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.”
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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!
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 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.
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
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.
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 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.
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.
Lisa would have to work 112 hours per week to afford a 2 bedroom apartment in Lake County
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.
“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!
Donate Today! Your donation of $15 helps to build ramps, repair dilapidated roofs, and uplift the home of a Veteran
We invite Veterans and others to volunteer with us on a special Veterans project, Wednesday, November 11th
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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!
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 toend 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’spink 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.
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
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.”
Mount Dora Mayor Catherine T. Hoechst, Nadine Foley, a friend and representative of Nancy A. Penn Shaner Trust, and Monica Wofford, a Habitat Lake-Sumter board member, took part in a ceremonial ribbon-cutting ceremony July 7 for a new Habitat home to be built at 602 E. Jackson St., Mount Dora.
Bank of America will be the corporate sponsor for the project along with community involvement provided by bequest gifts from the Ohlsson Charitable Trust and Nancy A. Penn-Shaner Trust.
“The community involvement is stemming from individual donors who had the forethought to contribute this way,” says Lacie Lacie Himes, associate development director for Lake-Sumter Habitat.
She adds that the collaboration between Habitat and Bank of America has generated $56,000 in grants over the past several years for new home construction, preservation and repair.
Due to COVID-19, the building site on Jackson street in Mount Dora will be closed to volunteer workers. “We are slowly opening certain locations for volunteers, but we tend to gauge the response the current climate,” says Lacie.
Also before the coronavirus hit, Habitat had planned on female builders to start building a new home construction project in Leesburg, but they had to scale back fundraising and postpone the home build.
“Many awesome female leaders in our community still wanted to support local families,” says Lacie. “So, they raised funds as a group and funded two critical home repairs that had been delayed and were at risk of not happening due to lost resources because of COVID-19.”
The Lake County Eagles Auxiliary Post 4273 in Okahumpka surprised Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter with a $10,000 grant benefitting its upcoming project, The Cottages at Heritage Grove. The 23-unit pocket neighborhood in Tavares will be Habitat Lake-Sumter’s first 55-plus community.
Infrastructure work is slated to begin in the fall.
The Eagles has a long-standing history with Habitat for Humanity and were sponsors of Habitat Lake-Sumter’s original pocket neighborhood in 2016, The Umatilla Veterans Village.
In 2020, Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter worked with The Villages Charter High School Construction Management Academy and the Leesburg High School Construction Academy in the construction of two Habitat for Humanity Homes in Lake County.
The home built by The Villages Charter High School Construction Management Academy students is in the Carlton Village area of Lady Lake while the home built by the Leesburg High School Construction Academy students is on North 12th Street in Leesburg. Both projects were a complete success — with the new homeowners having a home for a lifetime built by students who developed skill sets in construction for a lifetime.
The only disappointment was the COVID-19 pandemic, which prevented both high schools from following the projects all the way to the end. The students missed the opportunity to finish their Habitat homes, participate in the dedication ceremonies, and receive accolades from a grateful community for a job well done, which resulted in the enhancement of each school’s program. Students in both programs have paved the way for future students and Habitat homeowners.
The 2020-2021 school year promises to be even bigger for the Habitat for Humanity Projects in Lake and Sumter Counties, as these projects are being planned for The Villages Charter High School, Leesburg High School and South Lake High School.
These projects merge public education with private partnerships to help train students for good paying jobs and careers while providing a needed home for a working family. They teach the young people in our community the important of benevolence. Honestly, these programs work because everyone wins.
Thanks to the participation of the community, school district, and private partnerships, these programs a true success. Many people want to get involved and here is how you can participate in one of these great projects.
Each high school has an Advisory Board, which bridges the partnership between the public and private sectors. These Advisory Boards are made up of educators and business-people in the construction community that meet monthly to address the needs of their high school’s program and coordinate community participation.
If you would like to participate on one of the Advisory Boards, contact Lynnea Weissman at the Lake County School District at 352-988-4876, or Rob Grant, the Principal at The Villages Charter High School, at 352-259-3777.
Inadequate housing can act as a barrier to mental health. But safe, decent, and affordable housing can remove barriers to opportunity and success, both mental and physical health; that might have been part of a family’s life for years, if not generations.
As a counselor for the last 22 years I have seen the effects the living environment has on the mental, emotional, and relational life of individuals and families. Having inadequate housing can cause depression, anxiety, and encourage poor methods of coping. It can affect how you see yourself, what you perceive as your value, and what you expect out of life; this can color and affect your personal identity. In turn, the opposite also proves to be true, a safe and secure home can provide a stable foundation for a healthy life where good habits and loving memories are created.
A home is more than just shelter from a storm, it is a place for personal growth. A comfortable home atmosphere produces a sense of safety, belonging, peace, and joy. It is an individual’s haven away from the world. A safe, stable, and affordable home provides a release from the anxiety of wondering if your needs will be met and instead fosters the opportunity for personal growth.
Let me give you a real life example. Angie (not her real name for privacy purposes) was a client of mine. She had been married for 10 years to a narcissistic, verbal and emotional abuser. She had two small children, a low-paying job, and felt crushed emotionally from years of abuse. As a counselor, I sought to help her restore her voice and identity. I planned on teaching her how to identify abusive patterns, set boundaries, and instead of reacting, respond with healthy thinking and life skills. I wanted her to obtain discernment skills for a better future.
This emotional journey would require Angie to learn how to re-frame faulty thoughts so that she could recast life patterns and have the ability to pass down healthy relationship skills to her children. It would require systematic change, one choice at a time, to produce health and wholeness for her entire family. But, how could any of that be obtained if we didn’t first address her immediate need for a safe place to live?
As a first step to starting this next chapter in her life, Angie and I worked together to find her a place she could call home. A place that was physically safe, devoid of toxins, or peeling paint. A place where her children could go outside without her being afraid for their safety. Once we found her a home that met her needs and provided a sense of security, she was able to put her effort into moving forward and healing mentally and emotionally from past wounds. Thanks to a safe place to call home, she was able to begin the journey into making a new life for her and her children.
About Dr. Michele
For over 22 years she has provided thousands of people with tools and skills to “Think, Choose, and Thrive.” She works in her local office but also serves clients all over the country via online platforms like Skype.
Two families who partnered with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter received the keys to their homes on Wednesday, June 17th 2020; Kim Stull and Sara Mcghee officially became homeowners with a hand-up from Habitat Lake-Sumter.
When a family partners with Habitat for Humanity, they take their first step down a new path – one with fewer barriers to a better, healthier, and more financially stable life.
Families may find themselves in need of decent, affordable shelter due to a variety of circumstances—unpredictable rent increases, overcrowded living conditions, damaged or dilapidated structures, or lack of access to affordable financing.
But Habitat Lake-Sumter and our partner families walk side-by-side on the journey to home ownership. Sara and Kim both became active participants in the homeownership process. Following the criteria of our home ownership program, each had to fulfill 200 hours of ‘sweat equity’ by working alongside volunteers to build trusses, paint walls, and hang the doors; to build the places they now call home.
In the midst of fulfilling sweat equity hours, homeowners also attend financial education classes and learn the basics of budget management. Receiving the key to your home signifies more than being approved through a traditional home buying process, it also shows that you’ve invested 200 hours into your new home and education to build a better future for yourself and your family.
While their journey with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter is complete, the journey to a stronger, more stable future begins; we celebrate with Kim and Sara as they take their first steps as new homeowners. Congratulations to The Stull Family and the Mcghee Family!
Greetings to all who have supported Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter this year! While 2020 has been a trying year for us all, I wanted to say thank you for your continued support of the organization and all the good work we have been doing. Despite the unexpected challenges caused by the coronavirus over the last three months, Habitat Lake-Sumter successfully continued to build homes, community, and hope – as I reflect at the close of our 19-20 fiscal year, I would like to share a snapshot of just some of the accomplishments we are celebrating, in partnership with you.
Community Advocacy & Leadership
We saw an increase in community buy-in from local leaders on the need for attainable housing for our communities. This resulted in action by the Lake County Commissioners voting unanimously to approve an impact fee waiver program for affordable housing units – this will help underwrite the cost of construction for homes, making the entry point of home ownership accessible to more people.
Habitat Lake-Sumter CEO, Kent Adcock, will be participating in leading the charge for research and development of the Lake County Attainable Housing Strategic Plan. By taking a leadership role in Lake County’s Strategic Plan, Kent gives a voice to those in our community who need access to attainable housing.
For the first time since 2007, the Florida House and Senate have agreed to fully fund the trust for affordable housing, The Sadowski Trust Fund. Resulting in a total of $370 million dollars of funding for the entire state of Florida, instead of taking money out to fund other projects like in year’s past. State-level changes are made possible through local advocacy!
Building More Homes & Creating More Partnerships:
We have weathered (and continue to weather) the storm of the pandemic as an “essential business,” continuing our mission with care and attention to necessary health and safety precautions
As an essential business, we’ve built 6 homes in our service area and served an additional 45 families through Preservation & Repair– including 7 Veteran households.
Completed our first Inmate Construction Academy home in partnership with Lake County Sheriff’s Office
Completed our first home, in partnership, with Leesburg High School through the Youth Construction Academy
Thanks to the $100,000 Disney Grant and great exposure from our television series, Habitat Academy, we garnered additional community support for the Youth Construction Academy program and as a result will be adding South Lake High School as our third partner school next year.
One last thing I really need to shed light on is the daily, creative leadership of CEO, Kent Adcock and the outstanding fundraising and administrative skills Senior Director, Danielle Stroud, uses for Habitat Lake-Sumter. Also, I could not leave out the Board and staff; truly the mark of any great organization is the people that are at work in it, and the above highlights are made possible by their dedication to the mission and belief that everyone deserves a place to call home.
Feliciano Felix Ramirez
Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, Florida
Habitat Lake-Sumter’s Preservation & Repair program has become a vital way we serve families in our community. While our flagship program of home ownership provides access and opportunity to owning a home, Preservation & Repair maintains the safety and accessibility of homes. This program ensures that homeowners (some who have lived in their home for 40 years!) are able to safely live in their homes once again, this also lowers the risk of losing their homeowners insurance or losing the house itself.
One company has continued to show their support for the safety and stability of every single person in our community. Not only does Publix Super Market continuously care for their customers, their compassion extends beyond the doors of their stores every single day.
Since 2012, Publix has partnered with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter; as one of the top donors of your Hometown Habitat, Publix Super Market Charities gave $35,000 to our Preservation & Repair program this year.
We completed a total of 45 projects and served 97 individuals through Preservation & Repair, including 7 veterans. Because of Publix’s generosity, we are able to serve families who otherwise would not be able to maintain the safety of their home.
Families like the Duckham’s, Matthew and his three children were living with a badly leaking roof that led to dry wall issues within their home. We replaced the roof and repaired the leaks in the ceiling to prevent water from coming into the home, keeping the family safe and dry during hurricane season.
Although each project may seem small, the impact it has on a family is huge. Whether they’re a multi-generational family living under a tarped roof for 2 years, a disabled veteran who no longer leaves the home due to accessibility issues, or families like the Duckham’s, who had to rely on towels and buckets during Florida’s storms – each home repair project changes the lives of the families living inside.
