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2 min read

Committed to the Work—Kathleen’s Volunteer Story

Committed to the Work—Kathleen’s Volunteer Story

Kathleen’s 35-year career as a chemical engineer with 3M connected her to Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity. But the vision of an equitable Twin Cities and the people she’s met are why she’s been a dedicated volunteer since 2013.

“I volunteer because I really believe in Twin Cities Habitat’s mission—especially helping families build generational wealth,” she explained. “I appreciate the work being done with Foundational Black families. Changes are being made, and the work is getting done. I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t believe in it.”

Kathleen’s own experience as a homeowner motivates her involvement: “We can’t fix every problem, but we can help. Homeownership impacts generations—education, jobs, health, future homes, dreams. I’ve had the good luck of having a long professional career, putting me in a position to give my kids a stable home and a head start. I’d like to see everyone be able to do that. I have a strong belief in homeownership as a way to build equity, to build wealth.”

This belief in the work of Twin Cities Habitat even helped Kathleen stay engaged during the pandemic. Since she had previous volunteer experience, Kathleen became part of a “COVID crew.” Though she was still working at 3M at the time, Kathleen had a flexible, remote schedule that allowed her to volunteer more often. Following restrictions and guidelines, Kathleen and her group worked on two homes. “I was really getting into it more,” said Kathleen. “I knew I wanted to keep volunteering when I retired.”

Kathleen smiling in front of a build site.

Then, once she retired, things fell into place to make that happen. First, Kathleen met a leader from the 3M Retiree Regular Crew and connected with that group. Then Shane, Senior Engagement Associate, reached out looking for crew leaders. Kathleen jumped into action, serving three days per week in Farmington.

Today, Kathleen is a regular volunteer, usually working on homes in the east metro with Women Build or the 3M Retirees. Though she’s volunteered for more than a decade, she has the same goal for each shift. “I want to learn something every time I volunteer,” she shared. “Sometimes I learn a skill, and other times I learn about someone’s vacation or their kids’ school projects.” And thanks to other volunteers and knowledgeable site supervisors, Kathleen doesn’t have trouble reaching this goal. “I have fun with the people I work with,” she said. “I’ve enjoyed all the site supervisors, and I’ve met lots of different people.”

If you’re thinking about volunteering, Kathleen recommended being willing to try anything once. There’s a variety of things to do on site, and skilled, supportive site staff will tell you what you need to know. You’ll learn something new while contributing to positive change.

“Part of what keeps me volunteering is a commitment to the work that’s being done—and a mutual understanding and camaraderie with people who feel the same way,” shared Kathleen. “When you volunteer, you get to be around other people who see the importance of this work, too.”

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