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Building Community Blog

Chester: an Army Veteran in need of some repair work so he could stay in his longtime home.

Josh: a Senior Operations Manager at Allianz and co-chair of Allianz’s Operation: SERVE, looking for a way to support local veterans so they can stay in their homes as they grow older.

They both found Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity’s A Brush With Kindness paint and repair program. With additional funding and support from the Home Depot Foundation and the City of Minneapolis, it was a perfect match.

"This whole journey has been emotional. It is overwhelming. I still don't believe it."

Twin Cities Habitat's most recent homebuyer, Bonnie, shared her joy and thanks with Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity staff, volunteers, sponsors and supporters at her home dedication in Maple Grove last week. She also shared a special "thank you" with a generous man who made this home available to her and her family. 

John and Marlene deserved a little extra kindness in their lives - and that's exactly what A Brush with Kindness (ABWK) (ABWK) provides. John is disabled and a Navy Veteran. Marlene is a Veteran of the Army. Together, they raised six kids in a small home in the city of Lexington, in Anoka County. Today three of the kids are grown and have moved out, but their youngest daughter has Down syndrome and needs a lot of extra care. Several years ago, John lost his steady job of 25 years when his company relocated. The family has been living paycheck to paycheck ever since. Home repairs just haven’t been in the budget.

wow_truck_imageBy Mark Turbak
In-Kind and Corporate Relations Sr. Associate
Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity

When Mike Sandness first heard of Twin Cities Habitat’s Veterans Initiative while volunteering on a Habitat build in Shakopee, he jumped at the chance to help. Mike, a 20 year Veteran with the Air National Guard, has long held a deep conviction in the value of serving his country and helping other Veterans. In addition to his service with the Air National Guard, Mike also volunteers for Beyond the Yellow Ribbon’s South of the River Military support group. 

In 1967, Bob Karlstrand graduated from high school and enlisted in the Air Force because he was just 17 years old and the Navy wouldn’t take him. At the height of the Vietnam War, he was stationed south of Bangkok in Thailand, handling logistics for B-52 bombers.

“We’d coordinate everything they needed,” Bob remembers, “and they were flying 30 missions a day.” It was a 24/7 job and Bob was stationed there for a year.

The Home Depot Foundation is serious about helping America's Veterans get, and keep, decent, affordable housing. That commitment drove the foundation to provide Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity with a $200,000 grant for work targeting Twin Cities Veterans in need of some help. 

This grant was awarded as part of the latest round of grants from The Home Depot Foundation – totaling $3.9 million – in support of its five-year, $80 million commitment to ensure every Veteran has a safe place to call home. Since launching its commitment in the spring of 2011, The Home Depot Foundation has contributed $65.7 million to the issue, impacting more than 10,195 units of Veterans housing. 

Here in the Twin Cities, the money from the grant will go toward helping two Veterans families buy homes affordably through Habitat's homeownership program and, in addition, making critically needed repairs for 20 other Veteran homeowners.

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