Monthly Archives: April 2018

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Family starts work on Habitat for Humanity home after losing trailer in tornado

Category : Blog

Article from by Janae Francis, Standard Examiner Reporter.

Habitat for Humanity home in Ogden on Saturday, April 14, 2018.

JaNae Francis
JaNae Francis


OGDEN — Brenda Guzman was so excited to break ground for her family’s upcoming Habitat for Humanity home that she couldn’t keep her hard hat on.

The 13-year-old jumped onto her shovel several times, spilling her hat during a groundbreaking ceremony in a vacant lot at 450 15th St. in Ogden Saturday, April 14.

Brenda and her sister, Ariel Guzman, 15, said the hardships they’ve overcome living in a drafty trailer during the winter months were difficult and that they were very grateful to leave those problems behind.

“We would all go to the living room,” Ariel said, explaining how the family of seven coped on those cold nights. “The living room is the place that wasn’t so bad. We would all cover up in blankets together and try not to be cold.”

ground breaking ceremony

Sometime in early summer, all of those trials will be well behind the family of six children and a single mother when their new home should be complete.

The new home is expected to be one of four completed by about the end of the year by Habitat for Humanity of Weber and Davis Counties.

The house will be the 13th completed by the agency since it started in Ogden in 2002 and the first in a year of exponential growth for the organization.

This year the nonprofit will repair 100 homes in addition to building the four homes, said Jeannie Gamble, executive director of Habitat for Humanities of Weber and Davis Counties

Last year, the organization built two houses and completed 72 repair projects, she said.

Previous to last year, Gamble said, the nonprofit built about one house every 18 months and completed 10 to 14 repair jobs each year.

Related: Weber State student designs Habitat for Humanity house for fellow student

“Over the last two years, we have dramatically increased what we are doing in the area,” Gamble said.

Gamble took over the reins of the agency two years ago and has been growing the staff and its resources ever since, she said.

“We’re on a four-year accelerated growth plan,” she said. “We want to be rocking and rolling within two more years.”

She defined her goals over the next two years as recruiting a full-time staff of 25 or more, compared to a staff of 13 now. Two years ago, she said the organization mostly was run by volunteers.

Gamble also plans to open another Restore — the agency’s home improvement thrift stores — in Davis County. It already has one on Wall Avenue in Ogden.

Related: Ogden’s Habitat for Humanity ReStore officially opens for business

“We want to be building as many homes as we can and repairing as many as we can,” Gamble said.

Those involved said their efforts will improve the lives of many more than those families directly served.

“We really notice that as we build, other neighbors clean up,” said Kent Jorgenson, resource development officer for Habitat for Humanity of Weber and Davis Counties. “It just kind of revitalizes and kind of makes the whole neighborhood improve.”

The ceremony Saturday included a prayer by Tim Taylor, a member of the organization’s board of directors.

He asked for divine help for the family and expressed gratitude for volunteers willing to serve them.

As the Guzmans dug into the ground Saturday morning, the children discovered an old, buried wrench and what looked to be a piece of pipe.

“Isn’t that a sign of good luck when they dig and find artifacts?” Taylor asked.

Such luck is a contrast to the type the family appears to have experienced in the past.

In September of 2016, a rare Utah tornado touched down and took the roof off their trailer in Riverdale.

Aurora Guzman, the mother, already had faced hardships in repairing the home, according to information released by Habitat for Humanity of Weber and Davis Counties.

With no money to fix the home after the tornado, the family was forced to split up. Aurora Guzman took care of her youngest four children in a hotel room until she could afford to fix her trailer, according to the news release.

Guzman family and girls

Photo taken by Dave Brewer from

With the Saturday groundbreaking for a future home provided to the family, Aurora Guzman said she was happy knowing she and her children soon would be more secure.

Facing economic challenges even before her trailer lost its roof, Aurora Guzman had set out to make extra money to feed her family and pay rent by making and selling food, starting a sewing business and babysitting, according to the news release.

Previously, she had lived in small apartments with her children. She had twice been evicted, reportedly because of complaints of having too many children in a small apartment, according to the news release.

Related: After $6,000 in tools were stolen from Habitat site, community steps up to help

Some of her children had lived apart during those times too, the children said.

The 500 hours of “sweat equity” the family will have to provide in order to receive their new home did not seem to be a sacrifice for them Saturday.

Aurora Guzman’s oldest son, Abraham Guzman, 20, spoke to Matt Alexander, assistant manager at the Ogden Restore, about the next time he’d be able to work at the store that sells donated items and raises money for the local Habitat for Humanity.

Brenda and Ariel talked about their opportunities to work in the Habitat for Humanity office.

Dixie Story, office manager at Habitat for Humanity of Weber and Davis Counties, teased them about the work involved in helping to build the house.

