Hometown Habitat News

Around the House: Local construction academies building houses, careers

youth construction academies 2021-2022

The local high school construction academies in Leesburg, The Villages, Eustis, and South Lake had a banner school year for student participation, but more importantly, these young people helped build four homes for Habit for Humanity of Lake-Sumter.

In April and May, the students turned the keys over to brand new homeowners who, if not for these programs, and Habitat for Humanity, would have never been able to own a home. The construction academies in these high schools are a true partnership between the public and private sectors, and many of these students can leave high school with a job in hand. 

The local high school construction academies in Leesburg, The Villages, Eustis, and South Lake had a banner school year for student participation, but more importantly, these young people helped build four homes for Habit for Humanity of Lake-Sumter.

In April and May, the students turned the keys over to brand new homeowners who, if not for these programs, and Habitat for Humanity, would have never been able to own a home. The construction academies in these high schools are a true partnership between the public and private sectors, and many of these students can leave high school with a job in hand. 

Mentorship by local subcontractors and business leaders, along with eager educators, created a learning environment for students, and as a result, next year, the Leesburg Construction Academy has over 300 students signed up for the program and the school is hiring a second instructor to expand other construction scopes like CAD drawing.

Probably, the most important aspect of these construction academies has been the positive effect on the students. To work on these homes students are required to follow workplace rules and standards, and there are strict discipline guidelines for behavior.

Click here for the full article from the Daily Commercial by Don Magruder

Students help fulfill family’s home dream

The Thomas Family with the Villages Charter School students 2022

A local family of five has finally gotten the home it always wanted. On Friday morning, Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter and members of the Construction Management Academy at The Villages High School presented the keys to a brand new home in Wildwood to Shane Thomas, Nicole Brandon and their three children. Thomas addressed the crowd at the dedication ceremony. “This means a lot to my family,” he said. “We struggled a lot for a long time, so to be able to have a home that we can call our own — it’s hard to put it into words.” All 13 VHS seniors in the construction academy were involved in various capacities throughout the build, from flooring to the roof’s trusses, to help them get a real feel for the work.

 The Construction Management Academy is just one of multiple academies available at The Villages High School that prepare students for post-secondary education and the workforce.

“These are kids building a home like this,” Thomas said. “It’s amazing, guys.” 

During the ceremony, each student was introduced, and construction academy instructor Bruce Haberle commented on their performance in the program. VHS Principal Rob Grant also was in attendance.

“It’s one of my favorite days of the year as a principal — being able to come out and see the accomplishments of our kids,” Grant said.

Danielle Stroud, president and chief executive officer of Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter, spoke about what building and dedicating a home means for students and the community.

“What you guys built here today will last past your time in school,” Stroud said. “And it will continue to invest in families just like you guys.”

The Brandon family put in more than 200 “sweat equity hours,” which included helping out with the build and taking financial literacy courses, Stroud said. 

Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter makes sure the housing is affordable with a manageable mortgage.

Click here for the full story by Garrett Shiflet, Daily Sun Staff Writer

Sponsor of the Month: RoMac Building Supply

romac match 2022 thank you

Fulfilling their 6th year as Habitat Lake-Sumter’s March Match sponsor, RoMac Building Supply continues to be a driving supporter of our Youth Construction Academy. Under the leadership of CEO Don Magruder, the Youth Construction Academy has expanded to 4 schools across Lake-Sumter, with aspirations of making Leesburg High School the number 1 construction academy in the state! To date, the Youth Construction Academy has built 10 homes across Lake and Sumter Counties.

Thanks to the generous donations and community support throughout the month of March and the RoMac Building Supply matching investment of $20,000, we were able to raise $39,450 during this year’s RoMac Match campaign.

This is our highest match result to date, with an estimated $9,000 increase from last year!

We not only met our goal, but we surpassed it! This great accomplishment was made possible because of caring supporters like each and every one of you believing in our youth and the importance of decent, affordable homes!

Every donation received directly supports the vocational training for the students in the Youth Construction Academy, as well as fulfilling the dream of a future homeowner with decent, affordable housing.

RoMac Building Supply continues to pledge their support in Habitat’s mission to build communities, hope, and homes and an unwavering commitment to bettering the opportunities of our youth. Because of RoMac’s devotion to improving the lives of deserving families and future outlook of our students through skilled trades, these families and students will have the tools to brighter futures ahead.

Thank you for supporting and investing in the future of our youth and future homeowners.

Click here to watch this series to see the impact of RoMac’s Annual March Match!

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/

Meet Brock Esarey: YCA Student Follow-Up

Building Our Future 2022

 

Brock Esarey is a former student of the Villages Charter School and former participating student in the Youth Construction Academy (YCA). Prior to joining the Youth Construction Academy, Brock was heavily involved in sports. In addition to his schoolwork, being a member of both the basketball and football team kept Brock quite busy, playing the position of quarterback in football and power forward in basketball. Brock is an avid Notre Dame football fan and enjoys fitness and boating.

Although Brock enjoyed playing sports and had done so since he was a small child, as he began his upper high school classes Brock decided to focus more on career building skills.  Brock had always enjoyed handy work. In fact, the previous summer before starting the YCA program, he had a job framing houses with a local contractor. As he was considering the available academic components within his school, he came across the YCA and instantly new it was a perfect fit for him. The most enjoyable part of the YCA program was developing a mentorship with his teacher Mr. Haberle, whom he still calls on anytime he has questions or seeking advice.  Brock admits that the most difficult experience was learning flooring, as the work was very hard on his knees and back. However, he understood it came with the job and was a necessary skill to learn.

Being a part of the YCA has had a tremendous impact on Brock. Since graduating from the Villages Charter School last year, Brock has found a career within the construction industry. Initially, he began doing trim work in the Villages, and is now currently employed as an assistant superintendent for The Villages, an opportunity that he credits to the YCA program. Brock plans to continue pursuing his interest in the construction field and getting his license to become a general contractor and certified builder in the Villages.

Brock is thankful for the opportunities the Youth Construction Academy offered him, to develop career-building skills and training that prepared him for a successful future. The YCA allowed Brock to turn a hobby into a passion, and now a budding career. The YCA not only provided Brock a hands-on learning environment and vocational education, but also allowed him and his fellow classmates the ability to obtain the necessary certifications to secure job placement after high school. Without the support of The Villages Charter School, the YCA Advisory Board, and the support of local contractors, Brock and other students would not have these direct opportunities to gainful employment. Brock encourages the next YCA class to show up with a positive attitude and ready to work because the reward is truly worth it! 

Learn more about the four schools who’ve partnered with us, The Villages Charter High, Leesburg High, South Lake High, and Eustis High, to build homes for local families each school year! Visit our Facebook to follow the students progress from groundbreaking to dedication day, as each school begins a new build in September 2022! 

Frewsburg Students To Participate In Habitat Trip

Frewsburg High School Volunteers 2022

While some students spend spring break at the beach, a group from Frewsburg will be spending their time helping Habitat for Humanity.

Jennifer Swanson, a technology teacher at Frewsburg High School, and six members of the Structural Integrity Club will be traveling to Eustis, Fla., to help with various Habitat for Humanity projects over the week. The group is focused on using architectural and engineering skills learned in technology class. Students — including Jacob Constantino, Noah Collins, Hannah Forbes, Hannah Eckert and Brianna Rosequist and Katelyn Bean — will take off this Sunday, and will spend the week working on their assigned projects.

Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit organization that helps provide affordable housing all across the world. Many projects include building homes for those in need, and will often include the homeowners themselves in building the homes.

The trip was supposed to take place in 2020, but due to the pandemic, it was postponed until this year.

“We were all set to go,” Swanson said. “We were supposed to leave in April that year, and everything shut down the month before.”

“During this alternative spring break experience, students will work with the local Habitat for Humanity organization,” Swanson said. “Projects for these opportunities vary depending on the current projects. Our group is currently slated to complete two projects that are in progress with some paint prep and painting, as well as outdoor cleanup.”

Swanson added that the facility the students will visit has several projects at this time. Students will be helping “wrap up” several of the projects.

“We’ve got some that are under 18, so there are certain jobs they can’t do; they can’t work with power tools if they’re under 18,” she said. “We’re doing some more renovation or restoration-type things, so we’ll be doing some cleanups, some painting, some pressure washing and scraping.”

Students who participate in the trip generally have to be students currently in Swanson’s technology class.

“It’s the students who are generally in my classes because they should be going through the program so that they know they have some knowledge of the things that they’re doing,” she said. “Other than that, they have first priority in being able to go because there’s limited space because we don’t take a bus — we’re flying down. The spots are open to the students I have in class first and then it would be open beyond that.”

Swanson commended her students on also being in good academic standing.

“I think all the students that are going on this trip are in the National Honor Society,” she said. “It’s a really good group of students who are going.”

Click here to read the full story from The Post-Journal

March Match with RoMac Building Supplies

x2 the Impact 2022 header

We believe that the path to a stable future includes access to hands-on education and vocational training. Because of your support, our Youth Construction Academy has grown to include 4 school partnerships and over 120 students!

Once again, RoMac Building Supply is partnering with YOU to match every dollar donated in March, up to $20,000!

Your gift will help Caitlynn graduate high school career-ready, with the training and education to enter the workforce in a growing industry!

Today, your gift of $25 will
be doubled to become $50!
And your gift of $100 will
become $200!

Through the Youth Construction Academy, students not only open doors for themselves, but open doors for future homeowners. Each year, students build homes and uplift 4 local families, while gaining life-long skills and impacting our community!

