New Habitat Executive Director Shay Homeyer touches up some displays.

Shay Homeyer is the new executive director at St. Joseph Habitat for Humanity.

Homeyer has been a volunteer with Habitat for years and has served on the board since 2018.

“Advocacy is my life,” Homeyer said.

It’s no secret that nonprofits and charities seek leaders who possess unselfish characteristics, and it’s also important for those people to be able to build a network with other nonprofits.

“I think her level of knowledge is going to be great, especially as it does come to kind of a disaster realm,” United Way President Kylee Strough said.

Homeyer has experience with the Federal Emergency Management Agency in both Nebraska and Kansas, which means she can help navigate through the federal system. That could come in handy if there is another local disaster that “falls between the cracks,” like the South Side flood of last summer, Strough said.

Habitat is responsible for building affordable housing, as well as teaching homeowners the skills to repair and maintain those homes. That’s currently an expensive endeavor because the price of lumber has increased quite a bit.

“Two things that Habitat depends on is volunteers, which the pandemic has had a big effect on being able to use volunteers, and then the cost of lumber,” said Pat Dillon, who serves on Habitat’s board.

At this point, Homeyer said she worries that the pre-pandemic budget showed two homes available to build, but the cost may only allow for just one with the current lumber cost.

Habitat also is partnering with The Crossing on a reentry program for ex-convicts. Officials are exploring grants to support the 32 individuals involved to help them learn skills that hopefully can help them land jobs and afford their own place to live.

Ryan Hennessy can be reached at Follow him on twitter: @NPNowHennessy.

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