When the family was breaking ground, Story hollered in jest: “You only have to go 12 more feet down and 37 feet wide,” she said referring to the size of their future basement. “We’ll check on you tomorrow morning.”

Story later explained to the Standard-Examiner that she was having fun when she made the comments and that usually, families receiving houses put in far more than 500 hours in helping volunteers to build their homes.

You may reach reporter JaNae Francis at or 801-625-4228. Follow her on Twitter at @JaNaeFrancisSE or on Facebook at


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Value of Tangible Work by Rick Boman

Category : Blog

Jeannie M. Gamble, the Executive Director for HabitatWD, sent a story over that Rick Boman had written about a volunteer. Rick Boman is our Americorps Construction Manager and is constantly involved with volunteers on home build sites and some A Brush With Kindness projects he may be supervising.

We want to share what Rick Boman wrote about one particular volunteer:

One day a volunteer, after a particularly productive task of building interior walls, became emotional. After some consulting this man confided in me his story.

He grew up a city-kid, living in an apartment growing up. Now, he lives in a high-rise condominium with maid-service. His parents were both office workers and he never did manual labor growing up. He had never mowed a lawn, raked a yard, or even used a shovel. As an adult, he works 10-14 hours days solving computer-programming issues. He works for months sometimes on a particular problem. After completing his tasks at work, he uploads a file and sends away an e-mail. Rarely does he hear anything more about it. He often wonders if the company is even implementing his work. He ponders the value that he adds to his work and to the company.

We walked around the house at our project site, looking at all the interior walls. Just earlier there was nothing. Now, there was something built and something to see. He states that this is the first day of his life where he can look back and see, with his eyes, exactly what he did.

The amount of effort a carpenter puts in during the day is easily visually seen. It is tangible. For many workers today physical activity and tangible outcomes have become extinct.

This man is changed forever; he now seeks hard work that leaves a physical legacy. This story hits a cord for me. I have always worked on tangible things. As I choose my career path in construction management, I will consider the value of physical tangible work.

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Home Is The Key

Category : Blog

Habitat for Humanity
of Weber and Davis Counties
raises funds and awareness in April
to increase affordable homeownership
as part of national campaign

OGDEN, UT (April 10, 2018) — For many people across the U.S., access to an affordable home remains out of reach, creating barriers to affording necessities such as food, education or medical care.

From the Affordable Housing Online site, it has stated that “HUD defines a cost burdened renter household as one that pays 30% or more of income on gross rent”. From the data provided by US Census Bureau 2015 ACS 5-yr, it estimates that more than 43% of renters are considered cost burdened in Weber and Davis County. In Weber County, it is estimated that over 71% are actual homeowners, while in Davis County, over 77% are homeowners (1). For Weber County, 10.8% of households are estimated to be in poverty, while 6.3% of the households in Davis County are considered to be in poverty(2).

From the National Low Income Housing Coalition site, it explained Utah was ranked #26 from highest to lowest 2-bedroom housing wage. The Out of Reach 2017 report discussed that “in Utah, the Fair Market Rent (FMR) for a two-bedroom apartment is $885. In order to afford this level of rent and utilities (without paying more than 30% of income on housing) a household must earn $2951 monthly ($35,410 annually)”. This level of income translated into an hourly housing wage of about $17.02 per hour, assuming a 40-hour work week, 52 weeks per year(3).

In Weber County, the estimated hourly mean renter wage in 2017 is considered to be $10.63. 1.6 full-time jobs at mean renter wage would be needed to afford a $553 2-bedroom rental(4). In Davis County, the estimated hourly mean renter wage in 2017 was considered to be $10.71. 1.5 full-time jobs at mean renter wage would be needed to afford a $557 2-bedroom home(5).

Home is the key logoTo address the critical need locally and across the county, Habitat for Humanity of Weber and Davis Counties (HabitatWD) is joining Home is the Key, a national campaign by Habitat for Humanity International aimed at highlighting the need for affordable housing and raise funds to drive lasting change.

One of the ways that HabitatWD raise funds for affordable housing is from the Habitat Ogden ReStore. Anyone can shop, donate, and volunteer at this Habitat ReStore, located at 3111 Wall Avenue, Ogden, UT 84401. It is a nonprofit home improvement thrift store and donation center. The Habitat Ogden ReStore sells new and gently-used merchandise and items to the general public. Proceeds go towards the Habitat affiliate and their repair and building projects for families in need. Currently, proceeds are going towards the Guzman family, the next partner family for HabitatWD.

For the month of April, the Ogden ReStore is having their Declutter Drive for those who are doing Spring Cleaning in their homes. Items can be donated to the ReStore, rather than giving it to the landfill. The Ogden ReStore is environmentally friendly, while also being a good source for good quality items being sold at a fraction of the original cost.

