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Guest Blog: My 2019 Habitat Home Sponsorship Experience

Guest Blogger
Posted by Guest Blogger on 2:45 PM on December 30, 2019

Corey represents what Habitat is about—giving generously of time and treasure to invest in our neighbors and our collective future. And his commitment is truly exceptional. Corey stepped up to financially sponsor an entire house AND volunteer 1,000+ hours of his time to help build it, and other Habitat houses, in 2019. 

Today, the homebuyers for the house he sponsored are at the closing table signing the final documents to become homeowners. We celebrate all their work to reach this milestone and express deep gratitude to Corey for his generosity and commitment. Check out Corey's guest blog below describing his experience as a house sponsor and volunteer.

Guest blog by Corey Sauer,
House Sponsor and Regular Volunteer

Corey volunteeringVolunteering and philanthropy are two important values in my life. So, when I first began volunteering with Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity in the late summer of 2014, I got my first glimpses of what I would come to learn was an incredible organization that does a tremendous and thankless job of providing high quality, affordable housing options for low-income families to purchase in the Twin Cities area.

The more I volunteered, the more familiar with and comfortable I became on a Habitat build site. Each new day of volunteering brought me into contact with new volunteers and/or Habitat staff whom I had not met or worked with on a home.

And each year since 2014, I have also made a point to donate money to Twin Cities Habitat.

One detail that caught my eye when walking up to each Habitat build site were the names listed on the Habitat banner posted at the front of the site.

The names were of the financial sponsors (donors), community sponsors, in-kind donors, etc. and what had piqued my curiosity was that those names were always corporations, institutions, businesses, large community or church groups…but not one was ever of a person, an individual, or a couple.

And so, it struck me that I wanted to be a part of that sponsorship “club”. Not just to keep putting my money where my mouth was, so to speak, but to be more intentional.

To get my name up there on that sign, as it were.

Corey in front of house with site sign

Yet, vastly more important than that minor feather in my ego’s cap, it represented to me an opportunity to make a bold public commitment of dollars in the form of an official sponsorship to help build a Habitat home. To declare whom and what I care about in my philanthropic life.

But I had never done anything of that sort before.

How would I make a sponsorship donation?

COULD I even make a sponsorship donation? As far as I knew, only corporations could do such a thing.

Where would all of the volunteers come from to build the house? I have family and friends, sure, but they don’t all have the time to make something of this magnitude work.

To get answers to my questions, I ended up talking to Kate Loe, who is the Senior Director of Resource Development at Twin Cities Habitat.

In her leadership role, Kate is well versed in the sponsorship process and walked me through the basic steps, and answered all of my questions, the most important of which was my concern about not having a built-in volunteer base in the form of employees (like a 3M, Thrivent or Wells Fargo) that could be assigned to a build site that I help sponsor.

Kate alleviated my concern instantly, letting me know that Twin Cities Habitat has a large base of community, church and corporate groups (in addition being financial co-sponsors) whom Habitat would tap to help volunteer throughout the build.

Satisfied with the feedback and support I was getting from Kate; I made the commitment in the very late fall of 2018 to be the major financial sponsor for a Habitat home build during 2019.

And so, for the four months beginning on May 20, 2019 and ending on September 20, 2019, I spent 54 days volunteering at the home I was helping to financially sponsor.

During those days and weeks of rain, cold wind, hot temperatures, sweltering sun and limitless blue skies, I was able to see firsthand how my donation was being put to good use in the community, literally building a hopeful and beautiful home for a young family to call their own and fill with their joyful experiences and memories over a lifetime.

Builders Circle Build group picture

Along the way, I met dozens and dozens of incredible, generous, kind, decent, compassionate, humble and very dedicated volunteers, AND Habitat staff.

If not for the efforts and commitment of those selfless human beings, this project never would have gotten to the starting line, much less ever have a chance to make it to the finish line.

It takes very special people behind the scenes in the Twin Cities Habitat headquarters, at their warehouse, and the Habitat panel plant (where every interior and exterior wall for every Twin Cities Habitat house is pre-built). Plus the drivers, the site supervisors for each new home build, all of the site supervisors for the critical A Brush with Kindness home repair program, and lest I forget the AmeriCorps volunteer facilitators that serve with each site supervisor.

All of these amazingly talented professional people make it possible for amateur thumb bashers like me to help make a difference in the community. Whether that community is in my own back yard here in Roseville, or in Hugo, Cottage Grove, Richfield, Brooklyn Park, North Minneapolis, Frogtown, or any of a dozen other cities in and around the Metro.

One of the special joys of volunteering on a Habitat home build is the opportunity to work alongside prospective Habitat homebuyers, whom are in the process of fulfilling their obligatory 100 volunteer hours by working on their own future Habitat home, or a Habitat home that will go to a different buyer.

Corey, Catina, and Abdi

In the case of the home I helped to sponsor, I was able to work with the actual future homebuyer, Abdi. Every day that Abdi was on site was a treat, because he was so determined to not only finish his volunteer hours, but to keep his focus on bringing to reality a very important life-changing step that this new home represented for his young family and himself.

Abdi was always in a good mood, and grateful to all of the volunteers and Habitat staff for their hard work helping to make his dream come true.

So, it was a wonderful experience to see that work come to fruition when Abdi, his wife Umaima Warsame, their children, and extended family attended the celebration of their new home on December 11. Many volunteers, Habitat staff, Habitat board members, and even a neighbor were all present to wish Abdi and Umaima and their children a fond welcome to their new home.

To see their smiling faces and know their hard work as a family, and our hard work as volunteers and Habitat staff had paid off is worth more than any unimaginable sum of money. We were a community helping one of our own have a better opportunity for a better life.

I am a 47-year-old retired cartoonist, and by no means will anyone ever mistake me for a professional carpenter/builder, but what I have learned in six years of volunteering with Twin Cities Habitat and going through the painless process of a home build sponsorship this year, is that this profoundly important work is vital, urgent, and beyond worthwhile.

Finished house

So much so that going into 2019, I made it a personal goal to volunteer 1,000 hours with Twin Cities Habitat in a single year, and I accomplished that goal in late December.

And given the wonderful, productive, and fun experience sponsoring, and volunteering at, a home build site in 2019, I have already committed to sponsoring another house in 2020, and will do so every year afterward.

Ditto for the volunteering, well…at least as long as my middle-aged, out of shape body holds out.

Every day that I volunteer with Habitat I learn something new, or firmly reinforce something I had learned previously on a build site. The more I learn, the more capable I feel, and the more capable I feel, the more of a difference I feel I am making, and that inspires me to want to do more.

It’s a profoundly empowering feeling to be able to learn how to make a difference…and have the chance to get better at making a difference.

Through my time volunteering with Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, I am still learning how to build homes, I’ve learned how to be a better volunteer, I’ve learned how crucial affordable housing is as a basic human right, and I’ve learned how to GIVE MORE of myself and my resources.

What will you learn?

click to make a donation to Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity

Tags: Donor Spotlight, 2019

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