Double your dollar and double YOUR impact with RoMac Building Supply. Donate Today!

With gratitude,

Danielle Stroud signature

Danielle Stroud
CEO

P.S. Will you invest in Caitlynn’s future? Donate today!

DONATE NOW

Board Member Spotlight: Jordan Hawkin

2022 Board Member Spotlight: Jordan Hawkins

As a lifelong resident of Lake County and graduate of Tavares High School and Lake Sumter Community College, Jordan Hawkins is a true local. Married to wife, Jenna, and raising three sons, together they are continuing the tradition of making Lake County their hometown.

Jordan currently resides in Umatilla, FL and has been employed by the United Southern Bank for the past 16 years, working in their commercial lending department.

He has been on the Habitat Lake-Sumter Board for almost one year and believes his banking and financial experience help provide insight to the Board when making financial decisions.

“Habitat has done a great job helping people obtain homes. In today’s market, where prices are rising rapidly, incomes often do not afford the opportunity to save enough money for a down payment while paying for rent and other necessities. Habitat clearly makes homes much more affordable for many hard working people”

Jordan has also been very impressed by the community out-reach programs undertaken by Habitat Lake-Sumter. Of particular interest is the Preservation and Repair program. As a part of this program, Jordan participated in the Umatilla Block Party as a community advocate. He, along with other Habitat staff members, identified homes in Umatilla in need of repair and/or maintenance. Jordan said, “Homeowners were thrilled with the offer of help to do those things that they could no longer do for themselves.”

A second project Jordan got involved in was Habitat Lake-Sumter’s annual playhouse build event, Jingle Build-Off. United Southern Bank was one of many corporate sponsors involved in building playhouses for kids. Local families had the opportunity to apply for playhouses and in their application provided ideas that would appeal to their kids and steer creative construction plans. Jordan, together with another volunteer, led a team of Umatilla High School students in the construction of a playhouse with a Jurassic Park theme. “Seeing the enthusiasm from the kids when presented with the completed project was awesome. Imagine a playhouse with a dinosaur cracking through the roof! The kids were so excited!”

Jordan is pleased to be a part of the Habitat Lake-Sumter Board and providing hands-on experience to help so many local families. He is very thankful for this opportunity and Habitat Lake-Sumter is grateful for his enthusiasm and expertise.

Written By: Kevin Vogt

Cadets ‘Spruce up the Block’ in Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter initiative

Cadets from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy paint a house in Mount Dora as part of Habitat for Humanity’s Preservation and Repair program on Thursday. [photo by Cindy Peterson]

Cadets from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy paint a house in Mount Dora as part of Habitat for Humanity’s Preservation and Repair program on Thursday. [Cindy Peterson/Correspondent]

MOUNT DORA — Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter’s preservation and repair program is underway.

A group of cadets from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy are hitting the streets of Mount Dora, Umatilla and Clermont to revitalize neighborhoods. 

“These ‘block parties,’ as we call them, help assist owners who are disabled or who maybe can’t afford repairs,” academy professor Ed Valla said. “We help with landscaping, pressure washing, light repairs and painting the exterior of the home. It’s an effort to help Habitat for Humanity and build a better community.”

A group of about 30 freshmen cadets are taking part in this two-week project. They are studying emergency management services and have had the opportunity to visit with our local police and fire departments for additional training. 

The initiative is in its sixth year. In that time, more than 200 cadets have come through the program in Lake County alone.  

“It feels good to get out and serve other who need it,” freshmen cadet CJ Manning said. “We learn about giving back to the community and all aspects of being a cadet. We are fortunate to have everything we do and want to help others with it.”

One homeowner in Mount Dora was so thankful for the yard work the cadets provided, that she bought them all pizzas for lunch. 

“Homeowners have had a very positive response,” Valla said. “Over in Clermont, they painted 14 houses in two days.” 

A few senior cadets return to the program as mentors, but all faculty and cadets work together on the projects. 

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

Meet the Chism Family – Celebrating Steve’s Life

Cherry, Josh and Everly 2022

Cherry is a Florida native who moved into her current home in 2018, Cherry and her husband, Steve, were looking for a home that would fit their family with an adult son, Josh, and their granddaughter, Everly living with them. They found the perfect home to fit their multi-generational family, a home raised on piers connected to a small apartment sized home by a breezeway.

The home would fit their family’s needs and still provide privacy. They hired an inspection company, were given a positive report and purchased the home. Shortly after it was brought to their attention that the piers supporting the main house did not reach the foundation. Piers underneath the home were weak, worn down, and the home was having issues with splitting. The family did not feel safe walking through the home with the foundation of the structure compromised and could feel the house shifting as they moved throughout the home. Cherry said they moved through the home “holding their breath, afraid that the home would crumble from the bottom down and collapse.”

Cherry and Steve were told that the inspection company was not responsible for the lack of finding the issue and Cherry said, “It felt like an injustice.”  Now, they had to figure out a way to pay for these critical home repairs and then, Steve was diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease, a genetic nerve condition that effects the brain.

Cherry said they lived in uncertainty and didn’t know how they would have made the repairs. Cherry reached out to Habitat Lake-Sumter and says it “was an answer to prayer.” After applying to the Preservation and Repair program, Cherry and Steve’s application was accepted but the Covid-19 pandemic hit and delays began, the original vendor for the repair went out of business during the pandemic, and Cherry’s project hit a standstill. However, thanks to Wells Fargo, we were able to move the project forward again.

In the midst of the project, sadly, Steve (61) passed away from complications of Huntington’s Disease in August 2021. It changed their financial standing significantly, reducing their income from 50-80% AMI to extremely low. With tears in her eyes, Cherry expressed gratitude to Wells Fargo and Habitat Lake-Sumter for helping her family during this time. “I’m so thankful to the people at Habitat. When we first moved here the address stood out to me, “Shiloh” means peace, so I knew this was the perfect fit for our family. Now, I pray let it be a place of peace and rest. It means a lot that I get to be here for my son and granddaughter too.”

 With Steve’s passing, the Chism family were searching for ways to restore stability in their lives once again. Cherry, her son Josh, and his daughter, Everly now live in a home that feels safe and secure – an important step to finding peace. Cherry plans to start a garden and Josh wants to raise awareness about Huntington’s Disease – as a genetic disease the family carries anxiety about health outcomes in their future, but they feel a sense of security and tranquility in their home as they grieve, heal, and look to what the future holds for their family.

 

Celebrating Steve’s Life

My dad (Steve Chism) lived every day like it was his last in every sense. He lived his dreams.
He loved with all his heart, he took care of his family, he worked hard to build a business he
was proud of and he did it all knowing he could have Huntington’s disease. Never once did he
let that get him down or stop him from living in the moment. If anyone ever needed something
he was always the first to volunteer. My dad loved to help people. He was the most genuine
man I’ve ever met. He put his heart into everything he did. Steve was not an average man, he
was extraordinary. He had a work ethic like no one I’ve ever met, and he put just as much time
into being present with his family. I have the best memories with my father even though he’s
watching over us in heaven now.

Your memories will live on forever.
Until we meet again
Rest in paradise
I love you, Dad

I also wanted to thank the people at Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter for this opportunity to honor my father and for all the work they’ve done to help our family. We appreciate you guys and everything you do.

Sincerely,
Josh Chism

 

Florida Paints – Sponsor of the Month

Mt Dora Spruce Up the Block Party sponsored by Florida Paints 2022

Florida Paints is partnering with Habitat Lake-Sumter’s Preservation and Repair program through community events, “Spruce up the Block” parties.

Started in 2015, Habitat Lake-Sumter’s Preservation and Repair program works to preserve the existing affordable housing stock, improve the safety and accessibility of the homes through exterior repairs, and revitalize low-income neighborhoods and community spaces. As part of Habitat’s Preservation and Repair program, “Spruce of the Block” parties were introduced as community-focused initiatives that provide local neighborhoods with clean-up, landscaping, and fresh painting.

This Spring, Florida Paints became the lead sponsor of multiple block parties for neighborhoods in South Lake, Umatilla, Leesburg, and Mount Dora – donating over 200 gallons of paint! We are grateful to collaborate with community investors like Florida Paints, who are dedicated to uplifting their neighbors and their community. 

Florida Paints is a second-generation, family-owned paint company. It all started with Color Wheel in 1960 and continues with Florida Paints today. With a 60-year legacy of manufacturing over 75 million gallons of paint, the Strube family knows the paint business better than anyone in Florida. And are proud to have a team of the most dedicated, experienced, and knowledgeable paint people in the industry.

Thanks to our friends at Florida Paints, cadets from Massachusetts Maritime Academy volunteered during Habitat Lake-Sumter’s community events, “Spruce up the Block” parties for four weeks.

So what can happen in four weeks? Check it out! 

Spruce Up the Block Party Mt Dora 2022 statistics

Thank you, Florida Paints! Because of your support, volunteers helped to “Paint a Brighter Day” for families and communities across Lake County, serving more than 40 families and 3 faith-based community centers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Habitat For Humanity Of Lake-Sumter and AgeWave Solutions, Inc. Join Together To Hand Over Keys To New Homeowner!

Sandra and Walter Young at their home dedication 2022

Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter in partnership with AgeWave Solutions, Inc recently dedicated the first Habitat home of 2022.