Thank you, Publix Super Market Charities, for your shining example of leadership and commitment to making our community a better place to live!
Ann Walls, of Virginia, tries out a couch while shopping at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Leesburg on Wednesday. Michael Johnson, Daily Sun
Two Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter ReStores are now open to the public.
On Wednesday, the Leesburg ReStore at 200 N. Lone Oak Drive and the Eustis ReStore at 710 S. Bay St. reopened after closing in March because of COVID-19. Local residents can come inside the stores again and drop off donations. Staff are wearing masks to help keep people safe.
“We’re very excited to reopen ReStores,” said Lacie Himes, assistant development director for Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter. “They play a huge role in Habitat commissions.”
The sixth episode showed final interviews with many of those involved in the project and offered a glimpse into the future with insights into a planned second season.
LEEBSURG — The season finale of Habitat Academy, Red Apples Media’s six-episode series which followed the construction of a Habitat for Humanity house with the help of Leesburg High School students, aired last week on Lake Sumter TV.
Though part of production had to take place after social distancing guidelines were put into place to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Red Apples Media President Marc Robertz-Schwartz said the team was extremely proud of the production, and of those who worked together to build the home.
“It really was just a phenomenal experience for everyone,” Robertz-Schwartz said.
The sixth episode showed final interviews with many of those involved in the project and offered a glimpse into the future with insights into a planned second season.
It also revealed the new homeowner, Lauren McInnes, a single mother working in healthcare and raising two children on her own. She had previously been living with her parents.
New things are in store at Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter’s ReStores. We will be re-opening the Eustis and Leesburg ReStores in mid-June!
As we transition back to business, the Groveland and Wildwood locations will remain closed with no scheduled date for re-opening.
Take a sneak peek at some of the behind the scenes work at Eustis ReStore,
Our two ReStore locations are opening up bigger and better than you’ve ever seen them.
We can’t wait to show you all of the hard work the ReStore staff has been doing to prepare the Eustis and Leesburg ReStores for re-opening, with the health and safety of you in mind!
Important Things to Know:
Follow us on Facebook! Our official Grand Re-Opening date will be announced soon
Donation drop-off will resume on opening day at the Eustis and Leesburg ReStores
Free donation pick up will resume scheduling on opening day, throughout our service area (including Wildwood and Groveland!)
Health and safety procedures will be in place so you can donate and shop at our ReStores while keeping the community safe
A new D.I.Y section to inspire your next project
Feature items- generators and DeWalt lights- just in time for hurricane season!
Our ReStores are vital to our mission of building homes, community, and hope. We believe that everyone deserves a decent and affordable place to call home and when you donate and purchase items from one of our ReStores, you make it possible for Habitat Lake-Sumter to build and repair homes for families in Lake and Sumter counties.
Over the past school year select Youth Construction Academy students have been hard at work building two new homes in our service area. We are proud to share they are complete, beautifully built, and will soon be filled with the laughter of children as the Shields and McInnes families move in next week! The student participants from The Villages Charter School and Leesburg High started their home building projects in August with raw land and have worked alongside our Habitat construction manager as well as local sub-contractors to gain experience within the various trades of residential construction. This program is a shining example of Habitat’s mission of bringing people together to build homes, communities, and hope. A special THANK YOU to all of our sponsors and community supporters who helped make these projects a reality. Check out the videos below to get a tour of the finished homes, meet the Habitat families, and join us in congratulating the students success!
The Villages Charter Dedication Video
A special message from Walt Disney World Ambassadors
Leesburg High Dedication Video
Exciting Plans for Next Year
Thanks to the generous support of Disney, Habitat Lake-Sumter was able to invest in securing a third school relationship for our Youth Construction Academy program. We are happy to announce that next year we will have three partner schools – Leesburg High, The Villages Charter High, and South Lake High! As each school works to build their construction program, we are ready to grow with them and provide an opportunity for real life, on the job training, creating a bright outlook for their career. Below are the locations of the 20-21 home building projects by school:
My name is Tamiko Kim Stull and I am a future homeowner thanks to Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter. Who knew that a chance encounter 6 months ago at my job would lead me to where I am today, about to close on a home of my own!
My journey has definitely been rewarding. I am 52 years old and a grandmother of 5 (soon to be 6) and I am raising my grandson, Ayden Kyle, who is 10 years old. I am originally from Sacramento, CA and my parents named me Tamiko Kim (pronounced Tommy-Ko) because my mother was a full blooded Okinawan. They were wonderful parents who brought me to Florida when I was 5 and I’ve never left. I grew up in the same house until I married so I had a wonderful childhood filled with happy memories of home and family.
My family is my greatest achievement. I have 3 children, Amanda, Glynnie and Jayson. My grandbabies are Ayden Kyle, Alexis Sophia (7), Corey Ray (5), Carter Preston (2) and Conner Matthew who was born this past February. I am also expecting another grandchild this year, precisely on the fourth of July. He or she will be our Yankee Doodle Baby and that is yet another blessing this year will bring.
Ayden and I are currently living in a 28 x 14 camper, we look on the bright side and call our small home “cozy and quaint” but trading in a camper for a brand new home is definitely a good thing! It gives me an overwhelming sense of joy because it hasn’t been easy living in such a confined space with my grandson. The tiny camper Ayden and I share is on a property owned by a friend, but it’s located in Webster and our commute is 30 minutes to and from school and work.
Our only mode of transportation is an old truck and that much driving everyday can cause a lot of wear and tear on an old vehicle, not to mention the possibility of being stranded alone with Ayden if it were to break down. So it’s an added blessing that our new house is right in town. Living in the camper can make daily tasks feel challenging. Small bathtub, limited hot water and no laundry; lugging our laundry to and from the laundromat is a lot of work. You can ask Ayden, he dislikes doing laundry and dreams of long hot showers. And I agree, I am most grateful for the laundry room that’s part of our new home. Finally, I’ll have a washer & dryer so that visits to the laundromat will be a thing of the past!
I met Wayne, the Construction Director at Habitat Lake-Sumter when he came into the Lake Panasoffkee Water Association, where I am the office manager. I helped Wayne set up water accounts for a couple new Habitat houses. Not long after, I heard that they were accepting applications for new homes and decided to look into it. I thought I might meet the requirements so I took a chance and applied. Before I knew it, I was advised that if I wanted to move forward, the house was ours. I was shocked!
I’m so thankful for how helpful everyone has been, especially Travis, he is the Site Supervisor who helped build my home. I worked alongside Travis to put some sweat equity into my house and he helped me paint our soon-to-be home. Although I had a wonderful time doing it, I will admit that climbing up and down the ladder put my legs out of commission for about 3 days, but it was still a great experience! The whole process has been amazing because Habitat is all about helping families succeed on their journey to being a homeowner.
Thanks to Habitat Lake-Sumter, we are saying goodbye to the camper and hello to a real home! A comfortable home where I can raise Ayden; I’m thankful that he’ll be growing up with his own room, in our own home.
Honestly, what I am really looking forward to is moving in and creating lasting memories of home and family for Ayden, the way my mother did for me. We might even have a fourth of July celebration for our two blessings, our Habitat home and our Yankee Doodle baby but it may have to be a short celebration because I’m sure Ayden Kyle will probably want to take a long hot shower…
Written by Tamiko Stull – Future Habitat Homeowner
Edited by Lorie Lozada – Writer & Habitat Homeowner
The home environment is considered to be one of the most important factors in the neurocognitive development of children. This is especially true in the first years of life when a child’s experiences are predominantly dependent on what is provided by their parents.
The home environment consists of physical and social components, such as household possessions, play materials, parent-child interactions, family size, and structure. Favorable surroundings provide the psychological stimulation and support necessary for optimal development of early cognitive skills. These factors have been proven to lead to education and employment success later in life.
Creating Space to Grow
When a child doesn’t have space to freely move around, normal development can be hindered. A healthy home environment allows children to thrive and reach important developmental milestones that lead to long-term health. For example, gross motor skills help children achieve many tasks that may seem minimal to adults such as learning to walk.
In an overcrowded living space or home full of clutter, children are not safe to be placed on the ground, which can stunt their development. By having floor time and tummy time, children learn to roll, crawl, pull to stand and subsequently walk. This activity enhances brain development which is key to language skills, problem solving skills and fine motor skills. Clutter and crowding in the home can prevent the child from being able to communicate their needs and wants, and exacerbate underlying mental health concerns.
The Importance of a Healthy Home
Children need room to run around and play outside and inside the home. They need an organized, clutter-free environment that promotes imaginative play.
Unfortunately, families of low socio-economic status are forced into choosing food to feed their family over a safe home environment with a yard and room for children to play safely.
Parents living in cost-burdened homes are often unable to provide stimulating materials for their children such as toys and books. A review of research indicates that crowded and inadequate housing increases tension, punitive punishment, aggression and conflict within the household. These conditions can also increase sedentary behaviors, reduce the ability to cope with stress, negatively affect quality of sleep, lead to inflammation and raise the risk of obesity.
A healthy home environment can transform the daily lives of children and create the foundation for long-term physical and cognitive health.
Kristy Beron, APRN, is an advanced practice registered nurse at AdventHealth Medical Group. She specializes in preventive health, acute and chronic illness management, test administration and interpretation, cardiac medicine and urgent care.
The finished Lady Lake home of a single mom of two boys was built by Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter with the help of students of the Villages High School Construction Management Academy. Michael Johnson, Daily Sun
The virtual dedication ceremony for a home that Villages High School students helped build is bittersweet for students. The volunteers and Habitat for Humanity supporters who would normally attend the dedication, including the 11 students, were all absent. “I know they’re disappointed they didn’t get to finish,” said teacher Bruce Haberle, who runs the charter school’s Construction Management Academy. His students built 80% to 85% of the three-bedroom, two-bath house for Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, he said. Habitat plans virtual dedications for all five homes that volunteers built this year. Female-led households will receive the keys to their new homes in the dedications between mid-May and June.
COVID-19 caused Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter to refigure some of its house-building procedures in March and April in order to stay on course in constructing five decent, affordable houses in Lady Lake, Leesburg, Eustis, and two homes in Lake Panasoffkee.
The homes will be owned by female-led households.
Single mom Rachel Storey and her son Jackson, who turns 6 on May 14, are eager for the July 1 (or sooner) closing on their future home in Eustis. Rachel says Habitat is waiting on some back-ordered cabinets to arrive for the house and once they’re installed and she’s given the house keys, the mother and son will move into the West St. Louis Avenue neighborhood.
“I’m looking forward to just being with my son and having our own house to call home,” says Rachel. The pair has been living at her parents’ Grand Island home, which they moved into when Rachel was going through a divorce.
“My parents helped me with my son, too, because he was younger at the time,” she says. “I started going back to church and it was like God was putting me back piece by piece. I’m just so thankful for everything. God led me to the right people at the right time and Habitat couldn’t have been better to work with. I am beyond grateful.”
Rachel says Habitat is a great program for those who qualify. “They help so many people out and they have their heart in it as well. All the people who work at Habitat love their job, love what they do, and they love helping people.”
Danielle Stroud, senior director of program and partnership for Habitat, says COVID-19 curtailed community volunteers being able to work on the houses.
