A crew of more than 100 volunteers came together in the Washington Park neighborhood this week to launch Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity’s 30th year of building homes, community and hope at the annual “Blitz Build.” During this May building session, Habitat will add six owner-occupied houses to a block that is already home to seven Habitat families – boosting the homeownership rate to nearly 75 percent. For the third year in a row, the Brewers Community Foundation is the event’s presenting sponsor, and has teamed up with Ryan Braun and the Brewers Wives to provide a $50,000 donation toward the build.
Today, community volunteers worked alongside members of the Brewers organization to help build a new home at 2134 North 38th Street. Four Milwaukee Brewers players exchanged their bats for hammers – Ryan Braun, Matt Garza, Logan Schafer and Kyle Lohse. They were joined by Ron and Karen Roenicke, Brewers Wives, Cecelia Gore, executive director of the Brewers Community Foundation, and Habitat homeowner, Monique Davis.
“We are proud to be the lead sponsor of Habitat’s first Blitz Build of the year,” said Gore. “Since this partnership started, we have seen how much hard work these families put into building their homes, and also the joy and pride they feel when they become homeowners. We’re excited to be part of that again, and glad that we can provide this opportunity for more families in Milwaukee.”
Milwaukee Habitat is equally excited to welcome the Brewers organization back to the build site. “We are very grateful for the Brewers Community Foundation’s ongoing support of our mission,” said Brian Sonderman, executive director of Milwaukee Habitat. “Their willingness to support our families – not just through sponsorship, but also by volunteering alongside our families and staff – shows a tremendous commitment to building a better Milwaukee for everyone.”
For the past 30 years, Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity and its corps of dedicated volunteers has partnered with low-income families to build homes and stabilize communities. In 2013, the organization launched a Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative (NRI), and is now concentrating its work in Washington Park to make a significant, sustainable impact on the neighborhood’s housing conditions and property values.
Through the NRI, Milwaukee Habitat has expanded its programs beyond new construction to include affordable home repairs and rehabs, and community development projects. The goal of building community as well as homes can be seen in the projects scheduled for the May Blitz Build:
• New Construction: Milwaukee Habitat will frame four new single-family homes, supported by partnerships with the Brewers Community Foundation, Thrivent Financial, and Potawatomi Bingo Casino’s Miracle on Canal Street.
• Complete Rehab: Wells Fargo is sponsoring one of two complete rehabilitation projects that Habitat plans to start this spring on the 2100 block of North 38th Street. Volunteers will begin the work of turning city-owned vacant foreclosures into safe, decent, affordable houses.
• Community Improvement: Volunteers will participate in a range of activities to help beautify the neighborhood and deter crime, in partnership with the Victory Garden Initiative.
While Milwaukee Habitat has broadened its focus to neighborhood revitalization, the organization’s core mission remains to provide affordable housing opportunities for hardworking families. Last year, sponsorship from the Brewers Community Foundation, Ryan Braun, and the Brewers Wives made it possible for Salvador and Dalia Villalobos to achieve their goal of providing a stable home for their three children. After completing their “sweat equity” hours, the Villalobos closed on their new home in January and became Milwaukee Habitat’s first homeowners of 2014.
“It’s great to have the chance to give back to the Milwaukee community,” said Braun. “I’m happy to continue partnering with Habitat for Humanity so that more families have the chance to build homes and give their kids a safe place to grow up.”