Charitable Housing, 25 Years in the Making

“Wait until he puts his pants on!” yelled a father from the front porch. His son, Paul, was indeed wearing pants, in fact, he had on two pair.

“I got my dress pants on underneath, because I don’t want them to get dirty,” explained Paul. Thursday, January 25th was a proud day in his life and he wanted to dress the part.

“I’m excited. I’ve just been mentally preparing myself for today. Instead of spending a lot of money, I’ve been buying little stuff here and there for the house, so I don’t make a big dent in my pocket!” he smiled before grabbing a dolly and wheeling it through slush to a pick-up truck full of furniture. After 5 long months, his Habitat for Humanity home was ready for him and his family.

“The baby is five months and he’s already crawling!” said Paul in disbelief. His fiancé gave birth to their third child at the end of July, just before the Sargento Family started building Paul’s new Habitat home.

“I love Sargento! I love the cheese. I appreciate it. You all helped a lot. There was a lot to do out in the sun, and I thank you all. Even those who didn’t come, tell them thank you too!” said Paul. “This will do a lot for me. Give me some stability. I have something I can call my own.”

Paul’s home marked the 25th anniversary of our partnership with Habitat for Humanity. It was the 28th home Sargento sponsored and helped build since 1992.

 

‘God is Good’

As Paul pushed the final loads up the path to his new home, his father, Greg, beamed with pride.

“There is a God and the blessings of the best come to the best. This is a new start for him in the community that we’re used to. This is part of making a better picture for the community–having young folks move in and make a better life,” said Greg. “I love him and he’s doing well and hopefully he can inspire others to pick up their slack and do the same thing.”

That’s exactly what Habitat for Humanity accomplishes with its ripple effect of Accountability. When Habitat moves into a neighborhood, the houses become anchors and beacons, signaling lasting change. According to Habitat statistics gleaned from the Milwaukee Police Department, crime has decreased 48% on the blocks where homes have been built in Washington Park, west of downtown. More than 225 families now have safe, affordable homes, including Paul.

“What makes this house greater than other houses is that this is a house of the community. Habitat put this together, and everybody swung hammers to put this together it’s very special. We put this together,” said Greg Walker. Even though he had been up since 8 o’clock the night before, he was not going to miss his son’s home dedication. Greg works third shift as a janitor at night and runs his own cleaning company by day. His work ethic allowed him to own a home for Paul and his siblings.

“Having a home for myself is a wonderful thing. My dad showed me the right path,” said Paul.

 

Bless This House

Following Habitat’s tradition, volunteers, corporate partners and Paul’s family gathered in his new living room to dedicate his new home. His aunt asked for God’s blessing as everyone joined hands. After the blessing, Paul reluctantly accepted gifts because he felt he had already been given enough.

“We believe deeply in giving back to our community and believe that everyone should have a safe place to live. On behalf of the 2,100 members of the Sargento Family, welcome home!” said Director-Corporate Communications Portia Young handing him a cheese gift basket. “May you fill your new home with laughter, love and cheese!”

Habitat for Humanity gave Paul a windsock to hang on his front porch, to let all who pass know, this is a home that caring built. His entire family gathered on the porch, with smiles that did not have to be coaxed. Pure joy. And relief.

“This is probably the last time you’ll see me wearing dress shoes!” said Paul.