2015 Habitat Volunteer Award Winners

Congratulations to the 2015 Milwaukee Habitat Volunteer Appreciation Award Winners. These volunteers showed exemplary service and dedication to fulfilling the mission of building homes, communities and hope in Milwaukee. They were honored during a ceremony at the Boerner Botanical Gardens on Wednesday, November 4th, 2015.


Alice Grable
ReStore Volunteer of the Year

Alice Grable started volunteering with the ReStore in 2009 when the ReStore was on Hawley Road. Alice has worked in the maintenance field all her life and thought she would fit right in with ReStore. Well, she did! Alice started by helping out one day a week in our electrical section on Hawley road. After the ReStore moved to Wauwatosa Alice continued to volunteer, but took on more of a leadership role. These days you’ll find Alice at the ReStore three days a week working mostly in our Donation Dock pricing, leading groups and training new volunteers.

Bonnie Defebaugh
Nuts & Bolts Award


Bonnie has volunteered since the fall of 2011, starting on the construction sites drywalling, she has since taken on a large role in our warehouse. Bonnie is an incredible asset to our work. She is not only dedicated to volunteering with Milwaukee Habitat, she also goes the extra mile to make sure our partner families are able to complete their sweat equity hours. Bonnie works in the warehouse getting our partner families prepared for working on the construction site. For partner families who are not used to construction work, Bonnie provides a great introduction and makes lasting connections with our families. Besides working in our warehouse, Bonnie supports our Blitz Builds by working hard to provide lunches for all volunteers. Our Blitz lunches would not be the same if it weren’t for Bonnie’s enthusiasm and hospitality before, during, and after the Blitz Builds to make sure a fulfilling lunch is provided each day. Thank you Bonnie for your dedication and service to Milwaukee Habitat!

Julia Cooper-Felts
Habitat Hero Award

The Felts have lived in their Milwaukee Habitat Rehab home for 24 years, they raised their two daughters and have continued to raise grandchildren and assist other family members. While working on the challenges facing her and her family in their new community, Julia also served as a member of the Family Selection Committee and Habitat Board for several years. Within her neighborhood, Julia worked hard to make an impact and create stability for her and her neighbors. Working closely with the police department, alderman, neighbors and community organizations, Julia has been able to make positive changes to her neighborhood and has overcome many challenges during the process. Embracing the Habitat way of providing a “hand up, not a hand out”, Julia rallied neighbors to help a fellow Habitat Homeowner put together a rummage sale and barbecue to raise money to keep her Habitat home. Julia is currently part of the Habitat Homeowner Network, she attends the regular meeting with Washington Park Partners and continues to be a strong leader in her community. Thank you Julia for your continued engagement and dedication to Milwaukee Habitat’s mission!

Vic Delisle
Golden Hammer Award


Vic started working with us in 1986 through his church, St. Pius X. Since then, Vic has volunteered and contributed his knowledge and time to furthering Habitat’s mission. Vic’s knowledge and leadership on the construction site as a house leader for many years has helped us to provide homeownership opportunities to many families in need. Vic continues to volunteer with Milwaukee Habitat in the warehouse preparing materials for the worksites, and has helped to coordinate the St. John Vianney volunteer group that has spent many years volunteering with Milwaukee Habitat. Vic has said that one of his favorite things about volunteering with Milwaukee Habitat is the opportunity to meet new people, and one of our favorite things about Vic is his ability to make us smile! Thank you Vic for your 29 years of hard work, laughter, and dedication to Milwaukee Habitat!

Alen Gemlo
Grace Morgan Volunteer of the Year


”I can do anything after breakfast.” -Al Gemlo. Al has been volunteering with Milwaukee Habitat since 1995, “give or take a year,” and for these past two decades we have all known this to be one of the few steadfast axioms at our affiliate. Week in and week out, Al is the first to arrive at the warehouse, and often one of the last to leave the worksite. He’s been with us for so long that he knows the morning routine and is indispensable in preparing for the day, everyday. Plus, he brews the best and strongest coffee. At least after he’s had his breakfast. Al takes an interest in supporting our AmeriCorps members on and off the construction site. Al’s knowledge and skill on the construction site has gone a long way in teaching new volunteers and AmeriCorps the skills they’ll need. Al has also often built bicycles for our members in his spare time to help them explore a new city, and also ensuring they aren’t late to work.

The Grace Morgan Award is named in honor of Grace Morgan, and awarded to a volunteer that exemplifies her same belief in Milwaukee Habitat and dedication to putting that belief into action. We are pleased to recognize Al Gemlo for this same dedication to action and service on behalf of Milwaukee Habitat. Thank you for your commitment to the Habitat mission, and for all of your hard work throughout the years.

2014 Award Winners:
Del Clear – ReStore Volunteer of the Year Award
Jan Fox – Nuts and Bolts Award
Angela Pruitt – Habitat Hero Award
Bob Kaiser – Golden Hammer Award
Bill & Vicki Allen – Grace Morgan Volunteer of the Year Award