First Annual Heart of Habitat Gratitude Awards Celebrates Volunteers

April 7, 2022

Thank you to everyone who supported and attended our first annual Heart of Habitat Gratitude Awards on March 31, 2022 at the Jack Breslin Student Events Center, Gilbert Pavilion! It was such a joy to see ReStore, admin, and construction volunteers all together under one roof to lift each other up and get inspired to continue building a better world.

This event celebrated everyone who volunteers their time and talent to the mission of Habitat Capital Region. Special recognition was given to eight volunteers and two corporate partners who were presented with Gratitude Awards recognizing their unique contributions to Habitat Capital Region in the last year.

Attendees had a chance to eat, mingle, and hear about teamwork and dedication from keynote speaker, Mel Tucker, Head Football Coach at Michigan State University. Habitat volunteers and local media personalities, Sheri Jones of WLNS 6 News and Deb Hart of FOX 47’s Morning Blend, co-hosted the event.

“We wanted to recognize and congratulate the outstanding service of those volunteers that have donated their time and made a significant impact on the lives of the residents in mid-Michigan. Volunteers are a key part of every facet of Habitat for Humanity,” said Carmen Hall, Director of Philanthropy at Habitat Capital Region. “We are so appreciative of their service to our community and to our sponsors, Jackson® and Capital Region Airport Authority, for making the event possible,” said Hall.

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Heart of Habitat Gratitude Awardees (left to right): Ellen Stille, Robert Edwards, Danielle Robinson and Kirstyn Waldron (on behalf of Jackson®), Mel Tucker (keynote speaker), Luke Downing (on behalf of Clark Schaefer Hackett), Charlie Breneman, Jim Wilcox, Kathy Wilcox, Judith Taylor, Ed Brown. Awardees not pictured: Shawn Sandhu

Heart of Habitat Gratitude Awardees:

Lifetime Achievement Award – Edward Brown and Dr. Judith Taylor

Ed and Judith started volunteering with Habitat Capital Region in 1994. They have been instrumental in building our Ramp Program that serves people in our community with mobility challenges.

Together, they formed an unstoppable team of like-minded volunteers who have served more than 825 households by building accessibility ramps every Friday for decades.

Key Contributor Award – Charlie Breneman

Charlie is committed to the mission of Habitat Capital Region and has been a regular volunteer for seventeen years. His efforts have increased the ability of our organization to provide safe, decent, and affordable homes to our partners by working on over 45 homes, including a home in Kenya, Africa.

Charlie works as a Core Crew construction volunteer and a Financial Education Coach with the Homeownership Program. He can also be seen in and around the Lansing office warehouse organizing tools and supplies. In the last year, he stepped up to fill a need in our organization for a site supervisor and lead the charge at our most recent homeownership project.

Corporate Partner of the Year Award – Jackson®

Jackson is a champion of Habitat Capital Region’s mission. Jackson has demonstrated the belief in Habitat Capital Region’s mission by volunteering as individuals and as groups on projects at special events and in the ReStore.

Jackson continues to support Habitat Capital Region financially with individual and corporate matching contributions and has partnered with the organization to underwrite the volunteer program this year.

Leadership Award – Robert Edwards

Rob has served on Habitat Capital Region's volunteer Board of Directors for six years and successfully lead the board with two consecutive terms as chair during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rob also helped to leverage the innovative concept of transitional housing for program applicants to reduce the time that qualified applicants have to wait for safe, affordable housing. He played an integral role in the development of the Habitat Capital Region endowment fund and contributed to the policies that govern it.

Strength and Stability Award – Ellen Stille

Ellen is an administrative volunteer wizard and often helps with critical and complex projects for the administrative team. She always goes above and beyond by bringing a tool box full of abilities, energy, fortitude, and consistency.

Ellen also takes a leadership role with the Sparkle Clean team, who make the homes perfect for homeowner partners before they move in. She volunteers at the annual golf outing and is the go-to volunteer for painting projects. She is an invaluable resource and has volunteered over 155 hours this year.

Dream Team Award – Clark Schaefer Hackett

Clark Schaeffer Hackett began volunteering with Habitat Capital Region in 2019. Since then, the organization has helped build and rehab homes, build accessibility ramps, revitalize neighborhoods, and even partnered to support our annual Home-in-One Golf Outing.

Clark Schaeffer Hackett is committed to improving and enhancing the communities where its team lives and works. The organization gives its employees paid volunteer time off, which allows them to spend time helping the mission of Habitat Capital Region.

ReStore ‘Shift’ Award – Jim Wilcox and Kathy Wilcox

Jim and Kathy have over 200 hours of combined service and dedicate time to both the Lansing and the Williamston ReStores. They have shown there is no task too big for them to take on. They are accomplished, steadfast partners who are eager to take on any project and always do so with a smile.

Their time, effort, and consistent dedication is valued by the ReStore team, who consider them an integral role in the ReStore's success.

Rising Star Award – Shawn Sandhu

Shawn is in his sophomore year as a chemistry major at Michigan State University and began volunteering with Habitat Capital Region in November 2021.

In the short time he has been volunteering, Shawn has contributed over 50 hours to help build a home for a family in Lansing. Shawn always comes to volunteer with a smile on his face and a willingness to learn, all while studying and attending college.