About Volunteer Spotlight
What makes Habitat for Humanity amazing? The volunteers do! Volunteers are essential to our mission and existence in our mission to eliminate poverty housing from the community. Volunteers lead with their hearts serving Habitat through committee membership, construction work, fundraising efforts, office projects, as a board member and so much more. As staff we have tales of many unsung heroes: Here is the story of one of them.
The January 2012 Outstanding Leadership Award is presented to:
Habitat for Humanity is honored to name the second recipient of the Outstanding Leadership Award, Steve Rentz. In the 21 years Habitat for Humanity has built in the South Central Minnesota community, Steve has offered an enormous amount of support and help to the organization in a variety of ways. Steve began his journey with Habitat as the concrete provider for the basements of homes. As the president for Superior Concrete Block, Steve says he was interested in combining his profession with the worthwhile cause of Habitat for Humanity. Two years ago, Steve and his company expanded their involvement with Habitat by aiding in the construction of homes.
Steve not only provides concrete for homes but also his valuable time to Habitat for Humanity. For six years, Steve served on the affiliate board of Habitat. His assistance helped make Habitat grow within the community. Steve says one of his favorite parts of working with Habitat was to watch the organization grow and touch the lives of families in the area.Steve sites the completion of first insulated concrete house on Roger Street in Mankato as his proudest moment with Habitat. Today, Roger Street boasts several charming homes that Steve and his company helped build.
While Steve loved seeing the end result of the homes, it was the relationships he gained with the staff and the families of Habitat for Humanity he treasures most. Those connections gave him the motivation to continue working with Habitat. Steve says he loved watching the organization grow in the community and benefit the lives of many grateful families. “When it comes down to it, I enjoyed working with the people. It kept me going and gave me a great sense of accomplishment.”
Steve encourages others to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. Habitat for Humanity of South Central MN is honored to work with such a wonderful person. If you are interested in volunteering for Habitat for Humanity of South Central MN, like Steve, please contact Volunteer Coordinator Kelli Hanson at 507-388-2081 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The January 2012 Volunteer Spotlight is on…
Don Glimsdal is the epitome of the term “go-getter.” This proud husband and loving grandfather retired several years ago from a long, fruitful career in the agricultural seed industry and upon receiving newfound free-time he set out to give back to the community. When one ponders the work conducted by the St. Peter Partnering Community, constructing twenty homes, one cannot do so without visualizing Don Glimsdal. He is a staple and figurehead regularly volunteering his time as the St. Peter Construction Crew Leader and Site Supervisor. Habitat is beyond grateful for all the help Don has provided for our organization, words do not serve our appreciation for him justice.
When asked what drew Don to volunteering at Habitat he commented, “I always appreciated what was being done at Habitat.” In reflecting upon his long career of volunteering for Habitat, his most rewarding and proud moment is always the same. “My proudest moment is seeing tears of joy on people’s faces once they see the house. They have no way of visualizing they would become a homeowner before this program.”
Don’s motivated attitude keeps him giving back to the community. As a St. Peter resident for about 25 years, Don likes staying active. Habitat for Humanity is just one of many organizations Don lends his time to. In addition to volunteering for Habitat for Humanity Don volunteers for Nicollet Nursing Services as a cab driver. He also used to deliver for Meals on Wheels. Don says he is “always doing something.” “I’m not a person who can sit in a rocking chair. Woodworking has been my hobby all my life and I want to put my carpentry skills to good use.”
Don encourages other people to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. He says it’s an extremely rewarding experience. Habitat for Humanity of South Central MN is honored to have worked and continue to work with such an amazing and inspiring person. If you are interested in volunteering for Habitat for Humanity of South Central MN, like Don, please contact Volunteer Coordinator Kelli Hanson at 507-388-2081 or email@example.com.
The February 2012 Outstanding Leadership Award is presented to:
Since 2008, Carl Westmark has donated his time and energy toward many varying facets of Habitat for Humanity of South Central Minnesota’s mission and works.
As a current branch manager for TCF Bank in Chanhassen, Carl implements his polished career skills into his many volunteer projects for Habitat. Carl began his volunteer experience with Habitat through his job at TCF in Mankato, since many of his coworker also volunteered. Habitat’s mission also was a major draw for Carl as he believes in the core values of Habitat. From 2008 to 2011, Carl served on the Mankato Board for Habitat. He also served on Habitat’s Resource Development Committee and the Fundraising Committee. Carl says he enjoys an eclectic volunteer experience. “I get bored easily. The variety allows me to grow and learn different tasks.”
Carl explains how volunteering for Habitat allows him to grow not only personally but professionally. The different tasks he performs in each committee broadens his horizons and teaches him new lifelong skills.
While Carl craves a myriad of volunteer opportunities, attending the Home Dedication Ceremonies is his favorite part of the Habitat experience. He says it is a moving experience to see families who are grateful for everything Habitat has done for them. “To see the site go from a plot of land, to a home, and have the whole community around to see it makes the whole experience highly rewarding.”
Carl says the whole Habitat volunteer experience is highly rewarding but some of his largest joys are rooted in the personal connections he created with the community. Carl encourages others who are interested in volunteering to “dive right in” to the Habitat volunteer experience. “There are so many different roles you can do at Habitat. Habitat will find a role that’s good for you. My volunteering opened up opportunities for me that wouldn’t have been opened up before. It became my passion.”
Thank you Carl for the vital leadership role you served for Habitat for Humanity of South Central MN. We wish you luck in your new position as Chanhassen Branch Manager at TCF as we continue to miss you tremendously. If you are interested in serving in a leadership position on one of our many committees or boards please call Volunteer Coordinator, Kelli Hanson, at 507.388.2081.
The February 2012 Volunteer Spotlight is on…
For 37 years Jim Armbruster worked as the manager for Cub Pharmacy in downtown Mankato. After retiring in August 2011 from Cub, Jim decided to start giving back to the community, like he always wanted, but he didn’t know where to volunteer.
One summer day, Jim was driving along Bassett Drive in Mankato and saw the Habitat for Humanity offices and Habitat Restore. He decided to walk in and see what opportunities were in store for him. Once he stepped foot in the Habitat offices, he knew he had found the place to make his volunteer dreams a reality.
