A lot of love goes into all of Habitat Greater Boston’s work building affordable homes, but one couple’s time at the organization is especially close to their hearts.
Ingrid Strong and Doug Thompson first met at a meeting of Habitat Greater Boston’s volunteer site selection committee in 1994.
Ingrid, an architect who’d been on the committee for a few years, arrived late and grabbed the last seat – directly across from Doug, a newcomer to the group. She launched into a summary of a conference she’d attended on social apartheid but found herself distracted by the graduate student in the preppy button-down shirt and khakis on the other side of the table.
“It was during a time in my life that I was feeling very independent, just liking my life and enjoying my single years,” Ingrid said with a laugh during a recounting of their often-told origin story. “He looks up at me and he’s got these incredible blue eyes and I just think, ‘Oh no.’”
Initially intimidated by Ingrid, with her leather jacket and bravado, Doug spotted the playful laces in her black Doc Martens – white satin with black polka dots – under the table.
“I thought, ‘Maybe there’s a softer side under this exterior,’” he said.
(Story continues below)
They paired up to scout out potential sites for future Habitat Greater Boston homes in Roxbury and Dorchester, and Doug worked up the courage to ask Ingrid for her number. Their first real date – a sunset picnic near the deCordova Museum in Lincoln – followed soon after.
Nearly three decades later, Ingrid and Doug are married and live with their daughter and dog on the North Shore. Ingrid still works as an architect and teaches at Wentworth Institute of Technology, where she was colleagues with Habitat Greater Boston President and CEO Jim Kostaras. Doug went on to a career as a healthcare executive.
They’ve remained strong supporters of Habitat Greater Boston’s mission and reengaged more directly when the organization hired Kostaras in 2019 and broke ground soon after on a two-family home on Parker Street in Mission Hill across the street from the former headquarters where Ingrid and Doug first met.
“It’s extremely unlikely we would’ve ever been together had it not been for Habitat [Greater Boston],” Doug said. “It’s absolutely central in a concrete way and a spiritual way as well. It’s a fundamental reflection of our values and what we want to do in this world and what we believe is right – everybody has a right to housing.”