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

January, 2015
Habitat News Tribune
 New Website
St. Croix Valley Habitat's absolutely brilliant Development Director Susan Capparelli is a consummate professional. She has been working tirelessly at creating a brand new website for our dauntless affiliate, and I am proud to announce that it is online for your perusal. Glorious as it may be, the website still may need a few tweaks here or there, so if you have any feedback please feel free to send it Susan's way so that she may make her masterful edits.

The website features a sleek new layout, highlights of our community impact, information on our nationally recognized and award winning Eco Village, homeowner testimonials, a section on the various ways to sponsor an SCV-Habitat project including our exciting new Fifteen Dollars a Month Club, and so many other innovative and visionary features you'd be forgiven for believing that the new website was created by Stanley Kubrick himself.   
Susan Capparelli: as brilliant of a director as Stanley Kubrick.
A Message from the Editor
Greetings and best wishes to you all from your humble editor, I hope everyone is having a safe and prosperous new year. 

On a personal note, I would like to extend a thank you to the River Falls police department, specifically one officer -whose name I do not know - who was exceptionally understanding, compassionate, and helpful when I locked myself out of my apartment at 6 am earlier this month. These days, when there is no small amount of distrust between police and the communities they serve, it was refreshing to experience an instance of cooperation and understanding between citizen and law enforcement. So thank you, unnamed public servant, for showing a bit of friendliness and helpfulness to someone down on his luck. Your actions that day serve as a mini lesson in the proper way to treat those who are facing difficulties, and they embody the overall mission of Habitat for Humanity: to offer a neighborly, welcoming hand to those who could use help, and look upon them not with suspicion or disdain or indifference, but with an earnest, non-patronizing offer of assistance. Well done good sir, keep up the superlative work. 

Per ardua ad astra.
-John Thompson   
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

Kelly Cain



Sarah Bruch
Vice President 

Don Richards

Bill Stokes

Carol Merriman

Peter Kilde

Heather Logelin

Roger Pavlis 

Joel Skinner

Joe Greatens

Maureen Otwell

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
Chris Otten:
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
A Brush With Kindness 2.0: Better, Stronger, Faster

January is upon us. Those of us in the Midwest have reached what cultural and political blogger Jason Tebbe calls "the garbage months of the calendar: cold weather, lack of sunlight, no seasonal food...and no holidays to brighten things up." Perhaps Mr. Tebbe is being just a bit over-dramatic in this case, but January's deluge of frigid, snowy weather certainly slows things down at the very least. January can turn something as seemingly trivial as entering an automobile and driving a few blocks into a shivering gauntlet of ice scraping, heater blasting, car pushing, and snail's pace driving.   

But we know that inexorably after the thaw comes a time of sunshine, rejuvenation, and in the St. Croix Valley a new season of A Brush With Kindness (ABWK). Indeed, the second season of ABWK is set to gear up in spring, assuming winter releases us from our icy thralldom in a timely fashion this year. Regardless, we at SCV-Habitat are positively chomping at the bit for the new season to begin, but to make this forthcoming season of ABWK even more of a smashing success than our inaugural season we need the help and support of the larger community. Specifically, there are three ways that residents of the St. Croix Valley and residents of the larger community of charitable people can assist us in our noble endeavors.

1. ProjectsIf you or someone you know in Pierce or St. Croix County will be facing a daunting home repair, home maintenance, or landscaping project in the spring please contact us for more information (contact information at the end of this article). 

2. Volunteers: Of course volunteer labor is the driving engine that keeps our affiliate whirring busily along that golden highway of philanthropy and community betterment. If you are interested in partaking in this great undertaking after the thaw please feel free to contact us for further details.     

3. Funds: if volunteers are the engine of our affiliate, funds are the fuel that keeps the engine in perpetual motion. Monetary donations help defray the cost of our materials - everything from tools to lumber to gasoline to paint - it all costs money. 

For information about obtaining the services of A Brush With Kindness or volunteering for A Brush With Kindness please contact Dennis Schmidt or call our office at 715-425-5623. Information may also be obtained via our website.     

To donate to A Brush With Kindness please follow this link to our secure paypal page, or send a check payable to St. Croix Valley Habitat for Humanity to 166 E. Elm St. River Falls, WI 54022. For more funding opportunities please visit our website.

We would be most grateful for any assistance in whatever capacity you can provide, and to wet your appetite for all things A Brush With Kindness please enjoy a pictorial retrospective of our inaugural ABWK season. 
Project One: Hudson
Volunteer working on the Ashwood family's rain gutters.
Project One: Hudson 
A happy family posing with their newly renovated home.
Project 2: River Falls
Homeowner Fred Volkmann (blue shirt) posing with Project Specialist Dennis Schmidt (orange shirt) and volunteers before diving into some landscaping.
Project 2: River Falls 
 The results.
Project 3: New Richmond 
Volunteers from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls Women's Basketball Team giving the Goodman house a new paint job.
Project 3: New Richmond 
UW-RF Women's Basketball Team poses after a job well done.
Project 4: Downing 
Volunteers planning the removal of a structurally compromised porch.
Project 4: Downing 
Homeowner Gwen Wittmer (second from left) posing with volunteers on her brand new deck. Also pictured: Denny Schmidt (third from right) and mystery guest (second from right).
ReStore Reads: An Evening of Poetry at the River Falls ReStore
Art, it comes in all manner of mediums, but at it's heart it is an exploration of the human condition - what it means to be a sojourner on this curious blue orb. It reflects our aspirations, our fears, our triumphs, our doubts, our good, our evil, our beauty, our pain. 

