Itasca Habitat is showing its appreciation to the community by hosting a picnic for volunteers and ReStore shoppers. On Wednesday, August 25th, Habitat supporters are invited to enjoy a grilled lunch at Habitat’s offices while learning more about Habitat’s impact in the community. The Itasca ReStore will be open for extended hours and offering storewide sales throughout the day.
“We want to express our gratitude to those who make our work possible,” says Jamie Mjolsness, Habitat’s executive director. “We couldn’t build homes without volunteers, and customers make our mission possible by shopping at the ReStore, where funds are invested into building affordable housing in Itasca County.”
The event also offers a chance to meet Habitat’s current partner families, whose homes will be built during the 2021 build season.
Community members of all ages are invited to attend, even if they’ve never volunteered with Habitat or visited the ReStore. “It’s the perfect opportunity to learn more about Habitat, and all the ways you can get involved,” says Mjolsness.
To learn more about Itasca County Habitat for Humanity and find ways to get involved, visit itascahabitat.org or call 218-999-7570.
There are some common misconceptions that might prevent people from volunteering with us. Here, we address certain myths - and hopefully, make it clear that anyone is welcome to volunteer with Habitat!
Myth: You need to have construction experience to volunteer.
Fact: You don’t need to have construction experience to volunteer! We welcome volunteers of all abilities and skill levels - and we’ll teach you everything you need to know! In fact, volunteering with Habitat is a great way to learn new skills.
Myth: Helping build a home is the only way to volunteer with Habitat.
Fact: Working on the build site is just one of many ways to give your time! We also need
volunteers to help out in the ReStore, provide meals, work on home preservation projects, help us plan events, and more. Check out our list of volunteer roles to see if there’s something that appeals to you. If you have an idea for a volunteer project, role, or activity that’s not on our website, let us know! We welcome anyone who would like to share their expertise and ideas.
Myth: Habitat only builds in the summer.
Fact: We do a lot of building over the summer months, when it’s warm enough to have
construction crews working outside, but we need volunteers year-round. Our builds usually go well into the winter, and we also need volunteers for home preservation projects and the ReStore in every season.
Myth: Volunteering is a long-term commitment.
Fact: Volunteers can help as much or as little as they want! Whether you want to join us
for one afternoon of building or return every week, we’re happy to welcome you to the Habitat community.
Annette Tommila, an only child, grew up with a mother that struggled with alcohol addiction so house parties and domestic fights were not uncommon. Between the ages 14 and 17 Annette lived in foster care until moving out on her own at 17. By the young age of 19 she'd had her first child, Jennifer, and by 21 her second, Nash. During this time her mom passed away, meaning she lost the only family she had to addiction. Married at 22, Annette had four more children, Christopher, Katrina, Kari, and KayDee. In 2008, Annette made the difficult decision to leave her youngest four children with their father and filed for divorce.
Johnny Tommila grew up in a two-parent household with 5 siblings. They were very close but, in spite of his supportive family, John began his struggle with alcohol at a young age. He dropped out of high school and started down a path of trouble with the law but later obtained his GED. Similarly to Annette, he was married and divorced early in his adult life.
Annette and John met in 2009 and have been married since 2015. Together, they bought a mobile home in 2010 but lost it to fire in 2013. During this time, Johnny had to have back surgery, which started his next chapter of chemical dependency and Annette’s first. Together they traveled the path of addiction until they hardly recognized themselves. They realized that quitting and reforming the people they were no longer proud of would require the help of others.
In 2016, the pair were arrested due to drug use, and the experience began their road to recovery. They found a higher power, started to understand and deal with the pain of their past, and gained the confidence to know a positive life without addiction was possible.
As a couple, John and Annette are pursuing their desire to become better people. They have many short- and long-term goals on their new life journey, wanting most to be positive role models for Annette’s children and granddaughter Audrey. They feel very blessed to be living the life they have now and dream of the place that will be their forever home, welcoming family and friends to gather and enjoy holidays.
Would you like to help families realize their dream of homeownership? Donate or volunteer with us!