A pharmacist by trade but a woodworker by passion, Jim began working on the construction of Habitat homes in South Central Minnesota. His do-it-yourself attitude and dedication to Habitat for Humanity has made him an exceptional, committed volunteer. For months, Jim has offered his time, skills and passions to our organization.
Jim says he loves anything that he can fix with his hands. When Jim was a child, he watched his father perform household maintenance tasks which inspired him to become a woodworker. Jim says he’s a “jack of all trades” and likes to help in as many different aspects of building the homes as possible. From flooring, siding, varnishing and insulating Jim can do just about anything to help make Habitat houses beautiful homes for families. He says he’s extremely grateful for learning more about home remodeling through his experiences volunteering at Habitat.
Jim cites Habitat’s mission as one of the biggest motivations for volunteering with Habitat. He truly believes in everything that Habitat contributes to the community and wants to be a part of it as much as he can. When Jim isn’t volunteering with Habitat, he spends many of his days reading, exercising and traveling with his wife Nancy.
“After retiring it was about moving onto a different future. I just love volunteering with Habitat. Just the opportunity to volunteer is rewarding enough for me.” Thanks from the bottom of our heart for all you do on behalf of Habitat for Humanity of South Central MN Jim! If you are interested in volunteering like Jim, please contact Volunteer Coordinator, Kelli Hanson, at 507.388.2081.
The March 2012 Outstanding Leadership Award is presented to:
Giving back to the community is one of Talia Taylor’s largest personal passions. Between volunteering at churches and schools, Talia devotes countless hours to Habitat for Humanity of South Central Minnesota. For more than 15 years, Talia has been working with families to help them with the process of becoming Habitat homeowners.
Talia was the Chair of the Family Support Committee for many years. Talia helped make it possible for families to live in their newly-built Habitat homes in a variety of ways. She did everything from working at the construction sites, to going to homeowner education meetings with the families. Her passions lie in the connections she builds with the families.
Talia says it is extremely rewarding to go through the whole process with the Habitat partner families.
While working with Habitat, Talia worked in marketing at Taylor Corporation in Mankato. Now, Talia is retired and continuing to working with Habitat and other organizations. Talia has traveled with Minnesota Doctors for People on mission trips. She also works with international students at Gustavus Adolphus College with hospice care. Even though she has a busy schedule, Talia finds time to take pottery classes at the St. Peter Art Center.
Talia says her favorite moments volunteering with Habitat are at the homeowner dedication ceremonies. She loves the ceremonies the most because she got to see the families put hard work into the construction and planning of their homes. “It’s a very rewarding feeling when we can give that family a key to their own home.”
Talia believes volunteering for Habitat for Humanity is a unique experience and encourages others to volunteer. Habitat for Humanity of South Central MN is honored to work with such an amazing person. If you are interested in volunteering for Habitat for Humanity of South Central MN, like Talia, please contact Volunteer Coordinator Kelli Hanson at 507-388-2081 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The March 2012 Volunteer Spotlight is on...
Cheryl became interested in volunteering with Habitat after her husband, Jim, began volunteering in construction and planning work at Habitat. She said Jim loved volunteering with Habitat so much that she had to dive in and help out in any way she can.
Cheryl loves working with computer and data systems, so she’s has devoted many hours helping our bookkeeper, Carol, update the system. Cheryl also spends some time helping with the Restore. One day, she hopes to continue her work in the Restore entering data through modern computer systems.
Every time Cheryl enters computer data, runs the copy machine and does other office tasks on her own, she feels a great sense of accomplishment. She loves when she can efficiently and effectively complete tasks around the Habitat office. Cheryl says she loves assisting in the office and at the Restore because she loves that Habitat’s work benefits the community. “People get livable homes; the environment is saved. That’s all rewarding. Habitat is a win-win organization.”
As a retired high school teacher, Cheryl likes to spend her free time with her husband traveling to new, exciting places. When’s she home, she like to spend as much time with her family as she can. She is a mother of two sons and grandmother to three girls. To add to the family, Cheryl will become a grandmother again to two little ones on the way!
Cheryl encourages others to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. Habitat for Humanity of South Central MN is thrilled to work with such a wonderful person. If you are interested in volunteering for Habitat for Humanity of South Central MN, like Cheryl, please contact Volunteer Coordinator Kelli Hanson at 507-388-2081 or email@example.com.
The April 2012 Outstanding Leadership Award is presented to:
Richard Ringler is passionate about nonprofit organizations. Between his career, as Vice President of Bremer Bank, and serving as Chair of the Family Selection Committee he is able to combine his expertise in finance and his passion for helping others to create a rewarding experience for not only himself, but for many within the Habitat organization.
Outside of work and volunteering, Richard enjoys spending time with his family. Involving himself actively in the Mankato area provides Richard satisfaction knowing he is setting a positive example for his two daughters.
Richard gages volunteer success on the HFHSCMN Family Selection Committee through the number of families he serves; by providing the opportunity of homeownership and assuring families are set-up for financial success. The idea that Habitat offers Homeowners a “hand-up, rather than a hand-out,” by establishing a permanent place to call home, led Richard Ringler to HFHSCMN five years ago.
Leading as Chair on the Family Selection Committee allows Richard the chance to visualize the person behind the financial hardship. “Knowing you can help to change someone’s life is a highlight. Seeing the happiness and excitement on their faces when families find out they’re chosen, makes me proud to volunteer my time with Habitat,” he comments. This impact is why Richard commits himself to Habitat, the mission, and the families served. Richard believes inadequate housing is an ongoing issue and everyone is worthy of a safe, decent, and affordable place to call home.
Richard believes in HFHSCMN’s principle to engage a range of local leaders and community partners in committees and board membership. By doing this, it encourages folks considering volunteering, to make a commitment and follow through. This broad based philosophy of community engagement allows committee and board members to connect not only with other community members and volunteers, but Habitat families as well. This connection is what Richard strives for as Chair of the Family Selection Committee. The interaction between homeowners and a variety of community volunteers will no doubt strengthen the South Central MN community.
