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Getting a head start on paying it forward

Thom and Julia Taylor, with their son, Jakob, enjoy a busy week of building. Habitat for Humanity International/Jason Asteros

By Julia Sellers 

Partner families keep finding new ways to express their gratitude to Wild Rivers Habitat for Humanity and all the AmeriCorps members who are helping to build and rehab their homes this week in rural northern Wisconsin. 

After the first full day of construction Monday in the town of Luck, Thom and Julia Taylor served up small cups of Peruvian strawberry sorbet to the entire work crew. 

“It’s just a little something,” Thom said. “But I can’t wait to look for ways to pay this forward two- or three-fold.” 

The Army veteran is used to jumping in and assisting anyone in need. Even with a busted right knee — soon to undergo surgery No. 7 — and other injuries, he is quick to offer his help carrying lumber, hammering or helping his wife tend to their 10-month-old son, Jakob. 

Six miles away in Frederic, Mike Haaf spent the day handing out water and making trips to the store for supplies as AmeriCorps members replaced his roof as part of A Brush with Kindness. 

“I’m not the type of person to ask for help,” Haaf said. He has cerebral palsy and gets around mostly with crutches or on a three-wheel scooter. 

“I can’t do it myself, but it’s a good feeling to know there are people who are willing to help strangers,” he said. “I keep telling them to slow down, because I only have a few days with them and I’ve enjoyed getting to know these members.”