Hometown Habitat News

Program teaches Lake County students about construction

Mark & Mindy received keys to new home from South Lake High School students from the Youth Construction Academy

LAKE COUNTY, Fla. – Some Lake County High Schools offer a program to provide experiential learning and introduce students to the field of construction. 

What You Need To Know

  • Program in Lake County teaches high school students about constructions

  • Students help build homes and learn life skills

  • The program is in partnership with Habitat for Humanity

​This class teaches students the basics of building, while also picking up life skills.

It’s graduation season, and some students are spending it helping create a home for a Lake County couple.

“It’s happy, it’s a feeling of joy because you get to give people the keys for them to start their life,” said Aaron Dudhnath, a senior at South Lake High School.

Twelve South Lake High School students, including senior Dudhnath, built this home as part of the Youth Construction Academy program. 

“Day by day, kind of see the house come from the bottom and up is a very great thing to see happen. Especially us, we’re young and to get in there and get that experience is great,” Dudhnath said.

Their instructor believes the partnership with Habitat for Humanity will provide the students with a strong foundation.

“Whether you want to be in construction or not, all these are valuable skills you’re going to learn. Instead of maybe coming out and paying someone to fix something simple, you’re able to take care of it yourself,” said Jared Fullerton, the Construction Academy Teacher at South Lake High School.

Being at the work site came with many benefits and experiences. 

“Hanging a door, putting in cabinets, installing flooring, that’s not stuff we can really do in the classroom,” Fullerton said.

Click here to view video and full article by Marisa Silvas, Spectrum News

Habitat for Humanity and South Lake High School’s Youth Construction Academy Is Building Homes And Hope

Youth Construction Academy South Lake High School, Owen Family Dedication

At the start of the 2020 fall semester, the Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter in partnership with a hand-selected group of students from South Lake High School broke ground and began construction of a new home. Through all kinds of weather and a pandemic, the group completed the home in less than a year.

Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter started the Youth Construction Academy, partnering with high school construction students. The vocational program, began approximately 3 years ago to introduce students to the field of construction. Students graduate the program with access and opportunity for internships and employment.

On Friday, May 7, a dedication ceremony was held at the newly constructed home in Mascotte. Construction Program Head Jarod Fullerton and his Groveland High School construction students Ernesto Lea, Aaron Dudhnath, Samuel Smrekan, Jonathon Cherry, Christopher Sherman, Nakoma Payne, Georgia Turner, Hayley Kintner, Dayton Driggers, Alexander Valentine, Jacob Willis, Elizabeth Singh, Jacob Myrland, were recognized and asked to present the keys to the house to new homeowners Mark and Mindy Owen.

Habitat has plans to build a total of four homes in that one block on Thomas Street in Mascotte, one house a year, in cooperation with the advanced construction students of South Lake High.

There has been a construction program at South Lake for well over 20 years. The program was revitalized through a workforce grant. Program head Jared Fullerton is himself a graduate of South Lake, where he was a construction student. Fullerton says he was 18 when he took part in building his first home. After graduating from South Lake in 2001 and spending two years studying at Lake-Sumter State College, he went on to earn a degree in Building Construction from the University of Florida. He worked several years in the industry and now has returned to South Lake High School, home of the Eagles, to reenergize the construction program for a new generation of students.

Click here to read the full article from the South Lake Tablet

VHS Students help family fulfill a dream

Instructor Bruce Haberle congratulates students with The Villages High School’s Construction Management Academy for helping build a new home in Lady Lake for Amanda Brooks and her daughter, Emilee Carter.

Instructor Bruce Haberle congratulates students with The Villages High School’s Construction Management Academy for helping build a new home in Lady Lake for Amanda Brooks and her daughter, Emilee Carter. Rachel Stuart, Daily Sun

Most families aim to build success and raise their standard of living so their children can have better lives. But, this isn’t feasible for everyone without help. Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter and the Construction Management Academy of The Villages High School work together to give some of these families a boost when it comes to their homes, a measure of success for many families. Habitat and the academy recently completed a yearlong project to build a home for the Brooks family and handed over the keys to their new home Wednesday.

To Amanda Brooks, a working, single parent whose family received the house, the students’ drive and efforts were impressive and something for which she always will be grateful.

“The students are amazing,” she said. “I know they don’t realize it but they have completely changed my life.”

Brooks Family

After years of trying to obtain a home, Brooks and her daughter, Emilee, received the keys to their new home with tears of joy. Brooks applied to the program at The Villages Charter School and, through a selection process, was chosen out of the top five applicants.

 “I remember exactly where I was when I received the call from Habitat,” Brooks said. “I was at work, and I took the call and I wanted to jump up and down and cry in excitement.”

She said she then contacted everyone that knew she had applied.

“My family is so proud of the woman, mother, daughter I’ve become,” she said. “They can’t wait to come visit my new home.”

Brooks has spent the year keeping herself steady at work and volunteering over 200 hours of “sweat equity” for Habitat for Humanity.

The construction students even planned a surprise for Emilee: a bright pink playhouse for her to enjoy in her new backyard. Art students lent their artistic abilities to add characters from Disney movies to the decor. Emilee smiled as she ducked through the door labeled “Emilee’s Playhouse.”

Click here to read the full article by Garrett Shiflet, Daily Sun Staff Writer

Meet Danielle Stroud

Introducing Danielle Stroud

We are pleased to announce that Danielle Stroud will serve as incoming President and CEO of Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter beginning in November 2021.

 Kent Adcock orchestrates this transition after being the President & CEO of Habitat Lake-Sumter for 10 years. Kent will relinquish the role of President & CEO effective November 1st, 2021 to further pursue personal and professional interests. 

 Kent played a critical role in the growth of Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter with his exemplary leadership and innovative approach to housing and community development.  His out of the box thinking assisted in bringing key projects to life through his tenure at the affiliate and opened meaningful relationships to advance the mission of the organization. The Domestic Global Village – a 96-bed volunteer facility in Eustis, The Veterans Village – a pocket neighborhood in Umatilla for Veterans, and The Cottages at Heritage Grove – an aging in place community featuring apartment sized homes, are three of many accomplishments during his years of service.

“Kent has contributed 10 years of experience to our organization and his achievements will not be forgotten.  I graciously thank him for his tireless work and invite the community to join me in wishing him well on his next chapter in life,” says Felix Ramirez, Board Chair of Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter.

“I’m honored and privileged to announce Danielle Stroud as the incoming President & CEO.  For the past six years she has been the voice of the affiliate; supporting and creating sustainability for our growth. She is a natural advocate and leader, consistently broadcasting our mission and fighting for change.  I’m excited for our next phase and success under her new vision.” says Felix  


Danielle Stroud holds a B.S. degree from the University of Florida and has more than 10 years’ experience in non-profit management, and has worked for a diverse group of organizations including The Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, The Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, and The Southwest Conservation Corp.  Danielle has been with Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter for the past 6 years as a member of the senior leadership team and is an expert in the areas of strategic development, fundraising, and public relations.  Some of her recent accomplishments within the organization include increasing philanthropic revenue by 60%, implementing and managing the Youth Construction Academy – an experiential learning opportunity for high school students, and leveraging private and public dollars to double the number of families served through Habitat’s repair program.

Danielle shares, “I’ve been privileged to be part of this amazing organization for the past six years, so it excites me to be able to continue to develop our amazing staff and work with local members of the community to collectively further our mission.”

As to the future of Habitat Lake-Sumter, Danielle says, “We will continue to be a key collaborator in providing housing solutions and innovative opportunities for community involvement. I want to see that the growth in Lake County and Sumter County is sustainable for all families. Together we can always achieve more.”

In her spare time, Danielle is an avid hiker and yoga enthusiast. She is mom to two boys and married to her husband, Chase.

RoMac Building Supply: Match Challenge Unlocked!

Thank You RoMac Building Supply

RoMac Building Supply has been an ardent supporter of Habitat for Humanity’s mission to build homes, community, and hope in Lake and Sumter Counties.

For the past six years, RoMac Building Supply has set a matching challenge of $20,000 in March; even at the height of the Covid-19 crisis in 2020, RoMac stood by their pledge and this year was no different. In March 2021, RoMac’s generous match investment of $20,000 helped rally 95 community members to donate $30,388 during the campaign.

Compared to last year’s campaign, this was nearly a $5,000 increase in giving in the month of March and our highest match result to date!

The increase in dollars raised is only possible because of significant contributions from community members like you! And this year, it matters more than ever. As we face the economic impact of Covid-19 and see an increase of 80% in supply costs, we know that finding an affordable home will become ever more difficult. Because of individual supporters who heard the challenge set by RoMac and took action, we will continue to build strength, stability, and self-reliance for local families.

Through financial and material contributions, spreading awareness about Habitat Lake-Sumter’s work, and being an intrinsic partner to Habitat’s Youth Construction Academies; RoMac Building Supply plays an important role in the community.

“Don Magruder, CEO of RoMac Building Supply, has been a key driver in the success of Habitat Lake-Sumter’s Youth Construction Academy,” says Danielle Stroud, Deputy Director at Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter. “Not only is the financial investment made by RoMac vital to the success of the program, so is the community support promoted by RoMac throughout Lake County.”

Don Magruder leads the charge as Board President of both the Leesburg High School and the Villages Charter High School’s Youth Construction Academy; under his leadership, the Youth Construction Academy program has successfully built 6 homes with Habitat Lake-Sumter and seen successful expansion of the program to include South Lake High School last year, with Eustis High School set to begin their first build in Fall 2021.


Ro-Mac Building Supply is a family owned and operated lumber and building material supply company headquartered in Leesburg, Florida. Ro-Mac Building Supply has been supplying lumber and building materials to residential and commercial contractors, as well as individual homeowners, throughout Central Florida, since 1945. For more information, please visit https://www.romacfl.com/

Upcoming 2021 Youth Construction Academy Dedications

2021 Youth Construction Academy Dedications

Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter dedicates three new homes built by

High School Students

Students from Leesburg High, South Lake High, and the Villages Charter High School graduate from the Youth Construction Academy and give the keys to the future homeowners.


Lake County, FL – Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter in partnership with Leesburg High School, South Lake High School, and the Villages Charter High School have built three new homes as part of a vocational education program, the Youth Construction Academy.


  • Leesburg High School will honor the students who built a home in Leesburg, Florida on Friday, April 30th.


  • The Villages Charter High School will honor the students who built a home in Lady Lake, Florida on Wednesday, May 5th


  • South Lake High School will honor the students who built a home in Mascotte, Florida on Friday, May 7th.


Habitat’s Youth Construction Academy, through the partnership of select High Schools, is a vocational program designed to provide experiential learning and introduce students to the field of construction. Students graduate the program with access and opportunity for internships and employment.


Construction of each home began at the start of the Fall semester last year and continued through April 2021. The students and teachers will be included in the dedication ceremony as we hand over the keys to the families selected through Habitat’s Home Ownership program.


The dedication ceremonies are open to the public and media is invited to attend.  For location details and to RSVP, please contact Shari at Shari@HabitatLS.org.


WHAT:          Habitat for Humanity and Leesburg High, South Lake High, and The Villages Charter High School’s Youth Construction Academy


WHEN:          Friday, April 30th from 12:00PM- 2:00PM (Leesburg Location)

RSVP to Shari@HabitatLS.org


Wednesday, May 5th from 12:00PM- 2:00PM (Lady Lake Location)

RSVP to Shari@HabitatLS.org


Friday, May 7th from 8:00AM –9:00AM (Mascotte Location)

RSVP to Shari@HabitatLS.org


WHERE:       Location details provided through Shari: Shari@HabitatLS.org



About Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, Florida

Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, Florida has been your local Hometown Habitat serving individuals in Lake and Sumter Counties with access and opportunity to affordable housing solutions since 1989.   As an affiliate of Habitat International we empower local families to achieve strength, stability, and self-reliance through shelter and are united by a shared vision of a world where everyone has a decent place to live. 

Leesburg veteran receives new roof from national Habitat for Humanity, Owens Corning program

Volunteers from Habitat for Humanity work on repairing siding on the roof at the home in Leesburg.

Volunteers from Habitat for Humanity work on repairing siding on the roof at the home in Leesburg. Cindy Peterson/Correspondent

LEESBURG — After years of insurance claims and patching leaking roofs, Leesburg veteran Kory Eureka and his family are finally getting a new roof thanks to the Owens Corning National Roof Deployment Project in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Lake and Sumter. 

“We partner with Habitat for Humanity to give back to veterans who have served our country,” Travis Foster of Owens Corning said. “We donate all the materials for the job and connect with one of our platinum contractors to do the work. Giving back, especially to veterans, is very meaningful. It’s a privilege and an honor to us a company to give back and this is just one way we show it.”

Eureka and his family were chosen for this specific project due to the extensive damage of the home on Linda Lane in Leesburg. 

According to Justin Blandford of Batterbee Roofing, not only was the entire roof removed, but most of the plywood and trusses underneath had to be replaced as well. Habitat for Humanity will also be repairing the inner walls, cabinets and flooring where the leaks have rotted the wood or caused mold. 

“The roof was in disarray,” Blandford said. “It had been tarped for about three years with several insurance claims that had been denied and resulted in many damages within the home. So, we were thrilled to be a part of this. We’re always looking to help out our community and especially someone who has severed in our military.”

Eureka and his wife live with his grandparents, Hank and Joan Marie Kanczurzewski, whose home was damaged during a hurricane while Eureka was deployed to Afghanistan in 2014.

According to Joan, the insurance company took a year to get the check to fix the roof, but a second hurricane struck the same day and damaged it even further

Click here to read the full article by Cindy Peterson Special to the Daily Commercial


Board Member Spotlight: Mike Cashwell

Board Member Spotlight Meet Mike Cashwell

Hello, I am Mike Cashwell, age 35, married to my wife Crystal and father to our son, Hunter and daughter, Paige.

I am a third generation Lake County citizen. This long-term familial connection brings not only sense of pride but also a sense of responsibility. The responsibility to invest in my community where everyone has the opportunity to build a secure, prosperous, and rewarding life.

Early on I built a sustainable landscape, maintenance, and construction business that fifteen years later employed 40 people. By providing a secure income for so many families, I felt I was giving back to my community and am very proud of this effort.

The importance of “giving back” was the primary reason why I sought to be a member of the Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter Board. As a board member I will have the opportunity to influence decisions on how we will fulfill our mission to build homes and hope, while at the same time impact community outcomes in a very positive way. Affordable housing is a big problem. It is not available to many in our community. Being on the Habitat Lake-Sumter Board will allow me to learn, understand, and hopefully refine what it takes to create housing that folks can not only afford but take pride in as well. I believe I bring real world knowledge and problem-solving capabilities which, together with other Board members, will allow us to provide the leadership needed to accomplish our goals. I believe that making housing more attainable needs to start at the state and local level. Builders are not incentivized to build affordable housing as impact fees are the same regardless of the size of the home. We need to find ways to shift the paradigm.

Being able to own and afford your own home does so much for individual families while at the same time enhancing communities. Through affordable housing we can positively impact the security of families and give them the pride and respect that comes with homeownership.

Thank you for inviting me to be a part of the Habitat Board.


Written By Mike Cashwell – Habitat Board Member

Edited By Kevin Voght – Volunteer 

Shop the Habitat ReStore from Home!

Habitat for Humanity Online ReStore: Shop Now and Save!

Visit our online ReStore!

Habitat for Humanity Lake- Sumter’s ReStore is the store that builds homes. Now you can support Habitat Lake-Sumter and find great deals at our online ReStore from the comfort of your home.   

Our online ReStore opened in response to COVID-19, to give our supporters the option to continue shopping with us in a safe, secure, and socially distanced way. In the online ReStore, you’ll find jewelry, household items, and specialty pieces. Our brick-and-mortar ReStores will continue to sell furniture, building supplies, and much more.

New items are added weekly and special discounts for customers are right around the corner. Items purchased in our online ReStore can be picked up or shipped to you directly, standard shipping rates will apply, and you’ll receive free shipping on orders of $25.00 or more.


Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter ReStore’s are nonprofit home improvement stores and donation centers that sell new and gently used furniture, appliances, home accessories, building materials and more to the public at a fraction of the retail price.

Our ReStores are more than just a place to find great deals, proceeds are used to help build strength, stability, self-reliance, and shelter – 100% of the sales benefit local families and help them to achieve their dreams of homeownership with Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter.

We’re excited to offer select items for purchase online where you can shop at our ReStore 24 hours a day, 7 days a week—every purchase helps local families build homes, community, and hope!

Kingston, Ontario, Canada (12/22/17) Cashier Male Shopper

Click here to visit our Online ReStore

Eustis ReStore: 710 S. Bay St.

Leesburg ReStore: 200 N. Lone Oak Dr.

FREE Donation Pick-ups: 352-589-3005

Sponsor of the Month: AgeWave Solutions, Inc

AgeWave Solutions, Inc. proudly presents Women Build 2021

AgeWave Solutions, Inc is the presenting sponsor for Women Build 2021, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, Florida. Women Build aims to build and repair homes, while raising awareness of housing issues facing women, their families, and the community.

Every spring, Women Build participants advocate, fundraise, and volunteer to provide access to affordable housing solutions for those who need it. This year, our goal is to raise $35,000 to help build a new home in Eustis, Florida. With three weeks left to fundraise we are more than HALFWAY to our goal, thanks to the generosity of AgeWave Solutions, Inc and the Women Build participates working together to achieve that goal and build a home for a local family! 

AgeWave Solutions, Inc. is an architectural and engineering firm headquartered in The Villages, Florida.  They provide full service building design services in the residential and commercial construction markets.  Specialties include production builder solutions, custom residential design, industrial building design and project coordination, restaurant, retail and multifamily housing design.

Amber Umland, CAD Coordinator with AgeWave Solutions, Inc and awesome Women Builder says, “There is a natural partnership between AgeWave Solutions, Inc. and Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter. We share collective success in translating construction dreams into reality.  AgeWave Solutions, Inc. is honored to be a partner in Woman Build 2021. Our team members are excited and feel very fortunate to lend a helping hand to this important initiative by making one family’s dream come true while promoting the outstanding women in our building community”.

Not only does AgeWave’s support make it possible to build the new home, but they are also responsible for the engineering and design of the house. “We work closely with AgeWave Solutions, Inc for the architectural design, drafting and engineering of our house plans,” says Danielle Stroud, Sr. Director of Programs and Partnerships at Habitat Lake-Sumter. “This home will go from drawing to reality, all while working alongside AgeWave.”

We are so grateful for the partnership with AgeWave Solutions, Inc and the community collaboration! Together, we will build homes, communities, and hope!  

Women Build 2021 elevation

You can support our mission and help build this home by donating to Women Build 2021!

To learn more about Women Build and ways to positively impact your community, contact Lacie at Lacie@HabitatLS.org or (352) 483-0434 x 146

Women Build is an inclusive event, and everyone is invited to build lasting change.


RoMac Building Supply announces a $20,000 match challenge for all donations made to Habitat Lake-Sumter in March!

youth construction academy leesburg high school students 2021

Matching donations benefit the Youth Construction Academy students at Leesburg High School

(Leesburg, FL) Through the month of March donations made to Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter will be matched by RoMac Building Supply. The matching challenge, up to $20,000, will benefit the Youth Construction Academy in partnership with Leesburg High School and ultimately, build a home with Habitat Lake-Sumter.

Those interested in donating during the March Match period can do so by going to www.habitatls.org/give or by mail to 906 Avenida Central, The Villages, FL, 32159.

Habitat’s Youth Construction Academy offers selected Leesburg High students access to trades within the construction industry. Graduating students gain first-hand experience of principles taught in the classroom and hold industry certifications necessary for a career.

“Don Magruder, CEO of RoMac Building Supply, has been a key driver in the success of Habitat Lake-Sumter’s Youth Construction Academy,” says Danielle Stroud, Sr. Director of Programs & Partnerships at Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter. “Not only is the financial investment made by RoMac vital to the success of the program, so is the community support promoted by RoMac throughout Lake County.”

Two lots have been donated by the City of Leesburg for use by Leesburg High’s Youth Construction Academy students; this ensures the viability and success of the program for two additional years and secures two additional affordable housing opportunities for local families.

