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Field Notes: March 2011 -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1

Field Notes: March 2011

Perspectives from around Habitat's world

Affiliate Spotlight: Greater Sioux Falls Habitat for Humanity

With a metro-area population of less than 250,000, Sioux Falls, S.D., comes across as a small city with big aspirations. Even in the midst of abundance, however, Greater Sioux Falls Habitat is needed and busy. Volunteers and staff there have been working to increase their capacity to 10 houses per year and have recently launched A Brush with Kindness to expand their service to the community. A thriving ReStore resale outlet — and some 1,400 volunteers in the area — have helped fuel the growth.

“This is an amazing ministry,” says executive director Sue Olsen. “I’ve worked in nonprofits for a long time in my life, but I’ve never worked for an organization as powerful or spirit-driven as this one.”


  • Sioux Falls is named for waterfalls on the Big Sioux River.
  • Greater Sioux Falls Habitat celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2010 with a volunteer thank-you dinner. Other noteworthy accomplishments include building the first Habitat house in an adjacent county and building to “Energy Star” standards (now in place for all the affiliate’s houses).
  • Last year, Greater Sioux Falls Habitat expanded its reach in the community by launching A Brush with Kindness. Thinking it would be wise to begin the new program cautiously, supporters planned to repair five houses. By the end of the construction season, they had completed 36.
  • The refugee population in Sioux Falls has increased significantly in recent years, prompting Habitat volunteers to scramble for translators of different African languages. Often, this task falls to the younger members of partner families. “I am struck by the bravery of those families and the responsibility on the young shoulders,” Olsen says.
  • An Apostles Build — a house sponsorship strategy in which 12 area churches team up to sponsor a Habitat house — concluded in November. Through the build, Olsen says, new church partners became involved in Habitat’s work, the church relations program was strengthened, and another build is planned for this year.
  • Looking ahead to 2011, Habitat supporters raised money at an outdoor arts and crafts festival with a booth selling the South Dakota culinary specialty “chislic.” The funds they raised were matched by a local Thrivent chapter and will be directed toward support of a build project later this year.

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In early November, Habitat for Humanity launched the Habitat World blog at

The goal of the blog is to share a variety of voices from all around Habitat’s world, voices that all together help tell even more of the Habitat story. Each week, the blog hosts contributions and insights from volunteers and supporters, partner families, affordable housing experts, and Habitat staff members. It’s a great place to find out more about the scope and substance of Habitat’s work, to learn new ways to get involved, and to share your own experiences with others who are excited about Habitat.

You can check out the blog at Subscribe to our RSS feed to receive new content directly. Join the conversation by leaving a comment. And e-mail with ideas for future blog posts.


Citi employee Rosy Alfonso participates in Habitat Greater Miami’s Global Community Day.
Photo by Ezra Millstein


Building Better Communities
Neighborhood Stabilization Program funds bear fruit in Miami

In late October, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Miami dedicated the first house built in the United States with funding from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program.

The new home, built with Habitat homeowners Claude and Rosemene Estimable on vacant land donated by Miami-Dade County, was the first of 160 houses that Habitat Greater Miami plans to build or rehabilitate using NSP2 funds.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development established the Neighborhood Stabilization Program in 2008 to provide states, local governments and nonprofits the funds to purchase and redevelop foreclosed and abandoned homes and vacant properties in blighted communities.

The Greater Miami dedication ceremony was part of the affiliate’s annual Global Community Day and included seven other house dedications. Nearly 100 volunteers from financial services firm Citi gathered in Miami’s Liberty City neighborhood. They were joined by Habitat staff members and other volunteers, along with local residents, nonprofit organizations and businesses — all to support Greater Miami’s ongoing Liberty City Shine campaign.

As Habitat Greater Miami celebrated the dedication of its first NSP2 home, affiliates in New York City, Los Angeles, Dallas, Milwaukee, Pensacola and Naples, Fla. Also neared that milestone in their own communities. By March 2013, the seven Habitat affiliates will use NSP2 funds to build or rehab 1,062 houses in neighborhoods like Liberty City. That means many more simple, decent, affordable homes for families like the Estimables. “We have so much more room than we had in our apartment,” says the eldest Estimable son, Azor. “And we now have a yard where my brothers and sisters can play.” — Julie Gurnon