Richard believes volunteering for Habitat for Humanity is a unique and rewarding experience and encourages others to share in the joy. Habitat for Humanity of South Central MN is honored to work with such an amazing person as he is undoubtedly a trailblazer and leader. If you are interested in volunteering for Habitat for Humanity of South Central MN, like Richard, please contact Volunteer Coordinator Kelli Hanson at 507-388-2081 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The April 2012 Volunteer Spotlight is presented to:
At the time Habitat for Humanity was first forming in the Mankato area some 20 years ago, Fr. Ted volunteered for the Family Selection Committee and is still a faithful member and for several years served as its chair. Father Ted’s background in working with low-income folks during the early years of his ministry provided him the experience and passion toward obliterating social economic gaps, an expertise HFHSCCMN continues to learn from to this day.
Father was ordained in 1963 as a Catholic priest in the Society of Jesus (Jesuit). He is a Mankato native and graduated from Loyola High School in 1950. As a retired priest from SS Peter and Paul Parish he continues to serve not only Habitat, but also Vine, the Boy Scouts, and several Catholic fraternal organizations besides volunteering for ministry in Catholic parishes.
Understanding each potential Habitat family’s story inspires Father Ted to continue on the Habitat journey and abide by the mission of eliminating poverty housing. Local Family testimonials allow insight into what homeownership symbolizes to each family and the need HFHSCMN continually strives to meet. His proudest and most rewarding moments at Habitat for Humanity intertwine with this family selection process, from application review to home visit, to letter of acceptance to the completion of sweat equity hours. “Seeing each family on move in day is the most rewarding thing to me,” comments Father Ted. Walking with the family from the beginning to the end of the Habitat program represents a special journey to him as a volunteer.
Time dedicated to volunteering with Habitat for Humanity has no end in the near future for Father Ted. He intends on working the family selection process and committee until he no longer physically or mentally can. The dedication Father Ted demonstrates to Habitat is truly inspiring for the families he serves, staff, other volunteers, and the community at large.
Father Ted’s commitment to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity is contagious. He believes volunteering with Habitat great opportunity and encourages other interested folks to volunteer their expertise, time, gifts, and talents as well. Habitat for Humanity of South Central MN is honored to work with such an amazing person as Father Ted. If you are interested in volunteering for Habitat for Humanity of South Central MN, like him, please contact Volunteer Coordinator Kelli Hanson at 507-388-2081 or email@example.com.
The May 2012 Outstanding Leadership Award is presented to
A history professor at Gustavus Adolphus College for 36 years, Byron has devoted much of his life to teaching others. Though teaching is only one of his passions, Byron enjoys traveling and just returned from Malta and Madrid. His most enjoyable hobbies include furniture and cabinet building and playing guitars. A connoisseur of sorts, Byron has hand built twelve guitars; this desire to build spills over in his volunteer work with HFHSCMN.
Byron’s interest in building and volunteering led him to Habitat for Humanity. Working the last five years with HFHSCMN, Byron has helped to manage several build sites in Le Sueur and Henderson. In addition, he spent one year serving as Chapter President for Habitat. Stepping down as Chapter President Byron served on the affiliate and build committees, helping to organize items associated with the Le Sueur builds. Although he finds serving on HFHSCMN committees important, Byron states his most enjoyable times come from building the homes.
Turning over the finished product is Byron’s proudest moment. The feeling of accomplishment is Byron’s personal reward for volunteering. Seeing volunteers come together to support a family is inspiring. Byron’s motivation is a product of each family’s enthusiasm to build. Deeply invested with four homes built in Le Sueur and Henderson, Byron states, “It’s seeing a family in a home they deserve” that is his incentive.
When asked about advice for those considering volunteering for HFHSCMN, Byron says, “Don’t hesitate, you are going to love it!” He believes that one of the most important ways to keep Habitat moving forward is for new volunteers to get involved.
Byron is passionate about Habitat and urges new volunteers to get onboard. Habitat for Humanity of South Central MN is honored to work with such a devoted person. If you are interested in volunteering for Habitat for Humanity of South Central MN, like Byron, please contact Volunteer Coordinator Kelli Hanson at 507-388-2081 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The May 2012 Volunteer Spotlight is presented to:
Before Habitat for Humanity came to Mankato, Tom Hager lived in the city for many years. A native to Mankato, Tom worked as a ski instructor for 15 years. He started a new chapter in his life when he moved to Le Sueur. He embarked on an engineering career, working with Green Giant and then Pillsbury as a project manager. These successful careers led him to part-ownership of an engineering firm in Minneapolis, MN. While managing both a career and family, Tom still found time to enjoy life—hunting, fishing, and occasionally volunteering.
Tom’s in-laws planted the seed of volunteer work in him by introducing him to Habitat for Humanity twelve years ago. This experience brought Tom back to HFHSCMN this year. Retiring at the start of the year presented him with the opportunity to invest more time in volunteering.
Tom’s engineering background made him a perfect fit for working at the build site. Volunteering two to three days a week, Tom displays his dedication for Habitat’s mission to provide new homes to those in need. He has helped complete two homes and start a third in his four months with HFHSCMN.
Working with Habitat is special to Tom. His proudest and most rewarding moments come from completing new homes. As he is putting the final touches on a home, knowing that the owners will be there and watching their dreams become a reality gives Tom an extraordinary feeling of accomplishment. Believing in Habitat’s mission motivates Tom to volunteer. When asked about his future plans, Tom states, “I plan to live one day at a time, enjoying my retirement and continuing my volunteer work with Habitat”.
Tom’s commitment to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity is inspiring. The passion Tom displays for Habitat’s cause is something Habitat looks for in volunteers. Habitat for Humanity of South Central MN is honored to work with such a remarkable person like Tom. If you are interested in volunteering for Habitat for Humanity South Central MN, like him, please contact Volunteer Coordinator Kelli Hanson at 507-388-2081 or email@example.com.
The June 2012 Outstanding Leadership Award is presented to...
Barry Hager is an avid sportsman who enjoys athletics and the outdoors. His love for the outdoors fuels his passion for traveling, especially traveling Hawaii, his favorite destination. Barry is committed to his career, as well, working with Centerpoint Energy for 33 years.
Barry was introduced to Habitat for Humanity as a volunteer with United Way. Shortly after his first connection with Habitat, Barry became involved with HFHSCMN. He currently serves as one of Habitat’s board members and assists the Fundraising Committee. Helping to organize and manage Habitat’s annual golf tournament is one of Barry’s favorite duties.