Participating students receive in-class instruction during levels 1 and 2 of the program, and the upper level students get the opportunity that will take them out of the classroom and onto Habitat’s job site.  To learn more about this program or any of Habitat for Humanity’s programs contact Danielle at 352-483-0434 Ext. 133.


Ro-Mac Building Supply is a family owned and operated lumber and building material supply company headquartered in Leesburg, Florida. Ro-Mac Building Supply has been supplying lumber and building materials to residential and commercial contractors, as well as individual homeowners, throughout Central Florida, since 1945. For more information, please visit https://www.romacfl.com/

About Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, Florida

Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, Florida has been your local Hometown Habitat serving individuals in Lake and Sumter Counties with access and opportunity to affordable housing solutions since 1989.   As an affiliate of Habitat International we empower local families to achieve strength, stability, and self-reliance through shelter and are united by a shared vision of a world where everyone has a decent place to live. 

Almost Home: Meet the Smith Family

Jessica and Otto working on site on their new home

For the Smith Family, Habitat for Humanity has given them more than just a home

“Habitat for Humanity symbolizes hope for people to keep pushing in life,” said Otto Smith.

Jessica Smith and her 13 year-old-son, Otto, spend their time with each other, optimistic about a place that they can call home. Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter has made that possible for them.

Jessica Smith works as an assistant at an oral surgery clinic, and Otto is in the 8th grade. Their family has lived in the area for 34 years. The surrounding neighborhood is a special place for Otto and Jessica, as their new home will be very close to Jessica’s work and Otto’s school, and their church is only a short distance away. The Smiths plan to host family game nights, church gatherings, and holiday get togethers once the home is complete. “There will be many memories made there. We can’t wait for our monthly game nights.” Jessica said.

The Smiths are looking forward to simple memories from family meals to individual spaces in their new home. “I am so excited to have a kitchen to call our own to cook and eat meals together” Jessica Smith, future homeowner said. “Otto and I are very excited to have our own rooms.”

Habitat for Humanity makes it possible for families to live in a beautiful home on an affordable mortgage. No more than 30 percent of a person’s income is spent on housing with Habitat for Humanity. This allows families like the Smiths to use that money for other expenses such as groceries or education. “We have moved about 14 or 15 times, but I am really excited to have a place that we can finally call home,” said Jessica.

Their new home is being built through the Youth Construction Academy program where high school students gain hands-on experience during their school day building homes, while also getting school credit. The Smith family’s journey with Habitat for Humanity has been gratifying and exciting. Family and friends also come to help with the construction of the home. “They have done a lot for us. We started out at rock bottom,” said Otto. “Every day it seems like there is a new spark of hope for us. It brings us so much joy to see the community coming together to build this home.”

Their home is well underway with the frame almost complete. The Smiths have expressed great thanks and enthusiasm for this project, and they are both ready for the day when they finally have a place to call home.

By Volunteer Writer: Katrina Machetta

Volunteer Voice: Adithya


Volunteer Voice: Adithya from OSU

Since the Collegiate Challenge program began in the late 1980s, more than 260,000 students have committed to building safe and affordable homes across the United States. Collegiate Challenge offers student volunteers a unique learning experience where they learn not only construction skills, but also about the importance of housing. Unfortunately, this program is currently on hiatus due to the corona virus, but we look forward to having Collegiate Challenge students back on our construction sites soon!

With Spring Break right around the corner, Collegiate Challenge Alumni, Adithya shared his experiences volunteering with Habitat Lake-Sumter. Adithya Ramaswami is an undergraduate student at The Ohio State University majoring in Aerospace Engineering and will be graduating in May 2023. It was through the university’s Buck-I-SERV program that he first learned about Habitat for Humanity and was then able to volunteer for Habitat Lake-Sumter. The opportunity to broaden his understanding of the challenges people face and give back to the community in a meaningful way, all contributed to Adithya’s decision to participate. Adithya was a trip leader for two trips, one in the Winter of 2019 and again in the Spring of 2020

During the first trip his team worked on the construction and framing of a new home and enjoyed the experience so much that he returned the following year to work in the ReStore, paint a house nearing completion and put in fencing on a newly acquired property. Not only did he learn new construction skills and the use of power tools but seeing the progress at the end of each day and knowing that he was making a difference in the lives of others was extremely rewarding. Adithya was impressed by the helpfulness, supportiveness, and patience of the staff, in teaching the skills needed to be successful.  “It was clear,” Adithya said “that they loved the work they do and are passionate about Habitat’s mission and goals. It was truly inspiring.”

The students stayed at the Habitat Lake-Sumter service facility in Eustis where the accommodations, per Adithya, “were exceptional”. The kitchen provided the chance to bring in food to cook as an option to eating out. There were also opportunities to explore central Florida after volunteer hours were over. Disney Springs, the beach, kayaking, volleyball and watching a Space X launch were some of the activities that they enjoyed. The Director of Volunteer Services, Carlos Beron, was incredibly helpful and resourceful in making sure the team had a successful and enjoyable week.

The opportunity to understand the issues around affordable and decent housing helped Adithya to build stronger and deeper connections within the community. Volunteering helped him to understand the challenges our communities face and enabled him to help address them and make a positive difference. It was a personal journey of self-growth. As Adithya said, “Volunteering can help start a conversation around social justice and build a bridge of kindness and create an opportunity to make a positive impact. The work you do is meaningful if you push yourself to connect with what you are doing. You gain a sense of responsibility to continue in that civic engagement and community service throughout the rest of your life.”


By Kevin Vogt – Volunteer Writer

Sweat Equity = Habitat Homeowners Give Back!

Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter offers a ‘hand-up’ approach to families in the community, encouraging ownership of the home building and buying process from the beginning. Sweat Equity is an example of that.

The “Sweat Equity” program is designed to provide future homeowners the opportunity to participate in the investment of homes, either their own or someone else’s, and their community. Sweat equity is not a financial payment but rather an opportunity to work alongside volunteers who give their time to bring to life the dream of homeownership. Sweat equity can take on many forms; from construction or home preservation and repair, to working in Habitat’s ReStores, and participating in special events. In addition, homeowner education classes provide instruction on topics like mortgage and insurance that count towards the required 200 hours of sweat equity for future homeowners. This cooperative approach, whereby all of us are working together, ensures homeowners can achieve the strength, stability, and independence they need to build a better future for themselves and their families.

When we asked future homeowners about the sweat equity program, “It’s a Blessing,” was heard over and over. A blessing not just because they were receiving support, but because they found opportunities to pay it forward through Habitat’s structured outreach programs in which they can participate. And that’s one of many things they liked, the varied opportunities that were provided. Some examples that might be unexpected included events like Jingle Build-Off, where Habitat homeowners joined sponsors in building playhouses for children in the community.

The varied opportunities address a potential roadblock. Families partnered with Habitat Lake-Sumter have work, school, and family obligations. They need to complete their 200 hours of sweat equity within a very demanding schedule. Because many sweat equity opportunities can be accommodated to fit around busy schedules, it becomes easier for them to participate.

Four future Habitat families met when they were volunteering on a home repair project for the Rosas family. Habitat Lake-Sumter not only builds new homes but provides preservation and repair services to keep homes safe.

And our partner families give high marks for the sweat equity program. All agreed it provides a sense of commitment.

It instills a sense of appreciation, builds confidence and a sense of community. Working on projects alongside volunteers builds respect for one another and knowledge that Habitat homeowners carry with them into the future. Working side by side, there is a realization that despite different backgrounds and experiences, everyone has come together for the common good.

Habitat Lake-Sumter partners with families to walk side by side as they achieve the dream of owning a home and as our future homeowners have said over and over “It’s A Blessing!”


Kevin Voght, volunteer writer




Habitat receives grant for its repair program

Habitat for Humanity volunteers, Russ Staerkel, background, of the Village of Hadley, and Ben Greene, of the Village of Largo, build a backyard fence for a home on Jackson Street in Wildwood in January 2020. Using money given as a grant from The Community Foundation of South Lake, Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter will use the $20,000 in support of critical home repairs to increase the safety, accessibility and beauty of the home. George Horsford, Daily Sun

Habitat for Humanity volunteers, Russ Staerkel, background, of the Village of Hadley, and Ben Greene, of the Village of Largo, build a backyard fence for a home on Jackson Street in Wildwood in January 2020. Using money given as a grant from The Community Foundation of South Lake, Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter will use the $20,000 in support of critical home repairs to increase the safety, accessibility and beauty of the home.
George Horsford, Daily Sun

For one nonprofit, the year 2021 has brought a number of unexpected grants meant to help those in need.

The most recent includes money for the nonprofit to use for critical home repairs throughout Lake and Sumter counties.

Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter recently received a $20,000 grant from Community Foundation of South Lake. The nonprofit has been serving individuals in Lake and Sumter counties with access and opportunity to affordable housing solutions since 1989. The grant is designed to help with critical home repairs through Habitat Lake-Sumter’s Preservation and Repair program, which provides safety and accessibility modifications to cost-burdened homeowners.

Click here to read the full article by Andrea Davis, Daily Sun Staff Writer



Thrivent is awarding Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter a contribution of $5,000 to help families in Lake and Sumter Counties stay in their homes. Thrivent’s donation will allow Habitat to provide mortgage relief to Habitat homeowners who need temporary assistance making their mortgage payments during the COVID-19 pandemic. With Thrivent’s support, Habitat Lake-Sumter will sustain affordable homeownership costs for more than 10 families locally.

Prior to the spread of the novel coronavirus, more than 18 million households across the U.S. were paying half or more of their income on a place to live. As the pandemic continues to cause job disruption and economic fallout, many households are enduring lay-offs, unemployment, and pay cuts. This wage loss has amplified the financial burden on households to maintain essential payments and can result in families having to trade-off between bills, mortgage, or medical care.

“We are grateful to partner with Thrivent and offer ongoing support for our Habitat homeowners,” Danielle Stroud, senior director of programs and partnerships, says in a news release. “No one should lose their home because of lost income or unexpected financial burdens caused by the pandemic. Because of Thrivent, we’re able to provide continued stability for local families.”

Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter is one of 100 local Habitat organizations across the nation partnering with Thrivent to help families stay in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic. In total, Thrivent is donating $750,000 to Habitat for Humanity to assist with mortgage-related relief and prevent foreclosures across the U.S.

Click here to read the full article by Akers Editorial from Lake & Sumter Style

Around the House: Something to make you smile

Leesburg High School students first day on site

Students from the Leesburg High School Construction Academy work on constructing a home for Habitat for Humanity in Leesburg. [Cindy Peterson/Correspondent] Cindy Peterson

For most people, 2020 has been a year of heartache, fear, and anxiety with little to smile about. We are all exhausted from the COVID-19 pandemic, the bitterness from the presidential election, and a hurricane season that never wanted to end.

Despite all the turmoil through the fall, a group of local young people have been working hard doing good work for their community while preparing themselves for a future with a respectable job in the construction industry. Since September, each week students from The Villages Charter High School Construction Management Academy and the Leesburg High School Construction Academy have been working on jobsites building homes for Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter.

These students are doing so while trying to combine virtual learning, wearing a mask, and following COVID-19 pandemic guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The students in The Villages Charter High School Construction Management Academy are working in two shifts on their project on Ann Street in Lady Lake. Under the direction of their instructor Bruce Haberle and Habitat for Humanity Project Manager Barry Martin, these students have constructed a home with little help. The walls and roof are up, and it is dried in.

The project is being done with the highest of craftmanship and the jobsite is neat and clean. However, the students are what make this project so special. Polite, hard workers who want to make a difference in the life of this homeowner. This something to smile about.

On Grove Street in Leesburg, the Leesburg High School Construction Academy students are building their Habitat for Humanity house on a beautiful corner lot just one block from the water. This home is being constructed with the highest of quality and the members of the “Dream Team” are working hard to understand every aspect of construction. Jobsite mentors have been instrumental in providing real world direction and all are motivated by the homeowner who has worked side by side with the students.

Click here to read the full article by Don Magruder For the Daily Commercial

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Board Member Spotlight: Meet Gail Baker

Board Member Spotlight: Gail Baker

From being the first female president at Lake County’s Reunion Bank of Florida, to being a super mom to two daughters and wife of her husband Jeff for 27 years; Gail Baker brings a powerful background and endless enthusiasm to the Board of Directors of Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter.

“I enjoy volunteering because it creates a team spirit and it makes a huge difference in someone’s life,” says Gail, newly appointed member of the board. “I look forward to working alongside my peers in the Habitat mission.”

Gail Baker has lived in the Lake-Sumter area of Florida for 25 years and has grown to love and cherish the work at Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter. Gail has partnered with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter for over three years, prior to becoming a board member.

“Making a difference in someone’s life is what inspires me to do what I do,” Gail says. “Firstly, Habitat for Humanity provides safe, decent and affordable housing for individuals and families who work hard every day to make a difference for themselves. Without Habitat, these dedicated individuals may never achieve such goals that so many take for granted. Secondly, Habitat provides sound financial education, which leads to long term personal success.”

Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter has been serving the community since 1989 and has four main initiatives: Home Ownership, Preservation and Repair, Veterans Housing Initiative, and Construction Academies; with the ultimate purpose of creating communities where everyone has a decent place to live. 

Gail also serves as treasurer for the Lifestream Foundation Board and in her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family. Gail is looking forward to serving the board to the best of her abilities and providing a positive and enthusiastic outlook to the team.

Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter is grateful to have such an experienced and positive person on the board in Gail, one who strives to inspire and encourage those around her.



By Katrina Machetta

Sponsor of the Month: The Community Foundation of South Lake

January 2021 Sponsor of the Month: Community Foundation of South Lake

Thanks to the generosity of the Community Foundation of South Lake, Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter will be able to provide critical repairs to low-income homeowners in the South Lake area.

The Community Foundation of South Lake has awarded Habitat Lake-Sumter a $20,000 grant in support of the Preservation and Repair program.

Preservation & Repair has become a vital way Habitat Lake-Sumter addresses the affordable housing need in our community, annually providing access to home repairs and critical improvements for 45 families and individuals.

Critical home repairs increase the safety and accessibility for low-income homeowners who are unable to keep up their home by themselves due to age, disability, or family circumstances and struggle to maintain the integrity of their homes; through Preservation and Repair, we ensure that the families who partner with us have housing that will be safe, secure, and a decent place to live.

Due to the economic impact of Covid-19, Habitat Lake-Sumter faced a significant decrease in the number of families we could serve through Preservation and Repair. However, because of the generosity of the Community Foundation of South Lake, we will be able to provide critical repair services to families in vulnerable housing situations. We look forward to working with the Community Foundation of South Lake to bring safe and stable housing to more families in 2021!

Building a Legacy

photos of Nancy


Home was the heart of Nancy A. Penn-Shaner’s life. As a donor to Habitat for Humanity-Lake Sumter, Nancy left a planned gift in her will. Because of her gift, a family now has an opportunity to build a life in a new home.

 Through her gift to Habitat Lake-Sumter, Nancy continues her legacy of generosity. “This has been in her will for quite some time,” says Nadine Foley, Nancy’s friend of more than 50 years and the appointed trustee of her will. Giving back to others has been the theme of Nancy’s life.

As an avid traveler Nancy knew she always had a home to return to. She developed a love for travel in her 20’s as she began driving trucks for a living in Akron, Ohio. Nancy later moved to Umatilla, Florida in the 1960’s where she became a truck dispatcher. 

Nancy’s lifelong friend, Nadine recalls how giving to those around her came naturally, “Nancy was careful and caring to everyone in her orbit.” As a member of Eastern Star, she added to the lives of young women through charity and service.  “Nancy was a truly thoughtful friend who shared her wealth of knowledge in housekeeping and was generous.” She was an avid traveler who “loved to hit the road but loved to get back home.”

Nancy took great pride in her home and loved doing yardwork and upkeep of her house. She always thought of her friends and set aside money in her will to her friends and those closest to her. As Nadine describes, everyone was filled with so much gratitude to receive this gift from their dear friend.

July 7, 2020 is a day that will always be etched in the memory of those closest to Nancy A. Penn-Shaner. On that day, Habitat Lake-Sumter broke ground on the home being built by Nancy’s gift. A small, intimate crowd gathered for the ribbon cutting in celebration of what was to come. “It was a wonderful experience,” Nadine says.

The 4-bedroom, 2 bath home in Mount Dora is now almost complete. As the family awaits the keys to their new home, Nadine reflects on how pleased Nancy would be. Nancy’s legacy of giving back, her compassion and community will live through her contributions to Habitat-Lake Sumter. Reminding us what matters most, having a place to call home.


By: Lauren W.

Interested in learning more about leaving a Legacy Gift, but not sure where to start?

Call or email Danielle Stroud at (352) 483-0434 ext. 133, Danielle@HabitatLS.org to learn more about how to leave Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter in your will, trust, or annuity plan.

Habitat for Humanity Jingle Build-Off a Success

First National Bank of Mount Dora playhouse, photo taken by Ginny Crawford-Spooner

Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter hosted its second annual Jingle Build-Off, a playhouse build competition, on Dec. 5. This year, six teams competed: Advent Health, First National Bank of Mount Dora, Rotary of The Villages Noon, The Villages Charter High School (students from the construction academy and art students collaborated), Data Graphics and BNI Golden Triangle sponsored by Union Home Mortgage.

Teams build playhouses for a child or children in the community that they’ve been paired with – and they had the option of building at the Tavares event location, The Square, 122 E. Main, or at a location and date of their choice. The playhouses will be delivered to the selected families as unique gifts, just in time for the holidays.

In addition, the playhouse build is a snapshot of Habitat’s mission. Sponsors helped fund the playhouse build, teams and volunteers spent time building and creating the playhouses, and ultimately, the playhouses are given to families in Lake and Sumter counties. 

“It’s a small representation of all of the partners that make building a ‘big’ home possible,” according to a statement by Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter.

All Jingle Build-Off donations help underwrite the cost of construction for upcoming Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter projects.

Article by Sumter News-Sun

Thrivent and Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter partner to help families stay in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic

stock family photo

Thrivent and Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter partner to help families stay in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic


Lake & Sumter, FL (Dec. 21st, 2020) – Thrivent is awarding Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter a contribution of $5,000 to help families in Lake and Sumter Counties stay in their homes. Thrivent’s donation will allow Habitat to provide mortgage relief to Habitat homeowners who need temporary assistance making their mortgage payments during the COVID-19 pandemic. With Thrivent’s support, Habitat Lake-Sumter will sustain affordable homeownership costs for more than 10 families locally.

Prior to the spread of the novel coronavirus, more than 18 million households across the U.S. were paying half or more of their income on a place to live. As the pandemic continues to cause job disruption and economic fallout, many households are enduring lay-offs, unemployment, and pay cuts. This wage loss has amplified the financial burden on households to maintain essential payments and can result in families having to trade-off between bills, mortgage, or medical care.

“We are grateful to partner with Thrivent and offer ongoing support for our Habitat homeowners,” says Danielle Stroud, Sr. Director of Programs and Partnerships. “No one should lose their home because of lost income or unexpected financial burdens caused by the pandemic. Because of Thrivent, we’re able to provide continued stability for local families.”

Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter is one of 100 local Habitat organizations across the nation partnering with Thrivent to help families stay in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic. In total, Thrivent is donating $750,000 to Habitat for Humanity to assist with mortgage-related relief and prevent foreclosures across the U.S.

“This year has been incredibly difficult for many people as financial hardship has added stress and anxiety to daily lives,” said Nikki Sorum, senior vice president of Thrivent Advisors at Thrivent. “This pandemic has underscored how important it is for people to have safe, affordable homes. Given all we have endured in 2020, we are especially honored to provide financial support to Habitat for Humanity to help people stay in their homes so they can continue to build toward financial stability.”


Habitat for Humanity and Thrivent began their partnership in 2005. Over the past 15 years, Thrivent and their clients have contributed more than $275 million to Habitat and have partnered with families to build safe, affordable homes across the U.S. and around the world.


About Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, Florida

Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, Florida has been your local Hometown Habitat serving individuals in Lake and Sumter Counties with access and opportunity to affordable housing solutions since 1989.   As an affiliate of Habitat International we empower local families to achieve strength, stability, and self-reliance through shelter and are united by a shared vision of a world where everyone has a decent place to live. 