AgeWave Solutions, Inc was the presenting sponsor for the Women Build project in May 2021, which aims to build and repair homes, while raising awareness of housing issues facing women, their families, and the 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, CEO of Habitat Lake-Sumter. “This home went from drawing to reality, all while working alongside AgeWave.”

AgeWave Solutions, Inc will be included in the dedication ceremony as we hand over the keys to a Family who were selected through Habitat’s Home Ownership program.

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

Nonprofits reach out for help as costs rise

Volunteers with The Villages Habitat for Humanity Club, left to right, Fran Harper, of the Village of Hemingway, Kevin Tucker, of the Village Del Mar, Andy Laskowsky, of the Village Rio Grande, and John Holmes, of the Village of Pine Ridge, help build a home on Skycrest Boulevard in Fruitland Park. George Horsford, Daily Sun

Volunteers with The Villages Habitat for Humanity Club, left to right, Fran Harper, of the Village of Hemingway, Kevin Tucker, of the Village Del Mar, Andy Laskowsky, of the Village Rio Grande, and John Holmes, of the Village of Pine Ridge, help build a home on Skycrest Boulevard in Fruitland Park.
George Horsford, Daily Sun

Having a home built by The Villages Habitat for Humanity Club was a life-changing event for Joyce Tohill and her family, including her special-needs daughter. Tohill was the recipient of the club’s first build last year in Fruitland Park. When she learned that the group needed assistance, she was quick to sign up to help another family. With inflation slowing some nonprofits’ projects, many are reaching out to the community for a hand. Rising gas prices are affecting cancer patients needing transportation, rising food prices are affecting the amount and type of food local food pantries can hand out, and the rising cost of building supplies is affecting groups that provide housing. The Villages Habitat for Humanity Club had to raise money before starting its second build, which was delayed until December because of building cost increases.

“We knew in October the build was going to be delayed, so we had to get creative,” said Sally Read, co-president of the group. “We held a fundraiser as our costs went from $10,000 to $15,000. We ended up working with Nothing Bundt Cakes in (The Villages) and having an additional fundraiser to meet our goal, but we are still raising money since we will decorate when the build is finished.”

SPRUCE UP THE BLOCK’ PAINTING PARTIES SET THROUGHOUT LAKE COUNTY

Spruce Up the Block Party Mt Dora 2022

Time to get the paint brushes out, as Florida Paints is partnering with Habitat Lake-Sumter’s Preservation and Repair program through community events, “Spruce up the Block” parties to be hosted Feb. 1-11, according to a news release.

Habitat Lake-Sumter’s Preservation and Repair program works to preserve the existing affordable housing stock, improve the safety and accessibility of the homes through exterior repairs, and revitalize low-income neighborhoods and community spaces. Block Parties are community focused initiatives that provide local neighborhoods with clean-up, landscaping, and fresh painting.

Thanks to Florida Paints’ support, Habitat Lake-Sumter, community leaders, and volunteers will help to “Paint a Brighter Day” for families and communities across Lake County, FL.

“Spruce up the Block” parties are happening throughout South Lake, Umatilla, and Mount Dora and will serve more than 40 families and three faith-based community centers. The painting parties begin Tuesday, Feb. 1, and will run 8 a.m. to noon through Feb. 11.

For any general public or media interested in joining us onsite, contact Lacie Himes, development director, at Habitat, for the location details. She can be reached at  352-396-6763 or Lacie@HabitatLS.org

By Akers Editorial, Lake and Sumter Style

Leesburg High School students work to build homes with Habitat for Humanity

Leesburg High School YCA Dry-In Celebration 2022

LEESBURG, Fla. — A new home is going up in Leesburg thanks to Habitat for Humanity and the Leesburg High School Construction Academy.

These two groups held an event today to honor the students’ hard work and marked the half-way point for the project.

“This is our third house with Habitats for Humanities, so it’s been a wonderful partnership,” said Dr. Monique Griffin-Gay, assistant principal at Leesburg High School. “The students enjoy what they do. They get to get satisfaction of giving a home to someone else. They give back and they also learn a valuable skill.”

Griffin-Gay also shared that the house is going to a Leesburg High School student.

Students in the class said they plan on building another house next year, right next door.

Click here to watch the video and read the full story by James Tutten, WFTV

Leesburg High construction academy marks halfway point on Habitat for Humanity house

Students from the Leesburg High School Construction Academy show off the house they are building with Habitat for Humanity of Lake and Sumter on Wednesday. [Cindy Peterson/Correspondent]

Students from the Leesburg High School Construction Academy show off the house they are building with Habitat for Humanity of Lake and Sumter on Wednesday. [Cindy Peterson/Correspondent]

LEESBURG — Students in the Leesburg High School Construction Academy showed off their progress on the Habitat for Humanity home construction project on Wednesday.

The academy and nonprofit organization marked the halfway point of the house by hosting a dry-in ceremony, marking the completion of the home’s outer shell and the beginning of interior work. 

The home, located at 933 E. Main St. in Leesburg, is the third home built through their partnership which helps introduce students to a career in construction. 

“This project is really two-fold,” Danielle Stroud of Habitat for Humanity. “We are able to provide affordable housing to a much-deserving family in the community and the students get hand-on experience in building a house from the ground up.” 

Out of around 200 kids in the Leesburg construction program, a group of 12 to 15 students, are selected to work on this year-long project. The kids take part in every aspect of building a house, working alongside industry professionals and seeing first-hand what it takes to enter the workforce. This year’s home is expected to be finished by the end of the school year in May.

“I feel like I wouldn’t be who I am today without this opportunity,” sophomore Breanna Ice said. “When I joined, I thought it would be just hammers and nails. But I’ve built a family and never thought would I ever be building a house. I love knowing I’m able to help people and that this house will be here long after we are gone.”

Ro-Mac Lumber & Supply is this year’s corporate sponsor and the City of Leesburg donated the land for the home. 

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

The Live Well Foundation of South Lake awards $1 Million Transformation Grant to Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter

Live Well Check Presentation, January 18, 2022

South Lake, FL – The Live Well Foundation of South Lake announced Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter as recipients of a million dollar transformation grant in support of critical home repairs through Habitat Lake-Sumter’s Preservation and Repair program.

Through Habitat Lake-Sumter’s Preservation and Repair program, low-income homeowners are eligible to receive repairs to increase the safety, accessibility, and beauty of the home. Critical home repairs benefit individuals and families who are unable to maintain the health and stability of their home by themselves due to age, disability, or family circumstances. This program allows Habitat Lake-Sumter to help maintain the affordable housing stock in our community and ensure that everyone has a decent place to live. 

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. However, thanks to the partnership of the Live Well Foundation of South Lake, Habitat Lake-Sumter will maintain safe, decent, and secure housing for an additional 40 or more families in South Lake specifically.

The South Lake Preservation and Repair program will address poor housing conditions in South Lake County. “With this South Lake Preservation and Repair grant, homeowners are able to stay in the homes in which they already live, while increasing the safety and accessibility of the home.” Said Dr. Kasey Kesselring, Live Well Foundation of South Lake Board Chair. Identified as a social determinant impacting health in Lake County, poor housing conditions is a key factor in quality of life, mental health, and community inclusion.

Danielle Stroud, CEO of Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter says, “On behalf of Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter and the families we represent, we are very grateful for this opportunity made possible by The Live Well Foundation of South Lake and so excited to get started on this life-changing program for South Lake residents!”

Uplifting the homes and neighborhoods of individuals in South Lake will help individuals living there and the surrounding community. It will positively impact performances at work and school, improve health and aging-in-place decisions, and instill a sense of belonging in the community.

To learn more about this partnership or Habitat for Humanity’s programs contact Lacie at 352-483-0434 Ext. 146.

 

About the Live Well Foundation of South Lake

The Live Well Foundation of South Lake, Inc. was formed with an agreement between Orlando Health and the South Lake Memorial Hospital organization which resulted in South Lake Memorial Hospital relinquishing its seats on the board of South Lake Hospital. Orlando Health generously provided $128 million to the new foundation. The contribution coincided with the South Lake Hospital becoming a controlled subsidiary of Orlando Health. The Live Well Foundation, established in 2019 as a 501(c)(3) and dedicated to inspiring sustainable initiatives that enhance the health and wellness of the South Lake community, aspires to attract and fund much needed healthcare and healthy lifestyle programs to serve residents. Visit Live Well Foundation online at lwfsl.org for more information.  Even at this early stage of our existence, Live Well Foundation of South Lake intends to be a long-term partner in bringing more healthcare choices and healthier lifestyle services to the people of South Lake County.

 

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. 

Students get tools they need to thrive

Adam Hatfield, a 2020 graduate of The Villages High School, takes inventory of doors at MiCo Customs at the Gov. Rick Scott Industrial Park. Hatfield learned marketable job skills in the VHS Construction Management Academy.  Rachel Stuart, Daily Sun

Adam Hatfield, a 2020 graduate of The Villages High School, takes inventory of doors at MiCo Customs at the Gov. Rick Scott Industrial Park. Hatfield learned marketable job skills in the VHS Construction Management Academy.
Rachel Stuart, Daily Sun

As demand for skilled construction and trade workers climbs, local students who dream of working in these industries are getting a head start. Schools, businesses and organizations give students the tools they need to thrive in these careers through opportunities such as apprenticeships, scholarships and studying in school training academies such as The Villages High School’s Construction Management Academy. “I chose construction as a career because of the academy,” said Brock Esarey, a graduate of the VHS class of 2021, who works for The Villages Residential Construction and Home Warranty as an assistant superintendent. “I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do before, but once I joined the construction academy I instantly knew construction was what I wanted to do.”