“We worked with subcontractors a little bit more than normally,” Danielle says. “With limited opportunities, and of course for safety purposes, we really restricted who was allowed on-site. We increased the use of sub-contractors, we reallocated some job duties, and we also had a very small select crew of really skilled volunteers that felt comfortable still coming out to help finish the projects.”
She says construction on each house was deemed essential. “We had suppliers, contractors, inspectors to line up. There are so many facets that go into construction, and thankfully we were able to make all of those pieces aligned to be able to finish the homes.”
Habitat homeowners typically do sweat equity on their homes, yet the coronavirus pandemic prevented from them being able to be at the construction sites. “So, we provided a lot of virtual engagements that they could do to still earn their equity like promote us or engage with us on social media,” adds Danielle.
#GivingTuesdayNow is a new global day of giving and unity that will take place on May 5, 2020 – as an emergency response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19.
Families who were already struggling before the public health crisis began now face exacerbated setbacks caused by the economic upheaval. Local families continue to struggle in the financial instability and uncertainty of recent times.
In fact, the families who partner with us are often those who are particularly at risk. The uncertainty so many of us feel today, many families have felt for a lifetime- if not generations.
As a friend of Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, join us and use the individual power of generosity to stay connected and help heal our community. Whatever you can do — monetary or not — will mean a lot.
Answers to Frequently Asked Estate Planning Questions Christina Campbell, Estate Planning and Elder Law Attorney – McLin Burnsed
There are many ways to be involved with Habitat Lake-Sumter but unarguably, one of the greatest gifts you will ever give, will be the legacy you leave behind. Leaving a legacy gift is easy and Christina Campbell from McLin Burnsed is here to offer insight and guide you through the first steps to estate planning.
When you give to Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, Florida through your estate or long-term financial plans, you are forging your life legacy with the mission of building homes, communities, and hope and ensuring that later generations can secure decent, safe and affordable housing right here in Lake and Sumter Counties. Read the rest of this entry »
On March 27th, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act was signed into law and Congress passed a long-awaited for “universal” giving incentive, this is particularly beneficial for taxpayers who do not itemize their deductions.
If you are someone who does not itemize on your taxes:
The CARES Act makes a new above-the-line deduction available for total charitable contributions of up to $300 per taxpayer. The above-the-line adjustment to income will reduce your AGI, and thereby reduce taxable income. Additionally, you will not have to itemize other items to claim this deduction (Section 2204 of the CARES Act).
The incentive applies to cash contributions made in 2020 and can be claimed on tax forms next year.
If you are someone who itemizes on your taxes:
The CARES Act also lifts the existing cap on annual contributions for those who itemize, raising it from 60 percent of adjusted gross income to 100 percent. For corporations, the law raises the annual limit from 10 percent to 25 percent. (Section 2205 of the CARES Act).
What does this mean for you? You can support Habitat Lake-Sumter’s mission and receive new tax benefits typically reserved for higher thresholds of giving.
The duration of the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a public health emergency to bring a spotlight to the housing crisis. The uncertainty so many of us feel today, many families have felt for a lifetime- if not generations.
The time is now: to begin the work of building back our community, the foundation is the place to start. Living in a safe, healthy, and affordable home alleviates the burden of unreliable rent costs and out-of-reach mortgages; a home with Habitat gives families the opportunity to build a better future and make today more manageable.
The CARES Act is the first giving incentive Congress has passed in response to a disaster or national emergency—an acknowledgement by Congress that the work of nonprofits, like Habitat Lake-Sumter, is an essential service.
John Politz, a U.S. Air Force veteran, received a new roof on March 23 from Proformance Roofing, an Owens Corning Platinum Roofing Contractor, as part of the Owens Corning Roof Deployment Project. Through a partnership with Habitat for Humanity, Politz was selected as the recipient for the roof replacement. The Owens Corning Foundation donated roofing materials and Proformance Roofing donated the labor. The Owens Corning Roof Deployment Project is a nationwide effort to show gratitude and honor veterans who served our country and the families who support them. Since the inception of this program in 2016, more than 180 military members have received new roofs.
Hi, my name is Lorie Lozada. I am a recent Habitat Homeowner and very proud to be a part of the Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter family!
I want to share my story and to thank you for being a part of Women Build 2020. Helping others achieve their homeownership dreams is incredibly rewarding and after being so blessed, my family and I are happy to pay it forward. Since our home was built by Women Builder’s last year, I’m joining a team to become a Women Builder myself.
Some of you know my story but for those of you who don’t, my husband, James, and I lost our home in 2017 to Hurricane Maria. For us, it was a catastrophic and life changing event because on Sept. 19th our home was standing but on Sept. 20th, our home was gone. It was an incredible shock and the heartache was indescribable. We thought we were prepared: we had all the necessary supplies and gas in our vehicle. But a vehicle is of no use on roads blocked by trees and charged devices provide no communication when the infrastructure has collapsed.
We packed what little we had left in our vehicle and drove to a homeless shelter, we spent our nights sleeping in classrooms amongst strangers. Our journey was both scary and exciting, but leaving our family in Puerto Rico behind was very difficult and of all the things we lost, our stability is the one thing that has affected my son, JianLuc, the most.
After three months of what I can only describe as chaos, we arrived in the quaint town of Eustis. A town we had only seen on the return addresses of our relatives Christmas cards.
We knew nothing about our new home. New lives, new people, and for my husband, a new language. Our lives changed rapidly and the drastic difference is sometimes hard to manage.
Thankfully, we’ve met a lot of great people along the way and have had a ton of support. First, from our extended family here in Eustis, the “Berrios Clan” because a united family can get you through anything. Secondly, we have also received support through the American Red Cross, FEMA, and from local businesses; like Kevco Builders, who have been of great assistance to my family. In fact, the very caring owner of Kevco Builders, Mr. Joe Ziller, helped furnish our new home!!
We appreciate everyone, but nearest and dearest to our hearts is Habitat For Humanity of Lake-Sumter and specifically, Mr. Kent Adcock, whose kindness and commitment to us was extraordinary; without him, we would not have this beautiful and affordable “dream home.” A home where we can try to, once again, feel safe.
Actually, it’s been 2 years and 6 months of trying really hard to feel safe again. Trying to get our lives back on a familiar track, and trying to recuperate our stability and peace of mind because even with all of these blessings, some things have not been easy.
You see, a life changing event tends to leave scars. It has a way of affecting almost every aspect of your life, especially your mental health, and it can leave you riddled with fear, anxiety and a desperate need to feel safe.
Feeling safe, especially with what we are living through today, is the only thing on anyone’s mind as we face another crisis. One that’s bigger and scarier than any hurricane. The coronavirus has become a pandemic that is rapidly changing all of our lives. While it’s not at all like a hurricane, the preparations feel the same… racing to the stores, buying 2 or 3 of everything, hoarding food and water, feeling panic and confusion; and you realize that once again, you’re in the midst of chaos.
It all feels sadly familiar to me, and while I try to keep my anxiety in check, the flashbacks are inevitable.
We must remember that these changes in our daily activities are temporary, so let’s not let chaos take over. Let’s pray for calm and follow guidelines which state that we are to stay home and “hunker down.” What a relief it is to know that because of Habitat Lake-Sumter, my family and I have a home to hunker down in! And an affordable mortgage that allows me to save for emergencies just like this. That’s what every family should have.
Of course, let’s be mindful of our new normal and practice social distancing but let’s not forget to stay focused and remain connected via online support. It’s important that we continue to “provide families with strength and stability through shelter.” This way, other families can have their own place to hunker down, feel secure, and weather any storm, together!
Lorie Lozada (The Santiago-Lozada family)- Habitat Homeowner & Women Builder
So, you’ve found yourself at home a bit more than usual? Sounds like the perfect time to de-clutter the closet, start (or finally finish!) that D.I.Y project you’ve been meaning to do, and complete a few things off your home’s “To-Do” list.
We’ve included a list of 5 projects to get you started this week:
Habitat Lake-Sumter’s ReStores are vital to our mission of building homes, communities, and hope! The purchases and donations made at all 4 of our ReStore locations help to fund our work in supporting families in need of safe, affordable housing.
Since temporarily closing on March 20th, the ReStores are currently unable to accept donations at the store drop-off locations but STAY TUNED: once we re-open, you’ll be able to drop donations off or call (352) 589-3005 to schedule a free pick-up!
Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter cares about the health and safety of our staff, supporters and the people we serve. This includes the prevention of disease and viral infections on site, at our ReStores, and in the office. In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak we want to assure you that measures are being taken to keep our build sites, ReStores, and offices a safe, fun, and healthy environment.
We are actively monitoring and adhering to the guidance provided by Habitat for Humanity International as well as local, state and federal health agencies. By practicing of social distancing and our Eustis & Leesburg ReStores have reopened starting Wednesday, June 10th and the Groveland & Wildwood ReStores will remain closed with no scheduled date for re-opening. We apologize for the inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and cooperation. And we look forward to reopening and serving all those in the community. Construction sites are still open but are limiting spots for volunteering. We will continue to post additional updates here as conditions change.
While we continue to move forward, we do ask that if you feel unwell or have traveled recently to one of the areas designated by the CDC as level 3, you refrain from visiting a Habitat build, ReStore or office. Similarly, if a member of your household has potentially been exposed to the virus through travel or other means, seek medical guidance and refrain from participating in any Habitat-related events, including volunteering or shopping in our ReStores.
Please see below health guidelines that offer advice from the World Health Organization on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The impact of these uncertain times is felt by everyone. Cancelled events, businesses closing, lost wages from shortened hours at work, and increased cost of childcare as schools close.
And one of the primary safety recommendations? Stay home.
Can you imagine not having a stable place to call home, the potential that one missed paycheck holds the possibility of losing your home? Lack of stability in a home makes something like an unexpected crisis difficult to prepare for.
In this unprecedented time, we have the opportunity to make a huge difference in our community. We invite you to rally with Habitat Lake-Sumter and give a local family a hand-up for a stronger, more stable future. You can raise funds and raise awareness by registering for Women Build and sharing your fundraising page to friends and family, and finally, raise the walls and repair homes in Lake & Sumter Counties!
LAKE COUNTY, Fla. — Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter builds about eight homes a year, and refurbishes another 50 more. Although the organization does not give the homes away, it makes the financing affordable to fit small budgets.
Candidates for Habitat for Humanity can apply on-line.
Good credit is necessary.
Household income is looked at.
People who are accepted into the program must have a willingness to partner with the program.
Habitat for Humanity is looking for volunteers with a good attitude and work ethic.
On Wednesday, the nonprofit hosted the build at an under-construction home in Eustis, which will eventually go to Rachel Storey, a single mother, and her five-year-old son, Jackson.
EUSTIS – Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter and Lowe’s extended an open invitation to women volunteers from throughout the community.
The women were sought to participate in a local event for International Women Build Week.
On Wednesday, the nonprofit hosted the build at an under-construction home in Eustis, which will eventually go to Rachel Storey, a single mother, and her five-year-old son, Jackson.
The Lowe’s-sponsored event – they provided the tools and materials – served as the local kickoff of the global initiative happening simultaneously in more than 235 communities in the United States, India and Canada. International Women Build Week runs from March 1-8 to highlight the global need for safe and affordable housing.