About Thrivent

Thrivent is a diversified financial services organization that helps people achieve financial clarity, enabling lives full of meaning and gratitude. As a mission-driven, membership-owned organization, it offers its more than 2 million members and customers a broad range of financial products, services and guidance. Thrivent and its subsidiary and affiliate companies offer insurance, investments, banking and advice over the phone, online as well as through financial professionals and independent agents nationwide. Thrivent is a Fortune 500 company with $152 billion in assets under management/advisement (as of 12/31/19). Thrivent carries an A++ (Superior) rating from AM Best, a credit rating agency; this is the highest of the agency’s 16 ratings categories and was affirmed in May of 2019. For more information, visit Thrivent.com. You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter.

Meet the Wimes Family

"I'm ready to show my kids how the community comes together as one to make things happen." Felisha

Felisha Wimes’ story began in 2012 when she married her husband Jerry. The Wimes’ family includes four children, two adults and one puppy – and space was soon tight with a family of six. Their three sons shared one room, while their dining room became their daughter’s bedroom.

“Jerry and I are very hard workers, but owning a house seems so far away when you are paying such high rent and taking care of a family of six,” Felisha said. Felisha works for the Lake County School system, and Jerry works in healthcare.

The Wimes family lives in Mount Dora, where Jerry’s family is from. They have been in a rental home for about three years, but have always wanted to own their own home.

“The house we are in now is just too small with my children getting older and bigger,” Felisha said, but they were hesitant to leave Mount Dora. “Any time we make any major moves we always ask the kids their thoughts, and they all said that if we could buy a home they would love to be in the Mount Dora area since they have been raised here.”

Felisha found out about Habitat for Humanity from her sister-in-law, who forwarded her an email she’d received about the organization and gave Felisha the information to apply. “This all happened by fate,” Felisha said. “At first I was very hesitant, but decided why not I could really use a miracle and here we are now on our way to becoming homeowners. From the very first call to the very first email, this experience has been wonderful and such a blessing.”

Felisha and her family are excited and feel blessed to become homeowners. Their daughter and eldest son are looking forward to having their own rooms, Jerry can’t wait to have a garage, and the family is planning to have family over for the first time with the extra space for cookouts.

“This journey seems so unreal, not only for myself and my husband, but for my children as well. They have all said how excited they are, but I don’t think it has hit yet that this will be our home forever,” Felisha said. “I am ready to show my kids how the community comes together as one to make things happen.” The one thing Felisha is looking forward to the most is getting a dining room table that can fit her family of six so they can eat together as a family every night.

“We are so excited and thankful to be a part of Habitat for Humanity. We can’t wait to make many memories that will last a lifetime as a family in our new home!”

By- Becky Eaton, Volunteer Writer

Club builds its First Home for a local Family in Need

Fruitland Park ribbon cutting 2020

Joyce Tohill cuts the ribbon for the breaking ground of her new home. Habitat for Humanity staff, members of Habitat for Humanity Lake Sumter The Villages Club, Tohill and her family gather together to celebrate.
Andrea Davis, Daily Sun

Joyce Tohill broke into tears as she walked up to the site where her new home was to be built.

This would be the first home the Tavares resident has owned, and it’s all thanks to Habitat for Humanity of Lake Sumter The Villages Club.

On Friday, club members gathered with Tohill’s family, and Habitat for Humanity staff at the location in Fruitland Park, where the home is going to be built, to celebrate breaking ground. When Tohill arrived, she was immediately overwhelmed by the support of everyone present.

“I’ve assisted with The Women’s Build for Habitat of Humanity,” she said. “But it’s different when you are the one receiving the home.”

After a ribbon-cutting, members celebrated with cake, muffins, juice and coffee and began discussing plans for the build.

“This is the first new build for the club,” said Sally Read, co-president for Habitat for Humanity The Villages Club.

“We are really excited and we will be doing all the decorating for the house as well. The Dream Team consists of several of the guys, and they will act as managers throughout the build so we thought it was the least us ladies in the club could do,” said Read, of the Village of Tall Trees.

Kevin Tucker, president of Habitat for Humanity The Villages Club, said everything was on track.

“The concrete will be poured Monday, and we can get started on the build by Wednesday or the following Monday,” he said. “We are so thankful we are able to provide a home for this family.”

Danielle Stroud, senior director of programs and partnership for Habitat for Humanity, said she was thankful to work with each family that benefits from the group.

“Four out of 10 families make under $30,000 a year,” she said. “So when these volunteers are out swinging hammers, they are the voices making a difference for our local families. I am so thankful Joyce and her family will be blessed and have a home to call their own, because they deserve it.”

Click here to read the full article by staff writer Andrea Davis, The Villages Daily Sun

The Villages Habitat for Humanity Club launches project to help single mother

group photo at the Tohill Family ground breaking in Fruitland Park

Joyce Tohill, third from left, was joined by her children and grandchildren for the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new house that volunteers are building for her.

The Villages Habitat for Humanity Club has dedicated its energy to construct its first home to help a single mother and her children in their time of need.

Joyce Tohill coped with homelessness and substandard housing while raising her five children. Three of her children are now adults out on their own.

Tohill’s adult daughter, Grace Ware, explained how difficult it was to find adequate housing. Her mother also had the additional worry of caring for a disabled daughter who requires that Tohill be present at all times. In order to provide for her family she became a medical transcription specialist which enabled her to work at home. The pandemic affected her income and was making it difficult to make rent payments. When she was selected to receive the first home to be constructed by The Villages Habitat Club she said it was “a miracle” and “this home is securing a future for my daughters that I am just so thankful for.”

The Villages club also presented a check for $10,000 to Danielle Stroud , senior director of development for Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter, to help fund the Fruitland Park project. While this is the first house the group is building, President and club founder Kevin Tucker explained they have done a number of restoration and repair jobs in the community.


VHS students build playhouse for charity

students working on playhouse for Jingle Build-Off 2020

The Villages High School seniors Brock Esarey, left, Hayden Fink, center, and Tyler McLean help build a playhouse as part of the Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter’s Jingle Build Off 2020. Bill Mitchell, Daily Sun

The Villages High School’s Construction Management Academy will make Christmas a little brighter for the child who receives a playhouse the students built. Students participated Nov. 10 in the Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter Jingle Build-Off competition. The academy is one of the five teams entered so far, said Lacie Himes, associate development director for the Habitat Lake-Sumter. Teams may still enter Jingle Build until Monday for the best playhouse. The public may judge it online this year Dec. 5-10 at habitatls.org/jingle-build-off. Construction Management Academy teacher Bruce Haberle said he hopes students not only learned construction skills by building the playhouse, but also about giving to the community and to people who are less fortunate. Last year, the academy was one of eight teams that built 10 playhouses on site for Habitat’s Christmas Village in Tavares. This year will offer a Virtual Christmas Village. Teams have the option to build their playhouses at their own sites or on site.

Habitat Academy Season Two premieres, eight episodes planned

Future homeowner of Leesburg

The recipients of the home, Jessica Smith and her son, Otto, are introduced to the Leesburg High School Construction Academy who will be building the home for the Habitat for Humanity project in Leesburg on Monday Sept. 21 [Cindy Peterson/Correspondent] Cindy Peterson

LEESBURG — Red Apples Media premiered Habitat Academy Season 2 Friday, documenting the start of another year’s home-building project by students at Leesburg High and volunteers with Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter.

The Nov. 13 premiere showcased the new project to be built by 14 Leesburg High School students — known as the Dream Team — and the family who will benefit from their work. This season debuted a full month earlier than the first season, which initially aired its first episode on December 16, 2019.

The new season of the show includes updated graphics and an opening video which features clips of students working. As before, it’s hosted by the CEO of RoMac Building Supply, Don Magruder. RoMac is one of the show’s sponsors, and Magruder has been involved as a community advisor for the Leesburg High School Construction Academy for the past few years.

This season of Habitat Academy is starting off with extra ambition, and the benefit of partnerships and knowledge developed over the course of last year’s production.

Red Apples Media President Marc Robertz-Schwartz said after the conclusion of last season that he and his crew learned a great deal while producing the show, including about how to schedule the show.

“The house gets built at the rate that the house gets built,” Robertz-Schwartz said.

Season one was a couple episodes short of its projected run due to the rate the house reached its milestones, Robertz-Schwartz said. They couldn’t ask the construction team to hold off on a milestone for filming, for instance, so it was hard to capture every planned moment.

Still, with that experience under their belt, Red Apples is going in for a longer season this year.

Click here to read the full article by Payne Ray, Daily Commercial

The Kanczurzewski Family: Veteran’s Day Project

The Kanzuzewski Family: Veteran's Day Project
Habitat for Humanity-Lake Sumter preserves more than homes

The repair of Joan and Henry Kanczurzewski’s home is something that has been long awaited but with the aid of Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter that call for assistance has finally been answered. After four years of living in a home in dire need of repairs they are now in the process of rehab through Habitat’s preservation program. “I’m happy that we’re getting the help we need” says Mrs. Joan. Who has faced numerous challenges in getting their home repaired.

The past few years has taken a toll not only on the family’s home but also their spirits. Their home was hit by two hurricanes back to back which caused extensive damage. In 2016 Hurricane Matthew caused severe roof damage of their Lake County home. In 2017 Hurricane Irma caused their ceiling to collapse which exacerbated the damage. Mrs. Joan and her family were not sure where to turn after dealing with insurance companies not covering the costs. After resources seemed bleak Henry Kanczurzewski called the United Way hotline, who connected them with Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter.

May 15, 2018 was the beginning of a positive shift for the Lake County family’s life. That day was the initial point of contact between Habitat Lake-Sumter and the Kanczurzewski’s. Since then Habitat has been committed to finding a way to assist them. Habitat’s Family Services coordinator Victoria Troxell has worked closely with the family over the last 2 years to ensure this multi-gen family receives assistance. After reviewing the extensive roof and dry wall damage, they are now in the beginning stages of repair. In Mid-September, the permitting process began, and plans are being made for the roofing company to begin construction in November. Owens Corning Roof Deployment will be donating the roof replacement through their program specifically geared towards Veterans. After the roof is repaired, Veronica says they are looking to team up with local vendors in the community to repair the interior of the home including dry wall and floor damage.

Joan says that she is filled with gratitude for everything Habitat Lake-Sumter has already done for her family. Joan and Henry live in the home with grandchildren Teddy, 14 and Alison, 27 along with Alison’s husband, Kory who is an Army Veteran. The Kanczurzewski’s raised Alison and Teddy along with their sister Mckenzie, 22. When asked about her family, Joan says her family are her “heart and soul.” And raising her grandchildren turned to be a “blessing in disguise”. Mrs. Joan’s love for her family runs deep and feels that the finished home repairs will bring the already close-knitted family only closer. Joan is looking forward to opening her home up to her extended family for the holidays after the repairs are complete. Facing this adversity together this family has learned even more about each other’s love, selflessness and strength. The Kanczurzewski family will forever be thankful for their newfound safety and security that Habitat Lake-Sumter’s Preservation & Repair program has brought.

By Lauren W – Volunteer Writer

Sponsor of the Month: Munns

Meet Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter’s newest partner, Munn’s Air-Conditioning and Heating.

Munn’s has a trusted reputation as a locally owned and operated Heating and Air-Conditioning company and has been in business for more than FIFTY years! Munn’s knows about the importance of a job well-done, that’s why they are investing in the next generation of Youth Construction Academy students by sponsoring The Villages Charter High School’s latest new home construction project. Not only is Munn’s supporting the build but they’ll offering expertise and HVAC training to the students.

Munn’s is generously partnering with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter by sponsoring the Youth Construction Academy home and they’ll help us kick-off the season of giving by matching every donation made in December!


Boisvert Family with note from Anna

My Name is Michelle Boisvert and thanks to Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter I am a future homeowner!

My story begins with my family. I am blessed with six children, three boys, and three girls. The ages of my children are Richard 20, Jessica 17, Kenneth 16, Joseph 11, Anna 9, and Cheryl 7. Being single with six children has been very challenging, but finding affordable housing has been even harder.

I heard about Habitat for Humanity years ago when my employer asked for volunteers to join Habitat for Humanity in a preservation and repair project. A friend and I cleaned and painted the home for a few days. The homeowner was a single older woman who had no one to help her. It was a great experience meeting her and having the opportunity to see how happy she was after her home was complete. 

Now, I work full time for Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter, Florida.  I have been an employee for almost three years. It is amazing seeing all the families Habitat is helping and the hope in their eyes when someone is willing to help them.


My Journey

My journey starts with hope for a safe home with a yard for my children. It is a big dream, but one that I have been working towards since we moved here in 2015 to be close to my parents.

Currently, we live in a tiny two-bedroom apartment. Inside the apartment, our stove has not worked since last Thanksgiving. The tub has a large hole, and the front door is breaking. None of the washers and dryers work when we need to do laundry. It is very depressing and makes the situation feel hopeless.

God can always bring good from evil and give hope where there is none. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.” (King James Version, Rom 8:28).

The Covid-19 virus pandemic has been very hard on everyone. We have lost jobs, even friends and family. Due to the virus, even Habitat Lake-Sumter made some changes. But these changes made this house available for my family. 


Almost Home

We are all looking forward to being in our new home by Thanksgiving. I am very excited to be working towards this beautiful home for my children. This home is such a blessing for our family. The children are already making plans for the big yard that include a garden and fire pit to roast marshmallows. The main discussion right now is who will get which room. No matter which room they pick, they will finally have a safe place to call home.


Written by Michelle Boisvert – Future Habitat Homeowner

Edited by Rebecca Eaton – Habitat for Humanity Volunteer Writer


Construction Manager Barry Martin working on a playhouse at our first annual Jingle Build-Off

Calling local businesses and teams to sign up to build and customize wood playhouses as a special holiday gift to children during the second annual Jingle Build-Off, a fun, team-building competition, hosted by Habitat of Humanity of Lake-Sumter.

The 2019 event was the inaugural Jingle Build-Off with First National Bank of Mount Dora winning bragging rights as the overall winner. Coldwell Banker Camelot Realty won for constructing the most creative playhouse; Florida School Nutrition Association Lake County Chapter earned the Team Spirit award; and Lowe’s won the First to Finish award. Also participating in the first build-off were BP Smith Construction, Lake County Eagles Aerie No. 4273, Data Graphics, and VoluntEARS.

“We have five spots available for the 2020 Jingle Build-Off,” says Lacie Himes, associate development director for Habitat, who notes the playhouses can be built by a team of up to 10 participants.

All of the building supplies, instructions, coaching, tools, paint, and paint supplies will be provided by Habitat. The cost for the team build is $2,500 with up to 10 participants or $1,500 for a youth build of a playhouse built by one to two adults, and up to eight youths.

Local businesses can also participate as presenting and signature sponsors of the Jingle Build-Off.

Teams can do offsite building of their playhouses at a location, date, and place of their team’s choice, or they may participate at the onsite building on Dec. 5 at The Square, 122 E. Main St., Tavares.

Click here to read the full article by Akers Editorial/Lake & Sumter Style Magazine

Students build with Habitat for Humanity

Joshua Fulwider, left, Abigail Stewart, center, and Jakobe Zick bring in a roof truss to be raised on a home being built for Habitat for Humanity Lake Sumter on Oct. 12 on Ann Street in Lady Lake.  George Horsford, Daily Sun

Joshua Fulwider, left, Abigail Stewart, center, and Jakobe Zick bring in a roof truss to be raised on a home being built for Habitat for Humanity Lake Sumter on Oct. 12 on Ann Street in Lady Lake.
George Horsford, Daily Sun

The Villages High School seniors in the Construction Management Academy are back at work building a third home for Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter.

“It’s a great learning experience,” said student Jace Gray, 17.

“I’ve learned so much about a house I never would have learned in any other place — so much more respect for a house,” student Abigail Stewart, 17, said.

They carried and placed roof trusses in place on the house they are building in Lady Lake for a single mother with a daughter. Last March, students were almost done building another house for Habitat when spring break was extended in an effort to thwart the spread of COVID-19. Then the state closed schools for the rest of the year while students learned online.


6714 Winkles House in Coleman

Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter plans to break ground Oct. 16 for a new housing development in Tavares.

The Cottages at Heritage Grove is a 23-unit pocket neighborhood featuring cottage-style homes and townhomes at approximately 730 square feet. They will be the first age-qualified community, 55-plus, built by Habitat Lake-Sumter, in the area of 1406 County Drive, Tavares.

The groundbreaking for the new community comes at a time when housing affordability has risen to the forefront of conversation. In part, due to the efforts of Lake 100’s Workforce Housing Strategic Plan commissioned by locally elected officials.

Danielle Stroud, senior director of programs and partnerships at Habitat Lake-Sumter says the community will benefit those in the Central Florida area who are on a fixed income, retired, or looking to maintain affordable housing as senior citizens.

Click here to read the full article by Akers Editorial from Lake & Sumter Style

Affordable rent is ‘Out of Reach’ for many in Lake & Sumter

out of reach 2020


$24.00 per hour.

That’s how much you would need to earn from a full-time job to afford a two-bedroom apartment in Lake County in 2020. This comes from the latest edition of “Out of Reach” (OOR), the annual report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC). According to NLIHC, the OOR “documents the significant gap between renters’ wages and the cost of rental housing across the United States” and its findings illustrate the breadth of the affordable housing crisis nationwide, including here in Lake and Sumter Counties.

The OOR’s primary measure of this gap is the Housing Wage, defined as “an estimate of the hourly wage a full-time worker must earn to afford a modest rental home at HUD’s fair market rent (FMR) without spending more than 30% of his or her income on housing costs, the accepted standard of affordability”. In other words, the Housing Wage is what a full-time worker (40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year) should earn per hour to afford rent plus utilities in their area at a fair share (30%) of their income. Most workers’ wages don’t come anywhere near this number, which means affordable housing is out of their reach. The Housing Wage for Sumter County is $16.69 per hour and while that is significantly lower than Lake County’s $24.00, renters in Sumter still face substantial challenges in finding affordable housing.

single mother with 2 children

Lisa would have to work 112 hours per week to afford a 2 bedroom apartment in Lake County

single man

Jamie makes $11.86 an hour and still struggles to find an apartment he can afford in Sumter County.

Lake and Sumter County residents and workers make difficult choices when it comes to how they pay for housing. At the current minimum wage in Florida of $8.56 per hour, renters in Lake County need to work 112 hours per week to afford the FMR. In Sumter, the figure is 80 hours per week, but that is still two full-time jobs. Assuming a 40-hour work week at minimum wage, the maximum rent affordable is only $445, barely over a third of FMR for Lake and half of FMR for Sumter. Even for those renters earning the estimated mean hourly wage of $13.65 for Lake and $11.86 for Sumter, the monthly rent they can afford falls far short of FMR, at $710 for Lake and $617 for Sumter. Limiting their housing costs to 30% of income is simply not an option for many families in the area. Some service sector workers choose to live outside of the area where rents are more affordable and make long commutes to work. Others settle for housing arrangements that are insufficient for their families’ needs.

Policy solutions are badly needed, along with the political will to support them. At the local level, impact fees on new developments are often at odds with efforts to build more affordable housing. Federally, housing assistance is grossly underfunded. The OOR and NLIHC’s website provide examples of federal housing programs that can help solve the housing crisis, including the national Housing Trust Fund and Housing Choice Vouchers. For more information and to read the full report, click here to visit https://reports.nlihc.org/oor.


By Brian Salmons

Salute to our Veterans

vhi: donate. volunteer.

“The willingness of America’s veterans to sacrifice for our country has earned them our lasting gratitude.” -Jeff Miller

Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter is incredibly grateful for the sacrifices that our servicemen and women make, and to express our gratitude we are dedicated to investing in the lives of local Veterans. Through the Veterans Housing Initiative, we want to ensure that those who served are not forgotten and give them the same opportunities that their sacrifices allow us to have. After completing the Umatilla Veteran’s Village – a 13-unit community – we committed to increasing our service to Veterans and their families. 

Since 2018, we’ve served an additional 15 Veteran households with Critical Repairs and Preservation. Veterans like Edwin Seda, who after a military career spanning 20 years in the U.S. Army, was faced with losing his insurance unless his roof was replaced.

