Believing in family and community

Thank you for your part in helping create a world where everyone has a decent place to live.

Habitat brings together people from all walks of life. For more than 35 years, President and Mrs. Carter have been our most famous and dedicated volunteers. As inaugural Habitat humanitarians, they are champions and strong voices for affordable, decent housing for all. Their work — and the work of others like them — has drawn individuals like you to embrace our mission in many different ways.

The people you’ll read about below have been integral in this work and have taken action to combat housing issues across the globe by making a gift in a will, trust or other account. Meet some of our donors who are partnering with families as they build stronger and more stable lives.

Dr. Eric Michelsen believes in the power of community.

As far back as Eric Michelsen, Ph.D., can remember, his parents showed compassion for others. “We were always aware of others who were not given as much as we were,” he says. He watched his parents work hard to provide for the family and also help others when they could. This kindled in Eric a spirit of philanthropy and hard work.

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Now a physics instructor at the University of California, San Diego, Eric feels he is lucky to be in a place where he can help others. Though he and his wife worked hard for what they have, they recognize that other people have worked harder — and with more talent — but still have less. To Eric, this doesn’t seem right.

Seeing such injustice led Eric to begin supporting Habitat for Humanity. Our model of giving people a hand up, not a handout, helps families obtain healthy, affordable homes. That struck a chord with him. Eric and his wife decided to name Habitat as one of the recipients of their charitable remainder trust because they appreciate that we go beyond building homes to customize our work to the needs of each community. This generous trust gift will help others in their community and around the world in perpetuity.

Hank and Mariel Proudly Support Habitat For Humanity.

“We have proudly supported Habitat for Humanity for many years and have also included Habitat in our estate planning. In the meantime, making a direct gift from my IRA using the qualified charitable deduction reduces our taxable income, and allows us to provide more support to the mission of Habitat.” – Hank and Mariel

He’s pledged our largest legacy gift ever.

Ron Terwilliger, chair of Habitat’s Global Development Council and chairman emeritus of Habitat for Humanity International’s board of directors, made a $100 million legacy commitment to Habitat. It’s the largest planned gift from an individual in Habitat’s history, and it will help some 60,000 families. Ron joined the board of Habitat for Humanity International’s board in 2000, and before that, he’d already donated more than $3 million.
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“Since housing is such a special focus of mine, and since it’s so fundamentally important to human beings, I thought that’s where I should leave the balance of my wealth,” Ron says.

Most of the $100 million legacy commitment will be used by Habitat for microfinance programs to improve living conditions for families around the world. The rest will fund an endowment to support affordable housing efforts.

“As long as God gives me good health,” Ron says, “I ought to use my talents and my energies and my money to help other people. So, I’ve chosen to dedicate the rest of my life to help provide housing solutions to people around the world.”

This pastor’s legacy is sharing God’s love.

As a minister in North Carolina, Rev. Robert Seymour stood up for civil rights in the 1950s and 60s. The costs of doing the right thing were great. Robert was vilified, and his liberal church was expelled from the Southwest Baptist Convention.

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But the rewards were even greater as change came to the South. “We defied the stereotype of the Southern Baptist,” Robert says. “And I think the future, despite all the negative things going on in the world, has a very positive potential.”

Robert’s relationship with Habitat began in the 1980s when Habitat founder Millard Fuller helped the congregation at Binkley Memorial, where Robert was pastor, organize a building project.

Soon after, Robert made a very generous legacy gift to Habitat. It’s a gift that has benefitted both him and Habitat for Humanity. He continues to receive payments from the gift, and when he passes away, the principal will go toward building homes for people in need.

“I determined it to be a good way to invest money in a good cause by which everyone benefits,” Robert says.

His gift will go on building for years to come.

After he earned his business degree from Penn State University, Mark Robin joined the Navy. Traveling the world, he saw how important it was for people to have a home. When his career in the Navy was over, Mark became an engineer with an electronics company, before later becoming a real estate developer, building and rehabilitating properties in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. He also began contributing to Habitat for Humanity.
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After his successful career, Mark decided to move to Bloomington, Indiana, to build a home for his retirement. Soon after, he was diagnosed with cancer. “As Mark became ill, we talked about philanthropy, and he thought Habitat was a good cause,” says Dan Drew, a close friend.

Plans were made. When Mark passed away, his estate provided for his family members and also included an extraordinarily generous gift for Habitat — after providing for his family members. “He loved the idea of people having homes that they would be safe and comfortable in,” Dan said.

A physicist creates his legacy of compassion.

As a high school student in 1945, Andy Sessler was one of the first Westinghouse Science Talent Search finalists, which earned him a visit with President Harry Truman at the White House.
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Andy went on to become an influential physicist. Among many roles, he directed the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory at the University of California from 1973 to 1980, establishing the lab’s Energy and Environment Division. One of his enduring accomplishments was to elevate environmental science and energy-technology research and development as fields of study.

Late in his distinguished career, Andy was invited to the White House again. This time it was to receive the Department of Energy’s prestigious Enrico Fermi Award from President Obama, who said, “Welcome back.”

Throughout his life, Andy deeply believed in and contributed to humanitarian causes, leaving a very generous gift in his will for Habitat. “Philanthropy was something he always took seriously,” said Andy’s son, Daniel, a physician. “He lived modestly, with conscious intent to give away as much money as possible. He gave away millions.”

Share your legacy with us.

Please let us know if you have included Habitat for Humanity in your will or estate plan or by beneficiary designation. We want to welcome you into Legacy Builders and make certain we understand your intentions regarding how your gift can be used to serve families.

I’m here to help!

Jeremy Kraut-Ordover headshot

Bryan Landry
Senior Director, Planned Giving
Toll free phone: 833-434-4438