A couple of local volunteers showed up, were handed hard hats and put to work.
Lowe’s representatives, expected to have been at the work site, were unable to participate due to scheduling conflicts.
Habitat staff however, jumped in to compensate and the morning turned out to be a productive, educational and empowering one.
Site Supervisor Ernie Burley, in charge of teaching new skills to volunteers said he is always glad to have able and most of all, willing volunteers on any project.
Several female volunteers and employees of Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter are taking part in a global effort with Habitat for Humanity International, Lowe’s, and some 6,000 women volunteers in more than 235 U.S. communities, India and Canada for the International Women Build Week, which runs through March 8.
The event is to highlight the worldwide need for safe and affordable housing.
On March 4, the local crew installed some wood siding and painted the exterior of a Habitat house under construction in Eustis at 56 W. St. Louis Ave., with site supervisor Ernie Burley guiding the way and teaching new volunteers how to use different tools.
“It’s so cool to pop out a new skill every once in a while,” says Shari McCray, a homeowner and marketing manager for Habitat of Humanity of Lake-Sumter, who calls the first time she learned to use a circular saw. “It’s intimidating at first, and when you see it and think, ‘oh, my fingers!’ But it is really neat at the end of the day when you’re pumping out those boards.”
Her colleague Lacie Himes found it found to learn the skills to frame a house. “I’ve really learned to fell confident using a hammer and walked away feeling like ‘I could build my owe house! I could do this!”
It was just another day at Lake Sumter State College. Arriving on time to my 11am Philosophy class every Tuesday and Thursday morning had become a ritual for me from the months prior. Usually class would start with a lecture on some philosopher like Rene Descartes or Thomas Hobbes and lead into discussion, but this morning was different. It turned out that a job fair was being held at the center of campus and my professor instructed my classmates and I to leave class, enter the courtyard, and search for jobs.
Although I was employed at the time, it was lacking the sort of experience I was looking for. I wanted to be somewhere that I could use my skills in a practical sense, towards something that I wanted my career to look like. So, my search began. I made it my goal that before leaving the courtyard that day I would speak to each individual to see what they were looking for and in doing so, I hoped to find what I was looking for. There were all kinds of stands, Waffle House, H&R Block, you name it. But upon speaking with the representatives at each stand, one stuck out. One whose mission statement meant something. One that would uplift my community. That one was Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter.
This was my first-time meeting Shari, the Marketing and Communications Coordinator with Habitat Lake-Sumter; she was searching for an intern and that was precisely the opportunity I was looking for. So, we spoke, she handed me all of the information I needed to submit my application, and bam! A few weeks later I was deemed the Marketing and Communications intern under Mrs. Shari McCray. This was, and still is, a very exciting time for me. I have been able to take part in so many projects. I’ve done work to produce a new event, Jingle Build-Off, interviewed all sorts of people, created videos, wrote articles, took photos, but most of all I’ve learned something new each and every day I’ve spent working with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter.
Today, I continue to strive towards being as helpful as I can to everyone in the office, as well as the volunteers and homeowners that I see so often. The experience and knowledge I have gained through this internship is something that I am truly grateful for, so much that I will always remember my time here with Habitat Lake-Sumter.
Looking back, the most eye-opening experiences I’ve had continue to occur regularly when I get to hear wonderful stories from our volunteers with all different backgrounds and experiences. Their stories teach me something about life, and that is, no matter who you are or what you do, the central idea that can bring us all together: the importance of giving to others. So whether you’re a volunteer, community partner, or future homeowner with Habitat reading this, I hope that one day I can meet you and hear your story as well.
A Block Party with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter is a one-of-a kind event. Through our Preservation and Repair program, we host a few “Spruce up the Block” Parties throughout the year that impact neighborhoods as a whole; volunteers spread out over the radius of a neighborhood and clean, caulk, paint, and repair homes to beautify the exterior, make minor safety repairs, and come together as a community.
The week of January 21-25th saw dozens of volunteers filtering in and out of a Wildwood neighborhood, even on mornings so chilly some worried the paint wouldn’t dry, working and repairing 11 houses overall and sharing in the camaraderie of transforming a neighborhood.
Throughout the year, Veronica Troxell, Habitat Lake-Sumter’s Preservation and Repair coordinator works to serve around 50 families but a “Spruce up the Block” Party is one of her favorite ways to provide much needed services to multiple families at once. “Block Parties are great because they ask for the whole community to get engaged. There is a lot of satisfaction in working on a large-scale project and seeing the neighborhood completely reinvigorated at the end of the week. Our volunteers are vital in working with the community to accomplish such a big task and to bring a lot of new life to the community!”
Working alongside Veronica to make the Wildwood Block Party a success was Kevin Tucker. Kevin is a Preservation and Repair Specialist with Habitat Lake-Sumter and the President of the Habitat Villagers Club. Kevin rallied club members and residents of the Villages to head up the volunteer work during the week while finishing touches were completed on Saturday from Block Party sponsor, Rotarians from Rotary of the Villages Noon.
In regard to the incredible effort and success of the Wildwood “Spruce up the Block” Party, Kevin writes:
It was a beautiful, clear morning on Tuesday, February 4th as executives of First National Bank of Mount Dora, directors from Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, and Lake County officials met at a newly set slab of concrete on West St. Louis Street in Eustis, Florida.
There to commemorate the first wall raising of the home being built in partnership with First National Bank of Mount Dora, Bob White, the president and CEO expressed why he was excited to play a role in this project with Habitat Lake-Sumter, “Home ownership in Lake County is a big part of making people productive citizens and of course, as a bank we are excited to be part of that financial well-being.”
For 30 years, Habitat Lake-Sumter has relied on committed partners like First National Bank of Mount Dora, who share a vision of the world where everyone has a safe and stable place to call home. As our county grows, so does the need for affordable housing that is within reach for hard working families; in the state of Florida, 1 in 7 households pay 50% or more of their income on housing. But by building a home with Habitat Lake-Sumter, we continue to bridge the gap to home ownership and make it possible for one less family to spend half of their income on housing.
Although it’s not just corporate partnerships that make new home construction possible. In the month of December, almost 90 individuals and local partners donated to our Holiday Match Campaign and raised $74,067 to be matched by First National Bank of Mount Dora; making the home on West St. Louis a reality for a future homeowner in Lake County.
After helping to raise the first wall, Commissioner Leslie Campione summed it up by saying, “It is because of community involvement and people coming together to help each other, it makes all the difference in the world and this house really represents hope and joy and stability for a family, and that’s what Habitat is all about.”
Interview with Bob White, CEO/Pres of FNBMD
Interview with Leslie Campione, Lake County Commissioner
Leesburg High School construction students showed community members around the home and guests wrote positive messages for the eventual homeowners. The rest of the house will be built out in the coming months.
Dozens of community members and partners attended the dry-in, held in the partially built home at 107 North 12th St. to mark the completion of the home’s outer shell and the beginning of interior work for the students
“I loved seeing it, piece by piece, come together,” construction student Abraham Ledesma said during a brief tour of the home’s undeveloped interior.
Ledesma said it was the first time he’d ever gotten to work on such an expansive and satisfying project even having worked construction with his family in the past.
He pointed to the back wall of the house — the first wall they lifted into place — and began pointing to the different rooms, which included multiple bedrooms and two bathrooms.
He talked about the features of each room as though the wooden framework had already been walled off and he could see the finished product.
One sheet of drywall was set for the celebration as members of the community wrote positive messages on the inside and school district officials including Superintendent Diane Kornegay and board members Stephanie Luke, Bill Mathias and Sandy Gamble drilled the first screws.
The rest of the house will be filled out in the coming months.
Ledesma was happy, and surprised, with how much of the house he and his fellow students got to build. At first, he thought they would mostly be watching and chipping in on small things.
He said every part of the project, save for the air conditioning and electrical work, had at least one students’ hands in it, and most of the work was done independently: they’d get their instructions and be trusted to get it done.
The dry-in was also the first time the community was introduced to Bryan Russ, a 1996 Leesburg High graduate who just took over the construction academy from Jim Ellwood at the end of the fall semester.
Under the direction of instructor Bruce Haberle, reflected right, The Villages High School Construction Management Academy seniors David Routzahn, 17, and Trey Jones, 19, make chalk lines for the siding on a Habitat for Humanity house Tuesday in Lady Lake. Photos by Cindy Skop, Daily Sun
By building a house for Habitat for Humanity, Villages High School Construction Management Academy students are learning a lot. Students celebrated reaching the dry-in stage Wednesday with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, Citizens First Bank, business partners in the construction industry, volunteers and the high school’s pep band. Dry-in is the turning point of the construction process when the framing, windows, exterior doors, roof, shingles and waterproof barrier are all done to protect anything inside the house that could be damaged by water. It’s usually the halfway point of the construction project, said Barry Martin, construction manager for Habitat for Humanity, who is supervising volunteers and working with VHS academy instructor Bruce Haberle.
Leesburg High School construction students have been working with Habitat for Humanity volunteers and local tradesman in the construction home at 107 N. 12th St. in Leesburg. The home, pictured Friday had made great progress to Marc Robertz-Schwartz, Habitat Academy’s executive producer. [Payne Ray/Daily Commercial]
The show will feature Leesburg construction students, local tradesmen and other partners as they work together to build a Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter home in Leesburg. New 15-minute episodes will air the third Monday of each month on Lake Sumter TV.
LEESBURG — Those curious how high school students could help build a house from start to finish have an opportunity to find out.
Habitat Academy, a 15-minute television show documenting the Leesburg High School Construction Academy’s work on a Leesburg home with Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter, will debut Monday at 7:30 p.m. on Lake Sumter TV. The channel will also upload it to Youtube and play it again throughout the week.
“I think people are going to be surprised by the progress,” Red Apples Media President and Habitat Academy executive producer Marc Robertz-Schwartz said. “We’re just amazed at how quickly that home is going up.”
Red Apples will continue to visit the home at 107 N. 12th St. once monthly in order to record the episodes, which will be released around the third week of every month. Robertz-Schwartz said they waited till the end of the year to produce the first episode as the build — a collaboration between expert tradesmen, Habitat volunteers and 11 LHS construction students — needed a few months to get off the ground.
Now that the build is underway and the production schedule has been outlined, Robertz-Schwartz said they’re expecting to produce nine episodes of Habitat Academy.
Their aim will be to showcase the build as it goes up, with episodes themed around the progress of the house.
The first episode will feature interviews with the construction students as well as community partners on the build and the show. In the following episodes, to be hosted by Don Magruder of RoMac Building Supply, the show will feature interviews with tradesmen and other experts as they showcase the progress of the build.
November is a time to honor our Veterans and those who have sacrificed so much in service to our country. As part of our Veteran’s Housing Initiative, we serve veterans through our Home Ownership program and through Preservation and Repair. Here, you’ll get a chance to meet veteran, Eddie Broglin and learn what’s next for our Veterans in Lake and Sumter Counties.
Born and raised in Florida, Eddie Broglin is a true Florida Native. When speaking to Eddie about his home state, you can barely mention a new place before Eddie tells you his connection to that area; Lake Wales, Bartow, Lake City, Fort Pierce, it becomes apparent very quickly that Florida holds a special place in Eddie’s heart.