To salute our Veterans, we invite you to join us from now through November in supporting Veterans in our community. There are many more Veterans living in sub-standard housing and we need YOU to help!

  1. Donate Today! Your donation of $15 helps to build ramps, repair dilapidated roofs, and uplift the home of a Veteran
  2. We invite Veterans and others to volunteer with us on a special Veterans project, Wednesday, November 11th
  3. Attend the ‘Salute to Veterans’ event hosted by the Mount Dora Golf Club – Veterans golf for free on Wednesday, November 11th

Every Veteran deserves to live with strength, stability, and self-reliance, will you partner with our Veterans this November?

Contact Lacie (352) 483-0434 x 146 or Lacie@HabitatLS.org for inquiries, comments, and to get involved.

Dreams Come True for the Brooks Family

meet the brooks family

     On Emilee’s birthday last year, her dreams came true when she accompanied Rey on an adventure to find Chewbacca in a small trading post in Batuu. Walking side by side with her hero, Emilee is strong with the force, and with a mom like Amanda, it’s not hard to see where she gets it from. Now, thanks to Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter’s Youth Construction Academy and Habitat’s newest partner, Munn’s Air Conditioning & Heating, both mother and daughter will find a new happily ever after with their dream home.

         Like their favorite Star Wars heroes, Amanda Brooks and her daughter Emilee know how to use their powers for good. Having volunteered recently with Habitat Lake-Sumter, Amanda is excited to play the role of mentor for both Emilee and students who will be building her dream home. She hopes that the Villages Charter High School students feel accomplished building her and Emilee’s future home, learning strong foundational principles like hospitality, hard work, stewardship, and creativity. “I encourage my daughter to stick by these core values. I would also encourage the high school students to stick to these core values and to reach for their goals,” said Amanda.           

          Amanda volunteered on a Preservation & Repair project recently and helped re-paint a house, she said it was nice to meet other future Habitat homeowners and volunteers and learn about their journeys. Now that she’s on the receiving end of the program, Amanda says she’s still taking it all in. “Honestly, I’m still in a state of ‘is this really happening?’ ‘am I really getting this?’, I don’t think I’m going to be in shock anymore until I’m finally moving in.”

        Students enrolled in the high school’s Construction Management Program began active construction on Amanda and Emiliee’s home in late-August, with the house completion slated for May 2021. This highlights the school’s third year being involved in Habitat Lake-Sumter’s Youth Construction Academy and third house built with The Villages Charter High School. The program was created to provide students with valuable hands-on training and viable career opportunities after graduation. This year, Munn’s Air Conditioning & Heating will be providing support of the project by sponsoring the build and offering expertise and HVAC training to the students.

         In the end, just like the magic of Walt Disney World, Amanda and Emilee will be able to create new precious memories in their future home, where Emilee also dreams of using the extra room as a Star Wars playroom. For Amanda and Emilee, their new home just might be the happiest place on Earth.


By Olivia Knight



John Holmes working at Jingle Build-Off.

Habitat Lake-Sumter Villagers Club members put construction skills to good use for people in need. 

Villager Sally Read felt a strong desire to do something productive and meaningful after her husband died two years ago. She found her calling with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter Florida. 

“I knew that God had a place for me, and Habitat is what it turned out to be,” she says. “I was searching because I didn’t want to sit in my house all the time or just go out with the girls. Habitat was the answer I was looking for.”

Sally bonded with other Villagers who are just as passionate about the nonprofit organization that works in partnership with volunteers and donors to build new, affordable homes for families and individuals who demonstrate a need, and who have the ability to sustain a monthly mortgage payment. 

“What I have enjoyed the most is meeting like-minded people, the camaraderie,” says Sally, a Rochester, New York native. “We help each other out. If one person doesn’t know how to do it somebody else pitches in. It’s the feeling of doing it together more than anything. There are a lot of hardworking, talented people in the group. It’s quite amazing.” 

The Villages is home to “a lot of people with a construction background,” adds Kevin Tucker, a former Ontario County New York resident who is involved in preservation and repair projects for Habitat.

Kevin formed the Habitat Lake-Sumter Villagers Club in October 2019, serving as president, with Sally as treasurer and membership chair. The group began meeting the second Wednesday of each month at SeaBreeze Recreation Center.

Since the coronavirus prevented Villagers from being able to meet at recreation centers, the club has relied on Zoom meetings.

“It has been a little bit of a deterrent, but we decided a couple months ago we needed to keep the ball rolling,” Kevin says. “We are looking to grow our club and we actually have been charged with building a new home, which we will start in October, and it looks like the house will be built in Fruitland Park.” 

Click here to read the full article by Theresa Campbell from Lake Sumter & Style Magazine

South Lake High School And Habitat For Humanity Work Together To Build A House

group photo at south lake high school site in mascotte

Students from South Lake High School are working with Habitat For Humanity of Lake-Sumter to help launch a new Habitat for Humanity home in Mascotte. Monday was a big day for the local Habitat for Humanity, as well as for some future homeowners and a group of students at South Lake High School. Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter started its program of partnering with high school construction students two years ago with The Villages Charter High School. Last year they added Leesburg High to the program, and this year they have added the Construction Academy of South Lake High School. The Villages school, located in Sumter County, started its home-building project in August. But Monday was the start day for students in Lake County. Eight students were accepted to the construction team in south Lake — six boys and two girls — and most of them were on hand in Mascotte for their first day on the job site. The plan is that students will spend three days a week at the job site, and two days in the classroom.

From the sltablet.com

Leesburg Construction Academy students eye next Habitat for Humanity house

Leesburg High School students first day on site

Students from the Leesburg High School Construction Academy work on constructing a home for Habitat for Humanity in Leesburg. [Cindy Peterson/Correspondent] Cindy Peterson

LEESBURG — Leesburg construction students took their first steps into their next housing project Monday as they met with the future owner of a Habitat for Humanity home on 1501 Grove Ave. in Leesburg.

The 14 students will be building the program’s second house in partnership with Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter, though for each of them it is a first — students are hand-picked to be on the team from LHS construction academy seniors.

“I chose the team, so I think they’re freaking amazing,” construction academy teacher Bryan Russ said.

Russ added that he’s really confident not only in their skills, but in their ability to work as a team and to work through any conflicts, which will be key in keeping the project moving.

The project generated a great deal of excitement not only for the team, but for the new homeowner, Jessica Smith, who has already been selected by Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter this year.

She attended a small, socially distanced event to kick off the home build on Monday, where district officials gathered to encourage students and thank Habitat for Humanity of Lake and Sumter for providing the opportunity for the students to work. 

Smith, along with her son Otto, will make a home out of the new house after 

Leesburg students complete it.

Smith has never been a homeowner, she said, and she and Otto, who is 13, have had to move a total of 13 times since he was born. The home he was taken back to after his birth was destroyed in a tornado in 2007, and they’ve lacked stability since.

That stability is one of the things they’re looking forward to most.

“Moving around house to house, it feels good to be living in a single spot for the rest of my teenage years,” Otto said.

“We are very blessed for this opportunity,” his mother said, looking over at the framework of the house.

Smith added that she was excited to have students working on the project, and was glad that people would be using her future home to further their education.

Click here for the full article by Payne Ray from the Daily Commercial


Diane Treadway, president of Leesburg Evening Rotary Club, does exterior painting on a Leesburg home as part of Habitat for Humanity’s Preservation and Repair Program.

Six future Habitat for Humanity homeowners and several volunteers will unite on Sept. 12 to finish repairs on a Mascotte house occupied by a multigenerational family.

For the future homeowners, doing exterior painting and landscaping for the Valdez family will count towards completing 200 volunteer “sweat equity” hours with Habitat as part of their journey to homeownership.

“It is a unique volunteer day that brings all of these homeowners together,” says Danielle Stroud, senior director of programs and partnerships for Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter. “They are not only fulfilling their role as partner families with Habitat for Humanity, but they’re offering a hand-up to the Valdez family and putting the finishing touches to a critical repair project completed through Habitat’s Preservation and Repair Program.”

The Valdez family has already benefitted from receiving much-needed home repairs of a roof and air conditioning replacement. Exterior painting and some landscaping slated to take place Saturday will complete the preservation and repair work on the home.

Click here to read the full story by Akers Editorial

September Community Fundraisers

September Fundraisers in the Community

Your $1 makes a difference!!

Looking for ways to support Habitat Lake-Sumter this September? We have two fun ways that you can help families while supporting local businesses!

  • We are excited to announce that Habitat Lake-Sumter has been selected to be a part of the Community Bag Program at Winn-Dixie,  making it easy for customers to contribute to their local community while supporting the environment.

For the entire month of September, each time a reusable Community Bag is purchased at the Winn-Dixie located at either 944 Bichara Boulevard, Lady Lake FL or 820 Old Camp Road, The Villages FL, $1 will be donated to Habitat Lake-Sumter!  You can find the two colorful, reusable Community Bags with the Giving Tag on the reusable bag rack at either store. The key is to look for bags with a tag that features a blue heart with $1 on it.

We appreciate the support you give, which has allowed Habitat Lake-Sumter to maintain the work we do in our community. The Community Bag Program is a great way to continue to support our cause while working to eliminate single-use paper and plastic bags.

Imagine if each one of our supporters purchased just ONE bag! Please spread the word and pass this exciting news on your friends and family.


  • Maybe you’re looking for ways to support a local business and indulge in some self-care. We’ve been selected as the Charity of the Month at The Best Nail Spa: Pedicures For The People (18977 US HWY 441, Mt. Dora)

$1 Will Be Donated For Every Pedicure Done in September!

The Best Nail Spa is taking extraordinary measures to care for the health and safety of their customers, so invite a friend or two for a well-earned spa day and support Habitat’s mission to build homes, community, and hope! 

Board Member Spotlight: Ze Carter

Meet Ze Carter in our Board Member Spotlight

  • CHEF


Although it may look like there is a lot on my plate, consider it all relative. Being a chef and instructor gives me the opportunity to share my passion with others.  I am proud to have been an inaugural speaker for TEDxEustis, inaugural Lake County Schools Hall of Fame inductee, award winning chef, on air food personality for FOX 35 Orlando, weekly Daily Commercial food columnist and monthly podcast contributor. If the list doesn’t seem long enough, add being sought out as an industry professional and consultant regarding food insecurity and culinary education to persons with mental and physical disabilities, and offender community reintroduction support. However, my main joy in life is being a Christian, wife, mother and now a Mimi, (Okay, so some refer to this position as grandmother. I choose progress.)

“I understand that when it comes to food and the disparities in our communities any positive energy in this direction can change the world.”

I chose to join the Habitat board because of my commitment to my community when it comes to battling food insecurity with unique perspectives and, believe it or not, home ownership is one major weapon in the fight. I hope that I can be a conduit when it comes to different housing options and support of communities and neighborhoods looking to change the landscape and quality of life. Anything that I can positively be a part of is worth my precious time and efforts, Habitat Lake-Sumter is definitely high on my list.

What I am most looking forward to achieving in my term is helping bridge the gap of misinformation when it comes to home ownership, support different housing opportunities and varied community plans. By doing this, my main goal of helping those affected by food insecurity get on a track to home ownership that will help to end a vicious cycle of food disruption in their household.

I would love to introduce a program to our future and current homeowners that includes basic cooking lessons and kitchen safety. We all need to eat. It is pivotal that we learn basic cooking concepts and food procurement processes to ensure that not only do we survive but that we thrive, especially in today’s climate. Home ownership and cooking can serve as more than a place to live and adding the ability to provide healthy meals will allow us to do much more in our lives and communities.

Being the former pantry manager and volunteer at Lake Cares food pantry I was afforded the opportunity to meet so many people and understand the problems they faced. Although I have never officially volunteered on a build, I look forward to assisting on future builds and obtaining one of Habitat’s pink hard hats. I firmly believe that Habitat’s position of being a key component to building your house is the groundbreaking factor when it relates to home ownership. In closing, with my aforementioned mission in life of being the General when it comes to battling food insecurity with a unique perspective and helping to end the cycle of poverty; through affordable housing & home ownership, and with varied community & housing options. By doing this I hope we are able to further assist potential candidates not only to obtain housing but thrive in their homes as well. The dots are there, let’s connect them.

Chef Ze’Carter


Sponsor of the Month: Wells Fargo

September 2020 Sponsor of the Month: Wells Fargo


The issue of attainable housing has been a layered and often, complex problem to address. In a year of new norms and unexpected crisis, precautions and change; the need for housing affordability solutions remains. Even expanding as more families face financial insecurity and housing instability exasperated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Yet in the midst of uncertainty, Wells Fargo has maintained their commitment to champion affordable housing solutions in Lake and Sumter Counties. The collaboration with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter and Wells Fargo Builds is part of a nationwide effort for capacity building and direct mission support to build, renovate and repair more than 350 affordable homes across the United States. 

Habitat Lake-Sumter was awarded a $30,000 grant to build an affordable home in Leesburg, FL and critically repair a home in Wildwood, FL.

Danielle Stroud, SR. Director of Programs & Partnerships shares how exciting this grant is for Habitat Lake-Sumter, “This is the largest award amount we’ve been granted through Wells Fargo Foundation and it directly impacts our affiliates mission by increasing Habitat’s capacity to serve even more families in Lake County.”

Typically, Wells Fargo hosts a statewide “Day of Service,” a day where team members are encouraged to engage in service projects by volunteering in their communities. Nationwide, “Day of Service” has generated millions of hours in volunteer time and created an environment where ‘community giving’ is embedded in the culture and attitude of Wells Fargo.

However, due to restrictions caused by Covid-19, Wells Fargo employees will not be on-site for the two upcoming projects with Habitat Lake-Sumter. Although the goodwill and camaraderie of the Wells Fargo volunteers will be missed, the output of a critical repair project and a new home build will be invaluable for 2 local families.

“Habitat Lake-Sumter exists to create access and opportunity to affordable housing solutions,” says Danielle, “We partner with families and build an affordable housing product which we are only able to do because of partners like Wells Fargo, who care enough about the end goal: communities where everyone has a safe and secure place to call home.”

Habitat Lake-Sumter is grateful for the legacy of giving from Wells Fargo. In the uncertainty of 2020, Wells Fargo continues to be a community partner and housing champion!


Meet Ashley Hess – Youth Construction Academy Graduate

Meet Ashley Hess


Between the pressures of statewide testing, staying active in after-school sports and navigating social norms, high school students rarely get the chance to learn skills that will stick with them beyond their senior year. Habitat Lake-Sumter’s Youth Construction Academy is determined to change that with a mutually beneficial program that not only teaches high school students construction, carpentry, and home-building skills, but also provides a new home to a family in need.

When asked what her thoughts on the program are, Ashley has nothing but positive feedback about the benefits it provides for the students now, and in the future.

“I really love this program. It comes with many opportunities for certifications and many different experiences with learning how to build a home. This program also gives us connections to construction companies and helps us do some networking whenever we make it into the real world. These connections could offer us jobs and a look at different parts of the construction industry.”

She likes that working in construction helps to buffer the bias of women in the construction industry, and she always gets a laugh when men react to her carrying heavy objects while working on site. While the work helps to make her strong physically, it also helps mentally, giving her, and other teens clarity and an outlet for stress.

Ashley’s hard work is paying off, prior to school closure due to Covid-19, she was awarded Student of the Month – this award focuses on a student’s employability (attendance, work performance, and willingness to excel) and overall attitude and competence “on the job” whether that is in class or onsite.  As the only female construction academy student in her class, Ashley demonstrates her leadership skills by being a role model among her peers and encouraging other girls to see the construction industry as a viable career path; traits that will undoubtedly benefit Ashley in her chosen field.

Stay tuned for future updates on Ashley and find out where the Youth Construction Academy students are now! 

By Lauren Lester- Real Estate Advisor and Community Advocate

Sponsor of the Month: Bank of America

Bank of America Sponsor of the Month in August 2020


Here at Habitat Lake-Sumter our mission is to bring people together to build homes, communities, and hope. But we know that we are only one piece of the puzzle; to build and repair homes for deserving families, we align ourselves with the future homeowners, volunteers, and community partners to make each and every home possible.

One such community partner is Bank of America, whose support of the work Habitat Lake-Sumter does and the families we partner with is emblematic of their commitment to the communities they reside in. On a national level, Bank of America’s partnership with Habitat for Humanity includes nearly $80 million in philanthropic funding and volunteer efforts in local markets and regions around the world, including 35,000 hours of volunteer time annually.

Locally, Bank of America has partnered with Habitat Lake-Sumter to invest $56,000 in grants over the past several years for our Preservation & Repair program and new home construction.

This year, we’ve joined forces with Bank of America for a new home build in Mount Dora, Florida. The new home construction is made possible in part by a $10,000 grant from Bank of America and stems from a shared vision that providing access to affordable housing advances economic mobility and enriches the community.

Future homeowners with Habitat Lake-Sumter invest 200 hours of their time through “sweat equity” and help build their homes alongside volunteers, homeowners also participate in financial education courses and pay an affordable mortgage. Because of Bank of America’s generous support, a new Habitat homeowner will achieve the strength, stability and independence they need to build a better life for themselves and for their family.

Better, affordable living conditions lead to improved health, stronger childhood development, and the ability—and financial flexibility—to make forward-looking choices. With Bank of America’s collaboration, Habitat Lake-Sumter is able to provide an affordable housing product and create sustainable solutions for our community.

On July 7th, we hosted a ceremonial ribbon-cutting at the site of the future home, 602 E. Jackson Avenue. However, due to precautionary health measures in regards to Covid-19, the site is currently closed to volunteers. But the home is quickly progressing, with walls raised and trusses being set just weeks later.

During a time when where you live is more important than ever, Bank of America has stood alongside Habitat Lake-Sumter and the families we serve to ensure equitable housing is available to those who need it most.

Healthy Housing Series: Part 3

Healthy Housing Series Part 3 Financial Health by Brad Weber Executive VP Chief Lending Officer of Citizens First Bank

What does it mean to be financial healthy?

Women Build 2020: Preservation & Repair

 I’ve been involved with several Habitat projects, but it was this one that touched me so deeply. It was all because of The Dragon Sister’s, Kevin, Habitat staff and sponsors. But most importantly, because of Miss Dorothy, for sharing this experience with us- Kim Thayer, Dragon Sisters

At the core of Women Build is a group of people who are willing to advocate for attainable housing, garner support from their sphere of influence, and take action to create change in their community.

This year, Women Build came to an unexpected halt. Typically, Women Build begins in March and participants raise funds for 6 weeks, followed by the volunteer and build phase in May. But when the coronavirus halted everything, it seemed like Women Build would be indefinitely delayed.

But then something incredible happened. Women Builder’s started to reach out.

They asked questions like: What can I do? How can I help someone during this time? Is there a family who needs a little extra support right now?

So we told them. Habitat Lake-Sumter shared the stories of families who needed help before Covid-19 and who would still need our help as we began to recover. Families who were struggling and vulnerable in their housing situations and who, without our help, would only feel the exacerbated effects of sheltering in unsafe housing conditions.

Leesburg Evening Rotary, BSmart Masonry, The Dragon Boat Sisters, and Zonta International adopted 2 projects, raising the funds needed and offering their volunteer time to make it happen. After all of the changes to Women Build and with safety precautions in place, we were finally able to see the Women Build projects come to fruition.

In July, two Women Build Preservation & Repair projects were completed thanks to some incredible individuals, businesses, and civic organizations who took action to strengthen and unite our community.

The project took on more than originally scoped – the Dragon Sisters did some major landscaping, as opposed to just “trim back the bushes so the house could be painted” approach.  Also, the house would not stand up to power washing before painting, so the Sisters washed the entire house by hand so that it could be painted.  Without the Dragon Sisters, there’s no way this house would have been done by Friday.  As a club they also supplied plants, mulch, landscape fabric, and a garden flag and the pictures don’t do it justice, but the landscaping alone was a difference-maker- Kevin, Habitat Site Leader

Women Build may look decidedly different this year but the one thing that remained steadfast were the people willing to take on key leadership roles and direct action in helping families in Lake & Sumter County.

