Habitat for Humanity has an amazing way of bringing people together—for a single day or an entire lifetime. Doing something that is outside of your comfort zone, like running a circular saw, raising a wall into place, or getting to know a family that you'd otherwise never interact with, can be an intense experience. It opens you up, makes you physically or emotionally vulnerable. And it's in that space of vulnerability that people can grow together and form deep friendships. A day of volunteering with Twin Cities Habitat is very powerful. It can change how you see yourself, your neighbors, and your entire community.
Several people who know this firsthand recently gathered for breakfast at Twin Cities Habitat's office. Each is a member of the Legacy Circle, a group of people who've included Twin Cities Habitat in their will or estate plans. As they talked and shared stories they realized that every one of them had experience as a Habitat volunteer. Several of them build together through one church, St. Andrew's Lutheran in Mahtomedi. One couple met during a fundraiser walk for Twin Cities Habitat way back in 1992 (they even have Habitat's logo engraved on their wedding bands).
Some at the breakfast had been connected to Twin Cities Habitat through 3M, which has a phenomenal crew of retirees that volunteers multiple days a week. Those at the breakfast who are still volunteering regularly talked about which day was theirs: "I'm on Tuesday." "I'm on Thursday."
The group's volunteer experiences ran the gamut from working on Women Build projects to building Habitat homes in Costa Rica, Ethiopia, and all over the world. One gentleman had retired early and volunteered with Twin Cities Habitat basically full time for four straight years. Another man leads the regular crew known as Bud's Bunch, which has been volunteering continuously with Twin Cities Habitat since 1991.
As these Legacy Circle members ate breakfast they asked questions of Twin Cities Habitat's President and CEO Sue Haigh. Sue told them about plans to multiply the impact of Twin Cities Habitat in the community in the years ahead. She explained improvements to Habitat's homebuying process that will mean more families can have the opportunity of buying a home affordably. Plus, families now have more options on how they partner with Twin Cities Habitat in the process. Sue explained the new one-on-one financial coaching that every family goes through before buying a home (in addition to the homeowner training classes and sweat equity hour requirements).
The Legacy Circle members asked pointed questions about the challenges of rising costs for land and materials. They wanted to know where homes were going to be built in the coming years. Obviously, each of them there has a vested interest in the long-term success of Twin Cities. Each has a plan to build a legacy that includes safe, decent housing for families. The impact of that gift is tremendous when you consider how important housing is to everything from education, to health, to wealth creation. It truly is the foundation that we can build a greater Minnesota on.
It doesn't take a fortune to build a legacy through Twin Cities Habitat and it's never too early to start planning for it. If you're in your 30s or 40s, creating a will and including Twin Cities Habitat in it is a good way to start. Twin Cities Habitat can also be named as a beneficiary of a life insurance or retirement account.
When you’re in your 50s and 60s you should check on your estate plan to make sure that it is keeping pace with your life. This is also a good time to learn about the tax benefits related to gifts of investment assets or real estate. In your 70s and beyond you may be able to take advantage of tax breaks by making a distribution to Twin Cities Habitat through your IRA (individual retirement account).