Organization: Habitat for Humanity
Volunteer Service: Since 1984

What is the mission of Habitat for Humanity?
The main purpose of Habitat for Humanity is to encourage homeownership and bring the community together. They do this through home builds and repairs, financial education workshops, “sweat equity” projects with the benefiting families, and by managing a Habitat ReStore that accepts community donations and provides low-cost materials to homeowners.

How long have you been volunteering with Habitat?
I first got involved with Habitat for Humanity back in college, but have been more active the last 12 years since coming to Associated Bank because of our partnership with the organization. In the past, we’ve primarily done new housing construction, but this year we’ve started doing renovation projects as well. Last year, Associated Bank also committed to repurchasing some of Habitat’s mortgage loans so they can reinvest that money in the next homeowner.

In what ways do you volunteer for the organization?
I work on new home construction and repairs, which includes building porches, installing drywall, painting, roof maintenance—whatever they need me to do. Most recently, I put new siding on an existing home and cleared some supplies from the Bradley Center before it was torn down to be resold in the ReStore. Now, I’m focusing on organizing monthly projects for other colleagues to get involved with Habitat.

What do you feel is the most rewarding part of volunteering?
I would say seeing the results of the projects. I’ll drive through neighborhoods where I’ve worked and see the houses with new porches filled with outdoor furniture and people. I feel blessed to be in the situation I am with the bank and able to contribute to these activities. I see it impacting my family, too. My daughter goes on trips with her college and my wife continually comes to my builds.

Pictured from left to right: Lindsey Sampson, Dustyn Kupsik, Tiffany Kupsik, Bryan Southard, Gchiann, Ryan Braun, Kristen Kolell and Curt Kolell.
Kolell and other Associated Bank colleagues at a Habitat build.

Can you share a memorable experience you’ve been a part of because of your community involvement?
I would say the build events with the Brewers. Recently, I participated in a home build with left fielder Ryan Braun (pictured at left). We helped Habitat homeowner Gchiann (pronounced “shy-ANN”) become the very first person in her family to ever own a home. These events are very exciting. They attract the media and we get to interact with Braun, who is a big supporter of Habitat.

What have you learned about your community through your participation?
I think the main thing is that our small input can have a major impact on a neighborhood. Habitat has gathered statistics that show that it’s not only their homes that benefit from the investment—the surrounding neighborhoods benefit as well. As a habitat homeowner takes pride in their project and works to build their equity, other adjacent homeowners begin to take part in projects to fix their homes, which, over time, can help revitalize the neighborhood.

From a financial standpoint, many of the mortgages are less than a family would pay for rent. And Habitat provides financial education, teaching homeowners how to budget, afford a home and build their equity. Since benefactors are required to take part in sweat equity projects on their home or other builds, they learn vital homeownership skills and gain a vested interest in their property.