First of all we have a group of THE MOST generous, caring, funny and loving women I have EVER BEEN ASSOCIATED WITH.  And most everyone else will say the same thing. Each day when we arrived we all knew what had to be done and we just went right to work, no direction needed. At the end of each day whether it was a sisters first day or not, each went home feeling good knowing we were helping make a difference in a sweet woman’s day.

Ms. Dorothy fed us and praised us and she even prayed that God would put us to use to help someone else in need. I asked her if she could ask him to use us in cooler days since the heat index was not under 106° the entire week. She laughed!  But not one sister complained about the work that was needed. On our last day Ms. Dorothy came out to see her freshly painted, repaired home and freshly landscaped and cleaned flower beds and shrubs. She had a poem she “gave” us and it is this :

A bells not a bell till its rung

A songs not a song till it’s sung

But love wasn’t put in our hearts to stay

Loves not love till you give it away !

We ALL gave love away that week and we ALL are better for it. Thanks for the opportunity. Hugs!  -Vicki McMillan, Dragon Sisters  


Project #1: Caitlyn and her 3 young sons have lived in their home for 8 years. Caitlyn was approved for a matching grant through USDA and Habitat. Leesburg Evening Rotary and BSmart Masonry sponsored the project to match funds for windows and roof to be replaced, and provided the family with a gate (for an added feeling of security for Caitlyn and her boys). As a final touch, both Leesburg Evening and Sunrise Rotarians volunteered to paint, giving her home a fresh feel to go along with the new windows and doors.

Project #2: Ms. Dorothy is 87 years old and lives on her own in Wildwood. She is a widow of an Army Veteran. She has lived in her current residence for 61 years and was facing loss of insurance unless she could get the roof repaired. The Dragon Boat Sisters and Zonta assisted in raising funds to repair her roof, fix her a/c, paint and build her a new accessibility ramp.












Fraternal Order of the Eagles Aerie & Auxiliary #4273 Ellen Wiebe Madam President, Jim Ross Eagles President, Lacie Himes HFHLS, Nettie Goeler co-chair, Linda Lewis co-chair

The Lake County Eagles Auxiliary No. 4273 recently surprised Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter with a $10,000 grant to be used towards their upcoming building project, The Cottages at Heritage Grove.

With infrastructure slated to begin in late fall, the cottages will be Habitat Lake-Sumter’s first 55+ community in Tavares. Construction on the 23 units is set to begin early 2021, according to Lacie Himes, associate development director for Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter.

Each cottage will be around 730 square feet, feature nice green space and a community pavilion. The cottages will be styled similar to the prototype four cottages Habitat recently constructed in Coleman.

Click here to read the full article by Akers Editorial


St. Louis Ave House

Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter and Lake Cares Food Pantry are partnering together with last minute touches on a newly built Eustis home for a single mom, Rachel Storey and her son, Jackson, 6.

Lake Care has made it a tradition with every Habitat family to provide a well-stocked pantry and refrigerator prior to move-in day, and on July 21, Irene O’Malley, executive director from Lake Cares, will be delivering groceries to the Storey house with some help from Habitat’s Family Service Coordinator Veronica Troxell.

“As anyone knows, moving in is time consuming and we (Lake Cares and Habitat) want to make sure the home is ready with groceries and meals that can be prepared for the coming weeks and provide stability for the homeowner,” says Lacie Himes, associate development director for Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter.

Rachel and her son are eager to move into their new home.

“I’m looking forward to just being with my son and having our own house to call home,” Rachel told Style in an earlier interview. The pair has been living at her parents’ Grand Island home, which they moved into when Rachel was going through a divorce.

“My parents helped me with my son, too, because he was younger at the time,” she says. “I started going back to church and it was like God was putting me back piece by piece. I’m just so thankful for everything. God led me to the right people at the right time and Habitat couldn’t have been better to work with. I am beyond grateful.”

Click here to read the full article by Theresa Campbell of Lake & Sumter Style Magazine

Fraternal Order of Eagles helps community

Fraternal Order of the Eagles Aerie & Auxiliary #4273 Ellen Wiebe Madam President, Jim Ross Eagles President, Lacie Himes HFHLS, Nettie Goeler co-chair, Linda Lewis co-chair

The organization recently gave $10,000 to Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter for its Cottages at Heritage Grove project and $13,050 for the Lake Sumter Children’s Advocacy Center.

Although the bank accounts are running low these days due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Fraternal Order of Eagles in Okahumpka is still doing its part in helping the community.

Most recently, the organization gave $10,000 to Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter for its Cottages at Heritage Grove project and $13,050 for the Lake Sumter Children’s Advocacy Center.

Read the full article by Cindy Peterson / For the Daily Commercial


Mount Dora Mayor Catherine T. Hoechst, Nadine Foley, and Monica Wofford pose for a ribbon-cutting ceremony on July 7 for a new home to be built by Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter.

Mount Dora Mayor Catherine T. Hoechst, Nadine Foley, a friend and representative of Nancy A. Penn Shaner Trust, and Monica Wofford, a Habitat Lake-Sumter board member, took part in a ceremonial ribbon-cutting ceremony July 7 for a new Habitat home to be built at 602 E. Jackson St., Mount Dora.

Bank of America will be the corporate sponsor for the project along with community involvement provided by bequest gifts from the Ohlsson Charitable Trust and Nancy A. Penn-Shaner Trust.

“The community involvement is stemming from individual donors who had the forethought to contribute this way,” says Lacie Lacie Himes, associate development director for Lake-Sumter Habitat.

She adds that the collaboration between Habitat and Bank of America has generated $56,000 in grants over the past several years for new home construction, preservation and repair.

Due to COVID-19, the building site on Jackson street in Mount Dora will be closed to volunteer workers. “We are slowly opening certain locations for volunteers, but we tend to gauge the response the current climate,” says Lacie.

Also before the coronavirus hit, Habitat had planned on female builders to start building a new home construction project in Leesburg, but they had to scale back fundraising and postpone the home build.

“Many awesome female leaders in our community still wanted to support local families,” says Lacie. “So, they raised funds as a group and funded two critical home repairs that had been delayed and were at risk of not happening due to lost resources because of COVID-19.”

Click here to read the full article by Theresa Campbell of Lake & Sumter Style Magazine

Eagles surprises Habitat for Humanity

Fraternal Order of the Eagles Aerie & Auxiliary #4273 Ellen Wiebe Madam President, Jim Ross Eagles President, Lacie Himes HFHLS, Nettie Goeler co-chair, Linda Lewis co-chair

The Lake County Eagles Auxiliary Post 4273 in Okahumpka surprised Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter with a $10,000 grant benefitting its upcoming project, The Cottages at Heritage Grove. The 23-unit pocket neighborhood in Tavares will be Habitat Lake-Sumter’s first 55-plus community.

Infrastructure work is slated to begin in the fall.

The Eagles has a long-standing history with Habitat for Humanity and were sponsors of Habitat Lake-Sumter’s original pocket neighborhood in 2016, The Umatilla Veterans Village.

Details: Lacie Himes at 352-483-0434, ext. 146.

Around the House: A true win-win situation

Lady Lake house

In 2020, Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter worked with The Villages Charter High School Construction Management Academy and the Leesburg High School Construction Academy in the construction of two Habitat for Humanity Homes in Lake County.

The home built by The Villages Charter High School Construction Management Academy students is in the Carlton Village area of Lady Lake while the home built by the Leesburg High School Construction Academy students is on North 12th Street in Leesburg. Both projects were a complete success — with the new homeowners having a home for a lifetime built by students who developed skill sets in construction for a lifetime.

The only disappointment was the COVID-19 pandemic, which prevented both high schools from following the projects all the way to the end. The students missed the opportunity to finish their Habitat homes, participate in the dedication ceremonies, and receive accolades from a grateful community for a job well done, which resulted in the enhancement of each school’s program. Students in both programs have paved the way for future students and Habitat homeowners.

The 2020-2021 school year promises to be even bigger for the Habitat for Humanity Projects in Lake and Sumter Counties, as these projects are being planned for The Villages Charter High School, Leesburg High School and South Lake High School.

These projects merge public education with private partnerships to help train students for good paying jobs and careers while providing a needed home for a working family. They teach the young people in our community the important of benevolence. Honestly, these programs work because everyone wins.

Thanks to the participation of the community, school district, and private partnerships, these programs a true success. Many people want to get involved and here is how you can participate in one of these great projects.

Each high school has an Advisory Board, which bridges the partnership between the public and private sectors. These Advisory Boards are made up of educators and business-people in the construction community that meet monthly to address the needs of their high school’s program and coordinate community participation.

If you would like to participate on one of the Advisory Boards, contact Lynnea Weissman at the Lake County School District at 352-988-4876, or Rob Grant, the Principal at The Villages Charter High School, at 352-259-3777.

Click here to read the full article by Don Magruder / For the Daily Commercial

Healthy Housing Series Part 2

Healthy Housing Series Part 2: Mental Health

The Impact of Housing on Mental Health

Inadequate housing can act as a barrier to mental health. But safe, decent, and affordable housing can remove barriers to opportunity and success, both mental and physical health; that might have been part of a family’s life for years, if not generations.

As a counselor for the last 22 years I have seen the effects the living environment has on the mental, emotional, and relational life of individuals and families. Having inadequate housing can cause depression, anxiety, and encourage poor methods of coping. It can affect how you see yourself, what you perceive as your value, and what you expect out of life; this can color and affect your personal identity.  In turn, the opposite also proves to be true, a safe and secure home can provide a stable foundation for a healthy life where good habits and loving memories are created.

A home is more than just shelter from a storm, it is a place for personal growth.  A comfortable home atmosphere produces a sense of safety, belonging, peace, and joy. It is an individual’s haven away from the world.  A safe, stable, and affordable home provides a release from the anxiety of wondering if your needs will be met and instead fosters the opportunity for personal growth.

Housing is central to our well-being. When it is affordable, safe, and in good condition, it is the foundation for us to participate fully in and contribute to our families and community.

Let me give you a real life example.  Angie (not her real name for privacy purposes) was a client of mine. She had been married for 10 years to a narcissistic, verbal and emotional abuser. She had two small children, a low-paying job, and felt crushed emotionally from years of abuse. As a counselor, I sought to help her restore her voice and identity. I planned on teaching her how to identify abusive patterns, set boundaries, and instead of reacting, respond with healthy thinking and life skills. I wanted her to obtain discernment skills for a better future.

Living in poor housing affects women more than men. Research by NatCen and Shelter found mothers were more likely to suffer clinical depression if they lived in bad housing: 10% of mothers who lived in acutely bad housing were clinically depressed.

This emotional journey would require Angie to learn how to re-frame faulty thoughts so that she could recast life patterns and have the ability to pass down healthy relationship skills to her children. It would require systematic change, one choice at a time, to produce health and wholeness for her entire family. But, how could any of that be obtained if we didn’t first address her immediate need for a safe place to live?

The emotional strain is faced by millions of families as they struggle to meet their housing costs. According to the research polls: • Almost one in three adults say housing costs are causing stress and depression in their family • One in four are kept awake at night by the stress of paying their rent or mortgage

As a first step to starting this next chapter in her life, Angie and I worked together to find her a place she could call home. A place that was physically safe, devoid of toxins, or peeling paint. A place where her children could go outside without her being afraid for their safety. Once we found her a home that met her needs and provided a sense of security, she was able to put her effort into moving forward and healing mentally and emotionally from past wounds. Thanks to a safe place to call home, she was able to begin the journey into making a new life for her and her children.

About Dr. Michele

For over 22 years she has provided thousands of people with tools and skills to “Think, Choose, and Thrive.” She works in her local office but also serves clients all over the country via online platforms like Skype.

Contact her at www.DrMichele.org, or call (904) 730-0775.

See more from her click here https://www.youtube.com/user/drmichelefleming.

Lake Panasoffkee: Welcome Home

Welcome Home Kim & Sara!

Welcome Home!

Two families who partnered with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter received the keys to their homes on Wednesday, June 17th 2020; Kim Stull and Sara Mcghee officially became homeowners with a hand-up from Habitat Lake-Sumter.

When a family partners with Habitat for Humanity, they take their first step down a new path – one with fewer barriers to a better, healthier, and more financially stable life.

Families may find themselves in need of decent, affordable shelter due to a variety of circumstances—unpredictable rent increases, overcrowded living conditions, damaged or dilapidated structures, or lack of access to affordable financing.

But Habitat Lake-Sumter and our partner families walk side-by-side on the journey to home ownership. Sara and Kim both became active participants in the homeownership process. Following the criteria of our home ownership program, each had to fulfill 200 hours of ‘sweat equity’ by working alongside volunteers to build trusses, paint walls, and hang the doors; to build the places they now call home.

In the midst of fulfilling sweat equity hours, homeowners also attend financial education classes and learn the basics of budget management. Receiving the key to your home signifies more than being approved through a traditional home buying process, it also shows that you’ve invested 200 hours into your new home and education to build a better future for yourself and your family.

While their journey with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter is complete, the journey to a stronger, more stable future begins; we celebrate with Kim and Sara as they take their first steps as new homeowners. Congratulations to The Stull Family and the Mcghee Family!


Letter from the Board

Group Photo with staff and Board of Directors

Greetings to all who have supported Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter this year! While 2020 has been a trying year for us all, I wanted to say thank you for your continued support of the organization and all the good work we have been doing. Despite the unexpected challenges caused by the coronavirus over the last three months, Habitat Lake-Sumter successfully continued to build homes, community, and hope –  as I reflect at the close of our 19-20 fiscal year, I would like to share a snapshot of just some of the accomplishments we are celebrating, in partnership with you.

Community Advocacy & Leadership

  • We saw an increase in community buy-in from local leaders on the need for attainable housing for our communities.  This resulted in action by the Lake County Commissioners voting unanimously to approve an impact fee waiver program for affordable housing units – this will help underwrite the cost of construction for homes, making the entry point of home ownership accessible to more people.
  •  Habitat Lake-Sumter CEO, Kent Adcock, will be participating in leading the charge for research and development of the Lake County Attainable Housing Strategic Plan. By taking a leadership role in Lake County’s Strategic Plan, Kent gives a voice to those in our community who need access to attainable housing.
  •  For the first time since 2007, the Florida House and Senate have agreed to fully fund the trust for affordable housing, The Sadowski Trust Fund. Resulting in a total of $370 million dollars of funding for the entire state of Florida, instead of taking money out to fund other projects like in year’s past. State-level changes are made possible through local advocacy!

Building More Homes & Creating More Partnerships:

  • We have weathered (and continue to weather) the storm of the pandemic as an “essential business,” continuing our mission with care and attention to necessary health and safety precautions
  • As an essential business, we’ve built 6 homes in our service area and served an additional 45 families through Preservation & Repair– including 7 Veteran households.
  • Completed our first Inmate Construction Academy home in partnership with Lake County Sheriff’s Office
  • Completed our first home, in partnership, with Leesburg High School through the Youth Construction Academy
  • Thanks to the $100,000 Disney Grant and great exposure from our television series, Habitat Academy, we garnered additional community support for the Youth Construction Academy program and as a result will be adding South Lake High School as our third partner school next year.

One last thing I really need to shed light on is the daily, creative leadership of CEO, Kent Adcock and the outstanding fundraising and administrative skills Senior Director, Danielle Stroud, uses for Habitat Lake-Sumter. Also, I could not leave out the Board and staff; truly the mark of any great organization is the people that are at work in it, and the above highlights are made possible by their dedication to the mission and belief that everyone deserves a place to call home.


Feliciano Felix Ramirez
Feliciano Felix Ramirez
Board Chair
Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, Florida

Publix Super Market Charities



Habitat Lake-Sumter’s Preservation & Repair program has become a vital way we serve families in our community. While our flagship program of home ownership provides access and opportunity to owning a home, Preservation & Repair maintains the safety and accessibility of homes. This program ensures that homeowners (some who have lived in their home for 40 years!) are able to safely live in their homes once again, this also lowers the risk of losing their homeowners insurance or losing the house itself.

One company has continued to show their support for the safety and stability of every single person in our community. Not only does Publix Super Market continuously care for their customers, their compassion extends beyond the doors of their stores every single day.

Since 2012, Publix has partnered with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter; as one of the top donors of your Hometown Habitat, Publix Super Market Charities gave $35,000 to our Preservation & Repair program this year.

We completed a total of 45 projects and served 97 individuals through Preservation & Repair, including 7 veterans. Because of Publix’s generosity, we are able to serve families who otherwise would not be able to maintain the safety of their home.

Families like the Duckham’s, Matthew and his three children were living with a badly leaking roof that led to dry wall issues within their home. We replaced the roof and repaired the leaks in the ceiling to prevent water from coming into the home, keeping the family safe and dry during hurricane season.

Although each project may seem small, the impact it has on a family is huge. Whether they’re a multi-generational family living under a tarped roof for 2 years, a disabled veteran who no longer leaves the home due to accessibility issues, or families like the Duckham’s, who had to rely on towels and buckets during Florida’s storms – each home repair project changes the lives of the families living inside.

Thank you, Publix Super Market Charities, for your shining example of leadership and commitment to making our community a better place to live!

Habitat for Humanity ReStore reopens in Leesburg

Ann Walls, of Virginia, tries out a couch while shopping at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Leesburg on Wednesday.  Michael Johnson, Daily Sun

Ann Walls, of Virginia, tries out a couch while shopping at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Leesburg on Wednesday.
Michael Johnson, Daily Sun

Two Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter ReStores are now open to the public.

On Wednesday, the Leesburg ReStore at 200 N. Lone Oak Drive and the Eustis ReStore at 710 S. Bay St. reopened after closing in March because of COVID-19. Local residents can come inside the stores again and drop off donations. Staff are wearing masks to help keep people safe.

“We’re very excited to reopen ReStores,” said Lacie Himes, assistant development director for Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter. “They play a huge role in Habitat commissions.”

Habitat Academy wraps up first season

A still from the final episode of Habitat Academy, released May 20 on YoutTube. [Sumitted]
A still from the final episode of Habitat Academy, released May 20 on YouTube. [Submitted]

The sixth episode showed final interviews with many of those involved in the project and offered a glimpse into the future with insights into a planned second season.

LEEBSURG — The season finale of Habitat Academy, Red Apples Media’s six-episode series which followed the construction of a Habitat for Humanity house with the help of Leesburg High School students, aired last week on Lake Sumter TV.

Though part of production had to take place after social distancing guidelines were put into place to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Red Apples Media President Marc Robertz-Schwartz said the team was extremely proud of the production, and of those who worked together to build the home.

“It really was just a phenomenal experience for everyone,” Robertz-Schwartz said.

The sixth episode showed final interviews with many of those involved in the project and offered a glimpse into the future with insights into a planned second season.

It also revealed the new homeowner, Lauren McInnes, a single mother working in healthcare and raising two children on her own. She had previously been living with her parents.

Click here to read the full article by Payne Ray from the Daily Commercial

ReStore: Grand Re-Opening

ReStore Update

ReStore: coming soon!

New things are in store at Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter’s ReStores. We will be re-opening the Eustis and Leesburg ReStores in mid-June!

As we transition back to business, the Groveland and Wildwood locations will remain closed with no scheduled date for re-opening.


Take a sneak peek at some of the behind the scenes work at Eustis ReStore,

Our two ReStore locations are opening up bigger and better than you’ve ever seen them. 

We can’t wait to show you all of the hard work the ReStore staff has been doing to prepare the Eustis and Leesburg ReStores for re-opening, with the health and safety of you in mind!

Important Things to Know:

  • Follow us on Facebook! Our official Grand Re-Opening date will be announced soon
  • Donation drop-off will resume on opening day at the Eustis and Leesburg ReStores
  • Free donation pick up will resume scheduling on opening day, throughout our service area (including Wildwood and Groveland!)
  • Health and safety procedures will be in place so you can donate and shop at our ReStores while keeping the community safe

Look For:

  • A new D.I.Y section to inspire your next project
  • Feature items- generators and DeWalt lights- just in time for hurricane season!


Our ReStores are vital to our mission of building homes, community, and hope. We believe that everyone deserves a decent and affordable place to call home and when you donate and purchase items from one of our ReStores, you make it possible for Habitat Lake-Sumter to build and repair homes for families in Lake and Sumter counties.

