Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity receives $5.75M donation from MacKenzie Scott

NOW: Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity receives $5.75M donation from MacKenzie Scott

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- A local nonprofit's benefiting big-time from the philanthropy of billionaire MacKenzie Scott. What she's giving Milwaukee's Habitat for Humanity more than doubles what they typically receive in donations in an entire year. 

Habitat's executive director here in Milwaukee says he started crying tears of joy when he realized it wasn't a hoax. It's a $5.75 million donation. 

Brian Sonderman got a random email a few weeks ago that raised an eyebrow.

"Would you have a few minutes to talk, and this isn't a scam. And so my first instinct was this is a scam. Even though there was no mention of a Nigerian prince, I thought this is too good to be true," said Sonderman, Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity executive director.

A representative of MacKenzie Scott reached out. Scott is the ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. She's making a big donation to Habitat for Humanity International -- $436 million.

"Within a few minutes, I was informed that Milwaukee Habitat was gonna be the recipient of $5.75 million," said Sonderman.

An incredible gift in a time when affordable housing's been center stage, following pandemic-era evictions.

"The affordable housing crisis in Milwaukee is intense right now," said Sonderman. "It's only getting worse."

Last week, Habitat started work on the 2022 homes that will go up on Milwaukee's north side, helping people like Channel McClellan. 

"It's like a huge weight lifted off my shoulders right now, so excuse me, I'm getting emotional," said McClellan. 

"They generally take six to seven months to complete, and beginning in the next few weeks, we're -- people are moving into their homes that we started last summer and fall," said Sonderman.

Scott's generosity will be put to use in 2023 and beyond.

"Well I would say to Mackenzie Scott, you know, on behalf of our future Habitat homeowners who will benefit from your amazing gift, thank you so much," said Sonderman.

MacKenzie Scott's committed herself to the "giving pledge," giving away much of her wealth to charity, and we're hearing that there's more to come for the Milwaukee area.

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