The community needs employees like Esarey — construction jobs make up 9.8% of Sumter County’s employment, with trades, transportation and utilities industries forming 18.2%, according to the Florida Legislature’s Office of Economic and Demographic Research of Florida.

Each year more than a dozen students participate in VHS’ Construction Management Academy. Students earn industry certifications and gain-on-the job experience building homes for Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter’s affordable housing program and working on other construction projects.

Click here to read the full article by

Villagers for Veterans support Ashley’s House

Villagers for Veterans and Habitat for Humanity Lake Sumter break ground on Ashley's House. The home in Eustis will serve as transitional housing for female veterans coming back to civilian life.  Submitted photo

Villagers for Veterans and Habitat for Humanity Lake Sumter break ground on Ashley’s House. The home in Eustis will serve as transitional housing for female veterans coming back to civilian life.
Submitted photo

Women veterans who need help getting back into civilian life after serving their country soon will have a place to go in Lake County.

Villagers for Veterans and Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter broke ground Jan. 15 on Ashley’s House, a transitional home for women veterans. The facility is the first of its kind in Lake County and is much needed, said Marie Bogdonoff, founder of the nonprofit Villagers for Veterans.

“Homeless women veterans is the fastest-growing demographic in the military,” Bogdonoff said. “We want to provide them a safe place where they can transition, get their education, get healthy, get signed up at the VA, get a job and do all the things that they need in order to move out and into their own place.”

Meet Shenika and Destiny!

Almost Home with Shenika and Destiny 2022

Introducing long time Leesburg residents and among our newest Habitat partner family, Shenika and her daughter, Destiny.

Shenika works at Leesburg UF Hospital as a dietary aid where she has been employed for the last 16 years and Destiny is a 10th grade student at Leesburg High School. They currently reside in a rental unit in Leesburg but have always wanted a home to call their own. “I’ve always wanted my own home for me and my children,” says Shenika, “I have lived in Leesburg my whole life.”

Shenika’s dream of homeownership is possible through Habitat Lake-Sumter’s homeownership program. Their home will be three bedrooms and two baths conveniently located close to both work and school. Shenika investigated the Habitat program via their website. Then through a series of interviews and by working with the Family Services Manager, Veronica Troxell, found she qualified for home ownership. Needless to say, she was very excited. Shenika said, “At first I was nervous to apply because I didn’t think I would get approved then I took the chance and got approved, this was such a great moment for me and my daughter.”

An interesting aspect of this home is that it is being built by Destiny’s fellow students from Leesburg High School who are enrolled a skilled trades program. Working alongside Habitat construction staff and volunteers, students have spent a daily class period building Shenika and Destiny’s future home since September 2021.They work alongside professional trades people and industry professionals who assist in their learning experience and provide them with the necessary skills to get a job after graduation. Destiny knows several of the student builders and they keep her abreast of the progress being made and is told over and over how great this house is going to be.

Both Shenika and Destiny are participating in the required 200 hours of sweat equity. On December 4th, they worked alongside other volunteers and local businesses to construct several playhouses which were donated as Christmas presents to kids in the community. This event is known as Jingle Build Off and is an annual event that takes place the first Saturday in December. Additionally, Shenika has worked at the Habitat Restore and both Shenika and Destiny will be assisting with painting and laying sod at their new home. The sweat equity program allows every Habitat homeowner to give back to the community, gain hands-on skills, and invest personally in the home they will be calling their own. A bit later, Shenika will be taking homeownership classes to help better prepare her for the home-owning experience and the accompanying responsibility of owning a home.

They anticipate moving into their new home in May 2022. Shenika explains what she’s most excited about is “the idea of having your own washer and dryer.”

Destiny agrees, “I feel excited to have a bigger room and to finally say my mother has a house. No More Laundry Mat!”

Shenika has two older sons, Daykon (25) and Traveion (23), and they too are looking forward to spending time with their Mom and sister in their new home.

Both Shenika and Destiny have been very impressed with the help and support they have received from Habitat staff members and volunteers. “We are thankful and blessed for this wonderful experience.”

Written by: Kevin Vogt

Board Member Spotlight: Michael Pape

Michael Pape, Board Member Spotlight 2022

 

Meet Michael Pape

A native Texan but a Floridian since age 3, Michael found his ultimate career path through both service and education at the US Naval Academy and the University of Florida.  During his 42 years in Central Florida, Michael Pape and his professional firm, Michael Pape and Associates PA, has served countless clients with land planning and landscape architectural services, most notably via his primary role in planning, designing, and creating The Villages since 1986.  Throughout his career as a landscape architect, land planner, and arboriculturist, Michael has focused on the spirit and creativity that goes into designing places that are an essential part of the community . . . places for people to come together to live, work and play, and to enjoy each other and their lifestyle.  It was in this professional capacity that Michael first became involved with Habitat of Lake-Sumter, assisting in the planning, design, and permitting of the Umatilla Veterans Village, the Cottages at Heritage Grove in Tavares, and other potential projects.  Having become semi-retired this year, Michael was pleased by the opportunity to volunteer his expertise directly as a member of the Habitat Lake-Sumter Board, while also enjoying other activities for which he now finds time with his wife, Trish, including travel, hiking, biking, boating, and their first grandchild, born in February.  

Why join the Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter Board?

During his time working as a professional consultant and design team member with Habitat, Michael cites the inspiration he gained from working with Kent Adcock and Danielle Stroud on the creative approach reflected in projects like Veterans Village and the Cottages at Heritage Grove, seeing the unique way they served the organization’s mission while creating places with a true sense of community and personal belonging for their residents.  Joining the Board felt like the perfect way for Michael to contribute to this mission as he gained more time to volunteer his talents during this stage of life. 

What you are looking forward to achieving over your Habitat term?

Michael hopes to combine his experience and skills with those of the Staff and the other Board members, to envision and implement the kind of cutting edge community projects by which Habitat has forged a new and exciting path in the mission to achieve community housing opportunities.  Likewise, he looks forward to adding to the Board’s network of professional friends and colleagues to expand Habitat’s base of support in the community.

 

“I am honored and privileged to join this impressive group of folks that currently serve on the Board. These are caring and involved people, dedicated to serving and enhancing Lake and Sumter Counties, and I foresee a better opportunity than ever for us to increase awareness of Habitat’s mission and engender greater enthusiasm, participation, and support for this exceptional organization.”   – Michael Pape

Lake County family starts off new year with new home

Sandra and Walter Young with Randy from AgeWave Solutions 2022

LAKE COUNTY , Fla. — For one Lake County family, 2022 is already off to a good start as they were given the keys to a new home Monday.

Sandra Young and Walter Young, of Eustis, had been living with their daughter and her family after suffering some hardships last year.

Because of the cramped living conditions, the couple was forced to live out of boxes in one bedroom.

But thanks to Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, AgeWave Solutions and the Women Build project, the Youngs are now the proud owners of a new home.

The family was selected through the organization’s home ownership program and had to volunteer at least 200 hours to help build the two-bedroom, one-bath home.

“We had to put in 200 hours ourselves, that was required, but of course we weren’t going to do just 200,” Sandra said.

Holiday Match with Citizens First Bank 2021

Holiday Match 2021 with Citizens First Bank

Dear Friend,

As I reflect on our year, I recall the stories of neighbors and families who have faced continued challenges and new struggles. Yet, I feel so grateful for the compassion, generosity, and helping hand offered by our community. You stand beside those in need when the need has been so great.

I think of the Murphy family and see the joy of 5 year-old Addison, as she runs freely in her front yard. After living in an overcrowded apartment, Addison now has a place to grow, learn, and play – a place Addison calls home.

As rent costs continue to rise, we will bridge the gap to safe, decent, and affordable shelter.

Our long-standing partner, Citizen’s First Bank is matching every dollar (up to $100,000)! Every gift doubles our impact and helps provide safe, affordable housing for families and individuals in need of— so YOU can make a huge difference right now.

We can build a better future so that more children like Addison have a place to call home and make memories with their families, just being a kid.  

This is your chance to build homes and hope! When combined with the gift from Citizen’s First Bank, your gift of $50 can become $100, $250 can become $500!

DONATE NOW

Every child deserves a stable start in a safe and secure home. Can we count on your contribution today?

 

In Partnership,

Danielle Stroud signature

Danielle Stroud

PS- Donate today to DOUBLE your gift! Citizen’s First Bank will match every dollar this December!

Meet Angie, our newest Veteran Advocate

Angie B. in the Army photos

Angie is a proud U.S. Army Veteran who served for 6 years in St. Paul – Minnesota, Fort Bragg – North Carolina, Camp Eustis – Virginia, and Camp Stanton – S. Korea. Angie gives a face to and represents many of the statistics we hear frequently when speaking of female Veterans, Angie is a survivor. Her experiences in service to our Country have left her dealing with PTSD, homelessness, and depression over the years. That never stopped Angie from moving forward time after time, using her past experiences and skills to now help Veterans like her get the help they need.

Angie and her husband Elbert love to spend time at their home in Minneola, hanging out with their son and 3 pets. But until recently, their housing stability seemed to be in jeopardy as they didn’t have the necessary funds to afford a roof repair, they were in danger of losing the house they’d grown to love. “We desperately needed a roof, or we would lose home insurance and end up homeless,” said Angie

Until one of her friends referred her to Habitat Lake-Sumter.

