Hometown Habitat News

Hammer & Stain DIY Workshop Fundraiser

Hammer & Stain DIY Workshop Fundraiser – Thursday, July 25 from 5-6pm

The Villages Location – 4125 Co Rd 106, Oxford, FL 34484, (352) 209-7588 Read the rest of this entry »

Sumter Habitat homes are a blueprint for Tavares cottages

COLEMAN — The finishing touches are being put on four cottage-style homes Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter is building in the quiet community of Coleman.

The homes, each about 700 square feet with two bedrooms and one bathroom, are Habitat’s first try at the new housing design, which serves as a precursor to Habitat’s upcoming Tavares Cottage Community.

The Tavares community will be the first age-restricted community Habitat is building in Lake County and will feature 23 cottage homes of approximately 730 square feet — some free standing and others as townhomes.

Danielle Stroud, director of development for Habitat of Lake-Sumter, said they are working on finalizing funding and getting an environmental review in the Tavares community. They are hoping infrastructure construction will begin by the end of summer, with building starting by the first of the year.

The cottage homes are expected to be a good fit for seniors trying to downsize or who are being squeezed out of the rental market. The homes in Tavares will be designed around a shared open space.

Click here to read the full article written by By Linda Florea / Correspondent of the Daily Commercial

If the Shoe Fits

“It was harder than I thought it would be,” says Frances Garrandes after pounding nails with other women volunteers to construct and raise a 55’ wall on a home in Eustis. “But I’ll be back next year!”

Hammering in the heat and humidity didn’t slow her down. That determination to accomplish goals is evident throughout her life, including going back to college to finish her undergraduate degree at Stetson University, then finishing her Master’s Degree at age 50 through Strayer University. As a Property Manager at Disney, she’s even exploring ways to further her education as a Project Manager, a field she finds exciting and rewarding.

“I’ve been blessed in life and feel I need to give back.” When she heard about the Women Build campaign at an International Women’s Conference, she knew she wanted to get involved.

“I believe in Habitat’s program. They don’t give houses away; potential home owners have to go through the mortgage application process, they must give back through volunteer hours and by supporting someone else’s home construction.” She adjusts the pink hard hat on her head and smiles. “This program is a great boost to help someone who can’t do it on her own.”

She signed up for the Women Build events and began posting about her volunteer plans on Facebook. She was determined to raise at least $1,000 so she could be inducted into the Sisterhood of the Pink Hard Hats. By using social media to spread the word, she ultimately raised $2,200 and received the affiliate’s first-ever traveling trophy, “The Most Excellent Fundraiser” purple shoe.

Having raised three children as a single mom, she understands the importance of closing the gap between the cost of renting versus buying a home. Habitat’s program often means a mortgage payment is several hundred dollars less than a typical monthly rent. That financial “space” gives a family the financial breathing room it needs for other important things, such as healthcare.

And what does she get out of all this?

“I get the satisfaction of knowing I’m helping someone else. This will be my first time helping to construct a home, but it won’t be my last!”

-Lee Owen, Habitat Volunteer and Community Advocate

Youth Construction Academy Program Sponsor: United Way

Jasmine Jacobs held tightly to her 6-year-old daughter’s hand as they walked up to their new home together. Awaiting their arrival were some of the people who helped her become a first-time homeowner, including 11 seniors from the construction management academy at The Villages High School. The young builders stood proudly outside the brand-new home on Winners Circle in Lady Lake as it glistened in the sunlight Friday morning.—Rachel Stuart, The Villages Daily Sun

As the first graduating class, the success of the partnership between the Villages Charter School and Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter was evident in the smiling faces of the new homeowner, students, teachers, and sponsors alike.

As the Youth Construction Academy expands to include Leesburg High School and over 70 new students; the success and growth of the Youth Construction Academy is due in no small part to United Way of Lake-Sumter. United Way has chosen Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter to receive an education grant in support of the Youth Construction Academy.

