After more than a decade helping families become homeowners, Executive Director of the Marquette County Habitat for Humanity, Mike Shimon, is retiring.
"I knew that Habitat provides the opportunity for home ownership to people that would never have that opportunity," said Shimon.
What he didn't know is that his job would become a big part of his life, helping families in need and seeing their dreams become reality. His coworkers said his 26 years in the Air Force prepared him for the job.
"He worked very hard at using his skills to learn how to be an executive director," said Dr. Scott Matthews, a member of the board of directors.
In his 13 years of service, Shimon has seen 73 houses being built in the community, five of which are being constructed right now. So we took a ride to see a couple of them.
First stop: several houses built under his watchful eye. Today, eight families share a corner in Marquette thanks to Habitat. At every dedication ceremony, he recalled, there is nothing more fulfilling than seeing the family's reaction.
"You go in their homes during the dedication and the little kids grab you by the hand and want to show us their room because they've never had their own room," Shimon said.
"Mike is a guy who sees to it that all of these things come together. He doesn't give up on funding, he doesn't give up on housing, he doesn't give up on family," Matthews said.
But Shimon credits most of the organization's work to his staff, a team of four employees surrounded by hundreds of volunteers.
"I definitely want to thank the volunteers that work in just a variety of different things to help Habitat work; we could not do it without them," Shimon said. "Doing something like this, you develop a lot of friendships and a lot of comfort with your accomplishments, and I'm going to miss it."