Barry appreciates and takes pride in his four years spent with HFHSCMN because he is doing what he loves—giving back to the community and those less fortunate. He cherishes the joy he witnesses in each of the families at the dedication ceremonies when they take possession of their very own home.
Barry’s suggestion to anyone thinking of volunteering is, “Do it!” Volunteering, according to Barry, provides the volunteer with a sense of satisfaction. Barry lives by the motto of the former baseball great, Jackie Robinson, who said “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.”
Barry is passionate about Habitat and urges new volunteers to get onboard. Habitat for Humanity of South Central MN is honored to work with such a devoted person. If you are interested in volunteering for Habitat for Humanity of South Central MN like Barry, please contact Volunteer Coordinator Kelli Hanson at 507-388-2081 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The June 2012 Volunteer Spotlight is presented to...
As a dedicated Habitat for Humanity volunteer and grandmother of four, Joan spends much of her time helping others. When she is not working with HFHSCMN, her schedule is filled with her grandchildren’s baseball and football games and the occasional choir concert. Even with her busy schedule Joan finds time to relax by knitting afghans for her grandchildren, and others. She also enjoys knitting prayer scarves for her church, Our Saviors Lutheran.
Volunteering is not a new adventure for Joan. Introduced to HFHSCMN during her first Thrivent build, Joan volunteered to represent her church, sparking a long-term commitment to Habitat. Joan has worked with HFHSCMN for more than eight years, serving on Habitat’s Public Relations Committee for most of that time. Last year she joined the Habitat Thrivent Committee which, along with Joan’s church’s Human Care Committee, helps to prepare food for the caravans that come to build homes in the area.
Joan believes that volunteering is rewarding. Her most rewarding moment is seeing how much families appreciate their new homes and seeing everyone put in the hard work to make it possible. It is the families’ appreciation and the staff and volunteers’ hard work that makes Joan proud to work with HFHSCMN. She stated, “Seeing how happy the children and families are to have a home is an amazing feeling.”
Joan doesn’t plan to stop volunteering with Habitat any time soon. She wants to keep helping others as long as she is able. When asked for one thing that people may not know about her, Joan’s grandson replied, “She collects angels.” Like her angels, Joan has truly been a blessing to Habitat’s volunteer community.
Joan encourages others to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. Habitat for Humanity of South Central MN is fortunate to work with such a wonderful person. If you are interested in volunteering for Habitat for Humanity of South Central MN, like Joan, please contact Volunteer Coordinator Kelli Hanson at 507-388-2081 or email@example.com.
The July 2012 Outstanding Leadership Award is presented to...
Will Dallenbach is man of many interests. For the better part of the past decade, Will has worked as a part-time real estate agent and the full-time property manager of approximately 120 properties. During his free time in the summer, Will can be found outdoors camping, hiking and landscaping and on the golf course where he participates in a golf league and numerous tournaments. He turns his attention to a pool league in the winter and enjoys researching family history.
Will was introduced to Habitat for Humanity when a friend asked him to fill a vacancy on the Mankato Partnering Community board. He accepted the position and continues to serve on the board today. Tapping into his love of golf, Will is instrumental in organizing and managing Habitat’s Annual Golf Tournament. In addition, Will is the President of the Habitat for Humanity Affiliate and a member of the Personnel Committee.
Will takes personal pride in striving to be unbiased, fair, and respectful to all people. This quality translates well into Habitat’s mission. Will finds joy in his work with HFHSCMN, knowing that he is helping people less fortunate receive a permanent place to call home. The dedication ceremony is his favorite aspect of working with HFHSCMN. According to Will, the ceremony is where the time and energy spent by Habitat staff and volunteers visibly come to fruition and the appreciation of the families is evident.
Will is passionate about Habitat and urges new volunteers to get onboard. Habitat for Humanity of South Central MN is honored to work with such a devoted person. If you are interested in volunteering for Habitat for Humanity of South Central MN like Will, please contact Volunteer Coordinator Kelli Hanson at 507-388-2081 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The July 2012 Volunteer Spotlight is presented to:
Idelle Walton has a rich history with Habitat for Humanity. She has been a Mankato resident for 34 years and is now retired. She and her husband raised two children —a son now living with his wife in Italy on a Navy assignment and a daughter living in the Twin Cities with her husband and daughter. In her free time, Idelle participates in aerobics with a group of ladies she met at the YWCA 32 years ago. She also volunteers at her church and loves spending time with her granddaughter. With her husband retiring from his dental practice last May, Idelle looks forward to being a snowbird, spending the winters at their condo in Florida.
Idelle’s life wasn’t always so idyllic. In 1971, when Idelle’s husband was in dental school, the couple and their young son spent the summer in southwest Virginia as part of a recruitment program associated with President Kennedy’s Appalachian Regional Commission. The ARC provided federal support to communities in Appalachian states that lagged behind the rest of the nation in income, education, and health care. With most of the housing and rental units occupied by area miners, Idelle and her family found themselves living in a slum trailer infested with rats and roaches.
Idelle coped with the situation, knowing her circumstances were only temporary. At the same time, she understood many people did not share her hope of emerging from their dismal living conditions. This realization motivated (and continues to motivate) Idelle in her commitment to obliterate poverty housing through Habitat for Humanity. Idelle was one of the founding members of Habitat for Humanity of South Central MN. She was present at the second organizational meeting in the fall of 1987 and she has dedicated herself to its mission ever since, chairing or serving on the Public Relations/Fund Raising Committee and chairing or serving several terms on the Board of Directors.
Idelle’s proudest moment as a Habitat volunteer was raising $60,000 to refurbish a partially burnt house on Belgrade Avenue in Lower North Mankato. Refurbishing the home on Belgrade was HFHSCMN’s first housing project. Idelle is proud to see what HFHSCMN has grown into since this first project. She believes that Habitat workers are some of the “friendliest, neatest, most caring and generous people in the world.”
Idelle encourages others to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. Habitat for Humanity of South Central MN is fortunate to work with such a wonderful person. If you are interested in volunteering for Habitat for Humanity of South Central MN, like Idelle, please contact Volunteer Coordinator Kelli Hanson at 507-388-2081 or email@example.com.
