PROVIDE HOMES AND SOLE DREAMS
FOR NEEDY PEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD
She Has Led 10 Teams Around the World
To Create New Homes and Lives Through Habitat
As we consider the significant issues of the day, like not trusting government, big banks and numerous other elements of society, Maria Patrenko, an Eiler design and creative partner, is providing an example of how we all can take time to help others in need and work to eliminate homelessness, hunger and poverty that still reigns over much of society. I have worked with Maria and her team at Hadrout on several web and social media projects for the past year ... and find her a compelling story to recount here.
From a "residence" for nine people in Kuching, Malaysia whose outer walls were plastic sheets, cardboard boxes and re-used plastic bags ... to a brand new brick home with running water, doors, and a kitchen area. In just two weeks. That's what it took an award winning art-director, entrepreneur and humanitarian from Ann Arbor, Maria Petrenko and her team, to finish her 10th Habitat for Humanity home in December.
A design partner of Eiler, Maria's marketing communications/design firm, Hadrout Advertising + Technologies, is a forward thinking, award-winning marketing agency that believes every business no matter how big or small deserves fair, clever, quality marketing and online representation at a fair price. "I believe as true marketers, we MUST invest sweat, creativity, work and effort into our clients before expecting a return on investment. We are here to help businesses grow, long-term, from the day when they are company of 3 to the day when they hit Fortune 500 - we should put in the same effort - 100%!" - says Maria.
But aside from business, Maria's personal passion is serving people who cannot help themselves, have no real "homes" and who have high needs for living quarters for their families.
She has now done 10 new homes under the Habitat for Humanity banner in such countries as India, Malaysia, Botswana, Trinidad and Tobago. A product of poverty housing herself, growing up in communist-government subsidized community housing project in south Russia, Maria knows first-hand the issues of bringing up a family in inadequate living conditions.
"It's a honor to me to be able to lead teams of volunteers from all over the world several times a year to foreign lands where residents lack anything that we would consider daily necessities such as automobiles, toilets, proper medical care, sewage systems, windows, walls, running water, stoves or refrigeration. We deal with squatters, re-settlers, war and political refuges, or simply hard working poor families are often given simple patches of land by the government on which they must erect their own residences and grow their own crops.
"These 'home sites' are often like storage shacks but without walls, floors or separate rooms. No storage areas and in fact, most often no belongings of any kind," she explains. "Most of the Habitat families are hard working poor - no matter how hard they work, they will NEVER be able to change their lifestyle to be better. The wages they earn working long days in often some of the most unglorious jobs is often barely enough for basic family nutrition. In Habitat we don't believe in handouts, but in hand "ups." Families work with international volunteers side by side every day to build their home putting in their own "sweat equity."
Statistics show that Habitat home recipients are more likely to improve their economic situations, get a better-paid job and lead a healthier lifestyle. Interestingly, their kids are 10 times more likely to go college or get a profession than others in the same neighborhood.
It astounds Maria. Some years back, she decided to become and ambassador for Habitat for Humanity International and an International Global Village Team leader
and since then have not only helped dozens of people all over the world, but also encouraged her friends and co-workers to get involved. "It is very selfish to be a humanitarian" says Maria, "because nothing feels better than a feeling and then a tangible result of sharing your life with others. Imaging feeling like a true miracle worker, knowing that you can and, in fact, you WILL change one family's lives for good FOREVER."
While Maria's own company Hadrout has grown tremendously over the past couple of years expanding client base all over United States and internationally, Maria is planning to stay faithful to her passion for helping those in need. In 2012, she will lead two international humanitarian home-building teams -- to Armenia in July and Cambodia in November. "I think that everyone of us has time and ability to share their lives with others," Maria states. "Family, work, kids, mortgage and car payment - we all have it! You just choose to allow you heart to make a decision. It takes only a split second but the pride, the joy, the experience and the impact on the world will last your lifetime and for generations to come."
Maria's attitude and ability to help others around the world is impressive. It ignites my personal interest in doing what we all need to do: engage ourselves to seek new "help others" projects, generating and propelling new ideas that create a meaningful result for people in need.
Larry T. Eiler