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Northwoods Habitat honored

Northwoods Habitat for Humanity was awarded “Best Practices in Construction – A Brush With Kindness” recently. From left: Shannon Benolken, president of Habitat for Humanity of Minnesota; Sandra Erpelding, Northwoods administrative assistant; Alicia Rengel, AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer; Geri Hickerson, Northwoods executive director; and Bruce Regan, Habitat Minnesota board member. — Submitted Photo

Northwoods Habitat for Humanity was awarded “Best Practices in Construction – A Brush With Kindness” at the seventh annual Outstanding Leadership & Excellence (OLE) Conference; a Minnesota Habitat for Humanity Statewide Conference that was held last month in Minneapolis.

Each year, Habitat for Humanity of Minnesota (the statewide support organization for the 32 Habitat affiliates in Minnesota) highlights selected affiliates for their best practices on a variety of topics. This year, Northwoods Habitat for Humanity was awarded and recognized for being a leader in the planning and development of a sustainable “A Brush With Kindness” program. Northwoods Habitat will now also serve as a “Best Practices Ambassador” to share its knowledge and expertise with other Habitat affiliates.

Northwoods Habitat began the development of its “A Brush With Kindness” program with thoughtful planning to determine community need, find and develop community partnerships, and create a public relations committee to effectively publicize the new program. This careful planning allowed Northwoods Habitat to focus on the sustainability and growth of the program. Its community partnerships were a key element of the plan; working together, it was able to better identify families in need, secure construction materials and coordinate volunteers in its community. In the first year of the new program, Northwoods Habitat assisted nine low-income families with minor home repairs, allowing them to remain in their homes, and it is now planning to assist 20 families this coming year.

Overall, Northwoods Habitat went from building one or two houses each year to building four homes and nine “A Brush With Kindness” projects this year. From this program, Northwoods Habitat expanded its building numbers, as well as expanded their scope of volunteer opportunities; all to assist more families become and remain successful homeowners.