An Ambitious Build

Sargento Pledges 3-Year Donation to Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity’s “Midtown 100” Plan to Build, Rehab, and Repair 100 Homes.

It was a chilly April day 26 years ago when the Sargento family first traveled to Milwaukee to build a home for Habitat for Humanity.

The team’s effort – then led by Lou Gentine — marked the beginning of a company endeavor that has seen more than 800 Sargento volunteers build 28 homes for Milwaukee families in the last 26 years.

“Lou was there with a hammer in his hand. That was back in the day when they let you go on the roof. They don’t let you do that anymore as a volunteer,” Communications Director Portia Young said. “Lou was there, and the rest of our leaders were there because Sargento truly believes in family.”

That focus on families continues this year with a 3-year commitment to Midtown 100, an effort by Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity to build, rehab, and repair 100 homes in the Midtown neighborhood of Milwaukee over the next three years.

Sargento is the first company to pledge a full three-year sponsorship.

“This is the most ambitious plan in Milwaukee Habitat’s 34-year history and it will allow us to serve more families per year than ever before,” said Brian Sonderman, executive director of Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity. “The families who move into these homes will help build these homes alongside volunteers. The families that move into these homes will pay a mortgage that they can afford. The families that move into these homes will, for the very first time, sometimes in two or three generations, own their very own home.”

It’s an ambitious endeavor. Last year Milwaukee Habitat built 8 new homes. This year, they hope to build 25.

“It’s going to be a lot. It’s an ambitious project. That’s why we need the support of Sargento and others,” Jake Brandt, marketing director for Milwaukee Habitat, said.

More than $10 million will be invested into the Midtown Neighborhood by Habitat over the next three years — which will more than double the number of families who will have access to affordable housing.

“It will create the highest concentration of affordable, single family homes ever built in Milwaukee since World War II,” Sonderman said.

At a groundbreaking ceremony for the project last month — held on the site of a future Habitat home to be built by Sargento employees — Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said he was excited to see the revitalization of Midtown.

“There has never been a time when I’ve been disappointed by Habitat for Humanity. They say they are going to do something, they get the people together, they get it done, and they improve a neighborhood,” Barrett said. “What we’re seeing today is on a grander scale than we’ve seen before. It tells you the commitment Habitat has to this.”

The Sargento contribution includes the construction of two homes this year, and two in future years of the Midtown 100 project.

“We said yes to a multi-year commitment, building four of those homes in three years, because we fully embrace Habitat’s mission of putting God’s love in action to build homes, communities, and hope,” Young said. “We’ve also seen the results. Our 28 Sargento-Habitat Homes in Milwaukee have seen hundreds of warm nights in bed, hundreds of hours of homework, and thousands of meals.”

This year’s Sargento home build will take place July 16 through July 20. Stay connected to The Block for more information.