Hometown Habitat News

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

REO Speedwagon Benefit Concert

Get Off The Bus Concerts is hosting REO Speedwagon in concert in The Villages! Be sure to get your tickets here before they sell out!

When: Thursday, February 7, at 7PM

Where: Sharon L. Morse Performing Arts Center, The Villages FL

PURCHASE TICKETS HERE

Surviving Hurricane, Habitat Houses Offer Lessons

A Fresh Outlook

At 8 AM on a quaint little street in Yalaha, there was already a block party happening.  This wasn’t your traditional type of party, however; it was remarkably different. Alongside Habitat for Humanity staff, volunteers were prepared with paintbrushes, hammers, screwdrivers, and a determination to transform not one, but three homes in the neighborhood.

The grateful homeowners – Mary Bedford, Sylvia Session, and Latasha Williams – stood by anxiously as work got underway and met the strangers who donated their time to helping them out. As any gracious host would do, Mary ensured there was plenty of parking for the volunteers, while Sylvia and Latasha joined to meet and greet their guests with smiles.

The homes in need of repair or restoration had proximity in common, but the homeowners each had their individual stories to share.  Mary Bedford had recently lost her husband, and was still dealing with not just the emotional burden but also by the financial burden of trying to pay off his funeral service.  Her home was in need of attention; there were piles of debris that needed to be hauled off, but in the midst of losing her loved one, it seemed impossible. Even so, Mary wasn’t the type to sit back and watch. She rolled up her sleeves and, side by side with the volunteers, she got to work. Volunteers called her genuine and kind, and she thought the same of them.

Sylvia Session had recently experienced respiratory failure and become unresponsive in her living room causing her to now be dependent on an oxygen tank.  Upon their arrival, paramedics had no choice but to ram down her door in order to save her.  During the project assessment, Habitat knew that a new front door would be on the top of the list, along with a repair on her AC unit. The unit’s fan was continuously running but not cooling, resulting in a sweltering hot home and a 900-dollar electric bill for the month. While Sylvia had only expected for Habitat to pressure wash her home, she was elated with the new paint job and other repairs. The volunteers, she said, were full of compassion, and went over and above what she had ever imagined. “I don’t know how to say thank you,” she said, choking back tears. “I can say it a million times but it isn’t enough. Everything that’s been done, they are little things to you, but they are big things to me.”

Latasha Williams’ husband works long hours in construction to provide for their family and to take care of their 3-year-old son. They had started to work on fencing their yard in but were unable to finish due to time and financial restraints. They were reluctant to put any of their son’s toys in the yard as they felt the space wasn’t secure enough without the fence. Habitat and the volunteers made sure that they completed the fence so that the family was able to enjoy the outdoors without worry. Besides playing outside, Latasha’s son has other plans for the fenced in yard. He wants either a dinosaur or a dog, and if he gets the dinosaur, it has to be a T-Rex.

The homeowners all feel very fortunate for having this experience with Habitat for Humanity. They say it has made a drastic change in their lives to have the homes clean, painted, and repaired. Along with a sense of solidarity, the projects have spread inspiration throughout the neighborhood; other nearby residents have inquired about the application process for Habitat for Humanity and are also working on cleaning and updating their homes in order to better the community.

 

By Lauren Lester

Growing Needs – Growing Solutions

As many of you know, Habitat Lake-Sumter started our Preservation and Repair program in 2015 to serve homeowners who didn’t want or need a new house, but couldn’t afford to keep their current one in good condition. The program was meant to provide help with the exterior of a home – weatherization, safety, accessibility, and beautification – and we quickly realized how large the need was in our area. Since then, the program has grown rapidly, serving over 50 families last year with the help of specialized funding and a large pool of awesome volunteers.

However, the need is still larger than our ability to meet it, and because of that we’ve continued to explore new ways to help grow our abilities. So many families are in need of more than we usually provide and we’ve decided to seek out ways to provide ‘Critical Home Repair’ services. The newest method to accomplish this is with funding through the United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Housing Preservation grant program. These funds are meant to help agencies in rural areas to serve homeowners with similar assistance to what we’re already doing, but with more significant backing, allowing us to expand the scope of our projects. We were selected to receive a grant this year and we’re already looking forward to how to implement it. Part of the USDA guidelines are that funds expended are matched, and through a partnership with Bank of America we’re ahead of the game there as well.

Bank of America has regularly partnered with us through the years and they’ve continued to support our efforts as we move ahead into 2019. This will help us reach the matching requirements needed to obtain even larger funding, which means larger projects and larger impact, and that’s what we’re all about. Things like a new roof, interior work like replacing failing floorboards or replacing doorways with handicap-accessible frames, and more come with additional expenses; this new source of funding will help us handle that in stride and continue to provide this work to families in need at no cost to them.

