KA Has Heart Spotlight: Hearts and Hammers
Hearts and Hammers Spotlight, by Brenden Nickels
Brenden Nickels is a senior office assistant at Kraus-Anderson Headquarters.
When your home is starting to deteriorate, you need all the help you can get when it comes to getting it repaired. Fortunately, if you are elderly, have a disability, or are a military veteran, Kraus-Anderson can help you out. Every summer, Kraus-Anderson employees, as part of the KA Has Heart program, volunteer for Hearts and Hammers, an organization that assists all those demographics in repairing their homes, such as exterior painting, door and window repair, porch repair, and landscaping renewal. The idea for this is to bring back the character of the home and the neighborhood that it is in, as well as make the home more safe and secure.
How Hearts and Hammer built their foundation
Hearts and Hammers was founded in Dallas, Texas in the 1980’s by architect Bob Walker when he and his fellow Peace Corps volunteers wanted to do something to take advantage of their experiences to help out the community. When Walker moved to the Twin Cities in 1997, he started the second chapter of Hearts and Hammers here. Each year, over 2000 volunteers from 70 different organizations, Kraus-Anderson being one of them, on three different days gather to help repair qualifying homes.
When Architect Bob Walker and his good friend from the Peace Corps, who was also a friend of Bruce Engelsma’s asked Bruce if KA would like to be involved with the start-up of H&H in the Twin Cities, Bruce Engelsma said YES we are eager to help. Several KA employees have served on the Board of Directors and various committees of H&H bringing leadership and construction/organizational expertise to the program.
“Many friendships have been created during the refurbishing of a H&H home,” said KA’s Corporate Secretary Rose Manthe. The process of completing a home for Hearts and Hammers is a true testament to KA employees who live and truly represent integrity and teamwork.
To qualify to have your home repaired by Hearts and Hammers, you have to live in a single-family home in the Twin Cities for the next two years, are age 60 and up, have a disability, are a military veteran (or widow/widower), and have to make less than a certain amount of income. “We chose to focus on these at-risk groups due to the lack of other resources in our community to assist them with preserving their affordable homes,” said Hearts and Hammers Executive Director Randi Prebil.
How you can help during the pandemic
While there are no scheduled program days in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic, Prebil said there are other ways to help. We are sending out smaller groups to still get projects done and we are advocating for our homeowners as many of them could not afford to live anyway else. Hearts and Hammers is one of the solutions to the affordable housing problem in Minnesota. We are doing everything we can to eliminate some of the need to build new housing.
KA Assistant Project Manager Josh Carr, who has served on the Hearts and Hammers board since 2019, has been involved with this new socially distant method of service this summer. He said that it was a big change than what he has worked on in the past.
“This was 10 people and a single story house, not 40 people and a three story house. Besides the sizes of the houses and the amount of people we had, it was pretty similar. We had paint buckets and material prepared for people to grab and go. Still had a lot of good conversations and laughs while producing some hard work!” Carr said.
“It takes a lot of work to remodel a home, just like with any construction project. However, when you’re done, you’re glad that you helped out the life of a person who really needed it.”
Carr adds, “I feel proud to be a part of such a great organization. I am hopeful that H&H will weather what’s going on right now and produce a record breaking amount of homes next year! I am also very proud to work for a company that values H&H enough to support as they do!”