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Habitat Hero Mark Smudde


Mark Smudde

 

Mark Smudde has been a volunteer with Fox Valley Habitat for Humanity for over two and a half years. Mark recently retired and decided to spend his free time volunteering with Fox Valley Habitat Builders Club. Although construction has not been Mark’s main career, he is a great builder and has already shown his talents in the short time that he’s been with us.


Mark has made a huge impact in the time that he’s been with us. He is an incredibly skilled worker and we appreciate the passion he has for helping our cause and we wish we had more people like Mark helping our organization. We want to thank him for the work he has done for us so far and the work he will do in the future. Fox Valley Habitat for Humanity would like to name Mark Smudde a Habitat Hero to commemorate his time and efforts for our organization.


Mark grew up in Geneva and has been an Illinois native for most of his life. He went to Geneva High School and Aurora University, which at the time was just Aurora College. After college, he was hired at Western Electric as a software developer up until he retired in 2018.


Although Mark had never done construction work professionally, he was always interested in learning and how to help with working on his house and his brother’s house. He likes working with the Habitat Builders Club because it was a change of pace and he enjoys the connections he makes with the other builders. Mark found out about Fox Valley Habitat for Humanity from President Jimmy Carter’s advertisements, he then decided to find out more on our website.


He sees Fox Valley Habitat for Humanity as a very beneficial experience for anyone involved and likes that volunteers get to meet new people and bond through achieving a common goal. He also sees our organization as something that can be life-changing to our homeowners as they get a chance to have something they might not have been able to accomplish by themselves. Mark has gained a new motivation for life since working with Habitat because he didn’t want to just sit around after being retired and he wanted to give back to the community. He enjoys the group of people he works with daily at the construction site and he feels a sense of satisfaction showing up to volunteer every day. He is ecstatic to talk about what he has been up to whenever asked because he loves to spread the word about our organization. He feels that what he is doing is providing real value to the world and he is making a difference by just doing his part. Mark says he feels a sense of purpose being able to help in any way he can.


Mark wants to thank the people that help fund, donate, and volunteer. It takes money, material, and labor to meet our mission, and Mark says that they are providing the labor and that without others’ contributions the labor doesn’t get done if they don’t have the materials to work with. Mark also wants to emphasize the importance of volunteering at Habitat, because their contributions also make the whole process go by faster. He recommends volunteering with Habitat when possible, because not everything they do is the same every day. Someone might gravitate towards a different aspect of volunteering, but volunteering multiple times allows them to find out what they enjoy. Volunteering with a group, whether from work or church, also helps enhance the whole experience, so he recommends joining in on our group builds. It’s also a great opportunity to meet new people who also want to give back to their community. Hopefully, as the pandemic comes to an end, we will offer more group volunteering opportunities for more volunteers to find their interests.


A big misconception that Mark sees people have about Habitat is that people think the houses are handouts. Some people think that we are a government-funded program that gives away houses for free to people who cannot afford them. Our homeowners work harder than the average homeowner to become a homeowner and they deserve the help they receive to achieve their dreams. Mark loves the fact that he can help deserving families achieve something they might not have been able to and it makes him feel complete.


So far, Mark has worked on six houses in the Aurora area. He noticed that when Habitat starts to build or renovate homes in a community, that the other surrounding homeowners start to bring new life into their run-down properties, completely changing the look of the whole street. Mark says that not only did Habitat provide houses for the homeowners, but they also improved the whole neighborhood in the process. He is impressed with the impact that’s created and how big of a difference they were able to make.


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