Blake MacKenzie

Blake MacKenzie

Blake MacKenzie's journey with Habitat began in 2013, and in that time he's worked as a Development Assistant Intern, Advocacy Intern, Development Associate, and is now the Communications Specialist. Prior to Habitat, he graduated from Concordia College in Moorhead with majors in English Writing and Biology and a minor in Chemistry, and worked as a Community Organizer. He's an avid reader, makes a good risotto, and enjoys the great outdoors.

Building Community Blog

If you've ever volunteered with Twin Cities Habitat, you've likely worked with an AmeriCorps member on site. The work and impact of Twin Cities Habitat would not be possible without the commitment of AmeriCorps members. The program is unique because it gives members the chance to develop their skills by leading and acting out the mission of Habitat while devoting a year to service.

Every Wednesday for the last nine years, Sharlene and John Hensrud “unplug.” Their work as realtors keeps them busy on the weekends, but on Wednesdays they don’t schedule any appointments with clients. Instead, they spend time together, they cook, and in the evening their children and grandchildren come to their home for dinner. They talk about their days, they laugh and cry and eat together. This is the power of home.

“I’ve always wanted to design buildings and focus on the built environment,” said Nick Engling. “I wasn't getting a lot of satisfaction with some of the projects I was working on, and I wanted to use my skills on something I care about.”

As a Structural Engineer, Nick has put his skillset to work designing various buildings throughout the metro, including luxury and other apartment complexes, and has traveled the country doing structural forensic analysis. But volunteering with Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity has given him an outlet for his skillset in a way that truly helps others.

“It’s not if you can buy a home, but when.”

That’s what Linda White, Homeownership Advisor at Model Cities, tells the families she’s preparing for homeownership through one-on-one financial coaching. With her background in banking and extensive knowledge of the homeownership process, Linda will meet with clients as many times as they need to work with them on their dream of homeownership.

At this week's Habitat for Humanity International Conference, Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity received a genuine honor: we were selected as one of 23 organizations recognized by Habitat for Humanity International as an “Affiliate of Distinction.” Out of over 1,300 Habitat affiliates nation-wide, Twin Cities Habitat is the only affiliate recognized from Minnesota, and one of only three affiliates recognized of comparable size.

“I’ve always had this motto for my life” Greg Rouse says, showing the word build tattooed across his right forearm: “Never stop building.”

He started as a kid with legos, then carpentry as a teenager, then architecture in college. Next, he built homes for two years as an AmeriCorps member with Twin Cities Habitat. And now, he’s designing homes as a Masters of Architecture student at the University of Minnesota.

Great things are happening at Bii Gii Wiin Community Development Loan Fund, a referral partner with Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity. Like Twin Cities Habitat, Bii Gii Wiin offers financial coaching and prepares people for homeownership. But they offer other services too, such as free tax preparation through a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site, micro entrepreneurship training for opening a small business, an Individual Development Account program, a credit enhancement loan product, and financial and homeownership workshops.

Amber Leger, VITA Site Coordinator and Executive Assistant at Bii Gii Wiin, says of the programs at Bii Gii Wiin: “It’s the client’s dream and I’m here to build that with them.”

All Posts Next