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3 min read

Falling in Love at Habitat

Falling in Love at Habitat

We met at the All Staff Build. If you had to script a Habitat for Humanity meet-cute, casually meeting at the Habitat All Staff Build while moving planks of flooring together would probably be it. But what can I say—it’s true! What started as some furtive looks at the attractive guy teaching other staff how to lay flooring led to the love of both of our lives.

Blake and Greg first year at Habitat
Greg (left) and me, Blake (right) in our first year at Habitat. Greg was looking cool while building homes as an AmeriCorps Construction Volunteer Facilitator. I was a Development and Advocacy Intern, and I did...a little bit of everything, including posing as the "Habitat Housing Hero."

The story actually starts a few months before All Staff Build. It was the fall of 2013. Greg had moved from Milwaukee to Minneapolis to start AmeriCorps at Twin Cities Habitat, hoping to take a gap year or two before diving into grad school for his Master’s in Architecture. A couple of weeks into his AmeriCorps year, he started noticing a new cute intern in the office (ahem, it’s me). He found himself volunteering for trips into the office in case he might bump into me.

Greg thought the All Staff Holiday Party in December would be his chance. But the party rushed by in a blur, and I busied myself with my new Habitat friends, completely oblivious to anyone who might have a crush on me. It wasn’t meant to be.

2013 Habitat Holiday Party
Greg and I were so close but so far at the 2013 Habitat Holiday Party.

Fast forward to the Habitat All Staff Build Day in January. More than 100 of us gathered to do some finishing work on a set of several townhomes in Cottage Grove. Unbeknownst to me, Greg was going to make sure we bumped into each other. As I arrived, one of his AmeriCorps friends Beth (who is now a Twin Cities Habitat Site Supervisor) saw me and warmly invited me into the townhome that Greg just happened to be working on.

As we gathered in a circle to do our morning talk, Greg and I made eye contact. It was a little bit electric. He was decked out in his Carhartt jacket and toolbelt full of things I couldn’t name. He had a well-trimmed beard and his eyes crinkled when he smiled and he had a confidence about him. I was a bit smitten.

Unfortunately, I could barely swing a hammer and the thought of installing flooring, even with Greg teaching me, was just too terrifying. After helping to move a few boards around I got a text from some work friends who were painting trim in the next unit over. Painting? I could do that. So when the coast was clear I slipped out.

But we all came together for lunch at a local community center—and there was that attractive man with the beard again. Every time I looked for him across the room, he was looking at me. And vice versa. Again, electric.

As I was leaving for the day with my friend Nicole, who knew all the AmeriCorps members, I said, “Hey, there’s this attractive AmeriCorps man with dark hair and a beard. We kept making eye contact today—I really need to meet him. Do you know him?”

“Oh yeah,” Nicole replied, “That’s Greg Rouse! He’s super nice.”

Greg Rouse. Alright. I was going to connect with him somehow. Maybe the next time I see him in the office. But he beat me to it. That night, Greg friended me on Facebook and sent a message. I couldn’t believe it—a guy I had just that day developed a crush on was reaching out to me. I freaked out for a bit, replied, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Blake and Greg first photo togetherOur first photo together as a couple! We danced the night away at a dance class.

On our first date, we met for a post-dinner coffee and talked until the coffee shop closed and we had to leave. On our second date, he brought me to the fourplex, a Habitat-owned building where most of the AmeriCorps members lived. And while it had started as looks across the room, it quickly grew into something more. We had similar values and passions and goals. I think when you’re working for a mission-driven place like Habitat, it’s not hard to make those deep connections—Greg and I certainly were. What can I say? We fell hard.

Greg decided to do a second year of AmeriCorps. I got hired on full-time at Twin Cities Habitat (where I still work to this day). Greg started a Master’s in Architecture program at the University of Minnesota. We moved in together. When we got engaged, someone wrote “Blake and Greg are engaged!” on one of the dry-erase walls at Habitat’s headquarters, and we received so much love and support from our coworkers. Our wedding in 2018 featured many friends we made through Twin Cities Habitat—and we’ve been to our fair share of Habitat weddings as well.

In 2020, we became homeowners. (I’m still slightly terrified of major home projects and am so grateful to have a husband who has literally built houses and knows what he’s doing.) And in 2021, after grad school and a job in a local architecture firm, Greg came back to Twin Cities Habitat for his dream job. It all came full circle.

Today, Greg’s a Designer at Habitat—he designs the homes he used to build. I love my work in communications. And in a couple of weeks, we’ll get to go to the 2023 All Staff Build together—the first one since we both worked and met at Habitat all those years ago.

Blake and Greg collageSome highlights from our life together. Top left and bottom: Getting married in 2018! Center: Becoming homeowners in August 2020. Right: One of our favorite activities together is going on hikes with our puppy Thomas.

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