Saying Farewell to Dirk Holkeboer

Past Executive Director standing by cake letters that spell his name.


One June 30th, the day of Dirk’s retirement, more than 70 friends, family & co-workers, present and past, met at the Wyndham Hotel to celebrate a 33-year career in support of affordable housing. Check out Dirk’s timeline below.

  • Left an 8-year career as a lawyer in a 200-staff law firm, making good money, to join Habitat as a volunteer for $25 weekly gift cards to the Piggly Wiggly.
  • Lived in Kalamazoo Michigan and in 1986, joined a volunteer team installing drywall on the ceiling where he spent 3+ days sanding drywall joints. During that time he was gifted a book by Millard Fuller (the founder of Habitat for Humanity) “Love in the mortar joints”. Reading this book was one of the reasons Dirk chose to work for Habitat for Humanity.
  • He landed in Americus, Georgia in 1988 where he took a job as volunteer public relations manager for the “House Raising Walk” from Portland Maine to Atlanta Georgia. Being the 12th Anniversary of Habitat the walk was 1200 miles to raise $1.2 million to build 120 houses in 12 weeks.
  • He joined the Habitat US Office where he was responsible for 4 out of 8 regions.
  • In 1989, he met Jimmy and Rosalind Carter in Plains Georgia prior to working on the Milwaukee Jimmy Carter Work Project. Dirk worked on 3 other Jimmy Carter Work Projects including the week-long 1990 Tijuana/San Diego project where they build 100 houses in Tijuana and 8 houses in San Diego. Part of Dirk’s job description was doing “Advance Work” with the Secret Service.
  • Miami Habitat hired Dirk as their 1st Executive Director in 1990 where he helped plan the Miami Jimmy Carter Work Project and build 14 houses.
  • A date that will always remain in Dirk’s memory…August 24th, 1992, Category 5 Hurricane Andrew arrived in Miami, creating massive devastation, including sheering off half of the roof on Dirk’s house. At the time Habitat Miami had 16 Habitat homes…and they all survived the hurricane.
  • The Habitat Miami staff went from 3 to 13 overnight and they spent 3 years rebuilding and expanding.
  • Dirk returned to his home state of Michigan in 1995 and visited the Lakeshore Habitat for Humanity. He was later hired as their 1st Executive Director, moving back to Holland Michigan where he worked for 7 years.
  • As part of HFHI, Dirk helped start the Executive Directors Advisory Council for leaders to meet and discuss affordable housing needs. Dirk remembers standing in the lobby of the hotel during the Habitat conference in Indianapolis, surrounded by Habitat staff from around the world, on September 11th, 2001.
  • In October 2001, during another Executive Directors Advisory Council in Americus Georgia, Dirk met a certain brunette Executive Director from Habitat for Humanity Visalia. Dirk and Betsy had a long-distance romance until Dirk left Holland Michigan in 2002.
  • He joined Habitat for Humanity International’s Affiliate Support Center where he worked for 3 years, traveling the United States western region.
  • He met Peter Carey from Self-Help Enterprises and joined the staff in December 2005, where he ran the Home-Ownership Program for 8.5 years.
  • Dirk came back to Habitat in 2014 as Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity of Tulare/Kings Counties.
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