HabitatWD is also having their Ground Breaking Ceremony for the Guzman family, a single mother and her six kids. This will be held at the new Habitat home build site, located at 450 15th Street, Ogden, UT 84404. The affiliate hopes to bring awareness for the need of safe and decent homes for everyone, especially for the Guzman family.

We have seen firsthand how an affordable home can play a key role in helping families and communities,” said Maria Rague, Marketing Director, at HabitatWD. “Providing an affordable and safe Habitat home can give a household the opportunity to have a better lifestyle, health, education, and so much more. We hope that our community will support us in our mission by donating, volunteering or advocating with us throughout April. Our goal is to partner with more homeowners and build strong futures together.”

HabitatWD has built over 13 Habitat homes in the Weber and Davis Counties. One of the previous Habitat homeowners has finally paid off their Habitat home, while another is on their way to paying it off soon. Two Habitat Homes were built in 2017 and within 10 months with the community’s help and support. The Habitat partner families don’t get a “hand out” but a “hand up” since they put over 300 hours of sweat equity and volunteerism into their Habitat home and the affiliate. HabitatWD hopes to build strength, stability, and self-reliance through shelter for many more families in need.

To learn how to get involved with HabiatWD, visit or to visit the Habitat Ogden ReStore site.

For more information about Home is the Key, visit

Main Office
2955 Harrison Blvd. Suite 202 Ogden UT 84403 | 801-475-9821 |
About Habitat for Humanity of Weber and Davis Counties
Habitat for Humanity of Weber and Davis Counties (HFHWD) is a nonprofit organization that strives to create “a world where everyone has a decent place to live”. Our affiliate has built over 14 homes since 2004. We build and repair homes for local low-income families. For more information, visit
About Habitat Ogden ReStore
Habitat Ogden ReStore is a nonprofit home improvement thrift store and donation center. Proceeds from the Habitat ReStore goes towards the affiliate, HFHWD. When you shop at the nonprofit store, you are helping families who need repairs and decent homes.
Media Contact:
Maria Rague | 801-475-9821 |


1. Affordable Housing Online. David Layfield and, Inc., 2002-2018, Accessed 10 April 2018.
2. United States Census Bureau.U.S. Department of Commerce,,webercountyutah/PST045216. Accessed 10 April 2018.
3-5. “Out Of Reach 2017”. National Low Income Housing Coalition, pp.UT1-UT3. Accessed 10 April 2018.

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WSU Honors Professor Who Builds Community with Annual Lindquist Award

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Category : Blog

OGDEN, Utah – When associate professor of design engineering technology Jeremy Farner talks about building community, he means it literally. He’s helped build schools, homes and orphanages from Ogden to Africa.

For his exemplary accomplishments, Farner is the recipient of this year’s Lindquist Award selected by the Lindquist Award Committee. He will receive the honor during a Center for Community Engaged Learning (CCEL) celebration, April 10 from 3:30-4:15 p.m. in Shepherd Union Building.

Farner joined the Weber State faculty in 2008 and since has taken students around the world to improve lives and opportunities through improved facilities. He has worked with teams to build a women’s training center in Mozambique, Africa, a dining hall and kitchen for an orphanage in Thaton, Thailand; a training center, communal water spigots, and preschool in Chiclayo, Peru; two classrooms and a library in Mozambique, Africa. He and the Global Community Engaged Learning team are in the final stages of preparing a trip to Uganda, Africa, to construct a library and teacher housing.

In addition, Farner is the construction chair for Habitat for Humanity of Weber and Davis Counties. He and his students designed and donated countless hours to build three Habitat for Humanity Homes in Ogden, which are now occupied, and are working on the next three.

“I am definitely addicted to the rush I get after working with other WSU faculty and staff for an entire year on these project and seeing the appreciation of those we have given a hand up to.” Farner said. “We have a motto that we give a hand up, not out. We stimulate the local economy and morale of the communities we complete these projects in.”

In a letter of support for the Lindquist Award, Jeannie Gamble, Habitat for Humanity executive director, wrote that the entire community benefits from Farner’s inspirational leadership.

“Jeremy has demonstrated time and again his unusual commitment to providing abundant opportunities for his students to learn in both the classroom and the world outside,” Gamble wrote. “He epitomizes how students and community partners, both with their own needs and assets, can come together to facilitate community-engaged, service learning.”

Farner and his students now are working with Habit to design a “tiny-home” community of 150 to 200 small, energy-efficient homes.

The award is named for John A. Lindquist, a strong advocate of education and the community, who spent a lifetime supporting Ogden, Weber County and Weber State. Lindquist’s ties to WSU date back to the late 1930s, when he attended Weber College and was a student body officer. Throughout his lifetime, he generously supported cultural, academic, athletic and student activities and programs.

