Nonprofit Leverages Connections to MH Leadership for Relief and Support of People Living in Poverty in Haiti and Abroad
As owners of thirteen manufactured housing communities across Illinois, Iowa and Tennessee, Katie and Ken Hauck have seen affordable housing change lives — not only for their residents, but for the people their nonprofit has helped across the world.
For the Haucks, MHGives is a way to give back.
“We’ve been very blessed in our company,” Katie said, “And we believe in helping others become successful.”
About 132 million children around the world are orphans, 61 million have no access to school, 17,000 per day die from preventable diseases, according to UNICEF. With statistics like these, it’s easy to become overwhelmed.
“It’s easy to wake up every day and forget about all of these people, these real people, living in poverty,” Katie said. “But when you talk to them one-on-one, it’s different.”
Katie described meeting an orphaned 7 year old who said she had lost all hope for the future. Later, she was able to attend boarding school, thanks to MHGives.
This hits home for the Haucks, parents to nine children, three of them age seven. “Kids shouldn’t feel hopeless,” said Katie. “They should be wondering what dress they’re going to wear or who they’re going to play football with later today.”
Education, Job Training, Housing, Shoes, Backpacks & Smiles from MHGives
Not only are the Haucks passionate about children’s rights, they are business-savvy manufactured housing community owners. They believe the best way to help people is to help them help themselves.
Two and a half years ago, this belief led them to seek sustainable solutions for people living in poverty, and MHGives was born. Built on the intersection of housing, business and family, MHGives hopes to eliminate situations that cause people to need charity in the first place.
During the past two years, MHGives has partnered with Lifesong for Orphans to a build an orphanage in Haiti. This past year, they opened a boarding school. To do so, the Haucks combine the brainpower of their supporters — many from the MH industry.
The Haucks believe change begins when people living in poverty can access housing and the skills needed for employment. Often, families have no job prospects, forcing them to drop kids off at orphanages.
Many nonprofits sponsor a child, but MHGives and Lifesong provide sponsorships for the head of a household, often a father. Doing so provides him with a job and trade. This enables him to fill the gaps and give his children a home and education with his own money.
Katie describes MHGives as a “charity from” instead of a “charity for” the MH business.
“We want to make sure we are doing something that doesn’t benefit us in return,” she explained. “We aren’t trying to sell our homes and communities.”
What a Supporter Says about MHGives
Chris San Jose, a supporter of MHGives who works on the finance side of the MH business, recently went on a weekend “vision trip” to Haiti to check out the program’s progress.
Americans often are eager to serve by going on trips, spending thousands on travel in order to build a school or orphanage themselves. However, the Haucks make it a priority to employ locals in their building projects.
Supporters instead have the chance to travel on weekend trips to see, touch and hear what their money has done. They often then take what they’ve learned and return to the U.S. with problems to solve and ideas for how to do so.
San Jose described visiting a village of houses and meeting the people residing there.
Before MHGives, they had squatted on the land, without proper housing. For him, the trip was a huge reminder of how people need affordable housing around the world.
“We’re blessed in our country that affordable housing is still in nice, comfortable homes,” he said. “We forget that in some places, if people aren’t building concrete homes for them, they’re making them out of tin and sheets and trash bags, and sleeping on the floor.”
He was encouraged to know how efficiently the Haucks allocate funds for the cause. “They don’t just throw money at these problems, but are searching for sustainable solutions,” he said.
Training & Skills for Success
A few members of this Haitian village have learned trades and begun micro-businesses, such as raising goats and growing plantains. The community isn’t quite self-sustaining yet, according to Katie, and MHGives likely will spend another year in service there. But the project is well on its way.
MHGives continues to seek U.S. donors and partners who can provide knowledge, not just money.
San Jose was impressed with the collaboration among the people on his trip. He brought economic knowledge, the former CEO of Butterball brought food preparation expertise and an executive at Verizon brought ideas for helping the village and its people establish better communication.
The nonprofit’s partnership with Lifesong, which has its a 501(c)3 status, has enabled MHGives to donate 100 percent of their proceeds directly to programs, instead of to covering salaries and other administrative costs.
MHGives Provides for Hondurans Living in Poverty
In 2015, the organization’s first year, they raised funds to build four homes for widows and children in Honduras.
When they began MHGives, Katie was encouraged by the willingness of those in the industry to help.
“A lot of people were so excited and jumped on board right away,” she said.
Ever since, they’ve presented at nearly every national manufactured housing show.
Katie’s husband Ken has been in the business for 26 years, and both believe in having close relationships with other leaders in the industry.
At their business, Hauck Homes, Ken and Katie involve residents in the nonprofit efforts. A percentage of a home sale provides for a second home for someone living in poverty in another country. The Haucks readily suggest that other community owners get involved in this way, as well, by donating on behalf of their residents.
“It helps your customers feel involved and helps the company get involved,” Katie said.
In the coming years, once MHGives feels the Haitian village is self-sustaining, the organization likely will support another Lifesong project, perhaps in Zambia or the Ukraine.