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Rebuilding Neighborhoods

Mike Mendlick remembers watching as local builders constructed homes in just five days during Habitat for Humanity of Omaha’s 2009 Home Builders Blitz.

A retired orthopedic surgeon, he was on the build site as a medical support volunteer. However, after seeing everyone come together to complete the houses, Mike was inspired to pick up a hammer himself.

He asked staff members how he could get involved. They recommended he join the Tuesday Crew, a volunteer group that focuses on rebuilding homes – one week later he’d joined the team.

At the time, the Tuesday Crew worked on one house at a time, and the homes were scattered throughout Omaha. Today, they frequently work on two houses at a time and have been focusing on neighborhoods in North Omaha.”

“Now it’s about rebuilding neighborhoods instead of just a house, and that’s a good thing,” Mike said.

The Tuesday Crew was formed 30 years ago and has worked on over 80 houses as of September 2019. Mike has worked on 59 of those homes. His favorite is located on 21st and Sprague Street, the largest renovation completed by the Tuesday Crew.

Mona McGregor, renovation construction supervisor, said it has been inspiring to see how the Tuesday Crew’s impact has grown from volunteering one Tuesday a month to now volunteering every Tuesday. A Wednesday crew has started as well.

Building Habitat Omaha homes has been such a rewarding experience that Mike has recruited others, inviting a few friends who were approaching retirement to join the crew. He said the diversity of the group makes the work all the more enjoyable.

“We have both female and male volunteers,” Mike said. “We’ve had retired insurance people, counselors, university professors, railroaders, a few with a Ph.D., air traffic controllers and others.”

Mike encourages anyone who might be interested in volunteering on a build site to get involved.

“You will learn something. It’s fun, and you get to see great results,” he said.