Thanks to grant funds through The Community Foundation of South Lake, we were able to provide the repairs the Batica family needed, and a partnership with the Owens-Corning Roof Deployment, a program that lends a helping hand to struggling veterans, enabled us to replace the roof.

“This is our way of thanking them and giving back for everything they did to serve our country,” says Travis Foster, area sales manager for Owens-Corning, “to give Angie and her family a peace of mind and know that they’re safe, that means a lot to us.”

The new roof was installed in early Fall and to honor Angie and the veterans in Lake and Sumter counties, we celebrated Veteran’s Day volunteering alongside Knights of Columbus and Michael’s Foundation to put the final touch on the Batica Family home, a new exterior paint job.

Angie now serves as an advocate for Habitat Lake-Sumter on United Way’s Mission United advisory board for Veterans in Lake and Sumter Counties.

Angie says, “Thankfully Habitat for Humanity came to the rescue.” When asked what difference the repairs made in Angie’s life, she stated, “Oh the difference is between being homeless or not, which I’ve experienced already. The rest are no more leaks, mold, stains. We thank our higher power for this and are over the moon with joy. Our hearts are full. We will be able to stay safe, stay in our home & enjoy it even more!”

Thank you to our community partners, Community Foundation of South Lake, Owens-Corning Roof Deployment, and many others for sponsoring this project and making Angie’s home a safe haven for years to come.

South Lake Community Foundation, Owens Corning, The Home Depot Foundation Project Sponsors

USDA Invests $86 Million to Improve Equitable Access to Jobs, Business Opportunities, Education, Health Care and Housing for Rural People

Central Florida’s Habitat for Humanity/Lake-Sumter is receiving a $351,135 Housing Preservation Grant to help 42 low- and very-low-income people make health and safety repairs to their homes. These investments will support healthier and happier lives for all 42 homeowners..

Investments Will Help More Than 425,000 People in Some of the Nation’s Most Disadvantaged Areas

WASHINGTON, Nov. 18, 2021 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the Department is investing $86 million to improve equitable access (PDF, 238 KB) to jobs, business opportunities, education, housing and health care for people who live and work in rural areas. The investments are part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to ensure that people living in rural communities have equitable access to the infrastructure and opportunities often taken for granted by people living in urban and suburban areas.

“Regardless of where they live, their race, ethnicity or gender, or the size of the town in which they live, all people must have access to decent housing, clean water and good job opportunities,” Vilsack said. “This is foundational to a healthy society and stable communities. Today’s announcements build on the historic investments made possible by the American Rescue Plan Act signed into law by President Biden to ensure equity during a time when people living in underserved places are suffering the most. These investments will go a long way toward helping America ‘Build Back Better’ toward a just and more equitable society.”

Vilsack highlighted 218 investments that USDA is making in six programs specifically designed to help people and businesses in rural areas. These programs include Tribal College Initiative GrantsRural Community Development Initiative GrantsHousing Preservation GrantsDelta Health Care GrantsSocially Disadvantaged Groups Grants and Water and Waste Disposal Grants.

The funding will help more than 425,000 people in 46 states, Puerto Rico and the Western Pacific. It reflects the many ways USDA Rural Development helps rural residents, businesses and communities address economic development, infrastructure and social service needs. It will help low-income people make health and safety repairs to their homes. It will help build and improve water and wastewater infrastructure for people living in U.S. communities along the Mexico border. It will help rural business owners in the Mississippi Delta get access to capital and business development assistance. It also will help colleges that serve Tribal populations upgrade campus buildings and services.

Click here to read the full article from NEWS PROVIDED BY U.S Department Of Agriculture

Lake County charities gear up to ‘double their money’ during Mount Dora Community Trust’s Giving Week

Karen LeHeup-Smith, a volunteer with LEASH, Inc., says it happens all too often that families surrender their pets to the shelter or, worse, have the animals euthanized when veterinary bills become too much.

Lake County-based LEASH offers financial support to shelters, animal rescues and partners with other organizations to assist private individuals to help with a pet’s veterinary care.

“Since 2015, we have spent more than $140,000 to assist with veterinary care, heartworm treatment, microchipping and spay and neuter procedures in partnership with local shelters, animal rescues and for clients of our partner veterinarians. This includes a trap-neuter-release program for feral cats managed by the Lake County Animal Shelter,” said LeHeup-Smith. “We rely on donations and grants to sustain our services. While we have little overhead in our volunteer-run organization, the demand for these animal procedures keeps growing.”

LeHeup-Smith says LEASH volunteers are prepping to reach out to community donors during the Mount Dora Community Trust’s second annual Giving Week donation drive, November 30 – December 7, and potentially earn thousands of dollars in matching funds for the organization.

“Twenty-eight Lake County charities, ranging from very large to grassroots, have a chance to earn their share of $85,000 that the Mount Dora Community Trust will provide in matching funds,” said Rob English, Executive Director of the Mount Dora Community Trust. “We will offer a dollar-for-dollar match to all participants until the first $10,000 is donated. After reaching that $10,000 milestone, the organizations will compete for additional matching dollars based three winning levels.”

Click here to read the full article

Donations will be accepted online beginning at 9 a.m. on November 30 at https://mountdoracommunitytrust.com/givingweek. Cash or checks made out to Mount Dora Community Trust, with a memo of the donor’s chosen organization, must be received by mail or dropped off at 821 North Donnelly Street, in Mount Dora by 4 p.m. December 7.

VHS students learn valuable work skills in home build project

Braden Brown, a senior in the of The Villages High School Construction Academy, helps build a Habitat for Humanity home in Wildwood.  George Horsford, Daily Sun

Braden Brown, a senior in the of The Villages High School Construction Academy, helps build a Habitat for Humanity home in Wildwood.
George Horsford, Daily Sun

Seniors are busy hauling trusses and nailing down boards with the Construction Management Academy at The Villages High School.

This year’s home build, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter, is progressing quickly.

Bruce Haberle, the school’s construction academy instructor, said he has been quite impressed with the work of his seniors this year.

“It’s been going really great,” Haberle said. “I’d say one of the best years we’ve had. All of them are engaged.”

Haberle said about nine contractors will be on the site throughout the construction.

New show on Leesburg High’s construction academy premiering Sunday

A new LakeFront TV show, "Leesburg Builders Academy," will follow Leesburg High's Construction Academy as students build a new home for Habitat for Humanity.

LEESBURG — A new show is coming to LakeFront TV.

“Leesburg Builders Academy” will follow Leesburg High School’s Construction Academy as students build a home for Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter.

The show premieres at 7 p.m. Sunday on LakeFront TV, Xfinity channel 22, PRISM channel 21, Spectrum channel 497 or on Roku or Apple TV.
Around the House:Local high school construction academies need help

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

Meet Bryan Russ: Leesburg High School teacher and snake hunter

On the first episode, viewers will meet the academy’s teacher, Bryan Russ, and his students. This week’s show will also feature the family who will receive the Habitat house when it’s completed.

The show is sponsored by RoMac Building Supply, whose president, Don Magruder, is chairman of the academy’s advisory committee.

By Katie Sartoris, Daily Commercial

Click here to watch the promotional video!

Lake County veteran gets free roof through community project

Angie and Elbert

LAKE COUNTY Fla. – Lake County Army veteran and her husband are relieved now that they’ll have a new roof over their heads.

“We were just like oh my God, thank you,” Angie Batica said.

The Batica family was chosen by the Owens Corning Roof Deployment Project–a program that lends a helping hand to struggling veterans.

“This is our way of thanking them and giving back for everything they did to serve our country,” Travis Foster. area sales manager for Owens Corning, the company’s that’s donating all the materials for the Batica’s new roof. “It’s one of the most critical things for the home. So, to give Angie and her family a peace of mind and know that they’re safe, that means a lot to us.”

Owens Corning teamed up with Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter and Southern Roofing and Renovations to get results for veterans.

Click here to view the video and read the full story by Carolina Cardona, WKMG ClickOrlando

Meet the Young’s

Sandra and Walter are lifelong residents of Florida and family has always been central to their lives. The Youngs have 3 children and 17 grandchildren!

After some personal hardships, Sandra and Walter needed to rely on their children for support and currently live with their daughter and her family. Because the home is not big enough for the family, they and her daughter’s family are now living in an overcrowded situation – Sandra and Walter are living out of boxes and their space is confined to one bedroom.

Walter currently works for a lawn care service and hopes to establish himself and Sandra to be able to retire with some stability for their family. The floorplan that we are currently building for The Young’s is a 2 bedroom, 1 bath home. The apartment sized homes were created for families looking for a starter home or for families just like Walter and Sandra – an older couple looking to find an affordable home that will be theirs forever, providing stability and the safety of home for a lifetime.

Sandra says she looks forward to cooking in their new kitchen and Walter has plans to plant a garden in the backyard. Sandra says her grandchildren “will come and visit just to eat my good cooking.” They love celebrating holidays with their family and are excited to have a place to invite friends and family over during the holiday season. “I would love to host Thanksgiving at our new home,” says Sandra.

One thing is guaranteed, Sandra and Walter’s home will be full to the brim with lots of love, family and friends, and good food to gather around.

It is because of community partners that we are able to build affordable homes for local families. AgeWave Solutions sponsored this build and awesome women from around Lake & Sumter Counties came out to build during our ‘Women Build’ event.

The Young’s will be closing on their home in November -just in time for the holidays!

 

Home Proudly Sponsored By:

Youth Impact Day!

Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter hosts first Youth Impact Day with local high school students

Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter announces the start of a bi-monthly “Youth Impact Day” beginning Saturday, September 11th, 2021.

