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Luke Ferris

Seeking to put God's love into action, Habitat for Humanity of Kent County brings people together to build homes, communities, and hope.

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Desire for Change

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     Habitat Kent desire’s to create permanent change in people’s lives. We do this by building affordable and sustainable homes while empowering neighborhoods to create a positive change in the community. But as crucial as owning a home can be for a family, a reliable job can be just as influential. 

     Desire was born in Burundi and then moved to Rwanda with his parents at a very young age. He came to America to help support his family with opportunities not found back home. Because English isn’t Desire’s first language, he had trouble getting plugged into a stable career opportunity. Enter Express Employment Professionals. 

     “Our mission at Express Employment Professionals is to be the employer of choice in the Grand Rapids area for job seekers, employers, and the community,” said Janis Petrini, the owner and operator of Express Employment Professionals of Grand Rapids. 

     Two years ago Desire sought out Express. Initially, Desire needed more work experience in order to go through the program. But his determination quickly allowed him to become fully accepted and gain his first job opportunity. 

     “They are a good company because they understand your situation,” Desire said. 

     While working through Express, Desire stated that their representatives were very helpful in mentoring and guiding him in his English speaking. One of the Express representatives that helped him on his journey is talent relationship specialist Nick Swartz.

     “He was very friendly and an engaging individual one on one,” Swartz said. “It was a positive experience.” 

     Desire explained that because Nick had worked with a fellow countryman in a similar situation, Express was able to get to know him at a personal level to serve the needs of him and his family. Desire was able to obtain his first job in a skilled assembly position at a local hydraulic systems factory. 

     Since beginning his journey with Express over two years ago, Desire was able to find another job with better pay and more responsibility at Lacks Enterprises. He also began the process of becoming a homeowner with Habitat Kent.  

Dedication Photo

 (Desire and his family at their home dedication)

     This past March, Express chose to have their day of service with Habitat Kent at 934 Caulfield. The home they worked on was Desire’s. 

     “It was special,” Swartz said. “It was bringing it full circle for me.” 

     Desire initially didn’t realize how the volunteers knew his name.

     “I went inside and asked my wife, ‘these people know me, how do they know me?’” 

     He then realized that they were from Express and reconnected with his former colleagues as they spent the day building a fence for his new home. 

     Nick saw the sense of pride Desire had during their day of volunteering.

     “He’s really worked hard to get to where he’s at,” Nick said. 

     Desire’s journey shows how crucial homeownership and employment opportunities are to creating permanent change in people’s lives. 

     “Habitat’s mission is not only to build homes for people but to also give them hope for a better life,” Petrini said. “This mission resonates so deeply with us as we also seek to provide hope for people through providing them with long-term and permanent employment opportunities.” 

Learn more about about Express Employment Professionals here


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Stories change the world and change lives. As the Habitat for Humanity of Kent County Communications Specialist I desire to share these powerful stories with you. 


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Guest Wednesday, 22 November 2017


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