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Kristi Crafton vividly recalls one of the reasons she has kept working at Habitat for Humanity Quad Cities. Not long ago, a crew of volunteers had just built a wheelchair ramp at a Davenport home. The wheelchair-bound resident came out, thanked the volunteers and he tearfully said: “This is the first time in two years I have been able to leave this house.” “The volunteers were in tears. … That’s what keeps you going, knowing you can help people,” said Ms. Crafton, the executive director of Habitat for Humanity Quad Cities for the past 18 years. Ms. Crafton, whose career with nonprofits has spanned 45 years, is leader of the organization that is probably still best known for trying to eliminate poverty in the region by building homes. (In fact, its motto is: “Building Homes. Building Hopes. Building Dreams.”) But, she would like people to know that Habitat for Humanity is more than a home-building organization. The group also repairs homes, builds ramps, helps with neighborhood revitalization, and runs a store – ReStore – that sells building materials, furnishings and appliances to support Habitat’s mission. All those different parts of the group make a great, positive difference in the lives of people in need, Ms. Crafton said. “You truly see the difference it makes in people’s lives. You share the happy tears of joy,” she told the QCBJ. “The difference you can make is what brings people back.” Ms. Crafton began her career with Habitat Quad Cities in 2005 after 27 years with two other local non-profits. At the time, the Habitat affiliate had just over a $500,000 budget, which has much more than quadrupled under her leadership. These days, in addition to helping people in the community, Habitat also is in the midst of a leadership change. Thomas Fisher-King is in the process of becoming Habitat’s new executive director. He began in his new role on Saturday, Sept. 17, to allow for a three-month transition into the job. Ms. Crafton plans to retire Friday, Jan. 6. During a recent interview with the QCBJ, Ms. Crafton said she was having no regrets about eventually handing over the job. She added that “I love this place,” but it’s time for change. “I have absolute faith he will do a great job.”
She said these are some of her tips for the new incoming executive director:
- Keep an open mind.
- Be able to “turn on a dime.” “Things change quickly in this world.”
- Move forward quickly.
- Take time to “smell the roses.” “We have such great moments here at Habitat. … That’s what brings you joy in this job.”
- Have fun. It’s hard work, but remember to have fun.