Students from Eustis High School answered the call to action from Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter to volunteer on a construction project that benefits a local family.

Youth Impact Days will offer high school students throughout Lake and Sumter Counties an opportunity to gain volunteer experience and become engaged in their local community, while learning what it means to be a good citizen.

Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter developed the Youth Impact Day initiative after successfully hosting groups of high school students from across the country for a summer-long volunteer experience. Now, we want to give students in Lake and Sumter Counties the same opportunity.

“Our goal with the Youth Impact Day is to encourage students to use their time and talent to develop new skills while making a difference for their neighbors,” says Lacie Himes, Development Director of Habitat Lake-Sumter, “It takes collective effort to create a community and we want to give students the tools to make an impact and become community ambassadors.”

The scope of work will change with each project and may include working on a new construction site or a Preservation & Repair project; tasks include painting, exterior clean up, landscaping, and minor repairs under the guidance of experienced Habitat Lake-Sumter leaders.  

Follow us on Facebook to see the students in action! 

Youth Impact Days will be held the second Saturday on a bi-monthly basis. For questions on how to participate, contact Carlos at Carlos@HabitatLS.org or (352) 483-0434 x 119

For more information on Habitat Lake-Sumter and the Youth Impact Day initiative, please contact Lacie at Lacie@HabitatLS.org or (352) 483-0434 x 146

Around the House: Local high school construction academies need help

A student from the Leesburg High School Construction Academy works on construction a home for Habitat for Humanity in Leesburg in 2020. Cindy Peterson/Correspondent/File Photo

A student from the Leesburg High School Construction Academy works on construction a home for Habitat for Humanity in Leesburg in 2020. Cindy Peterson/Correspondent/File Photo

Four years ago, when the Lake County School System and the Villages Charter High School started making plans to start construction academies, students who wanted to pursue not college-bound programs in construction had no place to go.

After a decade of malaise in the construction industry due to the economic collapse of 2008, an inflection of construction growth collided with an industry in which the base labor had shrunk dramatically because of age and the economy. Simply put, there were not enough people for the construction demand.

It was also during this time in which educators and political leaders began to really discuss the value of a college education and if it would leave the student with unimaginable student debt for a mid-level career. It wasn’t hard to figure out that good-paying jobs in construction were plentiful, and if properly trained in high school or technical school, students could walk into some amazing job opportunities.

The number of students who signed up initially for the academies were low and everything had to be setup and organized. Nevertheless, strong public-private advisory boards started guiding the way, and along with a partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter students began working on real projects and learning real skills.

Building houses and preparing students for great careers was no longer a dream, it was happening. Every academy started seeing excitement, and growth, along with summer jobs through the Academy of Construction Technologies program. Also, with a little help of video promotion of the projects, the programs at all the locations have taken off.

Click here to read the fully article by Don Magruder for the Daily Commercial

Catch Leesburg High team on Habitat Academy this Saturday; Season 2 premieres on FOX35+

Behind the scenes of Habitat Academy season 2 filmed earlier this year. Submitted

Behind the scenes of Habitat Academy season 2 filmed earlier this year. Submitted

LEESBURG — Season two of Habitat Academy, a series following the most recent Habitat for Humanity build in Leesburg, is airing this month on FOX35+.

The series, produced by Red Apples Media, features nine monthly webisodes chronicling the Leesburg High School Construction Academy’s efforts as they worked side-by-side with Habitat volunteers. Over the course of the season, the Leesburg High team joined local trades to build a home from the ground up for one lucky family.

The latest season of the show will appear as two one-hour episodes on consecutive Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. on FOX35+, reaching the entire Orlando metro viewing area. Episode one of season two aired over the weekend, but episode two will be available to watch this coming Saturday.

It can also be viewed on YouTube, at this link youtu.be/pwEZI_741T4.

“We see this as a great opportunity to feature our community, our trades who invest time, expertise and materials to the project, and most of all, the hard-working students at Leesburg High School,” said Marc Robertz-Schwartz, president of Red Apples Media. “With such local and regional demand for skilled trades, such Lake County Schools programs are providing both employment and hiring opportunities to those who want to graduate high school and jump-start their professional careers.”

This is the second undertaking of its kind by the construction academy and Red Apples Media.

Click here to read the full article by Sarah Oulman, Daily Commercial.

Students, community partners break ground on house

Students with The Villages High School Construction Management Academy approach the site of the ground-breaking of a house in Wildwood through Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter. Rachel Stuart, Daily Sun

Students with The Villages High School Construction Management Academy approach the site of the ground-breaking of a house in Wildwood through Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter. Rachel Stuart, Daily Sun

Villages High School senior Tayten Beasley can’t wait to get his hands dirty.

The 17-year-old and others with The Villages High School Construction Management Academy dug into a new year on Friday with a groundbreaking event.

They broke ground on their latest housing project for the year, a joint venture between the academy and Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter to build affordable homes for families.

Companies such as RoMac Building Supplies also collaborate on the project.

Tayten, who is also on the VHS football team, said he lives close to the site in Wildwood. He hopes to, “see every day that I did that.”

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

Local Rotary clubs work to inspire the younger generation

Evening Rotary Club of The Villages club member Marvin Ivy, right, of the Village of Poinciana, weighs a bag of food donations as part of a food drive by the three Rotary Clubs of The Villages.  Michael Johnson, Daily Sun

Evening Rotary Club of The Villages club member Marvin Ivy, right, of the Village of Poinciana, weighs a bag of food donations as part of a food drive by the three Rotary Clubs of The Villages.
Michael Johnson, Daily Sun

Members of The Rotary Clubs of The Villages are setting an example for the rest of the world to follow.

With younger generations losing interest in Rotarian ways, the local groups are working together to appeal to a new wave of helpers.

“We have been going to high schools throughout the surrounding areas to get students involved in a variety of activities,” said Gay Ratcliff-Seamens, former president of the Evening Rotary Club of The Villages and a Village of Belle Aire resident. “Our goal is to get them involved in community service projects so they can help make their community a better place because we will eventually be leaving it to them in the future.”

Data from international rotary annual reports show that Rotary membership is falling around 0.5% each year. Meanwhile, membership in the three Rotary Clubs of The Villages seems to be increasing each year due to efforts by club presidents. As the clubs continue to work with the younger generations, they hope to be able to get more people involved and eventually increase their numbers at the international level.

“The younger generation is the future,” said Sean Donnelly, former president of the Rotary Club of The Villages and a Village of St. Catherine resident. “Everything we do, is to serve our community. If we get more people involved, we can do more at a local, state, country and international standpoint.”

The Rotary Club began in February 1905 when Paul Harris, a Chicago attorney, formed the first club. He created the club so professionals with diverse backgrounds could come together to exchange ideas and form lifelong, meaningful friendships, according to the Rotary International website.

“As a Rotarian, we have a common goal of creating a better world while improving lives and building international relationships,” said Randy Bayliss, the former president of the Noon Rotary Club of The Villages. “We work together to fight diseases like polio. We try to help provide clean water and sanitation to Third World countries, and we work with local students to support education and grow our community.”

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

Volunteer Spotlight: HEFY.Sunshine

Over the past 9 weeks, Habitat Lake-Sumter hosted a summer-long volunteer experience for teens from across the United States. Through a new program in partnership with the Humanitarian Experience for Youth or HEFY, we greeted a new group of 16 student volunteers each week with the goal of providing much needed clean-up and repairs for families throughout Lake and Sumter Counties.

HEFY’s mission is to change lives through sustainable service, to impart the importance of volunteering and encourage growth in every individual during the process. As we close out the program, Habitat Lake-Sumter wants to share all the awesome work accomplished by HEFY volunteers this summer.

During their time in Florida, HEFY completed more than 25 projects throughout Leesburg, Clermont, Mascotte, Wildwood, and Mt. Dora, Florida. Each group took on projects that included exterior clean-up, pressure washing, painting, landscaping and minor repairs in homes and community buildings, including campgrounds, community centers, and even the President’s Hall of Fame in Clermont!

Habitat Lake-Sumter’s goal through the HEFY program is to partner with neighborhood advocates and families to uplift individual homes and communities. One homeowner, Donna, explained the sense of pride she feels in her home again. 

“The kids were awesome – every group that came out was equally awesome and motivated to help. They worked hard and did more than I could ever do on my own. My son and I are once again able to enjoy the outside of our home – my son can play in the yard again! The impact the exterior clean-up made may seem small, but it makes a big difference.”

As we say goodbye to our final group of volunteers, Habitat Lake-Sumter’s staff members reflect on the summer.

“It has been an honor to see so many young individuals pull together each week to work towards a common goal – uplifting others. Each week they immersed themselves into communities across our two counties and helped many people that Habitat Lake-Sumter would not have been able to reach without their dedication and service. Each HEFY group was unique and made up of people from all around the country who wanted to make a difference – I am glad Habitat Lake-Sumter could provide that opportunity for an upcoming generation of leaders” – Veronica, Family Services Manager

“We look forward to hosting HEFY groups in the future to offer a hand-up to families and communities throughout our service area.” – Carlos, Volunteer Director

Villages Charter School begins fourth year of working with Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter alongside The Villages Charter School, Leesburg, South Lake, and Eustis High Schools will kick off construction of four new homes in partnership with Habitat’s Youth Construction Academy.

