: Amy Good, Senior Director of Development, Habitat for Humanity of Dane County
Where did you grow up? What did you want to be when you grew up?
I was born in Madison, but we moved around because my dad ran farming cooperatives, everywhere from Sun Prairie to Gays Mills to Valders to Fennimore. I didn't really know what I wanted to be, even in high school, but it doesn't surprise me where I ended up. One of the things we did as a family was to tour open houses on Sundays or visit neighborhoods under construction. I always liked construction and building things.
What were your career goals when you went to college and how did they change?
During my senior year of high school I was thinking maybe I would be a nurse, but then I realized I didn't really like needles (laughter) so I decided to go to UW Whitewater for business management. I changed my major during my senior year of college to social work because of Habitat.
Tell me about your first experience volunteering for Habitat and the impact it had on your career path.
I was the only person from Fennimore who went to Whitewater, so starting freshman year I didn't know anyone on campus. There was a group heading out to a Habitat project in Milwaukee, so I got in the car with four people I didn't know and we drove to the site. Even though we were a bunch of college freshmen who didn't know anything about construction, the other volunteers were terrific about helping us.
By the end of the day I knew everyone very well and I was hooked on Habitat. For the next four years I volunteered on weekends and was a board member of the Habitat campus chapter.
I knew then I wanted to help people, do the right thing and make the world a better place. And because of Habitat I thought, okay, maybe this can be a career. I interned at Operation Fresh Start, and after graduation I joined Integrated Community Work. I then went on to work at the Urban League of Greater Madison in 2001 and started working on my master's in nonprofit management, which I received in 2009. When the position came available at Habitat, I knew it was meant to be and I feel very blessed.
You've gone from swinging a hammer to raising money for Habitat. What are the key messages you share about the organization?
Most people know us for building homes, and that's certainly a core part of what we do. Four in ten families cannot find affordable housing in Dane County, so our home building makes a big impact.
But we're also very focused on strengthening communities. About half of the homes we build are in neighborhoods that are on the edge, and we've seen over and over again how home ownership can stabilize communities.
We're also committed to building hope. That's huge. There are a lot of families that just don't feel like they will ever reach that dream of home ownership. It's really hard because it's so unaffordable, and we're finding that a lot of people don't have the skills to be ready financially. So we also help families prepare to become homeowners by managing their household budgets and paying down debt.
How many houses has Habitat built in Dane County, and what are some current projects?
We've built 232 homes in the past 27 years. This spring we are building multiple homes in Sun Prairie, Fitchburg, Madison and Stoughton. We like to build in neighborhoods where we can have multiple homes because it's more efficient and enhances neighborhood stability.
What's the favorite part of your job?
The house blessing. It's a celebration for the families, volunteers, sponsors, people from all walks of life who came together to build a house. We do about fifteen a year, and I still tear up at house blessings, it's really emotional. You get to know these families and this is a real game changer for them. I love to follow the kids, sometimes it's the first time they get to see their bedrooms and they're so excited, many of them have been living in cramped apartments or basements.
What is a challenge that you face in your job?
Dealing with some of the myths out there about Habitat, the No. 1 being that we give our houses away for free. It's a little surprising, but some people aren't aware of the sweat equity our families put into their homes and that they have amortgage to pay. Families go through a pretty extensive screening process - it's not easy to get a home from us.
You've been named to the InBusiness Magazine 40 Under 40; won Channel 3/Madison Magazine's Hometown Hero Award and have been nominated for the United Way Community Volunteer Award. What drives you to excel and achieve?
It's not about the awards for me, those have just come along the way. Ultimately I'm driven to make the community a better place.
How many volunteers do you have, and tell me about the Habitat ReStores.
We have nearly 4,000 volunteers and 2,500 donors annually.
Our Habitat ReStores are a place where people can donate and purchase used and surplus building materials, furniture and appliances. We have locations on the West and East sides, and the proceeds fund our community building efforts.
What do you like to do for fun? Vacations, pastimes, family?
I live in Fitchburg with my husband William and our adopted special needs and senior cats and dogs. I'm the volunteer board president for Angel's Wish, a pet adoption center in Verona (another Middleton Chamber member). For getaways, we day trip around Wisconsin, and I love going up to Devil's Lake to go hiking.