Habitat for Humanity welcomes new director

Marlena Sloss/The Herald
Michael Richard, the new executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Dubois County, poses for a portrait outside the Dubois County ReStore in Bretzville on Wednesday.

By LEANN BURKE
lburke@dcherald.com

In his first two weeks on the job, Michael Richard has been amazed at the passion Habitat for Humanity of Dubois County staff and volunteers have for the nonprofit’s mission.

Richard took over as Habitat for Humanity’s executive director at the end of May. Although COVID-19 has made it an unusual year for the organization, he is glad to see that the challenges haven’t ground operations to a halt. There’s still a lot of activity happening, and this year’s build is still moving forward.

“That’s really what’s been exciting so far,” Richard said. “Getting to meet all the people involved and seeing the fire they have for it.”

Richard — who grew up in West Virginia but now lives in Santa Claus with his wife, Kayla — came to Habitat for Humanity from the Boy Scouts’ Buffalo Trace Council where he was district director. He was looking for a job where he could be dedicated to a single community, and he found that in Habitat for Humanity of Dubois County. And he’s had to hit the ground running. As he came on staff, the ReStore was preparing to reopen after being closed due to COVID-19, and the background process for an upcoming home build was nearing completion. All that’s left now is to sign paperwork.

“We’re getting ready to get started,” he said.

The upcoming build is a big deal, and Richard is excited to get it underway. He knows at the end of the process, there will be another homeowner in Dubois County. But the best part will be helping build the partnership between Habitat for Humanity and the new homeowner. Through the application process, the homeowner goes through Habitat for Humanity’s financial education program, learns how to manage a mortgage — which the homeowner will have once the build is complete — and completes volunteer work in the community. During the build, the future homeowner also helps in construction. It’s not just giving away a home, Richard pointed out, and that’s important.

Eventually, Richard wants to see Habitat for Humanity of Dubois County complete two builds a year. To do that, he knows he’ll have to keep up the relationships the organization has built within the community since it was founded in 1995, as well as build new relationships. It’s work he’s looking forward to doing now that the COVID-19 closures are easing.

“I’m excited to get out there and explain the mission and the vision of Habitat for Humanity,” he said.

Dubois County’s Habitat for Humanity is a chapter of Habitat for Humanity International, a Christian ministry that works to eliminate substandard housing in the communities where it exists. The organization works with volunteers, community organizations and businesses to leverage resources to build homes in partnership with low-income families. After construction, the houses are sold to the families at no profit to Habitat for Humanity. In Dubois County, the ReStore covers overhead and administrative costs for the nonprofit.

“I think it’s very noble,” Richard said of Habitat for Humanity’s mission. “It’s something I wanted to be part of.”

As executive director, Richard will be the public face of the organization. He’ll also play key roles in fundraising, volunteer recruitment and organizing the builds. He encourages anyone who wants to learn more about Habitat for Humanity of Dubois County or who wants to help with the ReStore or upcoming home build to reach out. He can be reached at 812-704-8441 or through the organization’s website here.

Richard stressed that volunteers do not need previous construction experience to help on a build.




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