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Mon, Feb. 24

Raising Prescott: Habitat for Humanity gave us a home to be proud of

Apartment complexes, townhomes, and sometimes even living with grandpa and grandma, were a regular part of my childhood growing up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

That was until Habitat for Humanity came into our lives. My father and mother applied and were accepted into the program for a three-story Victorian-style home in downtown Milwaukee.

The neighborhood wasn’t great, but it had the look, feel and charm of most streets Midwestern kids grew up on.

I remember spending countless hours driving to and from our apartment to the house, fixing up the place. At the time, my 6-year-old self didn’t know it was called “sweat equity.” But that’s surely what we did.

I even remember dropping my mom off at the airport. She spent 10 days in Tijuana, Mexico, putting sweat equity into homes south of the border.

Back at our house in Milwaukee, weekends were spent painting rooms, climbing ladders to fix lightbulbs, helping install new windows, laying down new floorboards. I remember helping my dad put in all the doorknobs and locks in the place. I remember sweeping the endless concrete floor of the basement, and helping haul trash from the attic to the construction-site sized dumpster on the street. We even got to throw old boards and materials out the third-story window from the attic.

For a 6-year-old kid, that’s fun!

As the siding went up, painting finished in the bedrooms and hallways, and a new kitchen sink and countertops were installed, the place came together rather quickly.

At the time, I had no idea who all the people were that helped us, and I still don’t to this day. But I’m thankful, even though it was more than three decades ago.

At the end of construction, the house was as good as new. My mom always said, “This place has good bones.”

A news crew and a few photographers had the construction crew and my family gather together to pose for a few photos. I never knew why. At the time, I was more concerned about picking out my bedroom.

It wasn’t until a few years later that I found out that former President Jimmy Carter had spent a few days helping repair our home, and he was there to pose in the photo.

From that point on, our family had a place to call home. A backyard, a front yard, and more. My mom even had a garden. Most of my fondest memories as a child came in that home.

Today, I find myself saving for my own home so that one day my kids can have the experience of a place they can call their own. I will forever be grateful to the Habitat for Humanity organization for giving me a childhood home to remember, even if it was just for a little while.

Brian M. Bergner Jr. is news/sports editor for the Prescott News Network. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and SoundCloud at @TheEditorDesk. Email him at, or call 928-445-3333, ext. 1106.

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