The August 2012 Outstanding Leadership Award is presented to:
After earning his masters degree at the University of Colorado—Boulder, Jim began his professional life teaching German at Gustavus Adolphus College. Seven years later, Jim made a career change and moved into real estate appraisal. Since retiring about 10 years ago, Jim has been active in volunteer work and keeps busy with his hobbies in paleoanthropology and archeology. He reads extensively on the topics and has participated in fossil digs in South Dakota that have left him with a collection of dinosaur fossils. Jim is very active, enjoying hiking, biking, and skiing. On the homefront, Jim is happily married with two sons now living in Oregon and Colorado. He and his wife are eagerly awaiting the arrival of two new grandchildren.
Jim has served Habitat for Humanity in multiple roles. He was the Board President of the Mankato chapter and one of the founding members of the St Peter chapter. He is most proud of his role in helping to launch the Restore in Mankato. Today he serves on the Family Selection, Restore, and Building Committees in St Peter.
Jim enjoys the hands-on nature of volunteering with Habitat. He believes that Habitat is an organization where everyone—from the volunteers to the partner families—wins. To see the “wide-eyed” expressions of the families as they prepare to move into their own space for the first time is a rewarding experience for Jim. He appreciates the fact that Habitat is flexible with its volunteers so they are able to serve without sacrificing their professional or personal lives.
Jim’s friends at Habitat may be surprised to learn that he has served the St Peter food co-op for many years and was instrumental in helping to open a new co-op store. He has now set his sights on establishing a bike trail between Mankato and St Peter.
Jim is passionate about Habitat and urges new volunteers to get onboard. Habitat for Humanity of South Central MN is honored to work with such a devoted person. If you are interested in volunteering for Habitat for Humanity of South Central MN like Will, please contact Volunteer Coordinator Kelli Hanson at 507-388-2081 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The August 2012 Volunteer Spotlight is presented to:
Denny Erickson has devoted his life to serving others. Denny spent 35 years as an educator, teaching junior high math and working part-time at Gustavus Adolphus College supervising student teachers. He and his wife raised one daughter, who is now married with two children of her own. Denny has not slowed down much since retiring 20 years ago. He keeps busy hiking, biking, spending time with his grandchildren, and “playing” on Lake Washington.
Denny also spends his time volunteering. He believes since he was blessed with many rewarding experiences in his career, it is now time to give back. He works with Heifer International, a nonprofit with the goal of ending poverty and hunger through gifts of livestock to impoverished communities. Denny got his start with Habitat of Humanity when a neighbor invited him to come along to a build. He has now been volunteering with Habitat for over ten years.
According to Denny, working with fun, interesting people who are having a good time makes his time with Habitat fulfilling. He takes pride in seeing the homes become a reality and is touched by the gratitude evident in the partnering families. Denny has especially been moved by the thank-you cards mailed to his home from the families he built for.
Denny doesn’t plan to slow down anytime soon. He still gets on the water skis every summer and plans to keep traveling, being active, and volunteering as long as he can. Denny encourages others to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. Habitat for Humanity of South Central MN is fortunate to work with such a wonderful person. If you are interested in volunteering for Habitat for Humanity of South Central MN, like Denny, please contact Volunteer Coordinator Kelli Hanson at 507-388-2081 or email@example.com.
The September 2012 Volunteer Spotlight is presented to:
Jim Leopold is “semi-retired” which means although he’s no longer a full-time part of the workforce, his family life, hobbies, odd jobs, and volunteering keep him busy full-time. Jim and his wife enjoy spending time with their twelve grandchildren and are looking forward to the imminent arrival of their 13thgrandchild. In his free time, Jim is a fisherman, hunter, and golf enthusiast. Before retirement, Jim worked as a farmer, construction worker, and plumber.
Jim’s start with Habitat was simple—someone called looking for volunteers for a build site and Jim said yes. In contrast, Jim’s work with Habitat since that time has been multifaceted. Drawing on his experience as a construction worker, Jim has been an invaluable help on the build sites. He has also helped with selecting families and choosing lots and served as a family mentor. Jim is one of the core members of the St James Partnering Community.
Jim’s favorite part of working with Habitat is “seeing the family move in and have a roof over their heads.” Jim’s selfless service is especially commendable since Jim has been battling bladder cancer for six year. He will be undergoing major surgery soon and is expected to be in recovery for two months. Despite his health struggles, Jim says he is truly happy with life and is looking forward to a healthy body following his surgery.
Jim encourages others to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. Habitat for Humanity of South Central MN is fortunate to work with such a wonderful person. If you are interested in volunteering for Habitat for Humanity of South Central MN, like Jim, please contact Volunteer Coordinator Kelli Hanson Magnuson at 507-388-2081 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The September 2012 Outstanding Leadership Award is presented to:
John Baerg’s mission in life is simple—he loves to help people. His life of service began with his first job helping to build a rural water system. The approximately 1500 miles of pipeline brought potable water to people who likely couldn’t have afforded their own well in over 2000 farms throughout eight communities. John served with the rural water system for two decades before becoming a farmer. John worked the land for forty years and is currently serving as the Commissioner for Watonwan County. He plans to retire this December after 16 years of service to the county.
John also serves as the Chairman of Habitat for Humanity of Watonwan County in Saint James, MN. He was one of the members who started and helped shape the partnership between the St James chapter and Habitat for Humanity of South Central Minnesota. Today, the chapters combine their resources to further Habitat’s mission of providing decent, affordable housing to those in need.
Habitat provides an outlet for John’s giving nature. He relishes the opportunity to reach out to those who need an extra push or need a helping hand. He describes his work with Habitat as fulfilling. John loves to see the difference that Habitat creates in peoples’ lives, especially when a family who has given up the dream of homeownership gets a second chance in a home they never thought possible.
John is passionate about Habitat and urges new volunteers to get onboard. Habitat for Humanity of South Central MN is honored to work with such a devoted person. If you are interested in volunteering for Habitat for Humanity of South Central MN like John, please contact Volunteer Coordinator Kelli Hanson at 507-388-2081 or email@example.com.