Sometimes these jobs seem like nothing to us, but the impact it can make on a family is huge. Whether they’re a small family that’s been living with a tarped roof for three years, a disabled vet who can barely leave the house due to accessibility issues, or the multi-generational family who has to find towels and buckets during Florida’s storms – one day of our time results in a changed life for them.

If you’d like to get involved with our Preservation & Repair program, we’d love to have you! You can go here to see our volunteer schedule and contact Carlos to get started.

Are you a homeowner who wants to see if you qualify for our Preservation & Repair program?  Contact Veronica  to learn more.

Sponsor of the Month: Citizens First Bank

 

Hospitality. Hard Work. Stewardship. Innovation & Creativity. The pillars of Citizens First Bank were put on shining display this year as they sponsored our inaugural Youth Construction Academy class! Recognizing the value of hands-on education for the next generation, our longtime partner decided to invest in the Youth Construction program and help us ensure it gets off to an amazing start. Beginning on August 9th, the house in Lady Lake will be built from the ground up by seniors from The Villages Charter School’s Construction Science program, with guidance from experienced Habitat supervisors and instructors from the school. By the end of their year in May, they will have completed a full build, from concrete to keys, and be invited to participate in the dedication ceremony for the low-income family moving in.

Citizens First Bank was founded in 1991 and is headquartered in The Villages, Florida. Their two branches, one in The Villages and one in Leesburg, provide top-quality service focused on the needs of their area. By providing comprehensive banking resources and personalized experiences to their community, they are able to fully embrace their place as a hometown bank, and share a special relationship with their clients. For more information on the services they offer, check out their website here or give them a call at 352-753-9515 or 800-707-1893.

Hometown Hero

We knew when we built the Veterans Village that we would meet some people with remarkable backgrounds and unique experiences. After all, serving in the military is essentially a guarantee of at least a few good stories. However, among all of our homeowners in the Veterans Village, none stand out as defiantly and inspirational as Ike Fretz. Our most recent resident to move into the Village, Ike’s history of service is impressive, but it’s what he’s done – and continues to do – post-service that really galvanizes the warrior spirit.

Ike served in the United States Army from 1989 through 1994 and was on active duty for Desert Storm. During that conflict, he sustained an injury while working as part of a two-man evacuation team. His actions earned him several commendations but they also left him permanently injured and wheelchair-bound. It was several years into his recovery and adaptation process that a recreational therapist introduced him to adaptive sports, and it was the beginning of a brand new outlook.

Since then, Ike has won multiple gold medals in the National Veterans Wheelchair Games events, including power lifting, basketball, bowling, and hand-cycling, which he took to the extreme with a Washington-State-to-Washington-DC cycle in 2012. Ike says that when he competes in these games, he does so to honor other veterans that he holds dear, whether living or passed, and uses his actions in spite of adversities to inspire other veterans to keep fighting.

Because of his profound story, dedication, and impact, an anonymous donor took note of Ike’s placement into a Veterans Village home and decided to pay off Ike’s mortgage, in full, as a way of honoring how he served our country and continues to serve other veterans. We were able to surprise Ike and his caretaker, Sherrie, with the news on May 23, and have an opportunity for the donor to meet Ike and thank him in person. It was a truly moving experience and added yet another momentous chapter to Ike’s already extraordinary story.

Spring Cleaning

Spring is in the air, and so is a record level of pollen and, for some states, unwelcome snow. Whatever your region or affliction, the time is right for some heavy-duty cleaning, and Habitat is here to help! Spring Cleaning is often associated with a full blitz of the house (including the garage, husbands out there) and many times there’s large items that need to go. Habitat for Humanity Lake Sumter has four ReStores that don’t just receive your donated items, we’ll even come get them – it’s free, and all you have to do is give us a call. Furniture, old (but functional) appliances, and electronics that you upgraded from on Black Friday but can’t bring yourself to get rid of; our ReStore truck teams will take it all, with some exceptions. To check if your item is a good fit, give your local ReStore a call, and if it looks good then they’ll get you in touch with the scheduling team to come get it.

Check out this article by Rodale Wellness:  14 Decluttering Secrets for Successful Spring Cleaning
Check out another article by Alex Harris: 21 Simple Hacks to Clean Your House the Smart Way


One of the lesser-known and more unique ways of supporting Habitat is through the Cars for Homes program. This option allows people who are upgrading their vehicles, downsizing their collection, or simply getting rid of a driveway accessory to donate the vehicle to Habitat, where it is sold and the proceeds support our mission. We don’t just accept cars, either! We can take donations of motorcycles, RV’s, trailers, golf carts, and work trucks. All donations through Cars for Homes receive a tax receipt which may qualify you for a nice deduction, and you’re helping lessen emissions and increase recycling value if you donate. If you’d like to get more info, or see if you have a qualifying item, you can check out the website here or give Cheryll a call at 352-483-0434 x141.

Check out the Cars for Homes Program:  Cars = Homes