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Jill Robertson, dodge center, hops for habitat
Jill Robertson of Dodge Center enjoys a flight of craft beers at Saturday’s Hops for Habitat in Owatonna. Staff photo by Rick Bussler
Breweries help Habitat for Humanity raise funds
Rick Bussler, Publisher

Taylor Herman’s love for craft beer has turned into a fundraiser featuring all kinds of brews that benefit a nonprofit organization.

Herman, of Owatonna, came up with the idea of Hops for Habitat six years ago to provide critical funding for Two Rivers Habitat for Humanity, a group that aims to eliminate substandard housing and serves five area counties, including Steele, Waseca, Dodge, Olmsted and Wabasha.

“It was just an idea of getting people together under one roof,” said Herman, who serves as board chair for the organization. “It’s something different and draws people in,” he added.

On Saturday, 30 breweries from all over southern Minnesota came together at the Four Seasons Centre in Owatonna to offer beer, cider and seltzers as part of this year’s Hops for Habitat. A $60 ticket provided guests with samples of any brew they wanted to try.

An estimated 350 people attended the event, which hoped to raise $15,000, according to Herman.

But Herman’s passion extends beyond hops and brews. “I have a passion for affordable housing and a passion to help people in the community,” he said. “The work we do is so rewarding. Seeing someone get into something stable gives them a sense of stability. It changes your life forever.”

Two Rivers Executive Director Terry Smith is excited about a new partnership the group has formed at Owatonna High School where a couple shop classes are building walls for some of the homes being constructed. Smith said other habitat groups around the state have been working with high schools, but this is entirely new for Owatonna.

“The beauty is it gives students the opportunity to work alongside skilled trades people,” Smith said.

One or possibly two homes, Smith said, will be constructed later this year in Owatonna. One of them will be on Vine Street, and applications will open April 15. Up to six are built in a normal year in the five-county area served by the organization.

“We don’t build low-income housing. It’s affordable housing,” Smith says. He added they usually see up to 70 applicants for two or three homes.

The group will be focusing on homes for veterans in the future.

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