Key community players and house sponsor, Citizen’s First Bank, will kick-off The Villages Charter School’s fourth year of the program, followed by house sponsor, RoMac Building Supply’s ground breakings with Leesburg and South Lake High Schools. Habitat Lake-Sumter will also introduce Eustis High School’s enrollment into the Youth Construction Academy for their first new home build.

New classes of students will spend time during the school week working side by side with Habitat’s construction staff and professional tradesmen on live construction projects, providing hands-on learning at dedicated build sites.

Click here to read the full story from the Villages-News.com

Season Two of Habitat Academy to air on Orlando TV

Locally produced series follows the Leesburg High School Construction Academy “Dream Team” as they help to build a Habitat for Humanity house.

Habitat Academy will air in two parts, on Saturday, August 14 and 21, at 10 a.m. on WRBW-TV which can be viewed on the following system channels:

  • Spectrum: 6
  • Xfinity: 15
  • Prism: 5
  • AT&T: 41
  • DIRECTV: 65
  • Dish Network: 65

 

A nearly year-long project that involved the Leesburg High School “Dream Team” building a Habitat for Humanity home will be the subject of a two-part program that will air on an Orlando television station later this month.

“Habitat Academy 2” was originally produced as a nine-webisode series that showcased the unique partnership involving Leesburg High School Construction Academy students working alongside professionals and volunteers for a hands-on learning experience. The LHS “Dream Team” includes 15 students, two of whom were part of last year’s Habitat Academy home build.

“We’ve always had career and technical education, but this program is really putting the icing on the cake where these kids are building and learning at the same time. In fact, the commercial contractors on the project even gave the students the opportunity to work with them during the summer. We’re literally creating jobs for these kids,” said Bill Mathias, Chairman of the Lake County School Board. “Because of the success and exposure of the Leesburg High School program, we’ve been able to launch construction academies in other high schools in the district.”

RoMac Building Supply, Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter, Florida, The City of Leesburg, Leesburg High School and many local contractors and volunteers, created the opportunity for the students. Multi award winning Leesburg video production company Red Apples Media, which produced the series for LSTV Digital has reformatted it into two hour-long episodes that will air on consecutive Saturdays on WRBW-TV FOX 35 Plus to reach a larger audience.

“Airing ‘Habitat Academy 2’ on Orlando TV is a great opportunity to showcase Lake County Schools, the innovative academy program and the community partnerships to a larger audience of 900,000 households,” said Executive Producer and Red Apples Media president, Marc Robertz-Schwartz.

“Habitat Academy” Season 1 was recently honored with a 2021 Telly Award, a premier organization that honors excellence in video and television across all screens.

About Red Apples Media

Red Apples Media is a multi-award winning, full-service video production and multimedia marketing agency. Founded in 2008, Leesburg, Fla.- Red Apples Media services include video production, multimedia marketing, branding, advertising, and design. The agency has been recognized with multiple honors and awards for both its production and its community service. To learn more about Red Apples Media, visit www.RedApplesMedia.com

 

# # #

 

 

 

 

You’re Invited: Ground Breaking Celebrations

Join us as we break ground for four new homes in
partnership with local schools, community partners, and
Habitat Lake-Sumter’s Youth Construction Academy!

Throughout the 2021-2022 school year, select students
from each school’s Construction Program will work side
by side with Habitat and other construction
professionals to learn valuable and employable skills
while building a home for a local family in need.

For location details and to RSVP contact Lacie@HabitatLS.org or (352) 483-0434 x 146

 

 

PERSON OF INTEREST: DANIELLE STROUD

Danielle Stroud, Photo by Anthony Rao

Danielle Stroud, Photo by Anthony Rao

She’s the incoming president and CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter.

Vital Stats

  • Employed with Habitat for six years; takes over as CEO on Nov. 1.
  • Family includes husband Chase; sons Zeke, 4; Asher, 1.
  • Bachelor’s degree from University of Florida.

 

What I love most working for Habitat for Humanity: Getting to work with a wide array of people who have all come together to make our community a better place.

One word that describes me: Driven.

What I enjoy at Habitat construction sites: The level of intricacy that goes into each project and the immense amount of teamwork and camraderie that is involved.

My favorite tool: Nail gun.

People who inspire me: Those that look adversity in the eye and have the strength to move beyond it, pushing towards a better tomorrow.

Best advice ever given: When I took my first job in non-profit fundraising, my former boss told me to treat every donor like they are a million-dollar donor.

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

Leesburg’s Red Apples Media wins big at 2021 Telly Awards

Behind the scenes of Habitat Academy season 2 filmed earlier this year. Submitted

Behind the scenes of Habitat Academy season 2 filmed earlier this year. Submitted

LEESBURG — Red Apples Media was recently announced as one of this year’s Telly Award winners, bringing home several honors.

The 42nd Annual Telly Awards, the world’s largest honor for video and television content across all screens, announced its award winners in May, including one of Leesburg’s very own.

Red Apples Media, a video production company based in Leesburg, received three Telly honors for their recent works, honoring excellence in video content.

Habitat Academy, a series chronicling the Leesburg High School Construction Academy’s journey to build a home for one lucky family with Habitat for Humanity of Lake and Sumter, won a bronze Telly for last year’s season finale.

Click here to read the full article by Sarah Oulman, Daily Commercial

Update: The Cottages at Heritage Grove

The Cottages at Heritage Grove July 2021 Update

Last October, Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter broke ground on a new housing development in Tavares, FL. Now, we look ahead to laying the foundation for the first home this Fall.

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 built by Habitat Lake-Sumter.

Currently, all major infrastructure is complete, and the first layer of landscaping is soon to be underway. With the economy opening after the Covid-19 pandemic, the construction industry is busier than ever and delays from utility installation to lumber delivery has become standard fare; however, the challenges residents in Central Florida and Habitat Lake-Sumter has faced also highlights the present need for a community like the Cottages at Heritage Grove.

Locally elected officials commissioned Lake 100 to create a Workforce Housing Strategic Plan to highlight housing affordability and workforce housing in our community, and it has shed light on the need for partnerships in providing affordability to families now and in the future.

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.

In speaking to the need for affordable housing for senior citizens in Lake and Sumter Counties, Habitat’s Family Service Manager, Veronica Troxell says “We have been inundated with calls and interest around our Tavares Cottages. Countless people are reaching out who are interested and eager to apply for these homes. The cottage-sized home is ideal for aging individuals and couples looking for the stability of their forever-home.” 

The Cottages at Heritage Grove and all 23-units are scheduled to be built over a 3 – 4 year period.

Applications will open in late- 2021. For questions about The Cottages at Heritage Grove or Habitat’s homeownership program, contact Veronica at Veronica@HabitatLS.org or (352) 483-0434 x 124. 

Sponsor of the Month: Publix Super Markets Charities

Thank You Publix Super Markets Charities 2021

In December, Publix Super Markets Charities announced it would be donating $2.5 million to support 113 Habitat for Humanity affiliates and 76 additional organizations providing housing and shelter services across the Southeast.

Locally, Publix generously granted Habitat Lake-Sumter with $35,000 to provide safety and accessibility modifications to cost-burdened homeowners. By investing in local programs like Habitat’s Preservation and Repair, Publix has improved the lives of families throughout Lake and Sumter Counties for almost a decade.

Through partnering with Publix Super Markets Charities, we serve dozens of families and maintain the affordable housing stock in our community every year.

Preservation and Repair began in 2015 to serve families who owned their homes but couldn’t afford to keep them in good condition. Our program has grown from minor repairs, like weatherization and yard clean-up, to critical repairs, like ramp installs and re-roofing.

Through the program, homeowners receive repairs to increase the safety, accessibility, and beauty of the home. This year alone, a total of 48 individuals now have improved health and safety in their home. Due to the economic impact of Covid-19, Habitat Lake-Sumter faced many challenges along the way, but because of the generosity of Publix Super Markets Charities, we successfully continued the necessary and critical repair services to families in the most vulnerable housing situations.

Publix representative commented in a press release when announcing the grant award saying, 

“A home often represents stability and independence in one’s life. In what has already been a difficult year, there are far too many people in our country struggling with housing insecurity,” said Publix Super Markets Charities Executive Director Kelly Williams-Puccio. “Through this donation, we remain committed to supporting partners like Habitat for Humanity to help build hope in our communities. We are proud to carry on the legacy of George Jenkins, our founder, to do good, together, for those in need.” 

We look forward to building alongside Publix to provide strength, stability, and self-reliance to even more families this year.

Take a look at just some of the community projects made possible through Publix’s support! 

before and after preservation and repair project sponsored by Publix Super Markets Charites 2021

 

YOU can give the gift of a safe and healthy home!

Summer Appeal 2021 Preservation and Repair
We share a belief that everyone deserves a decent place to live.

Home is foundational to improved health, stronger childhood development,
and the opportunity to build a better future.

DONATE NOW

Through our Preservation and Repair program, we partner with very low-income families who own their home but due to life circumstances are unable to maintain the safety and accessibility of their home.

You can give the gift of a safe home to Lisa, will you donate today?

Lisa has owned her home for 24 years, but due to financial and physical constraints, Lisa has been unable to keep up with the repairs her home needs. As the primary caretaker of her disabled son, Lisa just wants her home to be safe, but her home has faulty and dangerous electric work that desperately needs repaired and a roof that leaks every time it rains.

With your help, we will repair the home’s critical electrical issues and repair the roof, but better yet, we will change the quality of Lisa’s life.

Today, your gift of $25, $50, or $100 will be used to make Lisa’s
home safe!

