In early September, more than 100 Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based Komatsu Mining Corp. (KMC) employees participated in the Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity Blitz Build – starting construction on KMC’s 20th and 21st-sponsored homes since 2011.
Located just minutes from KMC’s National Avenue facility, the neighborhood has been transformed block by block, with new homes being built on empty lots, boarded-up homes being rehabbed and existing neighbors receiving support with critical repairs.
This November, a team of about 25 KMC employees returned to hang dry wall in the Habitat for Humanity homes.
Milwaukee Habitat Volunteer Services Director Beth Van Gorp expressed a fondness for the spirit and culture of the KMC volunteers. “The Komatsu volunteers are always a great team to have on site and one that our regular volunteers and staff look forward to seeing.
“I think it has to do a lot with the type of company that Komatsu is. There are lots of men and women at Komatsu who have a technical bent because of the nature of their roles in designing and building equipment and that is really helpful,” she said. “However, the bigger thing, I think, is that Komatsu employees are used to working together as part of a team that has a clear goal in mind. They pay attention to how things are going and know when to lend a hand to a colleague, and at the same time, they know how to ensure everyone feels involved. They also want to accomplish the goal of getting the job done and done correctly!”
For volunteers, it can sometimes be easy to overlook how important their role is as part of the Habitat experience. But for the homeowner, the outpouring of support and solidarity is overwhelming.
“There are moments for most Habitat homeowners where they feel like they have to struggle and persevere against really difficult odds to achieve their dreams and goals,” said Van Gorp. “Having volunteers on site shows a homeowner that they have people on their side.
“Homeowners often say that they can't believe that all of these folks that they don't know have come out to help them build a home. It's really this feeling of solidarity that makes a huge difference for Habitat homeowners, and other residents in the neighborhood.”
The Habitat volunteer experience not only brings people together from various departments within Komatsu, it demonstrates a greater connectivity within our city.
“One of the reasons that Habitat sites are special is that folks can reach across barriers that may divide them in everyday life, whether if it is that they work on a different floor or live in a different part of the city,” Van Gorp said. “Habitat connects us with one another while accomplishing an important goal.”
Employees will return to the two homes in early 2019 to paint the interior of the walls. The homes will be completed in early spring and Komatsu will join alongside the homeowners for their dedication and ribbon-cutting.