SCV-Habitat's River Falls ReStore has designs to be a conduit for the arts, and January saw the first of such aspirations materialize. Indeed, a gathering of poets congregated around the many recliners and couches of the ReStore to share the majesty of spoken word and partake in the sense of community that develops when people share a common goal and a common passion. 

To paraphrase Steven King, "not since Odysseus and Agamemnon sailed the wine-dark seas" has an event provoked such feelings of curious anticipation of an unknown yet exciting journey. Our venerated ReStore Manager Sarah Rose served as MC, and although it was uncharted terrain for all involved, Sarah performed superlatively and guided the night in a rather free-form fashion. Those who wished to read poetry were welcomed to, those who had come to listen were treated to a night of exceptional poetry.

It was truly a satisfying and edifying experience to hear the diverse styles of poetry and topics covered. Poems fluctuated from light-hearted and jocular to somber and melancholy to wistful and pensive. The joyous roller coaster of emotion proved to be, by all accounts, an enjoyable and engaging experience, one that there is no small amount of interest in repeating.

The one regret of the night - and a colossal one at that - was that the principal brainchild of the entire poetry concept, SCV-Habitat homeowner-partner Robert Smith, was unable to attend. Robert was tragically waylaid by illness shortly before the poetry night, and our hearts go out to such a kindhearted and noble man as he convalesces from his malicious pathogen. On behalf of everyone at SCV-Habitat we wish you a speedy journey on your road to recovery.   

The particulars of the next such meeting of the minds have still yet to be decided, so if you are interested in performing at or attending this splendiferous gathering in the future, please contact Sarah Rose for details. And please bear in mind that such gatherings need not apply solely to poets. We welcome all manner of artists - musicians, storytellers, painters, sculptors, etc who would enjoy a family-friendly space to share their art, replete with refreshments and perhaps a kitten or two.   
Staff of the Month: Dave Engstrom

Last month I had the good fortune to be profiled by none other than our Executive Director and all around great guy Dave Engstrom. Well it is my honor and pleasure to return the favor this month as the time has come for Dave Engstrom to be immortalized in our Staff of the Month column. 


The son of a St. Paul police officer and beautician, Dave learned from his dedicated parents many things, among them the value of hard work. This life lesson stuck with Dave as he went on to hold a vast array of diverse positions. Before becoming our venerated "Boss Dude," Dave has worked as an upholsterer, served as the Washington County Commissioner, lobbied for the Minnesota Association of Small Cities, worked for the government at the U.S. Air Force and the IRS, became the Washington County Housing Authority Executive Director, and governed the good people of Afton, MN as their steadfast and trusty mayor. Quite an impressive and extensive resume, surely it is Dave who is the real jack of all trades around these parts. 


At least three things will become immediately manifest after being welcomed into Dave's office: that he has an absolutely impeccable character, that he would be a truly fantastic boss to work for, and that he has a deep, unwavering passion for Habitat for Humanity. Indeed, Dave's passion for Habitat stems from his belief that a home adds a degree of stability to peoples' lives that has the capacity to positively effect the well-being and livelihood of individuals and families everywhere.


But the prestigious and vital job of Executive Director comes with its fair share of challenges as well. Foremost in Dave's mind is the "financial aspect" of the job. We at SCV-Habitat are so fortunate to have such a dedicated and sweeping volunteer base that obtaining the materials to keep up with them is always a substantial task, but, as Dave points out, that's "a great problem to have."


Indeed, it is that attitude that ensures the head that wears the crown will not hang too heavy. Dave is excited about the future of SCV-Habitat; he envisions this noble organization building more decent, safe, affordable, and sustainable housing in the future, and would like to see a mix of larger family dwellings along with smaller homes for seniors and single people.

Dave Engstrom is the Liu Bei of St. Croix Valley Habitat for Humanity. He is a fair and righteous leader who has the utmost concern for his employees, volunteers and the greater good of SCV-Habitat on his mind at all times. And if we continue the Romance of the Three Kingdoms analogy, I would be honored to make an "Oath of the Peach Garden" with our exceptional Executive Director any day of the week.    

Volunteer of the Month: Chelsey Smith
 St. Croix Valley Habitat for Humanity is comprised of a kaleidoscopic array of spectacular individuals committed to the ideals of community, compassion, and mutual aid. This month I had the pleasure of talking with one such fiber of this technicolor woven tapestry of communal social justice, Chelsey Smith. Chelsey is one of our ardent volunteers at the River Falls ReStore. Still a Padawan in the grand scheme of things, our River Falls ReStore has been so very privileged to already have obtained a plethora of dedicated, talented, and industrious volunteers, and Chelsey certainly fits the bill in all three categories.

Chelsey, being a stay at home mom, is no stranger to hard work, stick-to-it-ive-ness, and creative problem solving, and thus she is a perfect fit for the glorious puzzle-box that is the River Falls ReStore. A native of the Centennial State, Chelsey left the skiing, snow chains, and spooky hotels with intricate hedge mazes behind about a year ago, and moved to River Falls to be closer to family. Looking to do some good whilst being "part of a community," Chelsey was hoping to volunteer at a ReStore when she settled in, and as the fates would have it, our River Falls ReStore had recently opened its welcoming doors. The rest, as they say, is history. According to Chelsey, one of the most rewarding aspects of volunteering at SCV-Habitat is meeting the good people who work and volunteer at our spirited affiliate, which is another category that Chelsey certainly fits into.

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