By Mark Ambrogi
Liz Qua’s devotion to Habitat for Humanity Boone County kept growing from a volunteer role to a part-time position with family services.
“I loved every minute of that,” Qua said. “I worked for a year-and-a-half with the applicants. I grew such a big heart for that. I love what it does.”
Despite that, the Zionsville resident said she never had aspirations to be the executive director, which she became Jan. 1, replacing Steve Furste, also of Zionsville. However, the love of the Habitat model convinced her.
No one filled Qua’s part-time role with family services, so she is filling that role, too. There are four paid staff members, including Qua, the only full-time employee.
“I’m excited about it, but it’s a little overwhelming,” she said. “I’m kind of a jack-of-all trades. But we have such amazing volunteers. There are so many people that have a heart for it that they’ll pick up the slack. Whatever I can’t do, they’re willing to raise their hand and do it.”
Sue Burks, associate executive director under Qua and volunteer coordinator, appreciates her passion.
“Liz is an exceptional woman who brings a passion and energy to Habitat for Humanity Boone County,” Burks said. “She has a huge heart for helping our partner families, and has taken on the executive director position with enthusiasm and grace. I have known Liz for a long time, and I know that she is dedicated, organized and caring. We are very lucky to have her leading our team.”
Prior to being with family services, Qua had been a volunteer with the build team for a few years.
“I started with the construction side and then I realized I could really help the people going in the houses,” Qua said. “A lot of people come to us kind of broken down. I think that’s one of the huge rewards. When we do that house dedication and we see this person, and a lot of them are single moms, they just haven’t had a break in their life. They have to partner with us for 200 hours of sweat equity before they can close on the house. They have this beautiful new home where they’ve picked out cabinets, countertops and flooring. There is usually not a dry eye at our house dedications.”
Qua said the nonprofit is still looking for lots and applicants.
“We have a lot of feelers out,” Qua said. “You’d think we’d have a line out our door of applicants, but we don’t. We really want more people to come in and realize who Habitat is and what we do for the community.”
“We primarily build in Lebanon, Whitestown and Thorntown,” said Qua, who added that most homes are built in Lebanon. “We’ve built in Advance once or twice, but that is farther out for our volunteers to go.”
Fundraising for Habitat has been steady, but Qua would like to see more corporations involved.
“I think that’s a really good partnership, and that brings volunteers,” Qua said. “I’d love to build five houses a year, but right now we’re slated to build two or three this year. The three is based on us getting more lots. We don’t have a stack of lots to build on. But I think there is a need in this community to build five homes a year, if we could. To do that we would need partnerships with corporations. We’ve had corporate sponsors on builds before, and that would be awesome to continue to do that.”
Qua said there is a faith build with any church in Boone County that wants to partner with Habitat, whether it’s with finances or volunteers.
There is usually a women’s build in the fall.
“We have 350 women come out and build a house in eight to 10 weeks,” Qua said. “It’s teams of women and fun is had by all. That’s a huge hit and very successful.”
For more, visit habitatboonecounty.org.
Meet Liz Qua
Personal: Qua, from Chicago, and husband, Doug, have three children, Melanie, 24. Daniel, 21, and Jonny, 20. All three are Zionsville Community High School graduates and have volunteered on builds. Doug has been a crew leader on the women’s build team. Qua belongs to Dining for Women, a giving club that supports global charity.
Experience: Qua previously worked part-time in circulation at the Hussey-Mayfield Memorial Public Library. Previously, she worked in customer service for Grainger Industrial Supply and also had been a substitute teacher. She graduated from Southern Illinois with a degree in aviation management and worked as a turbo prop pilot for five years for SkyWest Airlines.
Favorite thing to do in Zionsville: “I really like Main Street. We love the community here. We enjoy eating downtown and walking at Lions Park with the dog (a golden retriever named Whitney). We love the activities here. That’s why I loved working at the library because I felt it was a gateway to Zionsville.”