After graduating high school, Eddie Broglin was faced with the challenge of what he was going to do next. A fellow classmate told him that he was going to join the National Guard and convinced Eddie to sign up as well. Stationed at Wauchula, Florida where he worked with gunners and as a mess cook, Eddie then moved to the Naples Armory where he went on to serve an eight year career. While Eddie learned a lot from being in the service, he unfortunately suffered a heat stroke that would have a lasting impact on him the rest of his life. After his military career, Eddie moved around the state, and left feeling un-grounded while staying with friends or renting, he decided it was time to find a home of his own.
Eddie describes his experience of working with multiple real estate agents and exhausting his resources through Veterans Affairs, his search for a home appeared hopeless. “I was looking for a studio apartment, but mortgages and rent have flopped. Now it’s cheaper to pay a mortgage than to pay rent,” says Eddie. Eddie describes an experience that is relatable to many and sits at the very heart of Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter’s mission.
Eddie decided a “tiny home” would provide the best solution to affording a home of his own and started to search out of state, believing he would have to move from Florida in order to find affordable housing.
Finally, Eddie met real estate agent, Maureen Campbell. Maureen knew about Eddie’s desire to stay in Florida and his interest in “tiny homes.” With these two requests in mind, Maureen suggested Eddie look into Habitat for Humanity as a resource and facilitated the process for Eddie to apply to be a homeowner with Habitat Lake-Sumter. A cottage-style home currently being built in Coleman, Florida was THE home Eddie had been searching for.
While discussing his newly built home, it’s evident how grateful Eddie is to be able to be a part of the Habitat Lake-Sumter’s home ownership program; a home he believes is built with love by the staff and volunteers who have put “their heart in to it.”
“The first thing I did was plant my red maple tree,” a tree Eddie bought when he first learned of being accepted into Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter’s home ownership program, “to symbolize being rooted here,” says Eddie. In this quiet community in Coleman, FL, balanced by rural and growth; Eddie has found a place to plant his roots a little deeper into Florida.
If you’d like to know more about the work we’ve done with Veterans this year, come visit Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter’s booth at the Villagers for Veterans Film Festival on Wednesday, November 6th.
To support upcoming Veterans projects throughout Lake and Sumter, donate today!
Hurricane Dorian was a Category 5 when it slammed into The Bahama’s just one month ago. As relief and rebuilding efforts slowly begin, Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter decided to take action.
Kent Adcock, CEO of Habitat Lake-Sumter, has specialized in relief efforts during past disasters, Hurricane Katrina among them, so we knew major efforts would be needed to clean up and stabilize The Bahamas after being effected by a storm of this scale.
We are currently retro-fitting two shipping containers to act as housing units for relief workers on The Abaco Islands. The shipping containers will be furnished with bunk beds, air conditioning, and electricity, for the relief workers to have a place to rest and recharge.
Community partners, RoMac Building Supply, Kelley Painting, and the Inmate Construction Academy will help turn these shipping containers into temporary housing, giving on-the-ground relief workers a place to call “home” while they do the hard work of clearing debris after the destruction.
Want to help? If you have material supplies or would like to make a donation contact Lacie: (352) 483-0434 x 146 or Lacie@HabitatLS.org
Brad Weber, EVP
Chief Lending Officer
Citizens First Bank
“Success is Built on Relationships” – a powerful statement and one of the many mantras of Brad Weber, who was recently appointed to the Lake-Sumter Habitat for Humanity Board of Directors.
Weber brings a variety of experience earned over his thirty plus years in the banking industry where he has worked in consumer, commercial and agricultural lending. He also holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Technology from Barry University and is a graduate of the Graduate School of Banking of the South at Louisiana State University.
Through his work in the banking industry, he has been involved in finance, marketing, staff development and strategic planning. Weber makes special note of the people and relationships he’s formed during his tenure as a banker. “My lending background has allowed me to work with people from all types of industries and walks of life in helping them realize their dreams,” says Weber who looks forward to seeing where his experience can best benefit Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter.
Weber’s connection with Habitat started when he first volunteered his time to help build a home sponsored by Citizens First Bank roughly five years ago and has continued as he has volunteered to help with a number of other Habitat for Humanity projects since that time. During the past five years, Weber has built more than homes for Habitat, he’s built relationships with a team that works to deliver new homes to members of our community. “I have built relationships with several staff members, and truly learned the true mission of Habitat through their actions,” notes Weber.
The Boys & Girls Club, The Boy Scouts of America, Lake Sumter State College and the local Chamber of Commerce have all been beneficiaries of Weber’s enthusiasm for volunteerism yet, true to his philanthropic spirit, Weber says it’s his career that has grown through the opportunities he’s had to serve those organizations.
He says the experience of working with Habitat has given as much to him as he has to the organization. “At this point in my life, and after having witnessed a number of families be handed the keys to their dream come true, their first home; and experienced the emotion and passion of that moment, this became my reason to serve Habitat,” says Weber.
Weber hopes to use his experience and talents to support the idea of an incubator community that could potentially create affordable housing that remains accessible for generations to come. “This community could solve several struggles such as providing affordable workforce housing, teaching families how to be a part of a community and providing opportunities for financial growth,” says Weber. It’s just an idea for now, however, it has the possibility to move into reality and thereby improve home ownership opportunities for families.”
Building communities such as this one goes back to the heart of Weber’s mantra: success is built on relationships. “Success is a community of people who can rely on each other, people who joyously and enthusiastically strive to lift each other up on a personal level, says Weber. “This feeling is not only contagious, but also exponentially raises the confidence and productivity of each of us in a community, resulting in a much higher quality of life.”
Weber’s enthusiasm for the local community also resonates at a personal level as he and his wife have lived in the area since 1996. They have been married for 30 years and have raised three children who received their education through the Lake County School System where his wife, Glenda, has been a teacher for almost 20 years.
“Bringing people together to build homes, communities and hope – these are all hallmarks of Habitat’s mission,” says Danielle Stroud, Director of Development at Habitat for Humanity. “Brad has personally and professionally embraced this mission for many years and we wholeheartedly welcome him to the Board of Directors at Habitat for Humanity!”
Inmates learn construction skills, build for Habitat for Humanity
LAKE COUNTY, Fla. – Jared Hainey has been in the Lake County Jail for nine months for drug possession.
But he spends his days outside of his cell, in the fresh air under sunny skies. He spends six and a half hours a day on construction sites, building houses for Habitat for Humanity.
“It’s nice to come out here because you get away from being enclosed in a cage,” Hainey said. “And you get to come out and learn new things, see new people.”
Lake County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Fred Jones said Hainey volunteered, like all inmates participating in the Lake County Jail’s home building program.
“They have to want to do it, we don’t force them to do anything,” Jones said. “They’re staying focused, they get up early in the morning, our thought process is they’re going to take that same thought process when they leave here and go out there and get a job.”
Jones said all of the inmates participating in construction are low-risk inmates who’ve been vetted. All of them are supervised on all on the construction sites.
Hainey said his plan is to get a job in construction when he gets out jail.
“I learned a lot more about the building process, like right now we’re framing and decking and putting trusses on, stuff I have never done,” Hainey said. “Before you get out, you already have that foot up that you’re going to be working. And you’re already stepping forward and being productive in society and working already.”
Jones said inmates often reoffend when they are released because they don’t have a job, they don’t have skills and they don’t have motivation.
“What I see a lot of time is people get into trouble because they don’t have that sense of purpose,” Jones said. “I think this gives them some of that.”
Owens Corning representatives Frank Compagnone and Travis Foster, along with Tadlock Orlando branch manager Thomas Catalano (right) present Edwin Seda (center) with a certificate for a new roof and extended warranty [Cindy Sharp/Correspondent]
EUSTIS — Veteran Edwin Seda, 63, woke up Monday morning to the sound of banging on his roof. With a sigh of relief, he knew it was the day some of his troubles would come to an end.
Seda was chosen as the recipient of the Owens Corning National Roof Deployment Project, which works with Tadlock Roofing and Habitat for Humanity in granting new roofs to veterans in need.
“It makes me feel like crying,” Seda said. “But a good soldier never cries. I’m so thankful for good people like this.”
Seda served 20 years in Army intelligence, retiring in 1995. Because of his extensive training, two years ago he was asked to come out of retirement to help train Air Force pilots on A-10 Warthog aircraft.
However, a terrible accident occurred during training and his plane plummeted to the ground. He spent nine months in a coma. He broke a hip and a knee, and the visor from his helmet lodged into his skull.
“When I woke up, all I could think of was, ‘What the hell happened?’ ” Seda said.
Seda remembers another plane hitting the top of his canopy and him trying to remove the seat belt, but he doesn’t remember ever deploying the parachute.
“Obviously I did or I wouldn’t be alive,” he said. “But I don’t remember much after being hit.”
Since then, his medical bills have been piling up, even on top of his insurance coverage. To top it off, his home insurance company was pushing him to get a new roof or he would lose coverage.
He reached out to Tadlock Roofing for a quote, but they had another idea: Tadlock reached out to Owens Corning about their deployment project, then Habitat for Humanity to see what could be done.
By Cindy Sharp / Correspondent of The Daily Commercial
Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter’s ‘Women Build’ event brings women of all ages and abilities together to make a difference by raising money and volunteering on Habitat build sites.
Alongside personal fundraising efforts, sponsors such as American Residential Products, Inc and Atlas Roofing, make events like these possible through monetary giving or by donating materials for the home.
American Residential Products Inc, an insulation contractor, has worked with Habitat for Humanity affiliates all over Florida for many years. They have provided insulation in the past, and recently sponsored Habitat of Lake-Sumter’s ‘Women Build 2019’ with a $2500 gift; this gift serves to underwrite the cost of construction for the two ‘Women Build’ homes and bridges the gap to keep the homes affordable.
Stephanie Vaughn of American Residential Products also personally participated as a Women Builder this year on Team ‘Hammer Knockers’. When asked if she thought an event like this was successful in helping to remove the barrier between women and construction, she said;
“The barrier between women and construction is getting smaller. I think an event like Women Build definitely showcases that. Construction is a fast paced, exciting industry. Every day is different, every day is challenging and every day is rewarding. It’s great to see younger women embrace the industry and I think Habitat encourages that with Women Build.”
Stephanie also had encouraging words for women who are thinking about volunteering, “Go for it! Habitat makes it easy to set up a team and individual website for fundraising. There are several pre-build events to get to know the other volunteers and the homeowners. The day of the build is all about teamwork & there are tasks for all abilities.”
Atlas Roofing was also a sponsor for this year’s Women Build event. They are donating all of the necessary roofing materials such as the underlayment, starter shingle, shingle, hip and ridge cap for the Women Build house in Eustis, FL. Roofing can be an expensive aspect of homebuilding, but thanks to Atlas Roofing, our family will be forever grateful for the gift of having a roof over their heads.
Thank you to our sponsors, Atlas Roofing and American Residential Products, for partnering with Habitat families and investing in real change. Together, we build homes, communities, and hope!
The First Presbyterian Church of Leesburg receives “Sponsor of the Month” in recognition of their decade’s long partnership with Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter and their sponsorship of a Cottage Home in Coleman, FL. The church will not only provide financial support, but also volunteer hours and hands-on labor to assist in building the home.
