Jefferson Award winner helps turn dreams into reality - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Jefferson Award winner helps turn dreams into reality

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Thousands of families are able to achieve their dream of owning a home thanks to Habitat for Humanity of Dane County and thanks to this month's Jefferson Award winner.

Madison's Fred Newmann has been a huge part of helping turn those dreams into reality.

"It feels good to know that you're helping people in need and it feels great to see the appreciation and the hope in the eyes of the homeowner," says Fred.

After retiring from UW-Madison in 2003, Fred started volunteering with Habitat for Humanity.

His work began at the ReStore, where building and home materials are donated, fixed up and sold at a discounted price.

The money goes to the home building program, which is where Fred expanded his volunteer hours the following year.

"In construction , you get to work with the homeowners and you see what wonderful people they are and you get such a kick out of the way they learn new skills."

Habitat has put up 233 homes for families in need in Dane County since 1987 and Fred has been a part of building 50 of those homes.

"It's very moving. It's great to have seen the project come to completion. It's wonderful to see the joy and the feelings of everybody in the room, the families, the kids, the volunteers," says Fred.

He also works with the deconstruction crew, salvaging materials for the ReStore from homes or businesses under renovation.

ReStore manager Greg Louden says, "He's just a caring person that wants to make a difference and has dedicated many years to Habitat."

Because of that dedication, Fred was recruited for another very important mission.

"When we first launched our Unlock the Dream program, right away we said we need to involve Fred in this," says Habitat CEO Valerie Johnson.

"Twice a month,, we have 10-15 people from the community come to the Habitat headquarters" says Fred. "We really try to inform them and inspire them about everything we do."

"He really represents the full circle of many volunteers that help make the Habitat program and community so successful," says Valerie.

For a decade, Fred volunteered three days a week, about a 100 hours a month.

He's had to slow down a bit recently, but still finds time to give back.

"It's in a sense a second calling."

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