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Building Community Blog

Guest Blog by Grant Gray
Leadership Giving Officer

With hot coffee and fresh donuts in hand, Builder's Circle volunteers gathered at a Habitat build site for a morning safety talk from Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity Site Supervisor Dave Madzo and AmeriCorps Matt Benson. As they wrapped up the talk Dave reminded the volunteers that at the heart of everything we do, “Habitat is about building communities."

A gift

After Jan Pederson retired as a social worker with Ramsey County, she did not slow down one bit. She was all about helping people. Among many things, she served lunches for Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity volunteers every summer through her church, Centennial United Methodist, part of the Holy Hammers Coalition. When Jan passed away in 2016, it wasn’t surprising for those closest to her that she laid out her estate to benefit organizations close to her heart, like Habitat.

Twin Cities Habitat is fortunate to have an army of volunteers (more than 16,000 a year!) who give tons of time to our mission (28,000 days a year!). We’re also fortunate that ours is such a philanthropic community, and more than 6,000 people make financial gifts each year. You overwhelm us with your giving and truly make Habitat happen for so many families. Thank you!

But even in this community of amazing generosity, some people rise above by going that extra mile, pounding that extra nail, giving that extra dollar.

Every Wednesday for the last nine years, Sharlene and John Hensrud “unplug.” Their work as realtors keeps them busy on the weekends, but on Wednesdays they don’t schedule any appointments with clients. Instead, they spend time together, they cook, and in the evening their children and grandchildren come to their home for dinner. They talk about their days, they laugh and cry and eat together. This is the power of home.

For Dave and Jane of Canetani Vacation Properties, giving back is almost always a fun, family affair. Whether they’re forging new relationships on a Habitat Global Village build, or playing giant jenga together at Habitat’s annual Hard Hat & Black Tie gala, there’s always fun to be had.

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.

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