We can’t wait to see you again!

Youth Construction Academy Dedications


Over the past school year select Youth Construction Academy students have been hard at work building two new homes in our service area.  We are proud to share they are complete, beautifully built, and will soon be filled with the laughter of children as the Shields and McInnes families move in next week!  The student participants from The Villages Charter School and Leesburg High started their home building projects in August with raw land and have worked alongside our Habitat construction manager as well as local sub-contractors to gain experience within the various trades of residential construction. This program is a shining example of Habitat’s mission of bringing people together to build homes, communities, and hope.  A special THANK YOU to all of our sponsors and community supporters who helped make these projects a reality.   Check out the videos below to get a tour of the finished homes, meet the Habitat families, and join us in congratulating the students success!

The Villages Charter Dedication Video
A special message from Walt Disney World Ambassadors

Leesburg High Dedication Video

Exciting Plans for Next Year

Thanks to the generous support of Disney, Habitat Lake-Sumter was able to invest in securing a third school relationship for our Youth Construction Academy program.  We  are happy to announce that next year we will have three partner schools – Leesburg High, The Villages Charter High, and South Lake High!  As each school works to build their construction program, we are ready to grow with them and provide an opportunity for real life, on the job training, creating a bright outlook for their career.  Below are the locations of the 20-21 home building projects by school:


Meet the Stull Family

Almost Home

My Family

My name is Tamiko Kim Stull and I am a future homeowner thanks to Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter. Who knew that a chance encounter 6 months ago at my job would lead me to where I am today, about to close on a home of my own!

My journey has definitely been rewarding.  I am 52 years old and a grandmother of 5 (soon to be 6) and I am raising my grandson, Ayden Kyle, who is 10 years old. I am originally from Sacramento, CA and my parents named me Tamiko Kim (pronounced Tommy-Ko) because my mother was a full blooded Okinawan. They were wonderful parents who brought me to Florida when I was 5 and I’ve never left.  I grew up in the same house until I married so I had a wonderful childhood filled with happy memories of home and family.

My family is my greatest achievement. I have 3 children, Amanda, Glynnie and Jayson. My grandbabies are Ayden Kyle, Alexis Sophia (7), Corey Ray (5), Carter Preston (2) and Conner Matthew who was born this past February. I am also expecting another grandchild this year, precisely on the fourth of July.  He or she will be our Yankee Doodle Baby and that is yet another blessing this year will bring.

My Journey

Ayden and I are currently living in a 28 x 14 camper, we look on the bright side and call our small home “cozy and quaint” but trading in a camper for a brand new home is definitely a good thing!  It gives me an overwhelming sense of joy because it hasn’t been easy living in such a confined space with my grandson.  The tiny camper Ayden and I share is on a property owned by a friend, but it’s located in Webster and our commute is 30 minutes to and from school and work.

Our only mode of transportation is an old truck and that much driving everyday can cause a lot of wear and tear on an old vehicle, not to mention the possibility of being stranded alone with Ayden if it were to break down. So it’s an added blessing that our new house is right in town. Living in the camper can make daily tasks feel challenging.  Small bathtub, limited hot water and no laundry; lugging our laundry to and from the laundromat is a lot of work.  You can ask Ayden, he dislikes doing laundry and dreams of long hot showers. And I agree, I am most grateful for the laundry room that’s part of our new home.  Finally, I’ll have a washer & dryer so that visits to the laundromat will be a thing of the past!

Almost Home

I met Wayne, the Construction Director at Habitat Lake-Sumter when he came into the Lake Panasoffkee Water Association, where I am the office manager. I helped Wayne set up water accounts for a couple new Habitat houses. Not long after, I heard that they were accepting applications for new homes and decided to look into it. I thought I might meet the requirements so I took a chance and applied.  Before I knew it, I was advised that if I wanted to move forward, the house was ours. I was shocked!

I’m so thankful for how helpful everyone has been, especially Travis, he is the Site Supervisor who helped build my home. I worked alongside Travis to put some sweat equity into my house and he helped me paint our soon-to-be home.  Although I had a wonderful time doing it, I will admit that climbing up and down the ladder put my legs out of commission for about 3 days, but it was still a great experience! The whole process has been amazing because Habitat is all about helping families succeed on their journey to being a homeowner.

Thanks to Habitat Lake-Sumter, we are saying goodbye to the camper and hello to a real home!  A comfortable home where I can raise Ayden; I’m thankful that he’ll be growing up with his own room, in our own home.

Honestly, what I am really looking forward to is moving in and creating lasting memories of home and family for Ayden, the way my mother did for me.  We might even have a fourth of July celebration for our two blessings, our Habitat home and our Yankee Doodle baby but it may have to be a short celebration because I’m sure Ayden Kyle will probably want to take a long hot shower…

Written by Tamiko Stull – Future Habitat Homeowner

 Edited by Lorie Lozada – Writer & Habitat Homeowner



Building a Healthy Home for Children

Healthy Housing Series Part 1: Physical Health


Building a Healthy Home Environment for Children

The home environment is considered to be one of the most important factors in the neurocognitive development of children. This is especially true in the first years of life when a child’s experiences are predominantly dependent on what is provided by their parents.

The home environment consists of physical and social components, such as household possessions, play materials, parent-child interactions, family size, and structure. Favorable surroundings provide the psychological stimulation and support necessary for optimal development of early cognitive skills. These factors have been proven to lead to education and employment success later in life.


Creating Space to Grow

When a child doesn’t have space to freely move around, normal development can be hindered. A healthy home environment allows children to thrive and reach important developmental milestones that lead to long-term health. For example, gross motor skills help children achieve many tasks that may seem minimal to adults such as learning to walk.

In an overcrowded living space or home full of clutter, children are not safe to be placed on the ground, which can stunt their development. By having floor time and tummy time, children learn to roll, crawl, pull to stand and subsequently walk. This activity enhances brain development which is key to language skills, problem solving skills and fine motor skills. Clutter and crowding in the home can prevent the child from being able to communicate their needs and wants, and exacerbate underlying mental health concerns.


The Importance of a Healthy Home

Children need room to run around and play outside and inside the home. They need an organized, clutter-free environment that promotes imaginative play.

Unfortunately, families of low socio-economic status are forced into choosing food to feed their family over a safe home environment with a yard and room for children to play safely.

Parents living in cost-burdened homes are often unable to provide stimulating materials for their children such as toys and books. A review of research indicates that crowded and inadequate housing increases tension, punitive punishment, aggression and conflict within the household. These conditions can also increase sedentary behaviors, reduce the ability to cope with stress, negatively affect quality of sleep, lead to inflammation and raise the risk of obesity.

A healthy home environment can transform the daily lives of children and create the foundation for long-term physical and cognitive health.

Kristy Beron, APRN, AdventHealth Medical Group


Kristy Beron, APRN, is an advanced practice registered nurse at AdventHealth Medical Group. She specializes in preventive health, acute and chronic illness management, test administration and interpretation, cardiac medicine and urgent care.

To schedule an appointment with Kristy Beron, call 352-343-3330 or visit AdventHealthMedicalGroup.com.


VHS academy builds lion’s share of house

The finished Lady Lake home of a single mom of two boys was built by Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter with the help of students of the Villages High School Construction Management Academy. Michael Johnson, Daily Sun

The finished Lady Lake home of a single mom of two boys was built by Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter with the help of students of the Villages High School Construction Management Academy.
Michael Johnson, Daily Sun

The virtual dedication ceremony for a home that Villages High School students helped build is bittersweet for students. The volunteers and Habitat for Humanity supporters who would normally attend the dedication, including the 11 students, were all absent. “I know they’re disappointed they didn’t get to finish,” said teacher Bruce Haberle, who runs the charter school’s Construction Management Academy. His students built 80% to 85% of the three-bedroom, two-bath house for Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, he said. Habitat plans virtual dedications for all five homes that volunteers built this year. Female-led households will receive the keys to their new homes in the dedications between mid-May and June.

Read this story and many others in Wednesday’s edition of the Daily Sun.

Construction Tour

Danielle Stroud, Senior Director of Programs & Partnerships, took us on a tour of our 5 construction sites in Lake and Sumter County. Stay tuned for the virtual dedications!



COVID-19 caused Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter to refigure some of its house-building procedures in March and April in order to stay on course in constructing five decent, affordable houses in Lady Lake, Leesburg, Eustis, and two homes in Lake Panasoffkee.

The homes will be owned by female-led households.

Single mom Rachel Storey and her son Jackson, who turns 6 on May 14, are eager for the July 1 (or sooner) closing on their future home in Eustis. Rachel says Habitat is waiting on some back-ordered cabinets to arrive for the house and once they’re installed and she’s given the house keys, the mother and son will move into the West St. Louis Avenue neighborhood.

“I’m looking forward to just being with my son and having our own house to call home,” says Rachel. The pair has been living at her parents’ Grand Island home, which they moved into when Rachel was going through a divorce.

“My parents helped me with my son, too, because he was younger at the time,” she says. “I started going back to church and it was like God was putting me back piece by piece. I’m just so thankful for everything. God led me to the right people at the right time and Habitat couldn’t have been better to work with. I am beyond grateful.”

Rachel says Habitat is a great program for those who qualify. “They help so many people out and they have their heart in it as well. All the people who work at Habitat love their job, love what they do, and they love helping people.”

Danielle Stroud, senior director of program and partnership for Habitat, says COVID-19 curtailed community volunteers being able to work on the houses.

“We worked with subcontractors a little bit more than normally,” Danielle says. “With limited opportunities, and of course for safety purposes, we really restricted who was allowed on-site. We increased the use of sub-contractors, we reallocated some job duties, and we also had a very small select crew of really skilled volunteers that felt comfortable still coming out to help finish the projects.”

She says construction on each house was deemed essential. “We had suppliers, contractors, inspectors to line up. There are so many facets that go into construction, and thankfully we were able to make all of those pieces aligned to be able to finish the homes.”

Habitat homeowners typically do sweat equity on their homes, yet the coronavirus pandemic prevented from them being able to be at the construction sites. “So, we provided a lot of virtual engagements that they could do to still earn their equity like promote us or engage with us on social media,” adds Danielle.

Click here to read the full article by Theresa Campbell, Lake & Sumter Style

Giving Tuesday Now: a day together

Giving Tuesday Now: Homes, communities, hope + you

#GivingTuesdayNow is a new global day of giving and unity that will take place on May 5, 2020  – as an emergency response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19.

Families who were already struggling before the public health crisis began now face exacerbated setbacks caused by the economic upheaval. Local families continue to struggle in the financial instability and uncertainty of recent times.

In fact, the families who partner with us are often those who are particularly at risk. The uncertainty so many of us feel today, many families have felt for a lifetime- if not generations.

As a friend of Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, join us and use the individual power of generosity to stay connected and help heal our community. Whatever you can do — monetary or not — will mean a lot.

Read the rest of this entry »

Ask the Attorney: Christina Campbell

Ask the Attorney: Christina Campbell, McLin Burnsed

Answers to Frequently Asked Estate Planning Questions
Christina Campbell, Estate Planning and Elder Law Attorney – McLin Burnsed

There are many ways to be involved with Habitat Lake-Sumter but unarguably, one of the greatest gifts you will ever give, will be the legacy you leave behind. Leaving a legacy gift is easy and Christina Campbell from McLin Burnsed is here to offer insight and guide you through the first steps to estate planning.

When you give to Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, Florida through your estate or long-term financial plans, you are forging your life legacy with the mission of building homes, communities, and hope and ensuring that later generations can secure decent, safe and affordable housing right here in Lake and Sumter Counties. Read the rest of this entry »


CARES Act, family

On March 27th, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act was signed into law and Congress passed a long-awaited for “universal” giving incentive, this is particularly beneficial for taxpayers who do not itemize their deductions.


If you are someone who does not itemize on your taxes:

The CARES Act makes a new above-the-line deduction available for total charitable contributions of up to $300 per taxpayer. The above-the-line adjustment to income will reduce your AGI, and thereby reduce taxable income. Additionally, you will not have to itemize other items to claim this deduction (Section 2204 of the CARES Act).

The incentive applies to cash contributions made in 2020 and can be claimed on tax forms next year.


If you are someone who itemizes on your taxes:

The CARES Act also lifts the existing cap on annual contributions for those who itemize, raising it from 60 percent of adjusted gross income to 100 percent. For corporations, the law raises the annual limit from 10 percent to 25 percent. (Section 2205 of the CARES Act).


What does this mean for you? You can support Habitat Lake-Sumter’s mission and receive new tax benefits typically reserved for higher thresholds of giving.

The duration of the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a public health emergency to bring a spotlight to the housing crisis. The uncertainty so many of us feel today, many families have felt for a lifetime- if not generations.

The time is now: to begin the work of building back our community, the foundation is the place to start. Living in a safe, healthy, and affordable home alleviates the burden of unreliable rent costs and out-of-reach mortgages; a home with Habitat gives families the opportunity to build a better future and make today more manageable.


 The CARES Act is the first giving incentive Congress has passed in response to a disaster or national emergency—an acknowledgement by Congress that the work of nonprofits, like Habitat Lake-Sumter, is an essential service.

Women Build 2020: Be a Fundraiser Participant

Need help or some inspiration for you Women Build Fundraiser?

Set up your fundraising consultation with our experts today!

Lacie Himes


(352) 483-0434 x146

Danielle Stroud


(352) 483-0434 x133

Clermont Veteran Receives New Roof in Roof Deployment Project

Giving Back to Those Who Served

John Politz, a U.S. Air Force veteran, received a new roof on March 23 from Proformance Roofing, an Owens Corning Platinum Roofing Contractor, as part of the Owens Corning Roof Deployment Project. Through a partnership with Habitat for Humanity, Politz was selected as the recipient for the roof replacement. The Owens Corning Foundation donated roofing materials and Proformance Roofing donated the labor. The Owens Corning Roof Deployment Project is a nationwide effort to show gratitude and honor veterans who served our country and the families who support them. Since the inception of this program in 2016, more than 180 military members have received new roofs.

By the News Leader

The Safety of Home: Message from a Habitat Homeowner

Lorie Santiago-Lozada

Hi, my name is Lorie Lozada. I am a recent Habitat Homeowner and very proud to be a part of the Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter family!

I want to share my story and to thank you for being a part of Women Build 2020. Helping others achieve their homeownership dreams is incredibly rewarding and after being so blessed, my family and I are happy to pay it forward. Since our home was built by Women Builder’s last year, I’m joining a team to become a Women Builder myself.

Some of you know my story but for those of you who don’t, my husband, James, and I lost our home in 2017 to Hurricane Maria. For us, it was a catastrophic and life changing event because on Sept. 19th our home was standing but on Sept. 20th, our home was gone. It was an incredible shock and the heartache was indescribable. We thought we were prepared: we had all the necessary supplies and gas in our vehicle. But a vehicle is of no use on roads blocked by trees and charged devices provide no communication when the infrastructure has collapsed.

We packed what little we had left in our vehicle and drove to a homeless shelter, we spent our nights sleeping in classrooms amongst strangers. Our journey was both scary and exciting, but leaving our family in Puerto Rico behind was very difficult and of all the things we lost, our stability is the one thing that has affected my son, JianLuc, the most.

After three months of what I can only describe as chaos, we arrived in the quaint town of Eustis. A town we had only seen on the return addresses of our relatives Christmas cards.

We knew nothing about our new home. New lives, new people, and for my husband, a new language. Our lives changed rapidly and the drastic difference is sometimes hard to manage.

Thankfully, we’ve met a lot of great people along the way and have had a ton of support. First, from our extended family here in Eustis, the “Berrios Clan” because a united family can get you through anything. Secondly, we have also received support through the American Red Cross, FEMA, and from local businesses; like Kevco Builders, who have been of great assistance to my family. In fact, the very caring owner of Kevco Builders, Mr. Joe Ziller, helped furnish our new home!!

We appreciate everyone, but nearest and dearest to our hearts is Habitat For Humanity of Lake-Sumter and specifically, Mr. Kent Adcock, whose kindness and commitment to us was extraordinary; without him, we would not have this beautiful and affordable “dream home.” A home where we can try to, once again, feel safe.

Actually, it’s been 2 years and 6 months of trying really hard to feel safe again.  Trying to get our lives back on a familiar track, and trying to recuperate our stability and peace of mind because even with all of these blessings, some things have not been easy.

You see, a life changing event tends to leave scars. It has a way of affecting almost every aspect of your life, especially your mental health, and it can leave you riddled with fear, anxiety and a desperate need to feel safe.

Feeling safe, especially with what we are living through today, is the only thing on anyone’s mind as we face another crisis. One that’s bigger and scarier than any hurricane. The coronavirus has become a pandemic that is rapidly changing all of our lives. While it’s not at all like a hurricane, the preparations feel the same… racing to the stores, buying 2 or 3 of everything, hoarding food and water, feeling panic and confusion; and you realize that once again, you’re in the midst of chaos.

It all feels sadly familiar to me, and while I try to keep my anxiety in check, the flashbacks are inevitable.

We must remember that these changes in our daily activities are temporary, so let’s not let chaos take over. Let’s pray for calm and follow guidelines which state that we are to stay home and “hunker down.” What a relief it is to know that because of Habitat Lake-Sumter, my family and I have a home to hunker down in! And an affordable mortgage that allows me to save for emergencies just like this. That’s what every family should have.

Of course, let’s be mindful of our new normal and practice social distancing but let’s not forget to stay focused and remain connected via online support. It’s important that we continue to “provide families with strength and stability through shelter.”  This way, other families can have their own place to hunker down, feel secure, and weather any storm, together!

Lorie Lozada  (The Santiago-Lozada family)- Habitat Homeowner & Women Builder

Social Distancing < Declutter Your Home

Simplify, donate, keep, trash, sell, recycle, sort, declutter


So, you’ve found yourself at home a bit more than usual? Sounds like the perfect time to de-clutter the closet, start (or finally finish!) that D.I.Y project you’ve been meaning to do, and complete a few things off your home’s “To-Do” list.

We’ve included a list of 5 projects to get you started this week:

  • Paint the Bathroom
  • Re-Caulk the Kitchen Sink
  • Up-cycle an old piece of furniture
  • De-Clutter/Re-Organize your Garage
  • Go outside! Caulk Windows and Exterior Cracks

Want more? Download Habitat’s Home Maintenance & D.I.Y Guide: from organization basics to improving your home’s energy efficiency, you’ll be inspired to tackle something new!

So go ahead, make yourself at home!


Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, Florida ReStores

Keep the good feelings going! Set aside the items you no longer use and donate them to the Habitat Lake-Sumter ReStore nearest you!

Habitat Lake-Sumter’s ReStores are vital to our mission of building homes, communities, and hope! The purchases and donations made at all 4 of our ReStore locations help to fund our work in supporting families in need of safe, affordable housing.

Since temporarily closing on March 20th, the ReStores are currently unable to accept donations at the store drop-off locations but STAY TUNED: once we re-open, you’ll be able to drop donations off or call (352) 589-3005 to schedule a free pick-up!

COVID-19 Response

Prevent the Spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter cares about the health and safety of our staff, supporters and the people we serve.  This includes the prevention of disease and viral infections on site, at our ReStores, and in the office.  In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak we want to assure you that measures are being taken to keep our build sites, ReStores, and offices a safe, fun, and healthy environment.

We are actively monitoring and adhering to the guidance provided by Habitat for Humanity International as well as local, state and federal health agencies.  By practicing of social distancing and our Eustis & Leesburg ReStores have reopened starting Wednesday, June 10th and the Groveland & Wildwood ReStores will remain closed with no scheduled date for re-opening. We apologize for the inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and cooperation. And we look forward to reopening and serving all those in the community.  Construction sites are still open but are limiting spots for volunteering. We will continue to post additional updates here as conditions change.

While we continue to move forward, we do ask that if you feel unwell or have traveled recently to one of the areas designated by the CDC as level 3, you refrain from visiting a Habitat build, ReStore or office. Similarly, if a member of your household has potentially been exposed to the virus through travel or other means, seek medical guidance and refrain from participating in any Habitat-related events, including volunteering or shopping in our ReStores.

