"A world where everyone has a decent place to live..."

December, 2014
Habitat News Tribune
A Message from the Editor
Greetings and best wishes to you all from your humble editor. In this addition of Habitat News Tribune we will be exploring SCV-Habitat's major events of 2014. We have more events to cover than a professor of Chinese civilization, so please follow me on this pictorial trip down memory lane.  

A belated Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a safe and joyous new year to all. 

Per ardua ad astra.
-John Thompson   
Our Labors Receive National Recognition
A few weeks ago we mentioned that St. Croix Valley Habitat for Humanity was nominated as a finalist in the annual Home of the Year competition by leading sustainable construction magazine, Green Builder®. Well pop the champiagn corks and strike up the band as it is my supreme honor to announce that St. Croix Valley Habitat has been named "Best Affordable Project" by Green Builder®.

A heartfelt thank you to all of our volunteers, donors, and partners who were instrumental in achieving this recognition.

Thank you to our Anchor Partners: 
  • Andersen Windows
  • Calstar Products 
  • Dow Building Solutions
  • MAMAC Systems
  • Thrivent Builds 
  • Uponor Corporation
  • Werner Electric Supply
  • WestCAP 
  • Bremer Bank and The Otto Bremer Foundation
  • The City of River Falls
  • River Falls Municipal Unities
  • First National Bank of River Falls
  • Frisbie Architects (Now Ayres Associates)
  • Quintus 3D Architecture 
  • University of Wisconsin-River Falls
  • Steiner Plumbing, Electric, and Heating Inc. 
  • Extreme Panel Technologies
  • LP Building Products
  • Whirlpool Corporation
  • Kohler Company
Donate a Vehicle to SCV-Habitat and Help us Build Houses

Schwan's Fundraiser
Help us build homes through Schwan's! For every purchase, Schwan's will donate 20% in support of our campaign. 
Click here for more information 

Board of Directors

Dave Meier



Carol Merriman
Vice President 

Don Richards

Bill Stokes

Joan Bartz

Sarah Bruch

Kelly Cain

Rollie Johnson

Peter Kilde

Heather Logelin

Roger Pavlis 

Joel Skinner

Joe Greatens

Bill Richard


Dennis Schmidt:
Project Specialist
A Brush With Kindness
Joel Palmquist:
Construction Manager
Debbie Murtha:
Office Manager
Amy Henry:
Office Assistant
Andy Scheiderer:
ReStore Manager - New Richmond
Vincent Solorio:
Donation Supervisor - New Richmond
Jason Dale:
Pick-Up Coordinator
Brenda Berner:
ReStore Office Assistant - New Richmond

Sarah Rose:
ReStore Manager -River Falls

Paul Ritzinger:
Donation Supervisor - River Falls
John Thompson:
AmeriCorps VISTA/
E-Newsletter Editor
2014: A Year in Review


We at St. Croix Valley Habitat for Humanity toil and labor each year because we understand that the vicious cycle of poverty housing is capable of weaving its ghastly, malevolent tendrils into the lives of our neighbors and fellow citizens and can callously ensnare and oppress so many of these good people. It is our aim, therefore, to do everything within our power to slay this wretched beast, and create a community wherein everyone has access to safe, decent, affordable, and sustainable housing.  


This past year has been quite an eventful one for our stouthearted affiliate. As it may be difficult to view current events these days without a cynical eye, it is a welcome sanctuary to see that our affiliate continues to embrace the notion that compassion, cooperation, and benevolence are the proper values for society to strive towards, and on this model we have been making a positive impact on the St. Croix Valley.  


We have built four new homes in our Eco Village, bringing the total number of families that are housed in these amazing domiciles up to ten, with eight more homes still to be completed. This visionary project seeks not only to build quality houses for those in need, but also to build in such a way as to minimize the impact on the environment and minimize energy costs for our homeowners. That is why we are proud to inform you that during summer our homes had been producing more electricity than they have been consuming, and energy bills in the winter remain a modicum of what they would be in a traditional domicile.     


But building our incredible homes was far from our only achievement in 2014... 


This summer saw the inception of our A Brush With Kindness program which resulted in five homes receiving exterior maintenance that would have been difficult or impossible for the homeowners to accomplish without our assistance. 


Also making its debut this summer, our River Falls ReStore joined its sister store in New Richmond in the quest to reuse as much quality furniture, appliances, and building material as possible whilst raising money for our home-building endeavors. Our River Falls ReStore continues to build it's waxing costumer base and continues to receive a plethora of exquisite donations. And of course our New Richmond ReStore continues to be an absolute juggernaut of sales and donations.  


But our noble endeavors cannot be supported by our valuable and fruitful ReStores alone. Indeed, our honorable work can only continue with the support of individuals and organizations both within the St. Croix Valley and in the larger community of empathetic and kindhearted people who support our mission of eliminating poverty housing in the St. Croix Valley.


So thank you to everyone who has contributed in any capacity to our gallant labors. An organization like St. Croix Valley Habitat for Humanity is truly a collaborative effort, and with our combined efforts there is no end to the good we can achieve and the lives we can change. 


