Building Community Blog

On Saturday, November 15, over 75 people joined Habitat homebuyer Mai Kee Lee at 3026 Morgan Avenue in North Minneapolis to celebrate the dedication of The House that Love Built. The home was filled with energy radiating from Mai Kee, her five young children, and dozens of enthusiastic members of the sponsoring First Universalist Congregation. The dedication recognized the homebuyer’s hard work, the tremendous fundraising feat achieved by First Universalist, and the contributions of other sponsors, volunteers, and the community.

In early October the Youth Engagement team at Habitat was presented with an opportunity to work with four University of MN students to do a Habitat Awareness demonstration on campus. The four students (Seneca Thornley, Nick Tassoni, Justin Dessel, and John Turner), are all in a project management class where their assignment for the semester is to pick a project and implement it. The students chose to do one of our Hands-on Workshops in the middle of campus to raise awareness for Habitat on October 29th.

This past weekend the Habitat ReStore was featured at the Midwest Home Show. The show gave the ReStore the opportunity to introduce itself to tons of new people, both at the show, as well as in all the TV coverage of the ReStore at the show. Below you'll find an interview with a ReStore customer, but if that isn't enough to get you to come by and see what we have to help you with your home improvement projects, read on.

Way to go, Minnesota!

Across the state, 120,664 gifts were made to local non-profit organizations and schools, totaling $18,316,626.42 on Minnesota's annual day of giving! We're still tallying the numbers, but it's safe to say that over 800 people made a gift to support Habitat's work in the Twin Cities. Thank you so much for your generosity!

Whether building one Habitat for Humanity home or trying to revitalize an entire neighborhood, the work goes better when more people help. This all-in-together approach is paying off right now in St. Paul’s Frogtown and Rondo neighborhoods, one area where Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity has focused efforts since the foreclosure crisis. In the past three years, working in just a small cluster of blocks, Habitat for Humanity volunteers have built or rehabbed 11 homes and repaired 11 existing homes through A Brush with Kindness. The positive impact is noticeable, and both hope and neighborhood pride are on the rise. There are far fewer vacant, boarded-up homes than there were at the height of the recession.

All this work is thanks to an outpouring of support from businesses with strong St. Paul ties, local churches, foundations, and residents passionate about seeing their neighborhood become a better place to live. On the corporate side, both Ecolab and PCL were primary sponsors on Habitat homes in St. Paul in 2014. Holy Hammers, a faith coalition that's contributed more than $1M to Twin Cities Habitat's work over the years sponsored a third home. And the Builders Circle, made up of individuals who donate more than $1,000 annually to Twin Cities Habitat, sponsored a fourth home in the neighborhood revitalization zone. 

To say that Jennifer Kenny-Hendry is a multitasker would be a huge understatement. This mom of three (son Trevor, and twin daughters Faythe and Paige) holds a full-time position at a Minnesota insurance company, a second part-time job, goes to school full-time and is President of her townhome association. When Jennifer talks about the many hats she wears, she just smiles and jokes “I don’t think I sit down.”

Jennifer closed on her Habitat for Humanity home back on June 19, 2006, and her family was the first to move into the Gateway neighborhood in Woodbury. Prior to becoming a homeowner, Jennifer and her kids lived in a 12 feet by 25 feet space in the basement of her parent’s home, where she slept in the same room with her kids.

At first blush, the ReStore is a home improvement outlet with great bargains for the public, and that’s true. But, the ReStore is much more than that.

First, when you buy something at the ReStore, the profits go to help build homes with Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity. That means, when you buy some cabinets, a stove, some tools, or new furniture, you are making it possible for children and families to live in stable, affordable housing. That helps the entire community, and you.

In 1967, Bob Karlstrand graduated from high school and enlisted in the Air Force because he was just 17 years old and the Navy wouldn’t take him. At the height of the Vietnam War, he was stationed south of Bangkok in Thailand, handling logistics for B-52 bombers.

“We’d coordinate everything they needed,” Bob remembers, “and they were flying 30 missions a day.” It was a 24/7 job and Bob was stationed there for a year.

By Lan Freitag
Leadership Giving Officer, Twin Cities Habitat

As I sat in a meeting listening to the fundraising challenges we were up against in the current fiscal year, I realized that Habitat was in the same place as many nonprofits: the need is far outpacing the resources available. I wanted to do something about it and I knew couldn’t do this myself. Without much recruiting, I had a team of 8 co-workers volunteer to help me build Habitat’s first employee giving campaign!

All Posts Next