Please see below health guidelines that offer advice from the World Health Organization on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Coronavirus: Good health guidelines


Please reach out if you have any concerns to Info@HabitatLS.org or (352) 483-0434

Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to receive the latest updates.

We appreciate your patience during this time.

Pink Champagne Virtual Party!

Women Build 2020 Virtual Party

Did you miss the Pink Champagne VIRTUAL Party? Don’t worry you can still watch all the videos below!

Pink Champagne VIRTUAL Party: Part 1

Pink Champagne VIRTUAL Party: Part 2

Pink Champagne VIRTUAL Party: Part 3



We want to see your Cheers photos and videos! Post them on our Facebook Page!

Register for Women Build and download your online fundraising packet!

*The Women Build projects will begin in May and August

The impact of these uncertain times is felt by everyone. Cancelled events, businesses closing, lost wages from shortened hours at work, and increased cost of childcare as schools close.

And one of the primary safety recommendations? Stay home.

Can you imagine not having a stable place to call home, the potential that one missed paycheck holds the possibility of losing your home? Lack of stability in a home makes something like an unexpected crisis difficult to prepare for.

In this unprecedented time, we have the opportunity to make a huge difference in our community. We invite you to rally with Habitat Lake-Sumter and give a local family a hand-up for a stronger, more stable future. You can raise funds and raise awareness by registering for Women Build and sharing your fundraising page to friends and family, and finally, raise the walls  and repair homes in Lake & Sumter Counties!

Habitat for Humanity Builds, Refurbishes Lake County Homes

First National Bank of Mount Dora with future Habitat Lake-Sumter Homeowner Rachel

LAKE COUNTY, Fla. — Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter builds about eight homes a year, and refurbishes another 50 more. Although the organization does not give the homes away, it makes the financing affordable to fit small budgets.

  1. Candidates for Habitat for Humanity can apply on-line.
  2. Good credit is necessary.
  3. Household income is looked at.
  4. People who are accepted into the program must have a willingness to partner with the program.
  5. Habitat for Humanity is looking for volunteers with a good attitude and work ethic.​

Click here for the full story by Dave DeJohn from Spectrum News 13

Youth Construction Academy-slider

Empower. Educate. Enrich.

High school students from Lake and Sumter County gain hands on learning experience through the Youth Construction Academy. A win for their futures and the community!


Habitat’s Women Build 2020 kicked off Wednesday

Habitat Lake-Sumter Homeowners Lorie and James painting the exterior of the home blue

On Wednesday, the nonprofit hosted the build at an under-construction home in Eustis, which will eventually go to Rachel Storey, a single mother, and her five-year-old son, Jackson.

EUSTIS – Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter and Lowe’s extended an open invitation to women volunteers from throughout the community.

The women were sought to participate in a local event for International Women Build Week.

On Wednesday, the nonprofit hosted the build at an under-construction home in Eustis, which will eventually go to Rachel Storey, a single mother, and her five-year-old son, Jackson.

The Lowe’s-sponsored event – they provided the tools and materials – served as the local kickoff of the global initiative happening simultaneously in more than 235 communities in the United States, India and Canada. International Women Build Week runs from March 1-8 to highlight the global need for safe and affordable housing.

A couple of local volunteers showed up, were handed hard hats and put to work.

Lowe’s representatives, expected to have been at the work site, were unable to participate due to scheduling conflicts.

Habitat staff however, jumped in to compensate and the morning turned out to be a productive, educational and empowering one.

Site Supervisor Ernie Burley, in charge of teaching new skills to volunteers said he is always glad to have able and most of all, willing volunteers on any project.

Click here to read the full article by Roxanne Brown from the Daily Commercial


International Women Build Day 2020 Group Photo

Several female volunteers and employees of Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter are taking part in a global effort with Habitat for Humanity International, Lowe’s, and some 6,000 women volunteers in more than 235 U.S. communities, India and Canada for the International Women Build Week, which runs through March 8.

The event is to highlight the worldwide need for safe and affordable housing.

On March 4, the local crew installed some wood siding and painted the exterior of a Habitat house under construction in Eustis at 56 W. St. Louis Ave., with site supervisor Ernie Burley guiding the way and teaching new volunteers how to use different tools.

“It’s so cool to pop out a new skill every once in a while,” says Shari McCray, a homeowner and marketing manager for Habitat of Humanity of Lake-Sumter, who calls the first time she learned to use a circular saw. “It’s intimidating at first, and when you see it and think, ‘oh, my fingers!’ But it is really neat at the end of the day when you’re pumping out those boards.”

Her colleague Lacie Himes found it found to learn the skills to frame a house. “I’ve really learned to fell confident using a hammer and walked away feeling like ‘I could build my owe house! I could do this!”

Read the full article by Theresa Campbell of Lake & Sumter Style Magazine

Intern Spotlight: Zach Miller

Zach Miller, Intern Spotlight

It was just another day at Lake Sumter State College. Arriving on time to my 11am Philosophy class every Tuesday and Thursday morning had become a ritual for me from the months prior. Usually class would start with a lecture on some philosopher like Rene Descartes or Thomas Hobbes and lead into discussion, but this morning was different. It turned out that a job fair was being held at the center of campus and my professor instructed my classmates and I to leave class, enter the courtyard, and search for jobs.

Although I was employed at the time, it was lacking the sort of experience I was looking for. I wanted to be somewhere that I could use my skills in a practical sense, towards something that I wanted my career to look like. So, my search began. I made it my goal that before leaving the courtyard that day I would speak to each individual to see what they were looking for and in doing so, I hoped to find what I was looking for. There were all kinds of stands, Waffle House, H&R Block, you name it. But upon speaking with the representatives at each stand, one stuck out. One whose mission statement meant something. One that would uplift my community. That one was Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter.

This was my first-time meeting Shari, the Marketing and Communications Coordinator with Habitat Lake-Sumter; she was searching for an intern and that was precisely the opportunity I was looking for. So, we spoke, she handed me all of the information I needed to submit my application, and bam! A few weeks later I was deemed the Marketing and Communications intern under Mrs. Shari McCray. This was, and still is, a very exciting time for me. I have been able to take part in so many projects. I’ve done work to produce a new event, Jingle Build-Off, interviewed all sorts of people, created videos, wrote articles, took photos, but most of all I’ve learned something new each and every day I’ve spent working with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter.

Today, I continue to strive towards being as helpful as I can to everyone in the office, as well as the volunteers and homeowners that I see so often. The experience and knowledge I have gained through this internship is something that I am truly grateful for, so much that I will always remember my time here with Habitat Lake-Sumter.

Looking back, the most eye-opening experiences I’ve had continue to occur regularly when I get to hear wonderful stories from our volunteers with all different backgrounds and experiences. Their stories teach me something about life, and that is, no matter who you are or what you do, the central idea that can bring us all together: the importance of giving to others. So whether you’re a volunteer, community partner, or future homeowner with Habitat reading this, I hope that one day I can meet you and hear your story as well.

Spruce Up the Block Party: Wildwood Recap

Spruce Up the Block Party Wildwood January 21st-25th

A Block Party with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter is a one-of-a kind event. Through our Preservation and Repair program, we host a few “Spruce up the Block” Parties throughout the year that impact neighborhoods as a whole; volunteers spread out over the radius of a neighborhood and clean, caulk, paint, and repair homes to beautify the exterior, make minor safety repairs, and come together as a community.

The week of January 21-25th saw dozens of volunteers filtering in and out of a Wildwood neighborhood, even on mornings so chilly some worried the paint wouldn’t dry, working and repairing 11 houses overall and sharing in the camaraderie of transforming a neighborhood.

Throughout the year, Veronica Troxell, Habitat Lake-Sumter’s Preservation and Repair coordinator works to serve around 50 families but a “Spruce up the Block” Party is one of her favorite ways to provide much needed services to multiple families at once. “Block Parties are great because they ask for the whole community to get engaged. There is a lot of satisfaction in working on a large-scale project and seeing the neighborhood completely reinvigorated at the end of the week. Our volunteers are vital in working with the community to accomplish such a big task and to bring a lot of new life to the community!”

Working alongside Veronica to make the Wildwood Block Party a success was Kevin Tucker. Kevin is a Preservation and Repair Specialist with Habitat Lake-Sumter and the President of the Habitat Villagers Club. Kevin rallied club members and residents of the Villages to head up the volunteer work during the week while finishing touches were completed on Saturday from Block Party sponsor, Rotarians from Rotary of the Villages Noon.

In regard to the incredible effort and success of the Wildwood “Spruce up the Block” Party, Kevin writes:

a letter written by volunteer, Kevin Tucker



Are you interested in being part of this awesome club? Check out Habitat Lake-Sumter’s The Villages Club and get involved in what’ s happening next!

First National Bank of Mt. Dora Raises the Wall and Lifts the Community

hard hats sitting on trusses

It was a beautiful, clear morning on Tuesday, February 4th as executives of First National Bank of Mount Dora, directors from Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, and Lake County officials met at a newly set slab of concrete on West St. Louis Street in Eustis, Florida.

There to commemorate the first wall raising of the home being built in partnership with First National Bank of Mount Dora, Bob White, the president and CEO expressed why he was excited to play a role in this project with Habitat Lake-Sumter, “Home ownership in Lake County is a big part of making people productive citizens and of course, as a bank we are excited to be part of that financial well-being.”

For 30 years, Habitat Lake-Sumter has relied on committed partners like First National Bank of Mount Dora, who share a vision of the world where everyone has a safe and stable place to call home. As our county grows, so does the need for affordable housing that is within reach for hard working families; in the state of Florida, 1 in 7 households pay 50% or more of their income on housing. But by building a home with Habitat Lake-Sumter, we continue to bridge the gap to home ownership and make it possible for one less family to spend half of their income on housing.

Although it’s not just corporate partnerships that make new home construction possible. In the month of December, almost 90 individuals and local partners donated to our Holiday Match Campaign and raised $74,067 to be matched by First National Bank of Mount Dora; making the home on West St. Louis a reality for a future homeowner in Lake County.

After helping to raise the first wall, Commissioner Leslie Campione summed it up by saying, “It is because of community involvement and people coming together to help each other, it makes all the difference in the world and this house really represents hope and joy and stability for a family, and that’s what Habitat is all about.”

Interview with Bob White, CEO/Pres of FNBMD

Interview with Leslie Campione, Lake County Commissioner

Leesburg construction students celebrate successes at dry-in ceremony

Lynnea W. & Bryan R. with the Leesburg High School students outside the home they are building.

Leesburg High School construction students showed community members around the home and guests wrote positive messages for the eventual homeowners. The rest of the house will be built out in the coming months.

LEESBURG — Leesburg High construction students celebrated with their community Friday at a dry-in ceremony for the house they’ve been building with Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter since the start of the school year.

Dozens of community members and partners attended the dry-in, held in the partially built home at 107 North 12th St. to mark the completion of the home’s outer shell and the beginning of interior work for the students

“I loved seeing it, piece by piece, come together,” construction student Abraham Ledesma said during a brief tour of the home’s undeveloped interior.

Ledesma said it was the first time he’d ever gotten to work on such an expansive and satisfying project even having worked construction with his family in the past.

He pointed to the back wall of the house — the first wall they lifted into place — and began pointing to the different rooms, which included multiple bedrooms and two bathrooms.

He talked about the features of each room as though the wooden framework had already been walled off and he could see the finished product.

One sheet of drywall was set for the celebration as members of the community wrote positive messages on the inside and school district officials including Superintendent Diane Kornegay and board members Stephanie Luke, Bill Mathias and Sandy Gamble drilled the first screws.

The rest of the house will be filled out in the coming months.

Ledesma was happy, and surprised, with how much of the house he and his fellow students got to build. At first, he thought they would mostly be watching and chipping in on small things.

He said every part of the project, save for the air conditioning and electrical work, had at least one students’ hands in it, and most of the work was done independently: they’d get their instructions and be trusted to get it done.

The dry-in was also the first time the community was introduced to Bryan Russ, a 1996 Leesburg High graduate who just took over the construction academy from Jim Ellwood at the end of the fall semester.

Click here to read the full article by Payne Ray of the Daily Commercial

VHS students show construction skills

Under the direction of instructor Bruce Haberle, reflected right, The Villages High School Construction Management Academy seniors David Routzahn, 17, and Trey Jones, 19, make chalk lines for the siding on a Habitat for Humanity house Tuesday in Lady Lake. Photos by Cindy Skop, Daily Sun

Under the direction of instructor Bruce Haberle, reflected right, The Villages High School Construction Management Academy seniors David Routzahn, 17, and Trey Jones, 19, make chalk lines for the siding on a Habitat for Humanity house Tuesday in Lady Lake.
Photos by Cindy Skop, Daily Sun

By building a house for Habitat for Humanity, Villages High School Construction Management Academy students are learning a lot. Students celebrated reaching the dry-in stage Wednesday with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, Citizens First Bank, business partners in the construction industry, volunteers and the high school’s pep band. Dry-in is the turning point of the construction process when the framing, windows, exterior doors, roof, shingles and waterproof barrier are all done to protect anything inside the house that could be damaged by water. It’s usually the halfway point of the construction project, said Barry Martin, construction manager for Habitat for Humanity, who is supervising volunteers and working with VHS academy instructor Bruce Haberle.

Read this story and many others in Friday’s edition of the Daily Sun.

Leesburg High students hit the small screen

Leesburg Site that Leesburg High School Construction Academy is building

Leesburg High School construction students have been working with Habitat for Humanity volunteers and local tradesman in the construction home at 107 N. 12th St. in Leesburg. The home, pictured Friday had made great progress to Marc Robertz-Schwartz, Habitat Academy’s executive producer. [Payne Ray/Daily Commercial]

The show will feature Leesburg construction students, local tradesmen and other partners as they work together to build a Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter home in Leesburg. New 15-minute episodes will air the third Monday of each month on Lake Sumter TV.

LEESBURG — Those curious how high school students could help build a house from start to finish have an opportunity to find out.

Habitat Academy, a 15-minute television show documenting the Leesburg High School Construction Academy’s work on a Leesburg home with Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter, will debut Monday at 7:30 p.m. on Lake Sumter TV. The channel will also upload it to Youtube and play it again throughout the week.

“I think people are going to be surprised by the progress,” Red Apples Media President and Habitat Academy executive producer Marc Robertz-Schwartz said. “We’re just amazed at how quickly that home is going up.”

Red Apples will continue to visit the home at 107 N. 12th St. once monthly in order to record the episodes, which will be released around the third week of every month. Robertz-Schwartz said they waited till the end of the year to produce the first episode as the build — a collaboration between expert tradesmen, Habitat volunteers and 11 LHS construction students — needed a few months to get off the ground.

Now that the build is underway and the production schedule has been outlined, Robertz-Schwartz said they’re expecting to produce nine episodes of Habitat Academy.

Their aim will be to showcase the build as it goes up, with episodes themed around the progress of the house.

The first episode will feature interviews with the construction students as well as community partners on the build and the show. In the following episodes, to be hosted by Don Magruder of RoMac Building Supply, the show will feature interviews with tradesmen and other experts as they showcase the progress of the build.

Click here to read the full article by Payne Ray of the Daily Commercial

Veteran Story – Eddie Broglin

Eddie Broglin

November is a time to honor our Veterans and those who have sacrificed so much in service to our country. As part of our Veteran’s Housing Initiative, we serve veterans through our Home Ownership program and through Preservation and Repair. Here, you’ll get a chance to meet veteran, Eddie Broglin and learn what’s next for our Veterans in Lake and Sumter Counties.

Born and raised in Florida, Eddie Broglin is a true Florida Native. When speaking to Eddie about his home state, you can barely mention a new place before Eddie tells you his connection to that area; Lake Wales, Bartow, Lake City, Fort Pierce, it becomes apparent very quickly that Florida holds a special place in Eddie’s heart.

After graduating high school, Eddie Broglin was faced with the challenge of what he was going to do next. A fellow classmate told him that he was going to join the National Guard and convinced Eddie to sign up as well. Stationed at Wauchula, Florida where he worked with gunners and as a mess cook, Eddie then moved to the Naples Armory where he went on to serve an eight year career. While Eddie learned a lot from being in the service, he unfortunately suffered a heat stroke that would have a lasting impact on him the rest of his life. After his military career, Eddie moved around the state, and left feeling un-grounded while staying with friends or renting, he decided it was time to find a home of his own.

Eddie describes his experience of working with multiple real estate agents and exhausting his resources through Veterans Affairs, his search for a home appeared hopeless. “I was looking for a studio apartment, but mortgages and rent have flopped. Now it’s cheaper to pay a mortgage than to pay rent,” says Eddie. Eddie describes an experience that is relatable to many and sits at the very heart of Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter’s mission.

Eddie decided a “tiny home” would provide the best solution to affording a home of his own and started to search out of state, believing he would have to move from Florida in order to find affordable housing.

Finally, Eddie met real estate agent, Maureen Campbell. Maureen knew about Eddie’s desire to stay in Florida and his interest in “tiny homes.” With these two requests in mind, Maureen suggested Eddie look into Habitat for Humanity as a resource and facilitated the process for Eddie to apply to be a homeowner with Habitat Lake-Sumter. A cottage-style home currently being built in Coleman, Florida was THE home Eddie had been searching for.

While discussing his newly built home, it’s evident how grateful Eddie is to be able to be a part of the Habitat Lake-Sumter’s home ownership program; a home he believes is built with love by the staff and volunteers who have put “their heart in to it.”

“The first thing I did was plant my red maple tree,” a tree Eddie bought when he first learned of being accepted into Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter’s home ownership program, “to symbolize being rooted here,” says Eddie. In this quiet community in Coleman, FL, balanced by rural and growth; Eddie has found a place to plant his roots a little deeper into Florida.

If you’d like to know more about the work we’ve done with Veterans this year, come visit Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter’s booth at the Villagers for Veterans Film Festival on Wednesday, November 6th.

To support upcoming Veterans projects throughout Lake and Sumter, donate today!

Disaster Relief: Hurricane Dorian

Hurricane Dorian was a Category 5 when it slammed into The Bahama’s just one month ago. As relief and rebuilding efforts slowly begin, Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter decided to take action.

Kent Adcock, CEO of Habitat Lake-Sumter, has specialized in relief efforts during past disasters, Hurricane Katrina among them, so we knew major efforts would be needed to clean up and stabilize The Bahamas after being effected by a storm of this scale.

We are currently retro-fitting two shipping containers to act as housing units for relief workers on The Abaco Islands. The shipping containers will be furnished with bunk beds, air conditioning, and electricity, for the relief workers to have a place to rest and recharge.

Community partners, RoMac Building Supply, Kelley Painting, and the Inmate Construction Academy will help turn these shipping containers into temporary housing, giving on-the-ground relief workers a place to call “home” while they do the hard work of clearing debris after the destruction.

Want to help? If you have material supplies or would like to make a donation contact Lacie: (352) 483-0434 x 146 or Lacie@HabitatLS.org

Learn more about the work we are doing!


Board Member Spotlight: Brad Weber

Brad Weber, EVP
Chief Lending Officer
Citizens First Bank

“Success is Built on Relationships” – a powerful statement and one of the many mantras of Brad Weber, who was recently appointed to the Lake-Sumter Habitat for Humanity Board of Directors.

Weber brings a variety of experience earned over his thirty plus years in the banking industry where he has worked in consumer, commercial and agricultural lending. He also holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Technology from Barry University and is a graduate of the Graduate School of Banking of the South at Louisiana State University.

Through his work in the banking industry, he has been involved in finance, marketing, staff development and strategic planning. Weber makes special note of the people and relationships he’s formed during his tenure as a banker. “My lending background has allowed me to work with people from all types of industries and walks of life in helping them realize their dreams,” says Weber who looks forward to seeing where his experience can best benefit Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter.

Weber’s connection with Habitat started when he first volunteered his time to help build a home sponsored by Citizens First Bank roughly five years ago and has continued as he has volunteered to help with a number of other Habitat for Humanity projects since that time. During the past five years, Weber has built more than homes for Habitat, he’s built relationships with a team that works to deliver new homes to members of our community. “I have built relationships with several staff members, and truly learned the true mission of Habitat through their actions,” notes Weber.