Do You Know?
Unsafe housing has direct and documented negative health outcomes, especially
for children. A healthy home is a vaccine that provides both immunity and resilience.

Together, we can build a healthy home.

DONATE NOW

Contact: Lacie@habitatls.org | (352) 483-0434 x 146

house footer

Habitat group nets top honor

Jakobe Zick, a member of The Villages High School Construction Management Academy, nails a roof truss into place on a home being built for Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter in Lady Lake. The organization was named 2020 Non-Profit of the Year by the Lake County Chamber Alliance. George Horsford, Daily Sun

Kent Adcock stood proudly with members of Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter as they accepted an award highlighting their efforts throughout the community for the past year.

The award, a bronze eagle statue, was given to the group as recognition for it being the 2020 Non-Profit of the Year,

Having been around since 1989, the group is dedicated to serving individuals in Lake and Sumter counties with access and opportunity to affordable housing solutions.

It was recognized by the Lake County Chamber Alliance, which annually recognizes individuals and organizations whose dedication, selfless service and commitment make a difference in the community.

“Receiving the 2020 Non-Profit of the Year Award is a significant milestone for Habitat Lake-Sumter,” said Lacie Himes, development director for the nonprofit. “With the uncertainty of the pandemic, Habitat Lake-Sumter faced many challenges to continue their mission to build homes, communities and hope.”

Accomplishments Through A Pandemic

Despite temporarily closing the ReStores, or thrift stores, that help support the nonprofit and the suspension of volunteers from construction sites, the organization was still able to complete some major projects.

“Our volunteers were able to complete construction of five homes for local families even in the middle of the pandemic,” Himes said.  “Even with the finished construction of five homes, we also began construction on eight new homes and repaired

21 others, providing safe and stable housing for 29 families when being home was a key factor to health and security throughout the pandemic.”

Some of these constructions were completed by The Villages Habitat for Humanity Club and the Habitat for Humanity Youth Construction Academies, a partnership with The Villages High School, Leesburg High School and South Lake High School students who start learning the skills they need for careers in the construction industry. 

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

YCA dedications 2021

Leesburg High School – Dedication

South Lake High School – Dedication

The Villages Charter School – Buffalo Builders: Episode 4

June 2021 Sponsor of the Month: The Home Depot Foundation

 

June 2021 Sponsor of the Month: Home Depot Foundation

Habitat Lake-Sumter is proud to partner with the Home Depot Foundation to serve Veterans in Lake and Sumter Counties. Because of the Home Depot Foundation’s generous contribution of $30,000, we are able to serve 5 Veterans and their families through Critical Home Repairs. We believe that every Veteran deserves to live with strength, stability, and self-reliance. 

Lake and Sumter Counties host a large population of Veterans, with over 52,000 veterans living in our service area. As of 2018, Sumter County boasted a 14% veteran population, double to the National average of 7%.

This means that we have the support and involvement of Veterans, but it also means we have a big need to serve. Since building the Umatilla Veterans Village; organizations, public leaders, families, and individuals have continued to seek out innovative ways in addressing Veteran issues in Lake and Sumter Counties. We want to uphold and expand our commitment to the Veterans in our community to do more: to address safety and accessibility modifications for Veterans across our service area, to increase the number of Veteran families served, and to use the Habitat platform to advocate for Veterans and raise awareness of the proactive measures we can take to support our them.

Because of the generosity and dedication from the Home Depot Foundation, we can bolster our efforts significantly and continue to increase the Veterans we serve and the impact we have on the community overall. 

Thanks to the Home Depot Foundation, we can partner with Veterans to ensure their homes are safe, accessible, and affordable – serving those who have served the most. 

 

Women Build 2021 Update

Agewave Solutions, Inc. proudly presents Women Build 2021

Women Build is a national initiative to engage and empower women in the effort to provide safe and decent homes for families in need of affordable housing. Locally, YOU have made an impact! Together, we raised $43,853.

Many thanks to AgeWave Solutions, Inc for playing a pivotal role as Women Build’s Presenting Sponsor, thank you to the 11 Women Build teams and to our Hard Hat Sponsor, W.T. Bland Charitable Trust, for also helping us achieve our goal this year.

Take a behind-the-scenes look at the first wall raising and our construction progress so far! Stay tuned for build updates and a future meet & greet with the family we are building for, The Young’s.  

 Thank you to all of the Women Build participants, you’re truly helping us transform lives in our community!

 

 

 

 

HABITAT FOR HUMANITY WINS NONPROFIT OF YEAR AWARD FROM LAKE COUNTY CHAMBER ALLIANCE

Lake County Chamber Alliance, Non-profit of the Year 2021

Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, Florida was chosen as the 2020 Nonprofit of the Year from the Lake County Chamber Alliance.

The Lake County Chamber Alliance annually recognizes individuals whose dedication, selfless service and commitment have made a difference in our community.

Receiving the 2020 Non-Profit of the Year Award is a significant milestone for Habitat Lake-Sumter. With the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, Habitat Lake-Sumter faced many challenges in continuing its mission to build homes, communities, and hope.

Despite temporarily closing the ReStores and suspending volunteers from construction sites, Habitat Lake-Sumter was able to complete construction of five homes for local families during the COVID-19 crisis.

Since the height of the pandemic in July 2020, Habitat Lake-Sumter began construction on eight additional new homes and critically repaired 21 homes: providing safe and stable housing for 29 families at a time when ‘home’ was the key factor to health and security in Lake and Sumter counties.

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

Villages club builds, Dedicates first home

Members of The Villages Habitat for Humanity Club surround Joyce Tohill before she is given the keys to her new home in Fruitland Park. Tohill and her family will move in next month.

Members of The Villages Habitat for Humanity Club surround Joyce Tohill before she is given the keys to her new home in Fruitland Park. Tohill and her family will move in next month.
Photos by Rachel Stuart, Daily Sun

When Joyce Tohill found out she was getting a home built, she never anticipated it would be the home of her dreams. The Tavares resident had dreamed of having a home she could leave to her children if something ever happened to her. “We are so excited to move in and have celebrations in our home,” she said. “I never thought I would ever be able to have a home of my own.” On Tuesday, members of The Villages Habitat for Humanity Club, Tohill’s family, staff from Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter and various friends and guests gathered at the build site in Fruitland Park for the dedication ceremony. While the family cannot officially move in until papers are signed in June, The Villages club finished early and was eager to hand the keys over to the family.

“Throughout the entire build, we have really gotten to know Joyce and her family,” said Sally Read, co-president of the club. “They have become good friends and we wanted to make things special for them.”

Preparing for the ceremony

Before the ceremony began, staff from Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter set chairs out on the lawn and laid out snacks on a table.

Carlos Beron, volunteer service manager for the nonprofit, set up a speaker and made sure batteries were placed in the microphone.

“We have been waiting for this ceremony for awhile,” he said. “They are a great family to work with.”

Lacie Himes, development director for the nonprofit, began settiing out oranges, muffins and bananas for those in attendance.

“We are so excited for this family,” she said with a smile as she started distributing orange juice and coffee.

As guests began to arrive, staff members told them they could take a peek inside the house if they wanted.

“The club did a really great job with this house,” said Shari McCray, marketing and communications coordinator for Habitat for Humanity. “They personalized this house just for this family and they finished in record time. You can see the love they had for this family in each room in the house and they have additional surprises coming.”

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

Villagers construct house for local mother who dreamed of a home

Joyce Tohill in front of Fruitland Park home

While raising her five children, one of whom is developmentally disabled, single-mother Joyce Tohill struggled to make ends meet.

Housing was always a problem and the dream of a home for her family seemed out of reach. Tohill had learned to be a medical transcriptionist so she could work from home and care for her disabled daughter.

Tohill had always taken an interest in Habitat for Humanity and volunteered for the organization. When The Villagers Habitat For Humanity of Lake-Sumter Club named her as the recipient of a new three-bedroom home to be built by club members, she was overwhelmed.

As she received the keys to the house on Tuesday morning from Villager Sandy Read, Tohill began to cry. She told the Villagers who worked on the home that she was “so grateful for making her dream come true.”

Last November, Tohill, her daughters and her grandchildren were present when Habitat for Humanity held a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the beginning of construction.

“At that time it seemed to be a far-off dream,” Tohill said.

But as construction continued, her excitement grew as did her affection for the Villagers who worked hard to finish the house.

Read the full article by David Towns, The Villages-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 AND HABITAT PARTNER TO HELP FAMILIES STAY IN HOMES DURING PANDEMIC

home

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

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!

MEET THE BOISVERT FAMILY

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

BUSINESSES, TEAMS SOUGHT TO BUILD PLAYHOUSES FOR CHILDREN’S HOLIDAY GIFTS

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.

HABITAT TO BREAK GROUND FOR 23-UNIT COTTAGES IN TAVARES

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

 

NAILING IT

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

VOLUNTEERS, FUTURE HABITAT HOMEOWNERS TO PAY IT FORWARD FOR ANOTHER FAMILY

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
  • CEO/OWNER – CHEF DE CUISINE, THE KITCHEN COOKING SCHOOL AND CAFE
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR-FOUNDER, KITCH’N LYFE SKILLS, INC
  • FOOD COLUMNIST, DAILY COMMERCIAL

 

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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LAKE COUNTY EAGLES GIVE $10K TOWARDS BUILDING COTTAGES IN TAVARES

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

HABITAT, LAKE CARES PARTNER TO MAKE EUSTIS HOME MOVE-IN READY

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