The October 2012 Volunteer Spotlight is presented to:
Despite retiring from his career as a court reporter four years ago, Bill Belkengren has not slowed down. Bill is constantly looking for ways to keep busy and productive. Habitat for Humanity and the Big Brother Big Sister program have been lucky enough to benefit from Bill’s unending energy. Bill shares his love of pottery by teaching a ceramics class to New Prague students. He satisfies his love of travel with motorcycle trips across the country and is hoping to spend time down south during the cold winter months.
When Bill retired from court reporting, he wanted to find an organization that would allow him to spend his newly found time giving back to the community. His friend, Sister Jean Jueneman, who was a member of the Affiliate Board in New Prague at the time, turned him on to Habitat for Humanity. Bill became a leader at the job sites, helping to supervise and build most of the New Prague projects. In addition, Bill is going on his third year as an Affiliate Board member.
Finishing a house and turning over the keys to a partner family is one of Bill’s favorite parts of working with Habitat. He believes that Habitat is, “A great way to donate time and to help someone out!”
Bill encourages others to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. Habitat for Humanity of South Central MN is fortunate to work with such a wonderful person. If you are interested in volunteering for Habitat for Humanity of South Central MN, like Bill, please contact Volunteer Coordinator Kelli Hanson Magnuson at 507-388-2081 ext. 2 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The October 2012 Outstanding Leadership Award is presented to:
Steve Leslie’s life is a picture of dedication and commitment. Steve committed over 26 years of service at Mankato Kasota Stone, starting his career as a drafting manager, and eventually moving to estimating and technical advising. Outside of work, Steve commits his time volunteering with community groups and organizations. Collectively, Steve accomplished over a decade of volunteer service with Habitat for Humanity and over two decades of membership with the Jaycees.
Already a Jaycee member, Stevefelt intrigued by the mission of Habitat for Humanity and moved to direct involvement when opportunity landed at his doorstep—or more precisely, his neighbor’s doorstep. One of Steve’s neighbors received a house from Habitat and Steve pitched in to help with the homeowner sweat equity construction hours. Since this first build, Steve served Habitat in multiple roles including Family Support and Restore Advisory Committee member.
Steve’s favorite part of volunteering with Habitat is the smiles on the faces of the homeowners. Baring witness to the happiness and new sense of security evident in the family’s lives, and knowing they can settle in a permanent place to call home, is the ultimate volunteer reward. The Dedication Ceremonies mark a special experience for Steve because of the pride he takes in the work and mission of Habitat.
Steve is passionate about Habitat and urges new volunteers to get onboard. He sincerely believes that the “warm feeling” in the heart of a volunteer exceeds any physical reward. Habitat for Humanity of South Central MN is honored to work with such a devoted person. If you are interested in volunteering for Habitat for Humanity of South Central MN like Steve, please contact Volunteer Coordinator, Kelli Hanson Magnuson, at 507-388-2081 ext. 2 or email@example.com
The November 2012 Outstanding Leadership Award is presented to:
Sally Coomes has a long-standing volunteer career with Habitat for Humanity stretching back to its inception in 1989, where she sat in on inaugural meetings held at First Presbyterian Church. Sally joined the Public Relations and Fundraising Committee in 1991 and currently demonstrates her leadership skills serving as the Public Relations and Fundraising Chair for the Mankato Partnering Community. She also exercises her literary talents editing the Habitat newsletter and the yearly fundraising appeal letter. Sally is a woman of many trades, and her impact has been profound. She organized and executed the Habitat for Humanity of South Central MN Holiday Dinner, Evening of Elegance, since 2000. She and her husband Roger are the primary orchestrators of the Get on the Beam campaign with Roger constructing the “Beams” while Sally executes the organization of the event. This project allows the couple to work closely together while giving back to a worthy cause.
Sally is passionate in shaping lives, whether through volunteer work helping families or in her former career with the Mankato school district as a Reading and English teacher and later as an Assurance of Mastery coordinator. Sally is now retired and enjoys reading and sewing in her down time from volunteer work.
Sally feels most proud of her work when a Habitat home is dedicated and a family begins a new life in a permanent place to call home. This moment is a time for reflection for all volunteers, staff, and of course the homeowner. When Sally watches Habitat’s mission in motion, she reflects on her own childhood as a young girl growing up on the south side of Chicago when she was once on the receiving end of community generosity. This experience has provided her a firsthand perspective in her work toward eliminating poverty housing “paying it forward.”
When asked what advice Sally offers to someone looking to volunteer at Habitat for Humanity of South Central MN, Sally exclaims, “Seek them out, find your niche, and go for it!” Habitat for Humanity of South Central MN is honored to work with a trail blazer such as Sally Coomes. If you are interested in volunteering for Habitat for Humanity of South Central MN, like Sally, please contact Volunteer Coordinator Kelli Hanson Magnuson at 507-388-2081 ext. 2 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The November 2012 Volunteer Spotlight is presented to:
Carolyn Kanyusik has a long history with Habitat for Humanity of South Central Minnesota. She has been a resident of Mankato for the past 38 years and spent 20 years of that volunteering with Habitat. She studied Journalism at the University of Minnesota. Since then she has raised four kids. Now, Carolyn spends most of her time becoming better acquainted with her iPhone and iPad.
Carolyn started volunteering for Habitat because she liked the concept of helping build homes for families in need. She liked the “Sweat Equity” portion of the home building in which partner families spend time building their Habitat home as well as homes for others. She was also fond of former President Jimmy Carter’s involvement in Habitat for Humanity, and his willingness to get his hands dirty for people in need.
Carolyn was one of the few that helped build the first Habitat home on Belgrade Ave. After she was done building homes, she dedicated 20 years to the fundraising committee and planned out the holiday dinners. Carolyn also gathered items for the holiday dinner silent auctions. Attendees could then bid and have a chance to win items of interest. Carolyn also worked on the “Get on the Beam” project for HFHSCMN. Carolyn delivered large “beams” or building posts to local churches and businesses for display. These churches and businesses in turn, sign the “beams” while placing a donation in the “gutter downspout” box. The proceeds and beams were then used in the construction of the new homes.
The most rewarding experience for Carolyn during her time with HFHSCMN was helping people. She knew her efforts made a difference in real lives of Habitat Partner Families as they secured a permanent place to call home. It’s not always easy to ask for help, but it’s a responsibility to hear the call and act for those facing housing issues.
