A Symbol of Accomplishment
Driving through the neighborhoods where we’ve built, you may notice a commonality: blue and white windsocks hanging from porches. The Habitat logo stitched around the top. You won’t find these windsocks in any shop. These windsocks are gifted to Milwaukee Habitat homeowners – and only Milwaukee Habitat homeowners – upon moving into their homes. They represent the significant achievement of becoming a homeowner and the Habitat community for which they’ve become a part of.
Behind these windsocks is a small team of volunteers led by Nancy Fennel. Nancy worked in the Habitat office and the ReStore before she became a dedicated volunteer. She started working on the windsocks four years ago. But, the windsock project dates back all the way to 1986, when it was started by fellow volunteer Vicki Allen. In that time, Vicki made more than one thousand windsocks.
“It was a joy for me. You know [when you see a Habitat House] because of the windsock,” Vicki Allen said. “It was just a pleasure to see the smiles and happiness at the house blessings when they were so happy to get a windsock.”
The process of creating windsocks starts with cutting streamers, cutting patterns, pinning pieces together, sewing each piece together, putting the hanging elements on, and many more steps in between.
To Nancy, these windsocks are bigger than a sewing project.
“Think about the dignity that goes into your home. We all make our personal space comfortable, and you want it to be that way for our [Habitat homeowners] too,” Nancy said.
In her many years with Milwaukee Habitat, Nancy has seen the disparities in housing in our community.
“It kills me what percentage of income people spend on housing. We have so many landlords that don’t take care of properties. You want the place you live to be safe and nice. Any little bit that can be done [is helpful],” Nancy said.
Nancy is proud to be part of Milwaukee Habitat and to make these windsocks for homeowners. She knows she is making a difference and helping homeowners show pride in their new home and their partnership with Milwaukee Habitat.
“The biggest accomplishment is seeing the completed windsock, when I put that last stitch in. It is a real sense of accomplishment to drive through neighborhoods and see them on houses,” Nancy said.
Nancy encourages others who have sewing experience and a passion for sewing to join her in making these symbols of homeownership. She wants others to experience the process and sense of accomplishment with her and her small team.
“[I want others to experience] the pride that our homeowners show. This is a sign that they are part of the Habitat family,” Nancy said.