The Boys & Girls Club, The Boy Scouts of America, Lake Sumter State College and the local Chamber of Commerce have all been beneficiaries of Weber’s enthusiasm for volunteerism yet, true to his philanthropic spirit, Weber says it’s his career that has grown through the opportunities he’s had to serve those organizations.

He says the experience of working with Habitat has given as much to him as he has to the organization. “At this point in my life, and after having witnessed a number of families be handed the keys to their dream come true, their first home; and experienced the emotion and passion of that moment, this became my reason to serve Habitat,” says Weber.

Weber hopes to use his experience and talents to support the idea of an incubator community that could potentially create affordable housing that remains accessible for generations to come. “This community could solve several struggles such as providing affordable workforce housing, teaching families how to be a part of a community and providing opportunities for financial growth,” says Weber. It’s just an idea for now, however, it has the possibility to move into reality and thereby improve home ownership opportunities for families.”

Building communities such as this one goes back to the heart of Weber’s mantra: success is built on relationships. “Success is a community of people who can rely on each other, people who joyously and enthusiastically strive to lift each other up on a personal level, says Weber.  “This feeling is not only contagious, but also exponentially raises the confidence and productivity of each of us in a community, resulting in a much higher quality of life.”

Weber’s enthusiasm for the local community also resonates at a personal level as he and his wife have lived in the area since 1996. They have been married for 30 years and have raised three children who received their education through the Lake County School System where his wife, Glenda, has been a teacher for almost 20 years.

“Bringing people together to build homes, communities and hope – these are all hallmarks of Habitat’s mission,” says Danielle Stroud, Director of Development at Habitat for Humanity. “Brad has personally and professionally embraced this mission for many years and we wholeheartedly welcome him to the Board of Directors at Habitat for Humanity!”

By David Larrick

How do inmates stay out of jail? By learning to build houses, sheriff says

Inmates learn construction skills, build for Habitat for Humanity

LAKE COUNTY, Fla. – Jared Hainey has been in the Lake County Jail for nine months for drug possession.

But he spends his days outside of his cell, in the fresh air under sunny skies. He spends six and a half hours a day on construction sites, building houses for Habitat for Humanity.

“It’s nice to come out here because you get away from being enclosed in a cage,” Hainey said. “And you get to come out and learn new things, see new people.”

Lake County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Fred Jones said Hainey volunteered, like all inmates participating in the Lake County Jail’s home building program.

“They have to want to do it, we don’t force them to do anything,” Jones said. “They’re staying focused, they get up early in the morning, our thought process is they’re going to take that same thought process when they leave here and go out there and get a job.”

Jones said all of the inmates participating in construction are low-risk inmates who’ve been vetted. All of them are supervised on all on the construction sites.

Hainey said his plan is to get a job in construction when he gets out jail.

“I learned a lot more about the building process, like right now we’re framing and decking and putting trusses on, stuff I have never done,” Hainey said. “Before you get out, you already have that foot up that you’re going to be working. And you’re already stepping forward and being productive in society and working already.”

Jones said inmates often reoffend when they are released because they don’t have a job, they don’t have skills and they don’t have motivation.

“What I see a lot of time is people get into trouble because they don’t have that sense of purpose,” Jones said. “I think this gives them some of that.”

Click here for the full article and video by Erik von Ancken – Anchor/Reporter of News 6, ClickOrlando.com

Eustis veteran awarded new roof by national program

Owens Corning representatives Frank Compagnone and Travis Foster, along with Tadlock Orlando branch manager Thomas Catalano (right) present Edwin Seda (center) with a certificate for a new roof and extended warranty [Cindy Sharp/Correspondent]

EUSTIS — Veteran Edwin Seda, 63, woke up Monday morning to the sound of banging on his roof. With a sigh of relief, he knew it was the day some of his troubles would come to an end.

Seda was chosen as the recipient of the Owens Corning National Roof Deployment Project, which works with Tadlock Roofing and Habitat for Humanity in granting new roofs to veterans in need.

“It makes me feel like crying,” Seda said. “But a good soldier never cries. I’m so thankful for good people like this.”

Seda served 20 years in Army intelligence, retiring in 1995. Because of his extensive training, two years ago he was asked to come out of retirement to help train Air Force pilots on A-10 Warthog aircraft.

However, a terrible accident occurred during training and his plane plummeted to the ground. He spent nine months in a coma. He broke a hip and a knee, and the visor from his helmet lodged into his skull.

“When I woke up, all I could think of was, ‘What the hell happened?’ ” Seda said.

Seda remembers another plane hitting the top of his canopy and him trying to remove the seat belt, but he doesn’t remember ever deploying the parachute.

“Obviously I did or I wouldn’t be alive,” he said. “But I don’t remember much after being hit.”

Since then, his medical bills have been piling up, even on top of his insurance coverage. To top it off, his home insurance company was pushing him to get a new roof or he would lose coverage.

He reached out to Tadlock Roofing for a quote, but they had another idea: Tadlock reached out to Owens Corning about their deployment project, then Habitat for Humanity to see what could be done.

By Cindy Sharp / Correspondent of The Daily Commercial

Click here for the full article.

Women Build Sponsors Highlight

Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter’s ‘Women Build’ event brings women of all ages and abilities together to make a difference by raising money and volunteering on Habitat build sites.
Alongside personal fundraising efforts, sponsors such as American Residential Products, Inc and Atlas Roofing, make events like these possible through monetary giving or by donating materials for the home.

American Residential Products Inc, an insulation contractor, has worked with Habitat for Humanity affiliates all over Florida for many years. They have provided insulation in the past, and recently sponsored Habitat of Lake-Sumter’s ‘Women Build 2019’ with a $2500 gift; this gift serves to underwrite the cost of construction for the two ‘Women Build’ homes and bridges the gap to keep the homes affordable.

Stephanie Vaughn of American Residential Products also personally participated as a Women Builder this year on Team ‘Hammer Knockers’. When asked if she thought an event like this was successful in helping to remove the barrier between women and construction, she said;
“The barrier between women and construction is getting smaller. I think an event like Women Build definitely showcases that. Construction is a fast paced, exciting industry. Every day is different, every day is challenging and every day is rewarding. It’s great to see younger women embrace the industry and I think Habitat encourages that with Women Build.”

Stephanie also had encouraging words for women who are thinking about volunteering, “Go for it! Habitat makes it easy to set up a team and individual website for fundraising. There are several pre-build events to get to know the other volunteers and the homeowners. The day of the build is all about teamwork & there are tasks for all abilities.”

Atlas Roofing was also a sponsor for this year’s Women Build event. They are donating all of the necessary roofing materials such as the underlayment, starter shingle, shingle, hip and ridge cap for the Women Build house in Eustis, FL. Roofing can be an expensive aspect of homebuilding, but thanks to Atlas Roofing, our family will be forever grateful for the gift of having a roof over their heads.

Thank you to our sponsors, Atlas Roofing and American Residential Products, for partnering with Habitat families and investing in real change. Together, we build homes, communities, and hope!

By Lauren Lester
Realtor & Habitat Volunteer

First Presbyterian Church Sponsors Coleman “Cottage Home”

The First Presbyterian Church of Leesburg receives “Sponsor of the Month” in recognition of their decade’s long partnership with Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter and their sponsorship of a Cottage Home in Coleman, FL. The church will not only provide financial support, but also volunteer hours and hands-on labor to assist in building the home.

First Presbyterian Church of Leesburg has a long standing history with Habitat for Humanity and an established presence of charitable giving within the community; the church assisted with building one of the very first Habitat homes in the Lake-Sumter area in the late 1980’s. Pastor RJ Leek of First Presbyterian of Leesburg says of their continued support, “We are thankful for the opportunity God has given us through Habitat for Humanity to be a visible witness to God’s love for people everywhere.”

The cottage home being sponsored by First Presbyterian Church of Leesburg is one of four homes being built on the Coleman site and is part of a new and innovative floor plan for Habitat of Lake-Sumter. In an effort to match the specific needs of the community Habitat serves, we have designed a 2 bedroom/1 bath home at approximately 700 sq. ft. for smaller families who find rental properties and traditional home ownership to be beyond their reach.

The cottage homes in Coleman are Habitat of Lake-Sumter’s first try at this new housing design. The smaller scale 4 cottage home site is a precursor to Habitat’s upcoming Tavares Cottage Community. Thanks to Lake County’s award of Community Development Block Grant funds, Habitat will begin infrastructure of the development soon; including roadways, water and underground utilities, and will prepare the community for phase two: cottage construction.

Setting new precedents, the Tavares Cottage Community will be the first age-restricted community built in this area through Habitat of Lake-Sumter and will benefit residents who are on a fixed income, retired, or looking to maintain affordable housing as senior citizens. The ‘pocket neighborhood’ will feature 23 cottage-sized homes approximately 730 sq. ft. Some of the units are free standing homes with others designed in a townhome style, and a large central area with open green space for all residents to share. The master planned community will include similar design elements to Habitat of Lake-Sumter’s Veterans Village in Umatilla.


To learn more about First Presbyterian Church of Leesburg, the cottage homes in Coleman, or the upcoming Tavares Cottage Community please contact Danielle Stroud at 352-630-3318.

C is for Clarifying the Calculation, Part II: Reality Check

C is for Clarifying the Calculation, Part II: Reality Check

In our last article we looked at the AMI, Area Median Income, and learned that the AMI for Lake County is $62,900 ($30.24/hour based on 40 hours/week, 52 paid weeks/year). Pop quiz: what does ‘median’ mean? It’s not the average; it means that half make more, half make less.

Median income drives the entire conversation on affordable housing. Pop quiz: What does the term ‘affordable housing’ mean? It means that no more than 30% of gross household income is spent on rent/utilities or, in the case of home ownership, PITI (principle, interest, taxes, and insurance). Why? Because everyone needs room in their budget to pay for other expenses.

Using the chart below, we see that someone earning the median income for Lake County would be able to afford the Fair Market Rent (FMR) for housing. What about those earning less than the median? Let’s walk through those numbers. The chart is based on the following details:

  • Florida’s 2019 minimum wage is $8.46
  • The Fair Market Rent (FMR) is from the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s (NLIHC) annual Out of Reach data for housing costs in zip code 32757 (at the site, click on the zip code for detailed information)
  • The 1 BR and 2 BR columns show the difference between the affordable, 30% housing number (what you’d ideally pay) and the actual Fair Market Rent
  • Income is pre-tax, based on 52 paid weeks/year at 40 hours/week, no overtime

How does paying more than 30% affect the rest of someone’s finances? Let’s look at three theoretical budgets for a single person renting a one bedroom home. We’re using percentage allocations commonly recommended by professional planners. Are you ready to see what those earning less than the median income are dealing with?

Read the rest of this entry »

Habitat Village in Tavares to Feature Small Homes for Seniors

With the success of its 14-home community for veterans in Umatilla and the introduction of small cottage-style homes, Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter is moving ahead with its next project — a 23-unit “pocket neighborhood” for seniors in Tavares.

The community will be built on a vacant three-acre lot near Mansfield Road and County Drive.

“The city has been extremely supportive and unanimously voted to approve the development,” said Kent Adcock, chief executive officer of Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter. “And they’ve been very supportive of the concept we’re trying to advance.”

Click here for the full article

C is for Clarity: Clarifying the Solution

Any conversation about affordable housing must begin with AMI, Area Median Income. In this article we’ll explore this term in more detail to make sure we’re all on the same page. In Part II, we’ll look at a sample budget to illustrate the impact of housing expense on various income levels. Ready to dive in?


By ‘Area,’ we mean the MSA, or Metropolitan Statistical Area. The MSA is quite useful. It captures all manner of data for a given geography so anyone—employer, government agency, job candidate, hospital, etc.—can compare apples and apples. (Or, since this is Florida, oranges to oranges.) For example, economic development groups, transportation analyses, labor market studies, and of course, the housing industry will all be working from the same information to write policy, design long-term plans, public works projects, and so on.

Here’s a great definition of the MSA from Investopedia.com: “Metropolitan statistical areas usually consist of a core city with a large population and its surrounding region, which may include several adjacent counties. The area defined by the MSA is typically marked by significant social and economic interaction. People living in outlying rural areas, for example, may commute considerable distances to work, shop, or attend social activities in the urban center.

There are almost 400 metropolitan statistical areas in the United States. In contrast to micropolitan statistical areas, which center on towns and smaller communities with populations below 10,000, metropolitan statistical areas must include a city with a population of at least 50,000.”

Our local Habitat for Humanity affiliate is covered by two MSA’s: Lake County is part of the Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford MSA, while Sumter County is in The Villages’ MSA. The MSA data drives the income calculations for any affordable housing program.


‘Median’ isn’t the same thing as ‘average.’ Here’s how the Census Bureau defines it: “Median income is the amount which divides the income distribution into two equal groups, half having income above that amount, and half having income below that amount.” So, for your area (MSA) of interest, imagine lining up every household, from poorest to richest. The household in the exact middle would represent the median for that MSA—half make less, half make more.

In the very simple example below, the total household income for the area is $394,850. With just 7 homes, that means the average income is $56,407.  However, the median, or the point at which half make more, half make less, is $62,900.


One home at each income Total Income
$35,000 $43,000 $57,300 $62,900 $63,400 $65,750 $67,500 $394,850



And how is an area’s income figured out to begin with? It starts with the Census Bureau; each year they contact “over 3.5 million households

across the country to participate in the American Community Survey. When you respond to the survey, you are doing your part to ensure decisions about your community can be made using the best data available.” (Learn more about the ACS here). The ACS includes income data.

Once that data is available, HUD gets to work. They use the data to calculate the median income for each geographic area based on how strong the data is. If it’s deemed statistically reliable, they can run with that for the year; if it’s not statistically reliable, for whatever reason, they’ll work on a combination of surveys and formulas…and it gets complicated. To see the process in detail for Lake County, Florida, check out their calculation process here.

From this process, HUD announces the AMI for a given area. That number will then be used for different types of affordable housing programs (rentals and purchases) across the country. Our Habitat affiliate generally uses the USDA’s mortgage program for eligible home owners, so we use their AMI charts. The chart below is what Habitat would look at. (This data is extrapolated from the USDA’s site for 2018.) Remember, the median means half the residents earn less, half earn more.

If you’re fact-checking the calculations, you’ll see they don’t match up exactly. For example, using Lake County’s AMI, you’d do this: $62,900 x .50 = $31,450, whereas the USDA lists $31,950. These slight variations are likely due to USDA including non-wage sources of income in the household, such as child support, SSI, or alimony. The income numbers represent the maximum allowable to qualify for each category. Therefore, a Lake County household of 2 with an income of $31,900 would qualify for Very Low Income programs; however, if the income were $32,000, they’d be in the range for Low Income programs.


Lake County Number in the household
AMI: $62,900 1-4 5-8
50% AMI (Very Low Income)  $              31,950  $              42,200
80% AMI (Low Income)  $              51,100  $              67,450
Sumter County Number in the household
AMI: $68,200 1-4 5-8
50% AMI (Very Low)  $              33,400  $              44,100
80% AMI (Low)  $              53,450  $              70,550



Many myths abound regarding what ‘affordable’ means for housing and who qualifies for such programs. It’s no exaggeration to say that every legitimate program that strives to help people keep their housing cost affordable (paying no more than 30% of their income for housing) is using the same foundation: the AMI.

In our next installment, we’ll put a few sample budgets to the test. We’ll take various monthly incomes at different hourly wage rates, and we’ll allocate the money to expenses using generally-accepted financial advisor recommendations. In doing so, we’ll see what percent of the typical income goes to housing versus the recommended 30% figure. And we’ll be able to answer the question: at what income is housing affordable for Lake and Sumter Counties?


Your turn: How does your income, or that of your employees, compare to the AMI for Lake or Sumter counties? How do you think this affects the amount of money left, after housing is paid, to cover all other living expenses?  –> Respond to us on facebook with your thoughts to continue the conversation


Article By: Lee Owen, Habitat Volunteer

Meet the Gonzalez Family: A Home for the Holidays

The holidays are times when traditions are born, when gathering together holds more sentiment and when houses become homes. Whether your welcoming in generations of family and friends, or your traveling hundreds of miles to spend time with your loved ones, the phrase “Home for the Holidays” stirs emotions in all of us. However, for those dealing with the chaos caused by a sudden change in their living situation, the holidays are often accompanied by constant reminders that their sense of home has been washed away.

Surviving the utter destruction that swept through Puerto Rico with Hurricane Maria was just the beginning of an arduous journey that led Yolanda and Osvaldo to Central Florida and ultimately to Habitat for Humanity. “The experience was horribly devastating,” says Yolanda. “We lost our electricity, we lost food and there was no water. A lot of lives were lost on the island.” In fact, nearly 3,000 deaths we’re caused by the hurricane.

With the help of a church located in the states, the couple fled their home in Puerto Rico, destined for Sanford, Florida, with only the belongings they could carry in two suitcases. After spending their first month in a hotel in Sanford, they were able to find an apartment in Casselberry. However, after their first year in the apartment, the rent was set to increase to a point that would challenge their means.

“I started searching in August for other options, rental opportunities, but none suited our economic abilities,” said Yolanda. “I turned on the news and an interview that mentioned a community being developed by Habitat for Humanity caught my attention.”

The community was Habitat for Humanity’s Veteran’s Village in Umatilla, Florida. Veteran’s Village is a collaborative project that provides access to affordable quality housing and holistic wraparound services through a partnership with Combat Veterans to Careers.

“There’s our House!” Yolanda remembers saying to her husband. What she didn’t remember was hearing any contact information. A week went by and, while in prayer and searching the internet, Yolanda found the information she was looking for and, after confirming her husband Osvaldo was a Veteran of the Vietnam war, they began the process.

The couple celebrated their first Christmas in their new home with their children who traveled to spend the holidays with them. “Our new home was full of joy, many emotions and gratitude,” said Yolanda. They also brought with them the tradition of “Three Kings Day,” a Latin-American celebration akin to the “Feast of the Epiphany,” along with songs from the island and traditional holiday cuisine.

“In Puerto Rico, everything is decorated with lights during the Christmas season and that’s exactly what we did here,” said Yolanda. “We decorated the outside of our house as well as the inside with our Christmas Tree.”

The couple says the warmth of their new community has contributed to them feeling at home. They’ve developed “marvelous friendships,” sharing meals and great conversations with their new neighbors.

Having a “home” again was more than just finding an affordable place to live for Yolanda as Osvaldo. “In this stage of our lives, my husband and I are enjoying the peace and tranquility which God has gifted us through our new house,” she said. “And a house becomes a home by the love that is shared in it.”

Seeking Applicants for Homeownership Program

Pack it or Pitch it? Tips to Decluttering Your Home After the Holidays

Are you dreading the day the holiday decorations come down? Sorting, stacking and stuffing everything back into storage. A perennial puzzle requiring the virtue of patience needed to ensure everything fits back into a finite amount of space. Perhaps now’s the time to destress by decluttering; letting go of those things that no longer have a place in your space.

Here are a few tips to help you identify the items you can remove without remorse:

Time is not on its side.

Start by evaluating items that make less of an appearance than those annual adornments your packing away. We’re not saying you should toss out precious family heirlooms, but if it’s an everyday object, not worthy of every-year consideration, then it’s likely something you can let go.

Your D.I.Y. is D.O.N.E.

If your Pinterest projects have taken a back seat to more interesting pursuits, it’s probably time pass along the tools of the trade.

Soccer Mom (or Dad) no more.

Suburban garages overflow with memories of glory days. If your tiny tots have outgrown their love of lacrosse, then pick up sticks and pass them along to the next generation. If you’ve outsourced your outdoor maintenance, then the same rule applies to your lawn equipment.

One (or more) of these things does not belong.

So, you have a few great pieces of furniture or art that just don’t fit your new décor or sense of style. Upgrade your look with a “less-is-more” feel and ditch the distractions.

Everything in its place.

Put everything away in your house, then evaluate those things that have no place in your home or your life. If they don’t make either better, it may not be worth finding somewhere to stash them.

You’ll undoubtedly come across a number of things you can do without. You’ll probably even find a few items that you’ll actually be better off without.  Before you dump them on the curb, consider donating items that are in good condition to one of our four local Re-Store locations. Your decluttering donations will help make countless lives better, including your own.

Academy Students Get Hands On