Building Community Blog

As President of Twin Cities Habitat, Susan Haigh’s job is to work to “Eliminate poverty housing from the Twin Cities and to make decent, affordable shelter for all people a matter of conscience.” That’s the mission of the organization, but it’s more than that for Susan.  Talk to her for only a short time and you’ll understand it's link to her deep desire to lift families and to give them a chance to build better futures. It’s not just a job for her; it’s a journey of the heart that started 40 years ago.

Susan’s first job as a lawyer was with the Metropolitan Council. Her responsibilities included land use planning and advising the Council’s Housing and Redevelopment Authority. The work taught her about issues surrounding affordable housing in the Twin Cities, and moved her to make it one of the main focuses of her career. Since then the federal government has deemphasized its involvement in affordable housing, transfering the challenge and burden to the states. That didn't slow Susan down. (Later Susan would return to the Metropolitan Council to serve as its Chair. She recently left that position to focus on the Habitat mission again full time).

Today we celebrate the life of one of our countries greatest moral leaders, Martin Luther King, Jr. He inspired the country and brought about great changes, not by earning more votes, or spending more money, or making threats. He brought about change through the power of his words, his vision, and the unstoppable energy he displayed in showing us how to bring them to life. 

Business owners and managers tend to spend a fair amount of time thinking about how to increase productivity, profits and retention. They recognize that happy employees tend to be more productive, making more profits for the company. They also stay with the company longer, meaning the company doesn’t have to spend as much on hiring and training new employees. Better working conditions, more generous paid time off, and other enhanced benefits are just a few of the ways employers are looking to accomplish these goals. Fortunately, more and more companies are discovering that matching employee donations and supporting employee volunteer involvement in the community is an even more powerful way of improving all of these areas. 

This time of year it’s easy to forget that Christmas isn’t the only holiday people celebrate. We’re in the midst of Hannukah. Islam has many days of celebration like Eid, the celebration breaking the 30 days of fasting during Ramadan. The celebration of the New Year is huge among Korean, Hmong, Chinese and most other Asian communities. It would take a very long blog post to list every holiday and holy day celebrated by the people, communities, volunteers, and employees Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity serves.

It’s holiday time and that means buying gifts for people. Whether you’re buying a small toy to give to a child one evening during Hanukkah, buying clothes a teenager needs to wear to school, or buying something fun to put under the tree for the whole family, you’re spending money, sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. You build your list and buy your gifts one piece at a time. At Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, we buy and build homes for families, one piece, and one price, at a time.

            Jen Annoni and Ali Vandercook didn’t fit the rest of the volunteer crew they were working with on a house build in Crystal. They had volunteered to spend another day working on a Habitat house and, since they were not members of a larger group, they’d  been assigned to work with a group from seven West Metro Episcopal Churches that called themselves EpiscoBuilders. Jen and Ali were in their early twenties, the others were all in their fifties, sixties and seventies. In addition, the only other woman on the site was McKinsie Clyde, the Habitat site supervisor.

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