1. Tell us a little about your background (where you grew up, your family, your career, etc.)
I grew up in West Bend which is 30 miles north of Milwaukee and graduated from West Bend East High School (here’s a fun fact …. West Bend is the only public school district in the country with two high schools — East and West — sharing ONE building. It’s also commonplace for the students to be commingled within the classes. I remember being quite confused my first day as a freshman when I saw that over half of my classes were in West, and I was an East student.
My wife, Michelle, and I were married in 2002. I’ll never forget the year (and hopefully never the date either) because it was the summer following 911. We took our honeymoon to Ireland and when the Irish people learned we were Americans they profusely apologized for the attack on our country saying how we – the United States – didn’t deserve it. This happened continually during our time in the country. It was an odd feeling to be apologized to like that.
We have three children – boy/girl twins and a daughter. Our twins are 8 (entering 3rd grade in fall) and our daughter is 6. We live in Greenville and six-year-old is adamant that she wants Mrs. Gostomski as her teacher next year in first grade!
I teach full-time at Fox Valley Technical College, following a 20-year career in real estate and construction. The classes I teach are mostly entrepreneurship related, meaning that I work with students that think they want to open or run their own business someday.
2. What made you decide to volunteer for Habitat?
With my role at FVTC I get summers off. My first summer I didn’t know what to do with all that time and I knew that me being a full-time stay at home dad wasn’t going to be the best situation for all involved so I immediately reached out to Habitat (my wife works full-time in the medical profession). It’s been a great experience. During the summer I volunteer two days a week which means our kids go to summer camp two days a week. They get two days of structured activities and interaction with other kids and I am able to serve. It’s really a win-win. During the school year I purposely don’t schedule classes on Thursday so I can volunteer one or two days a month.
3. When not volunteering with Habitat what do you do? (other volunteering, hobbies, work, etc.)
I’m very active in our church, spending a fair amount of time in fellowship with other Christian men (I lead a small group of about a dozen men on our patio once a month over the summer/early fall at 5:30 am on Saturday mornings. We go until about 7:15 or 7:30. The neighbors are really scratching their heads. I mean, who has a dozen cars parked in front of their house at 5:30 in the morning?!).
Given my wife’s schedule I am the bus driver in our household. Therefore my “free time” is spent shuttling children, buying groceries, making dinner, etc. I coach most of their sports and volunteer in our Children’s Ministry at church. We love to camp and hike as a family, and when I can I sneak off to hunt (turkey and geese mostly).
4. What do you enjoy most about Habitat? (what work do you like most, what keeps you coming back, etc.)
Obviously I enjoy the camaraderie with the other volunteers, but truly I really enjoy being able to serve these families. Home ownership provides so many things to a mom or dad. I’ll never forget the pride and sense of accomplishment I felt when I bought my first duplex back in Wauwatosa when I was only a couple of years out of undergrad. I would imagine our homeowners feel the same way.
5. What is something about you that might be a surprise to those with whom you volunteer?
In a previous life I was involved in commercial construction, in both project management and executive capacities. I even earned a couple of certificates from MSOE in Construction Management, and constructed million dollar projects throughout the state including a handful of Affinity clinics. Those of you who have seen me actually swing a hammer will surely roll your eyes with that little piece of knowledge!