First Presbyterian Church of Leesburg has a long standing history with Habitat for Humanity and an established presence of charitable giving within the community; the church assisted with building one of the very first Habitat homes in the Lake-Sumter area in the late 1980’s. Pastor RJ Leek of First Presbyterian of Leesburg says of their continued support, “We are thankful for the opportunity God has given us through Habitat for Humanity to be a visible witness to God’s love for people everywhere.”
The cottage home being sponsored by First Presbyterian Church of Leesburg is one of four homes being built on the Coleman site and is part of a new and innovative floor plan for Habitat of Lake-Sumter. In an effort to match the specific needs of the community Habitat serves, we have designed a 2 bedroom/1 bath home at approximately 700 sq. ft. for smaller families who find rental properties and traditional home ownership to be beyond their reach.
The cottage homes in Coleman are Habitat of Lake-Sumter’s first try at this new housing design. The smaller scale 4 cottage home site is a precursor to Habitat’s upcoming Tavares Cottage Community. Thanks to Lake County’s award of Community Development Block Grant funds, Habitat will begin infrastructure of the development soon; including roadways, water and underground utilities, and will prepare the community for phase two: cottage construction.
Setting new precedents, the Tavares Cottage Community will be the first age-restricted community built in this area through Habitat of Lake-Sumter and will benefit residents who are on a fixed income, retired, or looking to maintain affordable housing as senior citizens. The ‘pocket neighborhood’ will feature 23 cottage-sized homes approximately 730 sq. ft. Some of the units are free standing homes with others designed in a townhome style, and a large central area with open green space for all residents to share. The master planned community will include similar design elements to Habitat of Lake-Sumter’s Veterans Village in Umatilla.
To learn more about First Presbyterian Church of Leesburg, the cottage homes in Coleman, or the upcoming Tavares Cottage Community please contact Danielle Stroud at 352-630-3318.
C is for Clarifying the Calculation, Part II: Reality Check
In our last article we looked at the AMI, Area Median Income, and learned that the AMI for Lake County is $62,900 ($30.24/hour based on 40 hours/week, 52 paid weeks/year). Pop quiz: what does ‘median’ mean? It’s not the average; it means that half make more, half make less.
Median income drives the entire conversation on affordable housing. Pop quiz: What does the term ‘affordable housing’ mean? It means that no more than 30% of gross household income is spent on rent/utilities or, in the case of home ownership, PITI (principle, interest, taxes, and insurance). Why? Because everyone needs room in their budget to pay for other expenses.
Using the chart below, we see that someone earning the median income for Lake County would be able to afford the Fair Market Rent (FMR) for housing. What about those earning less than the median? Let’s walk through those numbers. The chart is based on the following details:
Florida’s 2019 minimum wage is $8.46
The Fair Market Rent (FMR) is from the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s (NLIHC) annual Out of Reach data for housing costs in zip code 32757 (at the site, click on the zip code for detailed information)
The 1 BR and 2 BR columns show the difference between the affordable, 30% housing number (what you’d ideally pay) and the actual Fair Market Rent
Income is pre-tax, based on 52 paid weeks/year at 40 hours/week, no overtime
How does paying more than 30% affect the rest of someone’s finances? Let’s look at three theoretical budgets for a single person renting a one bedroom home. We’re using percentage allocations commonly recommended by professional planners. Are you ready to see what those earning less than the median income are dealing with?
With the success of its 14-home community for veterans in Umatilla and the introduction of small cottage-style homes, Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter is moving ahead with its next project — a 23-unit “pocket neighborhood” for seniors in Tavares.
The community will be built on a vacant three-acre lot near Mansfield Road and County Drive.
“The city has been extremely supportive and unanimously voted to approve the development,” said Kent Adcock, chief executive officer of Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter. “And they’ve been very supportive of the concept we’re trying to advance.”
Any conversation about affordable housing must begin with AMI, Area Median Income. In this article we’ll explore this term in more detail to make sure we’re all on the same page. In Part II, we’ll look at a sample budget to illustrate the impact of housing expense on various income levels. Ready to dive in?
By ‘Area,’ we mean the MSA, or Metropolitan Statistical Area. The MSA is quite useful. It captures all manner of data for a given geography so anyone—employer, government agency, job candidate, hospital, etc.—can compare apples and apples. (Or, since this is Florida, oranges to oranges.) For example, economic development groups, transportation analyses, labor market studies, and of course, the housing industry will all be working from the same information to write policy, design long-term plans, public works projects, and so on.
Here’s a great definition of the MSA from Investopedia.com: “Metropolitan statistical areas usually consist of a core city with a large population and its surrounding region, which may include several adjacent counties. The area defined by the MSA is typically marked by significant social and economic interaction. People living in outlying rural areas, for example, may commute considerable distances to work, shop, or attend social activities in the urban center.
There are almost 400 metropolitan statistical areas in the United States. In contrast to micropolitan statistical areas, which center on towns and smaller communities with populations below 10,000, metropolitan statistical areas must include a city with a population of at least 50,000.”
Our local Habitat for Humanity affiliate is covered by two MSA’s: Lake County is part of the Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford MSA, while Sumter County is in The Villages’ MSA. The MSA data drives the income calculations for any affordable housing program.
‘Median’ isn’t the same thing as ‘average.’ Here’s how the Census Bureau defines it: “Median income is the amount which divides the income distribution into two equal groups, half having income above that amount, and half having income below that amount.” So, for your area (MSA) of interest, imagine lining up every household, from poorest to richest. The household in the exact middle would represent the median for that MSA—half make less, half make more.
In the very simple example below, the total household income for the area is $394,850. With just 7 homes, that means the average income is $56,407. However, the median, or the point at which half make more, half make less, is $62,900.
One home at each income
And how is an area’s income figured out to begin with? It starts with the Census Bureau; each year they contact “over 3.5 million households
across the country to participate in the American Community Survey. When you respond to the survey, you are doing your part to ensure decisions about your community can be made using the best data available.” (Learn more about the ACS here). The ACS includes income data.
Once that data is available, HUD gets to work. They use the data to calculate the median income for each geographic area based on how strong the data is. If it’s deemed statistically reliable, they can run with that for the year; if it’s not statistically reliable, for whatever reason, they’ll work on a combination of surveys and formulas…and it gets complicated. To see the process in detail for Lake County, Florida, check out their calculation process here.
From this process, HUD announces the AMI for a given area. That number will then be used for different types of affordable housing programs (rentals and purchases) across the country. Our Habitat affiliate generally uses the USDA’s mortgage program for eligible home owners, so we use their AMI charts. The chart below is what Habitat would look at. (This data is extrapolated from the USDA’s site for 2018.) Remember, the median means half the residents earn less, half earn more.
If you’re fact-checking the calculations, you’ll see they don’t match up exactly. For example, using Lake County’s AMI, you’d do this: $62,900 x .50 = $31,450, whereas the USDA lists $31,950. These slight variations are likely due to USDA including non-wage sources of income in the household, such as child support, SSI, or alimony. The income numbers represent the maximum allowable to qualify for each category. Therefore, a Lake County household of 2 with an income of $31,900 would qualify for Very Low Income programs; however, if the income were $32,000, they’d be in the range for Low Income programs.
Number in the household
50% AMI (Very Low Income)
80% AMI (Low Income)
Number in the household
50% AMI (Very Low)
80% AMI (Low)
Many myths abound regarding what ‘affordable’ means for housing and who qualifies for such programs. It’s no exaggeration to say that every legitimate program that strives to help people keep their housing cost affordable (paying no more than 30% of their income for housing) is using the same foundation: the AMI.
In our next installment, we’ll put a few sample budgets to the test. We’ll take various monthly incomes at different hourly wage rates, and we’ll allocate the money to expenses using generally-accepted financial advisor recommendations. In doing so, we’ll see what percent of the typical income goes to housing versus the recommended 30% figure. And we’ll be able to answer the question: at what income is housing affordable for Lake and Sumter Counties?
Your turn: How does your income, or that of your employees, compare to the AMI for Lake or Sumter counties? How do you think this affects the amount of money left, after housing is paid, to cover all other living expenses? –> Respond to us on facebook with your thoughts to continue the conversation
The holidays are times when traditions are born, when gathering together holds more sentiment and when houses become homes. Whether your welcoming in generations of family and friends, or your traveling hundreds of miles to spend time with your loved ones, the phrase “Home for the Holidays” stirs emotions in all of us. However, for those dealing with the chaos caused by a sudden change in their living situation, the holidays are often accompanied by constant reminders that their sense of home has been washed away.
Surviving the utter destruction that swept through Puerto Rico with Hurricane Maria was just the beginning of an arduous journey that led Yolanda and Osvaldo to Central Florida and ultimately to Habitat for Humanity. “The experience was horribly devastating,” says Yolanda. “We lost our electricity, we lost food and there was no water. A lot of lives were lost on the island.” In fact, nearly 3,000 deaths we’re caused by the hurricane.
With the help of a church located in the states, the couple fled their home in Puerto Rico, destined for Sanford, Florida, with only the belongings they could carry in two suitcases. After spending their first month in a hotel in Sanford, they were able to find an apartment in Casselberry. However, after their first year in the apartment, the rent was set to increase to a point that would challenge their means.
“I started searching in August for other options, rental opportunities, but none suited our economic abilities,” said Yolanda. “I turned on the news and an interview that mentioned a community being developed by Habitat for Humanity caught my attention.”
The community was Habitat for Humanity’s Veteran’s Village in Umatilla, Florida. Veteran’s Village is a collaborative project that provides access to affordable quality housing and holistic wraparound services through a partnership with Combat Veterans to Careers.
“There’s our House!” Yolanda remembers saying to her husband. What she didn’t remember was hearing any contact information. A week went by and, while in prayer and searching the internet, Yolanda found the information she was looking for and, after confirming her husband Osvaldo was a Veteran of the Vietnam war, they began the process.
The couple celebrated their first Christmas in their new home with their children who traveled to spend the holidays with them. “Our new home was full of joy, many emotions and gratitude,” said Yolanda. They also brought with them the tradition of “Three Kings Day,” a Latin-American celebration akin to the “Feast of the Epiphany,” along with songs from the island and traditional holiday cuisine.
“In Puerto Rico, everything is decorated with lights during the Christmas season and that’s exactly what we did here,” said Yolanda. “We decorated the outside of our house as well as the inside with our Christmas Tree.”
The couple says the warmth of their new community has contributed to them feeling at home. They’ve developed “marvelous friendships,” sharing meals and great conversations with their new neighbors.
Having a “home” again was more than just finding an affordable place to live for Yolanda as Osvaldo. “In this stage of our lives, my husband and I are enjoying the peace and tranquility which God has gifted us through our new house,” she said. “And a house becomes a home by the love that is shared in it.”
Are you dreading the day the holiday decorations come down? Sorting, stacking and stuffing everything back into storage. A perennial puzzle requiring the virtue of patience needed to ensure everything fits back into a finite amount of space. Perhaps now’s the time to destress by decluttering; letting go of those things that no longer have a place in your space.
Here are a few tips to help you identify the items you can remove without remorse:
Time is not on its side.