A Pictorial of the highlights of 2014:

Left to Right: Executive Director Dave Engstrom with Linann Pearson and daughter Shauna of house seven at their home dedication ceremony. 
The Smith family of house eight at their home dedication ceremony.
Eden MacTavish of house nine at her home dedication ceremony. 
Mark Tamminga of house ten at his home dedication ceremony.
Mary Voje of house eleven (fourth from left) and Cori Fosmo of house twelve (second from right) at their groundbreaking ceremony with family, friends, and SCV-Habitat representatives.
This year saw ten total homes inhabited at the Eco Village.
Volunteers from the UW-River Falls Women's Basketball team at an A Brush with Kindness project in New Richmond.
Our New Richmond ReStore was a proud recipient of a flashy new sign this year. (Above) Volunteer of the Year John Hackbarth's exemplary work being supervised equally as exemplary by Manager Andy Scheiderer.
Our River Falls ReStore made its triumphant debut this year, and has come quite a long way on its transformation from a former auto parts store to a stalwart member of the SCV-Habitat family.
A Farewell to Kings (and Queens)
St. Croix Valley Habitat for Humanity is fortunate to have a dedicated, sagacious and shrewd Board of Directors. Three of these remarkable men and women are sadly departing the venerated ranks of our Board of Directors. Dave Meier, Rollie Johnson, and Joan Bartz have all reached the penultimate month of their tenure this December. Thus, let us take a moment to honor these distinguished individuals for all of the inestimably important work they have done for our affiliate.

Dave Meier is our outgoing president, and he has served honorably and prudently in this preeminent position. Resolutely dedicated and dependable, Dave was no president in exile. Like President Washington leading troops into battle during the Whisky Rebellion so too was Dave Meier on the front line of a number of Habitat initiatives with the rest of the troops. Whether that be surveying potential Habitat purchases or testing lights at the ReStore, Dave could always be counted on to put in grunt work along with arbitrating the difficult decisions that a president must make.  

Rollie Johnson is a longtime Habitat supporter, and a stalwart and upright man. His sensible and inexorable insight will be sorely missed on the Board, and his superlative construction expertise is a welcome feature of our Construction Committee.  

Joan Bartz is a consultant for Thrivant Financial, and it has been extremely advantageous having her financial acumen on the Board. On a personal note, your humble editor was fortunate enough to have volunteered side by side with Joan Bartz on an A Brush With Kindness project, and Joan's positive attitude, congenial nature, and toothsome pizza hotdish made an already enjoyable project practically transcendent. 

So to Dave Meier, Rollie Johnson, and Joan Bartz thank you for your principled and adroit service to St. Croix Valley Habitat. You have helped continue a proud tradition of intelligence and virtue on the St. Croix Valley Habitat for Humanity Board of Directors.    
Left: President Meier; Right: Former Executive Director Jim Farr. Two sharp dressed men receiving the 2012 Non-Profit of the Year award from the River Falls Chamber of Commerce.
Left to Right: Rollie Johnson, Project Specialist Dennis Schmidt, and Jim Farr.
A candid shot of Joan Bartz dutifully volunteering on an A Brush With Kindness project in Downing.  
Staff/Volunteer of the Month

Dave Engstrom is a great man. That statement is unequivocally true. He has time and again proven his dedication to Habitat, his benevolence and understanding towards his staff, and his virtuous and affable character. Therefore, to be recognized by such a paragon of probity is an honor beyond expression. Dave was kind enough to pen a write-up on your humble editor this week for the volunteer/staff of the month column, and it is a supereminent honor to be praised so by such a upstanding individual. 


The reason for my column being both a staff and volunteer of month is due to my affiliation with the AmeriCorps VISTA program, of which Dave describes in some detail below. Every year AmeriCorps VISTA connects thousands of service-minded Americans with opportunities the country-over to perform volunteer work that helps crusade against the oppressive scourge of poverty. AmeriCorps VISTA originated as part of Lyndon B. Johnson's War on Poverty, and it has been a supreme honor to be a part of that noble legacy. AmeriCorps VISTA offers Americans the chance to travel the country and earn a modest income (we are volunteers with a living stipend) and money for college whilst performing imperative work for America's disadvantaged and vulnerable. It is a laudable organization and I would highly recommend it for anyone who is interested in fighting poverty and making a positive impact on the lives of our fellow citizens. So, without further ado, our Executive Director Dave Engstrom:    


"St. Croix Valley Habitat for Humanity has the honor of having some wonderful volunteers via the AmeriCorps/VISTA program.  What is that you ask...Think of AmeriCorps as the stateside version of the Peace Corps - VISTA is the acronym for Volunteers in Service to America.

This year we are fortunate to have Mr. John Thompson. He was actually assigned as a construction VISTA working on site at the EcoVillage in 2013 and has returned to us in 2014 . John now carries the title of Development VISTA and he really should be assigned the title of JOAT - Jack of All Trades. He is assigned to SCVHFH for one year. His work is barely compensated with a small stipend by the AmeriCorps VISTA program. Remember part of his title is "Volunteer."


John's dedication and commitment to the mission of Habitat is amazing. If any of us in the organization have a moment where we lapse in the thoughts or actions of our mission we need to just look at John and see him in action. He is nonstop action, always productive and always pleasant in his demeanor and always working on Habitat's mission to provide housing for those in need.


John Thompson has a way with words as you may know. He has a Masters in History and an very eloquent style.  He might be likened to Henry David Thoreau of even Abe Lincoln with his commitment and passion for his cause, which happens to be Habitat. 


John never lets us down. He is tasked with a huge variety of duties, from managing our volunteer sign ups to producing on a more than monthly basis our electronic mailings. He helps with pickups for the ReStore and is known to show up on the spot wherever we need help. Even if asked an impossible task the words back are "I will not fail you." And he never has failed us.


We are so fortunate to have John Thompson assigned to St. Croix Valley Habitat...Thank you John for all you do!"


And thank you Dave, for the kind words.

Left: The Legendary Denny Schmidt; Right: Your Humble Editor. Thank you all for reading and have a safe and happy new year.

St. Croix Valley Habitat for Humanity
116 E. Elm Street
River Falls, WI 54022