Habitat: A journey to build homes

Published 10:21 am Wednesday, October 2, 2013

It’s hard to believe that fall is here and we will soon see snow on the ground. The approach of winter will mark my one-year anniversary as executive director of the Freeborn-Mower Habitat for Humanity. As a lifelong resident of Austin, it’s such a good feeling to be working for an organization making such a positive impact on Freeborn and Mower counties.

I grew up the granddaughter of a prominent Austin community member. My grandpa, Baldy, was definitely a man to admire. When he was alive, he told me stories, and I often found myself in awe of his dedication to making an impact on his community, providing for his family, and making his mark in Minnesota as a leader. My parents have also both shown me the results of hard work. They taught me and my siblings how important it is to strive for the things you want in life, and that nothing is unattainable if you work hard enough.

That mentality provided the framework for the person I have become. After college, my entire career has been in the nonprofit sector. Serving others, and being propelled by a mission, is the only thing I know. I possess my grandfather’s desire to lead, though, and I have learned to work hard. While I found immense personal joy in the nonprofit positions I held, I dreamed of one day being a director myself. As executive assistant at the Mower County American Red Cross, I was blessed with a wonderful example of what a great executive director looks like. As Sue Hansen’s assistant, I was led through many aspects of nonprofit leadership and had the opportunity to help lead a thriving chapter.

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When I first learned that Freeborn-Mower Habitat for Humanity would be hiring its first executive director, I began researching. I needed to know more about Habitat’s mission, vision and history. I was instantly hooked. Habitat’s commitment to working alongside low-income families, to help them break out of the cycle of poverty, was definitely something I wanted to be part of. So I prayed. I asked God for guidance, for strength, and above all, for Him to use me where I could best show His love to others. I could think of no better way to accomplish this than through Habitat for Humanity. When I was offered this position, I literally cried. I felt, and still do feel, that serving in Mower and Freeborn counties through Habitat for Humanity is exactly where I am supposed to be.

It’s hard to believe that it’s already been 10 months since I started this journey. I still possess all of the excitement I felt on that very first day last December. Our affiliate is doing some amazing things. I have been touched by the stories of our current homeowners and what Habitat has meant for them. I have cried tears of joy alongside the new family we are building for in Lyle. I have been able to hand over the keys to an excited new homeowner in Albert Lea. I have observed the smiles on the faces of happy people who have received help on exterior home renovation projects through our A Brush With Kindness program, the Community Home Improvement Project, or Rock the Block. I have been amazed by the hard work and dedication of volunteers, both new and seasoned.

We are Habitat for Humanity. Our history in Freeborn and Mower counties proves how devoted each of you is to our mission.