Start by evaluating items that make less of an appearance than those annual adornments your packing away. We’re not saying you should toss out precious family heirlooms, but if it’s an everyday object, not worthy of every-year consideration, then it’s likely something you can let go.
Your D.I.Y. is D.O.N.E.
If your Pinterest projects have taken a back seat to more interesting pursuits, it’s probably time pass along the tools of the trade.
Soccer Mom (or Dad) no more.
Suburban garages overflow with memories of glory days. If your tiny tots have outgrown their love of lacrosse, then pick up sticks and pass them along to the next generation. If you’ve outsourced your outdoor maintenance, then the same rule applies to your lawn equipment.
One (or more) of these things does not belong.
So, you have a few great pieces of furniture or art that just don’t fit your new décor or sense of style. Upgrade your look with a “less-is-more” feel and ditch the distractions.
Everything in its place.
Put everything away in your house, then evaluate those things that have no place in your home or your life. If they don’t make either better, it may not be worth finding somewhere to stash them.
You’ll undoubtedly come across a number of things you can do without. You’ll probably even find a few items that you’ll actually be better off without. Before you dump them on the curb, consider donating items that are in good condition to one of our four local Re-Store locations. Your decluttering donations will help make countless lives better, including your own.
At 8 AM on a quaint little street in Yalaha, there was already a block party happening. This wasn’t your traditional type of party, however; it was remarkably different. Alongside Habitat for Humanity staff, volunteers were prepared with paintbrushes, hammers, screwdrivers, and a determination to transform not one, but three homes in the neighborhood.
The grateful homeowners – Mary Bedford, Sylvia Session, and Latasha Williams – stood by anxiously as work got underway and met the strangers who donated their time to helping them out. As any gracious host would do, Mary ensured there was plenty of parking for the volunteers, while Sylvia and Latasha joined to meet and greet their guests with smiles.
The homes in need of repair or restoration had proximity in common, but the homeowners each had their individual stories to share. Mary Bedford had recently lost her husband, and was still dealing with not just the emotional burden but also by the financial burden of trying to pay off his funeral service. Her home was in need of attention; there were piles of debris that needed to be hauled off, but in the midst of losing her loved one, it seemed impossible. Even so, Mary wasn’t the type to sit back and watch. She rolled up her sleeves and, side by side with the volunteers, she got to work. Volunteers called her genuine and kind, and she thought the same of them.
Sylvia Session had recently experienced respiratory failure and become unresponsive in her living room causing her to now be dependent on an oxygen tank. Upon their arrival, paramedics had no choice but to ram down her door in order to save her. During the project assessment, Habitat knew that a new front door would be on the top of the list, along with a repair on her AC unit. The unit’s fan was continuously running but not cooling, resulting in a sweltering hot home and a 900-dollar electric bill for the month. While Sylvia had only expected for Habitat to pressure wash her home, she was elated with the new paint job and other repairs. The volunteers, she said, were full of compassion, and went over and above what she had ever imagined. “I don’t know how to say thank you,” she said, choking back tears. “I can say it a million times but it isn’t enough. Everything that’s been done, they are little things to you, but they are big things to me.”
Latasha Williams’ husband works long hours in construction to provide for their family and to take care of their 3-year-old son. They had started to work on fencing their yard in but were unable to finish due to time and financial restraints. They were reluctant to put any of their son’s toys in the yard as they felt the space wasn’t secure enough without the fence. Habitat and the volunteers made sure that they completed the fence so that the family was able to enjoy the outdoors without worry. Besides playing outside, Latasha’s son has other plans for the fenced in yard. He wants either a dinosaur or a dog, and if he gets the dinosaur, it has to be a T-Rex.
The homeowners all feel very fortunate for having this experience with Habitat for Humanity. They say it has made a drastic change in their lives to have the homes clean, painted, and repaired. Along with a sense of solidarity, the projects have spread inspiration throughout the neighborhood; other nearby residents have inquired about the application process for Habitat for Humanity and are also working on cleaning and updating their homes in order to better the community.
As many of you know, Habitat Lake-Sumter started our Preservation and Repair program in 2015 to serve homeowners who didn’t want or need a new house, but couldn’t afford to keep their current one in good condition. The program was meant to provide help with the exterior of a home – weatherization, safety, accessibility, and beautification – and we quickly realized how large the need was in our area. Since then, the program has grown rapidly, serving over 50 families last year with the help of specialized funding and a large pool of awesome volunteers.
However, the need is still larger than our ability to meet it, and because of that we’ve continued to explore new ways to help grow our abilities. So many families are in need of more than we usually provide and we’ve decided to seek out ways to provide ‘Critical Home Repair’ services. The newest method to accomplish this is with funding through the United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Housing Preservation grant program. These funds are meant to help agencies in rural areas to serve homeowners with similar assistance to what we’re already doing, but with more significant backing, allowing us to expand the scope of our projects. We were selected to receive a grant this year and we’re already looking forward to how to implement it. Part of the USDA guidelines are that funds expended are matched, and through a partnership with Bank of America we’re ahead of the game there as well.
Bank of America has regularly partnered with us through the years and they’ve continued to support our efforts as we move ahead into 2019. This will help us reach the matching requirements needed to obtain even larger funding, which means larger projects and larger impact, and that’s what we’re all about. Things like a new roof, interior work like replacing failing floorboards or replacing doorways with handicap-accessible frames, and more come with additional expenses; this new source of funding will help us handle that in stride and continue to provide this work to families in need at no cost to them.
Sometimes these jobs seem like nothing to us, but the impact it can make on a family is huge. Whether they’re a small family that’s been living with a tarped roof for three years, a disabled vet who can barely leave the house due to accessibility issues, or the multi-generational family who has to find towels and buckets during Florida’s storms – one day of our time results in a changed life for them.
If you’d like to get involved with our Preservation & Repair program, we’d love to have you! You can go here to see our volunteer schedule and contact Carlos to get started.
Are you a homeowner who wants to see if you qualify for our Preservation & Repair program? Contact Veronica to learn more.
Hospitality. Hard Work. Stewardship. Innovation & Creativity. The pillars of Citizens First Bank were put on shining display this year as they sponsored our inaugural Youth Construction Academy class! Recognizing the value of hands-on education for the next generation, our longtime partner decided to invest in the Youth Construction program and help us ensure it gets off to an amazing start. Beginning on August 9th, the house in Lady Lake will be built from the ground up by seniors from The Villages Charter School’s Construction Science program, with guidance from experienced Habitat supervisors and instructors from the school. By the end of their year in May, they will have completed a full build, from concrete to keys, and be invited to participate in the dedication ceremony for the low-income family moving in.
Citizens First Bank was founded in 1991 and is headquartered in The Villages, Florida. Their two branches, one in The Villages and one in Leesburg, provide top-quality service focused on the needs of their area. By providing comprehensive banking resources and personalized experiences to their community, they are able to fully embrace their place as a hometown bank, and share a special relationship with their clients. For more information on the services they offer, check out their website here or give them a call at 352-753-9515 or 800-707-1893.
We knew when we built the Veterans Village that we would meet some people with remarkable backgrounds and unique experiences. After all, serving in the military is essentially a guarantee of at least a few good stories. However, among all of our homeowners in the Veterans Village, none stand out as defiantly and inspirational as Ike Fretz. Our most recent resident to move into the Village, Ike’s history of service is impressive, but it’s what he’s done – and continues to do – post-service that really galvanizes the warrior spirit.
Ike served in the United States Army from 1989 through 1994 and was on active duty for Desert Storm. During that conflict, he sustained an injury while working as part of a two-man evacuation team. His actions earned him several commendations but they also left him permanently injured and wheelchair-bound. It was several years into his recovery and adaptation process that a recreational therapist introduced him to adaptive sports, and it was the beginning of a brand new outlook.
Since then, Ike has won multiple gold medals in the National Veterans Wheelchair Games events, including power lifting, basketball, bowling, and hand-cycling, which he took to the extreme with a Washington-State-to-Washington-DC cycle in 2012. Ike says that when he competes in these games, he does so to honor other veterans that he holds dear, whether living or passed, and uses his actions in spite of adversities to inspire other veterans to keep fighting.
Because of his profound story, dedication, and impact, an anonymous donor took note of Ike’s placement into a Veterans Village home and decided to pay off Ike’s mortgage, in full, as a way of honoring how he served our country and continues to serve other veterans. We were able to surprise Ike and his caretaker, Sherrie, with the news on May 23, and have an opportunity for the donor to meet Ike and thank him in person. It was a truly moving experience and added yet another momentous chapter to Ike’s already extraordinary story.
Spring is in the air, and so is a record level of pollen and, for some states, unwelcome snow. Whatever your region or affliction, the time is right for some heavy-duty cleaning, and Habitat is here to help! Spring Cleaning is often associated with a full blitz of the house (including the garage, husbands out there) and many times there’s large items that need to go. Habitat for Humanity Lake Sumter has four ReStores that don’t just receive your donated items, we’ll even come get them – it’s free, and all you have to do is give us a call. Furniture, old (but functional) appliances, and electronics that you upgraded from on Black Friday but can’t bring yourself to get rid of; our ReStore truck teams will take it all, with some exceptions. To check if your item is a good fit, give your local ReStore a call, and if it looks good then they’ll get you in touch with the scheduling team to come get it.
One of the lesser-known and more unique ways of supporting Habitat is through the Cars for Homes program. This option allows people who are upgrading their vehicles, downsizing their collection, or simply getting rid of a driveway accessory to donate the vehicle to Habitat, where it is sold and the proceeds support our mission. We don’t just accept cars, either! We can take donations of motorcycles, RV’s, trailers, golf carts, and work trucks. All donations through Cars for Homes receive a tax receipt which may qualify you for a nice deduction, and you’re helping lessen emissions and increase recycling value if you donate. If you’d like to get more info, or see if you have a qualifying item, you can check out the website by clicking here or give us a call at 352-483-0434 x115.
On April 14th, Habitat of Lake-Sumter was proud to dedicate three new homes and officially welcome the Homrich, Dyhr, and Mabry families to the Veterans Village! The families were honored for their hard work and dedication through the completion of the Home ownership program, and were celebrated on beginning the first chapter of their new journey. This event came as the perfect ending to a season of generosity in our community, as local donors alongside RoMac-Lumber & Supply raised money in support of the community through the March Match campaign.
The Veterans Housing Initiative has always been a special cause to Don Magruder, CEO of RoMac, and his pledge to match donations, dollar for dollar, inspired donors to give generously… doubling their investment in affordable housing. This year, the match ran through the month of March, and because of the community’s generosity and dedication to the mission, the campaign met and exceeded the goal of $10,000!
Our Community Partner
As one of our long-standing partners, RoMac Lumber & Supply has been a huge contributor to our mission and has enabled us to continue reaching the community across Lake and Sumter county. RoMac has been a staple of Lake County for over 70 years and has expanded to serve much of the Southeast United States. Whether it’s wood, trusses, doors, or otherwise, RoMac has remained a steady supplier of quality materials and service for central Florida and beyond.
Bill Neron, Habitat Board Chair, presents Greg Homrich with the keys to his new home.
Deanne Willson, Ace Hardware of Umatilla, and volunteers from Garney Construction, present house warming gifts to Beth Dyhr.
