Jessica Hunter's Full Circle Story

Pay It Forward

A young girl strides into First Christian Church dragging her large pink Crayon piggy bank behind her. She locks eyes with Pastor Scott, generously hands him her life savings and says: “Please, take this.”

Pastor Scott gratefully refuses: “Thank you, child, but I can’t take this.”

She rejects his rebuttal and replies: “I want to help people just like people will want to help us someday.”

Paying it forward is such a strong concept even for adults to recognize, let alone young children.   Good deeds do pay off, even if it takes passages of life before experiencing the real results.

In the wake of a choppy divorce, Pastor Jessica sought a new beginning. She turned to Habitat for Humanity, remembering the generosity and support she witnessed years ago when she had helped build a Habitat home for someone else in need.

Jessica knew she needed help now. She boldly applied for a turn. Her application was accepted. Jessica, 10-year-old son Coy and 6-year-old daughter Elizabeth desired a “new start, something just for them.”    



Why We Build

Scott Hultgren, Pastor at First Christian Church in Rapid City, SD and Secretary for the Black Hills Area Habitat for Humanity Apostles Build, believes programs that raising money and building homes result in “people reaching beyond themselves.”

The Apostles Build is a partnership where individual churches, or a coalition of churches, join together to build a house for a local family. This ecumenical program partners churches with Habitat for Humanity and each other to build one Habitat home in the Rapid City area over the course of one year. Each church raises funds for the home and commits to providing prayers, volunteers, in-kind contributions and relational support for Habitat homeowners.


Face of Involvement

Hultgren believes people need to move beyond the church wall, and be involved in serving in the community. He notes that opening up and engaging with people you may not otherwise, feeds personal growth.

He donated his acquired skills with roofing and flooring, retaining walls and patios, alongside new homeowner Jessica, who was required to complete 250 hours of sweat equity on the checklist of new homeownership rules. Jessica’s two children, Coy and Elizabeth, hammered in their time too.


{Churches team up to build home for family..}

How We Build

While sweat equity constructs a house, funding for all the materials needs to come first. The Orthodontists at Meyer & Dana Orthodontics, who daily change lives through their work transforming oral health, wanted to extend their impact for the whole person by including a gift to support affordable housing. Meyer & Dana designated funds over a four month period, based on new orthodontic patient starts, which resulted in a very generous $6500.00 in four short months.

Meyer & Dana mission imperative: Transforming lives. Working together as a community. Putting faith into action,  clearly compliment that of Black Hills Area Habitat for Humanity.  Organizations like Meyer & Dana, who take a step to commit and pledge to give, help to create extraordinary impact in the Habitat ministry.

It Takes a Village

The Meyer & Dana doctors and staff utilized their community circles to spread the word with significant support from their patients and other doctors. They decided to donate an agreed percentage based on collective client records for four full months.

It was an emotional boost for Meyer & Dana personnel and patients, and furthermore for their congregations, schools, communities, boards and everyone else involved.

Truly, they just wanted to set an example that it takes a community to transform lives, and they knew Habitat for Humanity was known for bringing people together, quite often without corporate sponsorship.

It’s the every day people, giving what they can, big or small, who carve the existential changes that will affect lives of others and for themselves.

Apostles Unite

The remainder of donations came via the Apostles Build program where 7 community churches  each donated up to $7000 plus all of the labor and services.

Amazing what a village can accomplish.

Working Together

When Jessica received the donation check for her new home:

Habitat for Humanity’s Director Scott Engmann and attending board members Rev. Bruce from South Canyon Lutheran Church, Patri Acevedo-Riker from AcV2 Architecture, Julie Beach and Dr. Chad Meyer from Meyer & Dana Orthodontics expressed their heartfelt wishes, while Jessica emitted a fearless pride.

Habitat’s board President Patri Acevedo-Riker from AcV2 Architecture, announced, “This is what we work for. It takes a village. When work, sweat and money come together we become partners in a community.”

Patri’s point was confirmed on the physical check from Habitat for Humanity to new homeowner Pastor Jessica that states in the memo: “Working Together.”