The Gophers Partner with Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity


Haley Wolff, Contributer

The University of Minnesota Athletics recently partnered with Habitat for Humanity to construct affordable housing for those in need within the Twin Cities community.

On Saturday, April 15th, the Gophers loaded up the MAGIC bus and arrived at their job site around 8:30 am. There, they were met by supervisor Zack Zoul, who gave them introductions and safety instructions. Following this, the Gopher athletes broke up into groups and got to work.

Volunteering for Habitat for Humanity were Niamya Holloway and Mi’Cole Cayton from the women’s basketball team, Jacob Gilva and Keaton Kluever from wrestling, Calissa Minatee from volleyball, Zoey Weil from tennis, and Rachel Butler from the swim and dive team. Additionally, the group included Jaydon Antoine, Kion Benjamin, Dalayni Etienne, Lauren Hansen, Alliyah McNeil, and Finn Schirmer for the Gopher track team, and Jen Callinan, the director of career services for the Golden Gopher Athletics.

Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity aims to bring “people together to create, preserve, and promote affordable homeownership and advance racial equality in housing.” They are composed of a 35-member Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity Board of Directors, who aim to uphold the mission and eliminate the poverty present in the community while also promoting sustainability. The program has a dedicated focus on enhancing the standards of living, well-being, and financial stability of the Twin Cities community. They are able to achieve this by creating, conserving, and promoting affordable homeownership, recognizing that families and homes are fundamental pillars of thriving communities.

There are numerous ways anyone can get involved! They offer various ways for both individuals and organizations to support the mission and make a difference.

The first is to become a Housing Hero and promote affordable housing in your community. Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity engages in advocacy efforts on the federal, state, and local levels. By advocating for affordable homeownership, the organization cultivates relationships with policymakers and creates opportunities for housing throughout the Twin Cities and beyond. The advocacy work centers on expanding investments in affordable homeownership and enacting housing policies that promote equality.

Secondly, you can join Women of Habitat. Through this, you come together with women of your community and support Habitat through the Women Build program and the Hope Builders Luncheon. Through its Homeownership Program, Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity provides women with homeowner training and affordable mortgages, enabling them to invest more in their families.

Thirdly, you can volunteer, just like our Gophers did. Thousands of volunteers are depended upon every year to carry out the tasks and mission. Individuals or groups can participate in the effort to make a difference. There are options for one-time opportunities or regular opportunities for volunteers looking to make a commitment. Individuals have the opportunity to contribute to increasing access to affordable housing for hundreds of families each year in the Twin Cities by volunteering on construction sites, home repair projects, or at Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore Home Improvement Outlets. The organization offers a range of volunteer opportunities to suit different interests and schedules, allowing individuals to choose the option that best fits their needs.

The previously mentioned Gophers took the opportunity to participate and give back. While there, the lunch break included a brief program featuring Anne Elliott-Thul, Senior Manager of Volunteer and Donor Development at Twin Cities Habitat, and a former UMN softball player. Juanita, a previous Habitat for Humanity homeowner, also spoke about the significance of Gopher athletes’ volunteer work and the crucial work of affordable housing in the organization. Following the program, the Gophers resumed their work at the job site mid-afternoon before returning to campus. The event showcased the value of community engagement and the impact of volunteer efforts in promoting access to affordable housing.

Overall, there are numerous other ways to get involved such as fundraising, sponsoring a family, attending an event, and education. Through volunteering, you too can play an active role in promoting affordable housing and making a positive impact on your community.