Maha Discovery podcast: Josh Dotzler from Abide | Episode 26

On this episode of The Building Code, we are joined by Josh Dotzler, CEO of Abide, to talk about his nonprofit organization and how it is impacting Omaha, Neb., one neighborhood at a time.

This is a special episode! We filmed it live at the Maha Discovery Conference, a one-day event in Omaha that exposes attendees to speakers and trends that align with the themes of inclusivity, technology, disruption and more. Our very own Tom Houghton and Megan Maslanka were the emcees for the event, so we took the opportunity to host a podcast on location with Josh, who spoke and shared the story of Abide at the conference.

What is Abide?

Abide was founded by Josh’s parents in 1989 after moving their family to North Omaha; they shortly took notice of the high amounts of poverty and violence in the area. A feeling washed over them … one of wanting to be a part of a solution to the problems they witnessed. Josh, his parents and siblings started and completed projects to help those in the neighborhood – and thus Abide was born. Josh recalls pulling nails out of 2x4s and swinging a hammer from a very early age.

As the Dotzler family grew in size (Josh is one of 14 children), so did Abide’s mission. Abide aims to revitalize the inner city of Omaha, one neighborhood at a time. They do this by mobilizing people and utilizing what they call “lighthouses,” which are homes that have been demolished and rebuilt in the inner city. Completed lighthouses are gifted to a family who then becomes a “lighthouse leader” in the troubled neighborhood. The goal behind the lighthouse and its residents is to create positive relationships and to help turn the neighborhood around for the better.

The building of lighthouses is made possible by architects, contractors and businesses donating supplies and their time to rebuild an entire home. From there, a strategy decides who the home will be given to, and that family is then encouraged and supported by Abide so the home can become a lighthouse and help make the neighborhood one house safern.

Different, but Similar

Although Abide and Buildertrend are completely different when you look at their big pictures, Josh identified how we are also quite similar. Here at Buildertrend, we believe in the motto “Effort. Attitude. Give a s***.” While this may not be the verbiage Abide uses, the fundamental idea behind each organization (if you work hard and care about your work, you can make great change) is the same.

Relationships are also a vital aspect to both Abide and Buildertrend. For Abide, building relationships is just as important as building new homes. Due to focusing on building positive relationships within the community, Omaha police told the Dotzlers that their neighborhood went from being one of the most dangerous areas to one of the best in just two years. Since its inception in 1989, Abide has adopted nearly 100 neighborhoods and has built 51 lighthouses. At Buildertrend, we believe in cultivating an employee culture that emphasizes giving back to the community and trusting the person who sits beside you.

We are truly impressed by the impact Abide is making here in Omaha, and we look forward to seeing how they continue to rebuild Omaha’s inner city. If you are a contractor who would like to volunteer your time or knowledge to help build a lighthouse, please check out the links below!

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