public, fell into my hands.

“There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.

“Readers are advised to remember that the devil is a liar. Not everything that Screwtape says should be assumed to be true, even from his own angle.

“There is wishful thinking in Hell as well as on Earth.”

C.S. Lewis, July 5, 1941

This acclaimed and faithful stage adaptation of C.S. Lewis’ satiric masterpiece follows Screwtape, a senior tempter in Hell, as he schemes to capture the soul of an unsuspecting human on earth and reveals spiritual warfare in vivid, humorous, and powerful ways.

Run Time: 90 minutes; no intermission.
Age Recommendation: 13 and older. Children under age 4 not admitted.

This play is produced by the Fellowship for Performing Arts, a Biblical Christian organization founded by Max McLean. Tickets will be onsale soon! For more information, visit the Fellowship for Performing Arts online.

Q&A

What is the Fellowship for Performing Arts?

Founded by award-winning actor Max McLean, FPA is a not-for-profit New York City-based production company producing theatre from a Christian worldview to engage a diverse audience.

Where do you produce your work?

In addition to an annual season in New York City, FPA tours its productions in major cities from coast to coast and internationally.

What plays have you done?

FPA recent productions include the international hit The Screwtape Letters, The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis Onstage: The Most Reluctant Convert, Martin Luther on Trial, Mark’s Gospel, Genesis, Robert Bolt’s A Man for All Seasons, and the first New York revival of the Tony-nominated play Shadowlands.

How do you choose your productions?

FPA carefully selects works from great authors and themes that can articulate the Christian worldview in a way that is imaginative, multi-layered and relatable to audiences from any faith perspective, or none at all.