From the Daily News


Kristin Mergener and about three dozen other volunteers spent a gorgeous Saturday doing the most literal form of housework.

The volunteers were part of a Habitat for Humanity of Washington and Dodge Counties team kicking off Women’s Build Week and a major home renovation project, 411 Kilbourn Ave., West Bend. Although the local Habitat for Humanity chapter builds and renovates homes throughout the year, Lowe’s Women Build Week kicks off the summer building season, said Scott Korn, Lead Site Supervisor.

“We have a lot of amazing women volunteers throughout the year,” Korn said, “but some are more comfortable taking part in days when most of the volunteers will be women. After a few minutes, most of them are doing just about anything”

“We are blessed to have the best volunteers who put their heart and souls into providing affordable housing for the community,” he said. “It’s amazing”

Mergener volunteered as part of a group from her employer, Broan manufacturing in Hartford. In the morning, she ripped trim and siding from the house.

“This is a great way to spend a day,” she said. “I love doing stuff like this helping out a great cause and organization makes it even better.”

Habitat for Humanity is primarily known for building new homes, said Jessica Swenson, Development Support Coordinator. However, when affordable existing homes are located, Habitat for Humanity volunteers will renovate them to like-new condition.  The home at 411 Kilbourn Ave is a great fit for Habitat because it is ideally located across the street from Riverside Park in a quiet, residential neighborhood. Habitat for Humanti also purchases the neighboring lots and plans to build 2 additional homes.

Habitat for Humanity partner families must commit 250 hours of “sweat equity,” including 100 hours of on-site construction work, to the project.  “We aren’t a handout, we are a hand up,” said Tipi Borges, Director of Housing and Family Services.  “We are a community committed to helping those who need it.  It’s incredible to see how the community embraces each project. None of it would be possible without the incredible support and help we receive.”

To date has built or renovated more than 40 homes in Washington and Dodge Counties. Each one involves thousands of volunteers who donated as little as a few hours to helping out. All volunteers are trained and supervised by construction professionals and everyone gets an opportunity to write personal messages or scripture verse onto boards that will be used during construction, Borges said.

“We try to make this a positive experience for our volunteers, and we have many people who sign up for more than one shift so I’m hopeful we are meeting our goal,”

Additional volunteers are always needed. Anyone who would like to volunteer individually or as part of a group can sign up on Habitat’s website, or call 262-338-0690