Mr. and Ms. Ivy, Rotarians from The Villages present Kathleen Mabry the keys to her new home.
Our Homeowners, The Reason to Give
In attendance to greet and celebrate our three Veteran families were 20 community members. The joint home dedication, gave an opportunity for food, fellowship, and viewing of the families homes. Each homeowner has their own story to tell, but here is little bit about each family:
Greg Homrich served in the United States Marine Corps, Army, and National Guard, and is still serving his community as a dispatcher for the Leesburg Police Department. Upon getting to know Greg, you will quickly find out that he is most excited about becoming a member of this unique community, having already built relationships with many of his neighbors.
Beth Dyhr, is the spouse of her late husband who proudly served in the United States Marine Corps. As Beth’s first home as a single women, she is thrilled to start a new chapter in her life and instill her own passionate, vibrant spirit into the home.
Kathleen Mabry was a member of the United States Army, and her ability to define strength through adversity left a mark on our staff. She is proud to be a new homeowner, and shared that the opportunity is most special because it offers a safe and secure home for her to raise her 10-year old grandson.
About the Community
The Veterans Housing Initiative led us to develop the Veterans Village in Umatilla, Florida, where veterans and their families enjoy safe, affordable housing built in a small neighborhood that focuses on relationships. Our ability to meet the needs of our local veterans is due to the compassion and generosity of our community and through partners like RoMac. We also teamed up with Combat Veterans to Careers to offer extra services to the residents – things like healthcare, transportation, and help navigating the Veterans Affairs system, to name a few. This ensures that we’re providing not just a house but a community network of support, which for many veterans is crucial for the stability they seek.
As a community-based and community-focused organization, it’s always inspiring to see how much can be done on a local scale. Your consistent support, whether it’s financial or volunteering or both, never ceases to amaze us, and we thank you so much for it! We’re looking ahead eagerly to the next big project and can’t wait to bring you along for it.
Discipline, Knowledge, Leadership. This is the motto of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, and for four weeks their students put those words into action.
Beginning January 16, groups of 40 students from MMA cycled through each week. They spent their weeks on Habitat job sites, working with our staff to make significant progress across the board. The students come from varied backgrounds but have similar goals at the Academy; despite the differences, all were looking forward to the team-building their time here would develop. Their academic plans spanned multiple subjects: emergency management, engineering, international business, and more. Many said the lessons in communication and teamwork learned on-site would prove invaluable moving forward. Maritime students that worked with Habitat during this time were pulling double-duty; in addition to their time on-site, they also continued studying when not actively working.
The students attending under this program began work on the Veterans Village last year, and this year’s attendees were eager to pick up where they left off. We put most of the cadets to work on the Village; the rest were taken to Preservation and Repair projects. A special event happened for this group as well, assisting the Clermont Police Department in painting a large community of duplexes. This created a strong level of community involvement, from officers to homeowners to businesses, and helped inspire us to begin our neighborhood-focused initiative.
The construction teams for Habitat for Humanity of Lake Sumter know how fortunate they are. These passionate and hard-working students show up to help, year after year, and it’s a major boost to productivity. The amount of progress made would not be possible without them, and we hope we provided some valuable experience in return.
India. Portugal. Thailand. Korea. Africa. Haiti. Umatilla? You name it, and chances are the Friend’s Build team has not only been there, but built there too.
While we’re far from an exotic jungle or mountainous village, the Habitat for Humanity Friend’s Build team stops by every year and gives their time, putting in many hours towards our home builds. These passionate volunteers – who refer to themselves as the ‘Motley Crew’ – have been a consistent presence for us for the last four years. This reliability is a major boost, both for productivity and our construction crew’s morale! The Motley Crew brings quite a bit of experience with them, allowing our usual site supervisor to finally take a breath and temporarily yield the reigns to equally capable hands.
The mission of the Friend’s Build and Motley Crew is to travel the country – and often the world – to help serve as many communities as they can. The list of places they’ve been is just as diverse as their backgrounds, hailing from several states and professions. Habitat for Humanity may provide the vision and resources, but the dedication of groups like theirs is what truly gets the job done. Countless affiliates around the globe have benefited from their tireless pursuit of service, and Habitat of Lake Sumter is lucky to be included among them.
As part of Habitat’s ongoing efforts to strengthen the community, we recognize the need to engage our youth in that goal as well. To spearhead this effort, we’re starting a new initiative called the “Youth Construction Academy.” The purpose of this program is to interact with the next generation on a meaningful level. This means not just showing them what we do, but teaching them. Through the coordination of multiple groups, we’re aiming to get high school students onto an active job site to begin learning about construction science.
For our portion of this program, Habitat for Humanity of Lake Sumter will provide the job site, professional supervision, and all materials and equipment needed to build. Our extensive experience in home construction as well as our personnel and equipment will simplify the process for schools and students. This helps ensure they can focus on the educational aspects of the program while we handle the back end. In conjunction with our site supervisor, we will also have experienced volunteers working alongside the students to provide extra help and engagement.
By creating and maintaining partnerships with local schools, Habitat is able to ensure that students receive an on-site instruction that is matched in the classroom. This curriculum will cover a large range of topics relating to construction science, site safety, laws and regulations, and more. This curriculum also ensures that upon successful graduation from the program students are able to receive a recognized certificate of completion. This certificate, and the backing schools behind it, will hold weight and legitimacy with potential employers, assuring them that the student is familiar with the industry and ready to begin their career.
Habitat’s entire mission is built on the support of the community. Without it, needs are left unmet and communities are not able to grow. By not just teaching students how to build but giving them a reason to, the mission is able to carry on into future years. This program will address both community and individual needs, through home building and skills training, and the effect of both will lead to a stronger community.
We are excited to announce The Home Depot Foundation as one of our new partners of the Veterans Village – a community for our service men and women in Umatilla, Florida. Recently, the Home Depot Foundation awarded Habitat for Humanity’s Veterans Village a grant of $100,000 to support the building of homes for low-income Veterans. Kent Adcock, Habitat for Humanity’s CEO states “We are extremely grateful for the support of The Home Depot Foundation, they have been a long standing partner of Habitat for Humanity and do so much for the Veteran community across the nation.”
As a partner in the Veterans Village, The Home Depot Foundation will not only support the Veterans Village financially but also through volunteerism. Team Depot, a group of Home Depot associate volunteers, work to improve the homes and lives of U.S. military veterans and their families. We are excited to have the support of local Team Depot members who will be working at the Village over the next year. To kick off the partnership and start up the onsite building with Team Depot, both local store managers from Lady Lake and Leesburg are gathering Team Depot members for their first event on Veterans Day – Saturday, November 11th.
Below are a few photos from the first Team Depot project in Coleman, Florida. They did an amazing job!
We all go through or lives collecting items and memories, or as I like to say trophies. We hang our diplomas on the wall, place our medals, pictures, and plaques on desks and shelves. The rational is simple: “I worked very hard to accomplish that” or “I am very happy Read the rest of this entry »
The restoration of this home means more to us than you will ever know. The structure is more than 60 years old, built by hand by our father. We grew up with love, family and faith in that home. It is more than a house, it is our parents legacy.
No words can ever express how great we feel because of your unselfish and tireless efforts.
– Karen D. Bennett, Dorothy Harris & Thomas Davis
In August our team had the opportunity to partner with Home Depot for a critical preservation and repair project.
Thomas Davis lives in Coleman, FL in a home that had been in the family for over 60 years. This childhood home was a safe space that he cherished dearly – but he needed some help bringing it back to life. Considering his options, he filled out an application to take advantage of Habitat’s repair program. After the Habitat team met with Thomas and visited his home, we started work on preparing to approve his application – we joined forces with Team Depot as the sponsor and volunteer crew for the project to allow us to provide the funding and hands on labor needed to perform the job.
We asked Christie, a new volunteer with us, to share a bit about herself and why she chooses to give back at Habitat of Lake Sumter. Here is what she had for us…
What do you do for Habitat?
I help out with the Development department – anything in the realm of donor relations, writing, or the donor database. Lately, I have produced content for press releases, future newsletters and some correspondence letters with donors and other volunteers.
Why do you volunteer?
I am new to Lake county and I wanted to give back to the community in any way possible. Volunteering gives me the opportunity to
work on skills for my personal career, while also helping an organization that does amazing work – it’s a wonderful opportunity.
Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter is branching out with a new, extensive disaster response training program to begin mid-2016 that will benefit Lake and Sumter counties, and the Central Florida region.
“I am most excited that this will prepare local volunteers with the skills to mobilize in the event of a disaster here in our local area,” said Habitat of Lake-Sumter CEO, Kent Adcock, who will serve as the president of Habitat Disaster Relief.
We will focus on locals and others across the country who come in for training and certification, then we will offer actual work camp experiences for those who want to work in an actual disaster response opportunity,” he said.
The local affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International has been around 25 years, and has provided affordable housing to more than 220 deserving families in Lake and Sumter counties, so the disaster training project is unique for the local organization.
“I am not aware that this is a focus of any other Habitat affiliate,” Adcock said, adding Habitat’s house-building and rehab work remains strong.
Volunteers yanked down overgrown plants, power-washed away years of dirt and replaced rotted trim boards before they slapped on a new coat of paint at a home in Paisley.
Robert “Sonny” and Beverly McKay were among homeowners on the receiving end of Habitat for Humanity of Lake Sumter’s newest mission — community engagement — aimed at helping low-income seniors, veterans and disabled residents throughout Lake and Sumter County who are unable to maintain their homes.
A handful of volunteers were at the McKay home Wednesday providing some fixer-upper help.
“Mr. McKay is just a super nice guy. He has been a hardworking man his whole life and he just can’t get up on ladders and do what it takes to make a house look nice,” said Ernie Burley, site supervisor.
The McKays were thrilled to have their house painted a cream color with dark brown trim and to get new landscaping.
“They have done just a marvelous job and I’m just really impressed,” Sonny said. “I’m pleased with the way that they have done it and really appreciate it.”
On Sept. 19, 14 employees from various branches of Wells Fargo Bank throughout the county rolled up their sleeves and started work on a new Habitat home for a family in Fruitland Park. Soon to be homeowners, Lovely and Jethro came out to greet and thank the volunteers as well as work alongside them.
To kick off the work day, Lake-Sumter District Manager of Wells Fargo Bryan Cornell presented a check for $10,000 on behalf of the Wells Fargo Housing Foundation to assist in funding the home.
“We couldn’t be more excited to have Wells Fargo as a sponsor of this home. Without committed volunteers and community partners such as Wells we wouldn’t be able to achieve our mission of providing affordable housing,” said Kent Adcock, CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, Florida.
Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter wants to do more than build and restore homes — it wants to rebuild communities.
When it opened on Bay Street in 2013, the local Habitat’s Domestic Global Village was touted as a place where up to 100 “voluntourists” or college students could stay if they agreed to volunteer part of their vacations to work on a local Habitat project.
The 14,000 square-foot facility is furnished with bunk beds, a fully-equipped kitchen, bathhouses and even a 50-seat media center. But the facility has a dual role as a training site for disaster preparation and for housing volunteers should a catastrophe occur.
“It’s very rare and unique,” Danielle Stroud, associate director of development with the local Habitat, said of the only such facility in the nation.