When Kera saw the Habitat volunteer opportunity pop up at work, she jumped on it. A full volunteer day would give her the chance to spend some quality time in-person with her team, since she mostly works from home with Ameriprise Financial. And over the last few years, Habitat for Humanity has become really close to Kera’s heart.
That’s because Kera worked with Habitat to purchase a home on the open market.
Kera was among the first people to buy a home on the open market with Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity. Like everyone who buys a Habitat home, she did her one-on-one financial work with a Homeownership Advisor, she took homeownership classes, and she worked with our lending team. But when she was mortgage-ready, she was able to use a Habitat mortgage* and buy a home she loves on the open market.
Kera had been pleasantly surprised when she found out about Habitat’s open market option. She had thought Habitat was just about volunteers building houses—buying on the open market with Habitat’s mortgage* was the perfect fit for her. And as she entered her build day in St. Paul, her story came full circle. Now she was one of those volunteers building a house.
“I was working mostly in the garage,” Kera recalls. “We added a support beam to the roof trusses, and then we did more reinforcing of the structure.”
Later in the day Kera’s team dismantled scaffolding in the back of the house, revealing the hard work other members of her team had completed: roof work, siding, and painting. The before-and-after was impressive, and everyone felt very accomplished.
“I learned that there’s always something you can do—there’s always something you can contribute,” Kera adds. “Every part of the process is important, and someone’s got to do it! Now, if I ever drive by this house again, I’ll always remember that I put the garage support beam in!”
Kera mostly works from home and while she appreciates the flexibility, volunteering with Habitat gave her the opportunity to spend some quality time with her team.
“It was nice because I got to work with a team leader who’s newer to my side of the group,” Kera says. “Being a virtual agent, I don’t see most of my coworkers face-to-face, so it was nice to get to know them a little better.”
Kera also got to see – and experience first-hand – the care that volunteers put into the Habitat home they’re working on.
“Our crew leaders always keep it in mind that this house is being built for a specific family,” Kera remembers. “They shared that sometimes volunteers will write a hidden message in the house for good luck for the future family. I thought that was the sweetest idea. There were some sharpies around, and we had a piece of wood that we used as a brace. I wrote a message on it, and if you’re looking up in the garage rafters, you’ll see it! I just want the family who moves in here someday to know that the people who worked on this house did it with love.”
Giving back is important to Kera. She lost her grandma about a year ago, and the hospice her grandma could stay in – Our Lady of Peace – was wonderful. After Kera’s grandma was gone, they still followed up with her. That’s how Kera found out about their teddy bear workshop which turns your loved one’s piece of clothing into a teddy bear. Kera attended the workshop and loved it, and now will help out as a volunteer.
“I’m not looking forward to the ugly cry,” Kera says, “but you really get to be there for someone who is in a raw place. It’s another cause that’s close to my heart now.”
Kera’s four-year-old daughter even volunteered at Feed My Starving Children with her grandma.
“I’m really happy that she’s doing that,” Kera says. “I want to give my kids a good foundation so they can recognize the blessings in their lives and do what they can to pass that on to others.”
Kera loved getting to give back with her Ameriprise coworkers on a Habitat site, and her team’s excited to volunteer again next year.
“Habitat has such a big space in my life,” Kera says. “What they did for me I can’t ever repay. If I can pay it forward, I’m honored to take part in it.”