“The Center for Community Engaged Learning is honored to house the John A. Lindquist award, and is grateful to Kathryn Lindquist for starting it to honor her father’s legacy and commitment to community,” said Melissa Hall, CCEL director. “Selecting an awardee is never easy as Weber State has a number of faculty and staff committed to community engagement. This year, Jeremy Farner rose to the top for his work both locally and globally. What many don’t realize is the lasting impact Jeremy has as his projects often continue over to classes and volunteers beyond his own. Jeremy is an innovative leader in his field, providing his students with unique opportunities that allow for creativity and sustainable planning.”

Along with the Lindquist Award, the CCEL celebration also will recognize many community partners, faculty, staff and students involved in community engagement.

Political science major Aimee Urbina will be honored as one of three students in Utah selected as a Newman Civic Fellow, for her work fostering a culture of sustainable practices on campus. A first-generation student, she has also advocated for student engagement through Latinos in Action, Amnesty International and the American Democracy project.

During the 2017-18 school year, which ends in April, WSU students have logged 67,043 hours of service with faculty teaching 252 community-engaged learning focused course sections.

To view this story online, visit this link.

Visit for more news about Weber State University.

For photos, visit the following links. of JeremyFarner_5339-2-X2.jpg

Melissa Yack Hall, CCEL executive director
801-626-7737 •
Allison Barlow Hess, public relations director
801-626-7948 •

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The Guzman Family Story

Category : Blog

Aurora Guzman is a single mother with six children. Her story is one about family sticking together even when times get hard. The Guzman family has encountered many obstacles. And still, they seem to be a very cohesive family who help each other to make things work.

Aurora described her life as filled with many ups and downs. When she first arrived to Utah, she and her children were living with another family. When her sixth child was born, she moved her family into a small apartment. This apartment had two bedrooms and one bathroom. Due to the size of the apartment, two of Aurora’s daughters had to live with their father. It wasn’t long after that she was asked to leave the apartment. Apparently, there had been too many complaints of her having so many children and there was not enough room for her family. She then decided to move into another family’s basement.

The basement they were living in was only one room with a bathroom and no space for cooking or laundry. Two of her children continued to live with their father, separated from the other children. Aurora and her four remaining children lived in the small basement for three months.

Aurora missed her two absent children, but was having trouble putting food on the table for the four she had. She continuously worried that she might be evicted. It was becoming too much for her emotionally. All she wanted was a place where she could live reunited with all six kids. But no one wanted six children in an apartment. Due to this, Aurora decided to look for a trailer.

Aurora finally found a trailer that was within her budget. There were holes in the ceiling and in the floorboards. The windows were so thin that cold wind blew right through the house. However, all the kids could fit in it and it was all she could afford, since other trailers were expensive.

“I knew this was going to be mine,” she stated, determined to make it their home.

Aurora made a down-payment on the beat-up trailer. At last, the children were together with her under the same roof. What she hadn’t anticipated was she would lose support from an organization that was helping her financially because she finally had found a place to live. As a result, she didn’t have the money to fix up the trailer so her family had to live with the holes in the ceiling and in the floor. By the second month in the trailer, Aurora was finding it hard to pay the bills.

It was emotionally difficult for the children in the household. One of the daughters had overheard her mother crying one night. The next day, the daughter went to school and started to cry herself. When the teacher asked what was wrong, she said she had heard her mother crying and was worried for her. The teacher then called Aurora to ask if everything was okay. Aurora told her about the trailer and that she was having a hard time just feeding her family. After that, the school did what it could to help.

Aurora knew she needed to earn more money. She decided to make and sell food to pay the rent, pay off the trailer, and to feed her family. She also began a sewing business and babysat. Soon, she was making enough money to start fixing the trailer. She decided to work on the roof first, to keep the rain out.

It was at this point that Aurora applied for the Habitat for Humanity housing program.

Just when Aurora thought things were about to change for the better, a strange tornado came through the trailer park in September 2016, and destroyed the roof that Aurora had fixed. It tore apart the ceiling. Rain poured through the lights fixtures. Noise and cold wind blew through the windows. The whole family was scared the trailer would collapse on top of them.

“Once again, we were left without a home,” Aurora said.

With the trailer wrecked and unsafe, the family was forced to split up once again. Some of the children moved to a motel, while others went to their father’s place. It was a very difficult time, especially for the youngest of the children. Despite everything, Aurora persevered and, eventually, she got the trailer repaired to a livable condition again.

It was in November 2017 when Aurora finally got good news. Habitat for Humanity of Weber and Davis Counties selected Aurora and her family as the thirteenth partner family. In February 2018, Aurora went over the house plans with Executive Director, Jeannie M. Gamble, and Construction Manager, Rick Boman. They edited the plans from a previous Habitat Home. Their new home has been decided to be built at 450 15th Street in Ogden.

Aurora would like to thank Habitat for Humanity for this amazing opportunity to give her children a safe and decent place to grow up. The entire family is excited to have a place to call their own.

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