Wausau Driver and Review
Editor’s note: Business of the week is a sponsored feature that shares the stories of locally owned and operated businesses in the Wausau area, highlighting the products and services they offer and how they contribute to the unique flavor of the metro area. Learn how to pitch your business by emailing [email protected]
This week’s featured company is Habitat for Humanity of Wausau, an organization that brings people together to build homes, communities and hope. Founded in 1990, Habitat for Humanity of Wausau envisions a world in which everyone has a decent place to live. Their programming aims to help working families in the region who could benefit from a helping hand.
In addition to its Home Ownership Program, HFHW is also proud of its Veteran Build Program.
“We are grateful for the service and sacrifice our Veterans and their families have made while serving our country and are looking for opportunities to partner with area Veterans Service organizations to assist area Veterans in need. “, said general manager Tiffany Arnold, who works closely together. with store manager Kathy Grall to advance the group’s mission.
One such example occurred last summer when HFHW partnered with the American Legion Post 10 of Wausau to assist a disabled veteran from Wausau living on a fixed income. When the veteran’s garage door fell off, a violation of city ordinance, the veteran faced a fine – but lacked the resources to fix the problem. The American Legion and HFHW, along with a local contractor, partnered to have a new garage door and opener installed.
When a family walks through the door of their new home, they are often overwhelmed with emotion. Mai Vang, a first generation refugee born in a refugee camp who received house number 70, said:
“Our family is so grateful to have this opportunity to have a home of our own.”
“Growing up, we never had a home of our own, always moving from place to place and never having enough space for family,” she said. “We were just grateful to have a roof over our heads. We had always lived in apartments, not even in a single family home. When I left for college, my parents and my brother were still living in an apartment. I told myself and hoped one day to have a house of my own and to be able to offer a stable living environment to my children.
“Growing up I was always told to work hard. Go to college and get a good education and get a good job and so you can buy a house to own and remember if you don’t drop out your dream job, a job is always a job. Work hard. But as you all know, life happens, and I always find myself living in apartments and owning my own house has become more and more a distant dream.
This dream has come true thanks to Habitat for Humanity of Wausau. Since then, Vang has volunteered at the Habitat store, where she sees firsthand the work done in the community, the generosity of volunteers, and the contributions that improve the lives of many families in the area.
Here, Executive Director Tiffany Arnold shares more information about Habitat for Humanity of Wausau, its programs, goals, and how the organization brings the community together.
Check out the slideshow:
I would first like to ask you about the housing construction program. Tell us about that. How many houses have been built in the Wausau area, who is building them, and how do you determine who moves into the houses after they are completed?
HFHW just completed our 70e house building. Families are selected in the spring of each year. Once a family is selected, we work to create a floor plan that meets their family needs. Between the time a family is selected and the time they move into their completed home, it usually takes 15 months.
Currently, our homes are beginning construction at DC Everest Senior High School as part of their trades program. The students begin construction in the fall and the house is almost complete the following spring. The house is transported in two pieces and put in place by a crane. Once in its final resting place, finishing is done by HFHW trained volunteers and contractors.
How does the program work?
Families must follow our financial guidelines. They must have a household income in a range that would make it difficult to get a conventional mortgage, but high enough to pay off a low-rate, interest-free mortgage over 30 years. Habitat for Humanity of Wausau holds the mortgage on our homes. Three criteria are used to select our families.
- Financial. They must meet financial requirements and have a repayment history.
- Partnership and Sweet Equity: Families must commit at least 300 hours of time to work on their home and volunteer in our community. Families also help HFHW promote our program in the community.
- Need for Housing Improvements: Although many families can qualify each year, HFHW is limited in the number of homes we can build. As a result, our Family Selection Committee conducts home visits and prioritizes families based on need.
Who are the main partners you work with?
Home 70 Build’s primary partners included the DC Everest School District, general contractor Larry Meyer Construction, and nearly two dozen other companies and organizations that made it all possible.
Tell me more about the Habitat for Humanity store. What can people find there and what is the overall purpose of the store?
The store’s purpose is to fund HFHW’s mission and is ultimately the main stream of funding for the nonprofit. Proceeds from the store fund building materials for the home and general nonprofit expenses.
Our store is open to the community. Shoppers can find a variety of supplies ranging from building materials, wooden furniture, crafts, home improvement, household items and more. Typical items include used appliances in good working order, lighting, flooring, tools, hardware, doors, windows, cabinets, home decor, and antiques.
Why do you think it is so important to help the community in this way? In other words, what do you hope to accomplish?
Our store keeps tens of thousands of items out of landfills each year. We are proud to lead the way in reducing waste, recycling and recovering items that would otherwise be thrown away. These items provide a unique and affordable option for our customers while funding our mission and helping us build homes.
What inspires you the most in what you do?
HFHW aims to create new opportunities for the families we serve and the customers of our store. Our work could not be done alone and it really takes a village to create an HFHW house. Customers of our store are a part of it. We have over 100 volunteers every year who come together to help build and support our store, while the work of our volunteers allows us to expand our reach and continue our mission. What’s most inspiring about HFHW are the amazing volunteers who make our work possible.
What do you wish more people knew or understood about Habitat for Humanity and the work you do?
The families served by HFHW are hard working families. They are not given their house, they work hard to earn their house and have a mortgage on their house. HFHW strives to provide homes at an affordable rate and uses our store funds and generous donations to offset the cost of building these homes for our partner families.
Home ownership is a very important part of family success. Children who grow up in a home they own rather than a rented home are 25% more likely to graduate from high school and 116% more likely to finish college. They are 50% less likely to be on welfare at age 20 and 40% less likely to become a teenage pregnancy statistic.
Homeownership creates generational wealth for partner families that provides a current benefit of homeownership at an affordable rate while creating a stable environment for families to thrive.
How can people get involved if they want to volunteer or donate – and what types of donations do you accept?
There are many ways for individuals to serve HFHW, through general building, store support, general office, committees and board services, as well as sharing expertise in areas such as HR and Marketing.
To get involved, contact us at 715-848-5042 or email [email protected]
Make an in-kind donation to the store. Find a full list of accepted items here: https://habitatwausau.org/donate-items/
Donated goods can be dropped off during our donation hours:
- Tuesday 8 a.m. – noon
- Thursday 8am-4pm
- Friday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
- Saturday 9am-1pm
A limited number of collection points for large donations are available each week. For more information on donated items or to schedule a pickup, call our office at 848-5049 or email [email protected]
Make a donation directly to the Mission:
Financial donations to HFHW directly support the organization’s mission and our work. Visit our website www.habitatwausau.org or call 715-848-5042 or mail your gift to 1810 Schofield Ave, Weston, WI 54476.