Habitat for Humanity of South Central Minnesota is fortunate to work with such a wonderful person like Carolyn. If you are interested in volunteering for Habitat for Humanity of South Central Minnesota as well please contact Volunteer Coordinator Kelli Hanson Magnuson at 507-388-2081 ext. 2 or email@example.com.
The December 2012 Outstanding Leadership Award is presented to:
When Idelle Walton is asked about her life’s passions, she instantly thinks of Habitat for Humanity of South Central MN. At HFHSCMN we believe we “stand on the shoulder of giants,” and Idelle is certainly one of these. Attending the second organized meeting in 1989 was just the beginning of her formalized Habitat Career. However, the passion of eliminating poverty housing was planted before then. While her husband, Jim, was in dental school they volunteered in Appalachia. The housing situation was unfathomable, and Idelle says she got through it by reminding herself it was only temporary. This experience lent her to reflect on all the people who lived in permanent impoverished housing. This notion compelled her to seek out Habitat and get involved.
Since attending the Habitat meetings in 1989, Idelle channeled her gifts, skills, and talents serving as Affiliate Chair, Chairman of the Fundraising Committee, and even on the Personnel Committee. In fact, Idelle was a member of the Personnel Committee who hired Executive Director, Julie Schmillen, over sixteen years ago. Yet when thinking of her proudest moment with Habitat, Idelle names the first project, renovating a run-down building on Belgrade Avenue in North Mankato. At that particular point in time, Belgrade was a popular street and the building was an eyesore. Habitat for Humanity of South Central MN bought the building soon after formalizing and the renovation project was greatly appreciated by the community. Idelle could clearly see the impact of her work and couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome.
Idelle led a rewarding career as bookkeeper to the Pediatric and Adolescent Dentistry , working closely with her husband who owned the practice. She is since retired and dedicating more of her time to Habitat and her other passion-- her church.
The ultimate satisfaction of Idelle’s volunteer work is knowing she helped another deserving family find a safe, decent, and affordable place to call home--permanently. She finds it incredibly exciting to see families finally have a nice place to live. The fact that Habitat is a faith-based, “grass roots” type of organization is also a plus for Idelle. She knows the impact of her work first-hand due to her experience living in impoverished housing in Virginia, which continually motivates her to keep working and keep fighting for these families.
When asked to give advice to anyone looking to volunteer with Habitat Idelle says, “Enjoy the people as well as the work.” Her favorite moments while on site with families is the simple chatting and getting to know each other. Those small monumental moments are reason enough to put your efforts into this organization as well. Habitat for Humanity of South Central MN is honored to work with Idelle Walton for all these years. If you are interested in volunteering for Habitat for Humanity of South Central MN, like her, please contact volunteer coordinator Kelli Hanson Magnuson at 507-388-2081 ext. 2 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The December 2012 Volunteer Spotlight is presented to:
Doris Gasteiro is always willing to help others, an act made evident in all spheres of her life. Prior to retirement, Doris was employed as a learning disabilities consultant while raising three sons. Since she retired, she has accomplished a lot without the nine to five parameters.Doris volunteered many years with Habitat for Humanity of South Central Minnesota and served as a board member at Partners for Affordable Housing.
Doris graciously volunteered her time at Habitat because she felt it was important for people to have a home. Doris notes that two of the important basic needs for human survival are food and shelter, which is why she volunteers her time to ensure that folks from our local area have these basics met. The most rewarding experience for Doris is seeing the impact one can create first-hand. “It’s exciting to know these families are now able to have a place where they can feel secure.”
While volunteering at Habitat for Humanity of South Central MN, Doris received a broad view of fundraising efforts on behalf of the organization. Doris worked in a range of ways from helping with the Holiday Dinner to gathering gifts for the silent auction and for the ornaments on the Holiday Caring Tree. She and others put their efforts into the Holiday Dinner planning, raising thousands of dollars over the past twenty years, enabling Habitat to build over 100 safe, affordable, decent homes for families in need. Of all the tasks at hand, Doris especially enjoyed working with the other volunteers arranging the silent auction. She looked forward to attending the holiday dinner, buying ornaments on the Caring Tree and giving thanks for the community partners who donated silent auction items.
In the near future, Doris can see herself still actively volunteering in Mankato. “It’s a way of life,” said Doris. She feels every person who volunteers may feel similarly. Although Doris has traveled a lot, climbed inside a pyramid at Giza, Egypt and saw the mountains in New Zealand where The Lord of the Rings was filmed, she gets great enjoyment at home, helping people have good, safe places to live through her volunteer work.
Doris encourages others to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. Habitat for Humanity of South Central Minnesota is fortunate to work with such a dedicated person. If you are interested in volunteering for Habitat for Humanity of South Central Minnesota, like Doris, please contact Volunteer Coordinator Kelli Hanson Magnuson at 507-388-2081, ext. 2 email@example.com
The January 2013 Volunteer Spotlight is presented to:
Lloyd Carlson is a hands-on guy. Lloyd spent most of his life farming outside of Odin, a small town west of St. James. He and his wife have three daughters, all of whom are teachers. Now enjoying semi-retirement, he is still hard at work. He owns two hog barns consisting of 1,000 hogs and is a seed corn dealer. When Lloyd does have free time, he and his wife visit their daughters teaching abroad, traveling many places throughout Europe and Asia. He is also an avid fisherman, according to Lloyd, “God covered the world with 2/3 water so we could spend 2/3 of our time fishing.”
Lloyd enjoys carpentry, so volunteering building homes with Habitat for Humanity over 10 years is a perfect fit. Lloyd’s first felt compelled to help Habitat following the Hurricane Katrina devastation in Southern Louisiana. He traveled to New Orleans to aid in the reconstruction process through Habitat. Seeing people in need with no place to call home immediately opened Lloyd’s eyes and he returned for a second year without hesitation. He comments working in Louisiana is his proudest moment. The families lost everything in the storm and he witnessed the gratefulness in these devastated eyes having a new place to call home. At the end of his trip, Lloyd heard about Habitat for Humanity South Central Minnesota and became eager to volunteer in his own backyard.
As an Odin area local, knowing nearly everyone in his community, Lloyd gathered people to volunteer with Habitat building homes in St. James. He rallies twenty people from Odin, almost half the population, to volunteer. Lloyd knows and understands volunteering builds community. “Everyone is working on the home with each other, as a team, and doing it for a good cause.”For Lloyd, knowing he is helping a family in need and seeing the project to completion is the reward. He plans to continue pounding nails for HFHSCMN as long as health allows.
Lloyd is always looking forward to the next Habitat project in the St. James area. Lloyd encourages others to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. Habitat for Humanity of South Central MN is honored to work with such a wonderful person. If you are interested in volunteering for Habitat for Humanity of South Central MN, like Lloyd, please contact Volunteer Coordinator, Kelli Hanson Magnuson, at 507-388-2081ext. 2 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The January 2013 Outstanding Leadership Award is presented to:
Jason Witt is no stranger to home construction. Growing up in the family construction business he witnessed many homes built beginning to end. As a young adult he attended the University of Minnesota to expand his knowledge in construction, receiving a B.S. in Civil Engineering. Following graduation Jason moved back to where his love for construction started and began work with his family. When he isn’t volunteering or building homes, Jason is spending time with his wife and two sons, coaching youth hockey in New Prague, hunting and fishing, and dreaming about the day he’ll live on a farm.
Jason started volunteering as a contractor for Habitat for Humanity of South Central Minnesota in 2005 for the New Prague partnering community as he desired to give back to the community which always treated his family so well. Applying his construction talents helping low-income families own a permanent place to call home was a perfect fit. Jason designs floor plans for future Habitat homes, gathers building permits, and implements the construction process through development. From plumbing to electrical work, Jason lines up all the folks necessary to raise these Habitat walls.
Jason is fond of volunteering with HFHSCMN because of the immense reward of watching the family move in. Jason also looks forward to talking with the families moving in and getting to know them on a personal level. His advice to future volunteers is, “Take the leap. Once volunteers learn the ropes the whole experience becomes extremely rewarding and enjoyable.”
Habitat for Humanity of South Central Minnesota is fortunate to work with such a wonderful person, thank you Jason for your continued support. If you are interested in volunteering for Habitat for Humanity of South Central Minnesota, like Jason, please contact Volunteer Coordinator, Kelli Hanson Magnuson, at 507-388-2081ext. 2 or email@example.com.
The February 2013 Outstanding Leadership Award is presented to:
Jan Rhode of Le Sueur
Jan Rhode is adamant about helping people, always leaving her corner of the world a little brighter. Jan submersed herself professionally in the field of education serving as the Director of Board Development for the Minnesota School Board Association. As the Director, Jan gaged the effectiveness of school boards based on how well the board met the responsibilities of service to students, parents, staff, and community. As Jan balanced professional and family life, she still managed to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity of South Central MN for over 15 years.
Jan brought her wealth of knowledge in education to serve the Le Sueur/Henderson Habitat Partnering Community in a myriad of avenues. Jan served on the Le Sueur Fundraising Committee, as Le Sueur Partnering Community Member, as an Affiliate Board member, as a Personnel Committee member, and conducted long-range strategy planning for HFHSCMN. Jan also volunteered directly with Habitat Homeowners through the family selection process and as a family support mentor. Jan’s commitment to volunteering is selfless, fueled by the joy she can pass to others through service and time. Jan’s best moments in volunteering with Habitat culminate at the Home Dedication Ceremonies, as the ceremony marks the last step in the family’s journey to owning an affordable, permanent home.
Jan’s lifestyle is centered on Christ and living out her Christian faith: clothing, housing, and feeding the needy. Jan’s advice to folks interested in volunteering at Habitat is, “jump in and do it, Habitat will find a way for you to help. There’s no need for great skills; there’s only a need for a willingness to serve.” When Jan is not volunteering at Habitat or church, you may find her at the the golf course, trading in her hammer for a 9 iron, curled up reading her favorite book, or challenging her friends and family to a game of Bridge.
Habitat for Humanity of South Central Minnesota is honored to work with such an amazing person, thank you Jan for your support throughout the years. If you are interested in volunteering for Habitat for Humanity of South Central Minnesota, like Jan, please contact Volunteer Coordinator, Kelli Hanson Magnuson, at 507-388-2081ext. 2 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The February 2013 Volunteer Spotlight is Presented to:
Gene Kovacs is a vital member of the Watonwan County Habitat for Humanity of South Central Minnesota Partnering Community. In St. James Gene aids in the construction of new and renovated Habitat homes, serves as a family support mentor for Habitat Partner families, and is a staple in the planning process of Habitat builds at the Partnering Community level. As a fan of former President Jimmy Carter, Gene viewed volunteering his time at Habitat for Humanity of South Central Minnesota as a perfect avenue to enjoy partial retirement.
Gene originally hails from Ohio and is proud to call himself a Minnesotan for twenty years and counting. He refers to himself as “partially retired” as he still cares for and owns a commercial building in Worthington, as well as serving as an exercise equipment distributer and repairer for extra change.
Gene’s most fulfilling moment volunteering with Habitat is aiding in the land acquisition process for the most recent build unfolding in St. James. The St. James Partnering Community faced many choices and options in the land acquisition process, and several restricted the building process. The Partnering Community was challenged to “put their thinking caps on” and find a solution to land issues. Finally, Gene discovered a brand new lot, securing a building permit without complication, solving the land acquisition dilemma and saving the day for another deserving family in need.
Volunteering with Habitat for Humanity of South Central MN on Home builds in St. James is one Gene’s favorite activities as he fulfills his “amateur interest” in architecture by putting the theory to practice through the construction process. While volunteering his time onsite, Gene appreciates the structure of the new home and pauses to reflect on how the project moved from a vacant lot to a home. Gene is proud he “helped people of restricted means get into worthwhile homes.” Gene is uncertain of what the future hold, but is excited to continue the good work of his life, and his volunteer time at Habitat.
Gene Kovacs is looking forward to the next Habitat project in the St. James area and encourages others to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity as well. Habitat for Humanity of South Central MN is honored to work with such a wonderful person. If you are interested in volunteering for Habitat for Humanity of South Central MN, like Gene, please contact Volunteer Coordinator, Kelli Hanson Magnuson, at 507-388-2081ext. 2 or email@example.com.