The Villages Charter High School students worked alongside industry professionals, instructors, and Habitat Construction Manager, Barry Martin, to build the house as part of their capstone project; construction began in August with the students building as their first period class.

“They were able to hone their construction skills and get a realistic feel for the business,” said Bruce Haberle, instructor of the construction management academy. “It’s a team-building experience where they were able to give back to those who are less fortunate.”

United Way’s mission is to “advance the common good by focusing on education, income and health,” Habitat of Lake-Sumter and United Way share in the belief that these three things are the “building blocks for a good life—a quality education that leads to a stable job, enough income to support a family through retirement, and good health.”

Thanks to United Way of Lake-Sumter and their ongoing partnership with Habitat’s Youth Construction Academy, the graduating class will be the first of many students to gain experience, acquire employable skills, and engage in the social responsibility and community impact that shapes professional and personal development.

“It’s been amazing, and they’ve done a great job,” said Danielle Stroud, Senior Director of Development for Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter. “We really hope they learned something along the way, which is the purpose of this partnership.”

Check out some photos from the dedication on our Facebook Page!

Veteran Family: Larry Andrews

Every once in a while, we get the opportunity to give back to someone who continues to selflessly give to others. Larry Andrews is one of those people. He is an honored Army veteran, who spent 8 months as a medical corpsman in Korea. During his time in the military, he sustained a back injury, but he was not considered disabled until after he left the service. Larry’s passion for people and his faith found him volunteering as a fire fighter and later as a licensed minister. He loves contributing to his community and spreading the word of God along the way.

 

Today, we have the chance to give a gift that will directly impact Larry’s life and well-being.

Larry lives in Wildwood with his wife, Barbara, on a large piece of property that he once bought from his father. While he enjoys working with his hands and takes pride in the beautiful lawn, his back problems and lack of income prevent him from keeping up with the property in the way he’d like to. His wife of ten years also suffers from health issues and has had multiple knee surgeries with difficult recoveries; Larry and Barbara are currently living with a leaking roof and a moldy interior, which only adds to their health complications. The mobile home is in poor condition and needs major help.  With Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter’s reputation for serving veterans, the local Mission United branch referred Larry as he has been unable to find help anywhere else.

Larry is now part of our Preservation and Repair program, and it has been determined that there will be three steps needed to get the home back to a safe state. While there are many repairs needed, the ones most prioritized are re-leveling the home, repairing the roof, and interior repairs to address safety concerns. Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter has successfully completed the first step of re-leveling the home but needs donor support to underwrite the cost of the roof and interior. Even amongst the repairs needed, Larry finds peace in his home and he enjoys the good atmosphere he has created there. We are currently seeking donations to help Larry and his wife to live not only in a happy home, but a healthy one.

-Lauren Lester, Real Estate Advisor & Volunteer

Donate Today

 

To learn more about Larry Andrews and supporting Preservation & Repair in your community contact Lacie Himes at Lacie@HabitatLS.org or (352) 483-0434 x 146

VHS seniors build family’s first home

Swayde Farring, left, a senior at The Villages High School, hugs Jasmine Jacobs, center, of Lady Lake, as her daughter, Carmen, 6, stands by during the dedication of their new home Friday in Lady Lake. It’s the first home VHS students have built through the school’s construction management academy.
Bill Mitchell, Daily Sun

Jasmine Jacobs held tightly to her 6-year-old daughter’s hand as they walked up to their new home together. Awaiting their arrival were some of the people who helped her become a first-time homeowner, including 11 seniors from the construction management academy at The Villages High School. The young builders stood proudly outside the brand-new home on Winners Circle in Lady Lake as it glistened in the sunlight Friday morning. For the first time, Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter partnered with The Villages Charter School to build the house. Construction started in August, with the students working several days a week until it was completed.

“They were able to hone their construction skills and get a realistic feel for the business,” said Bruce Haberle, instructor of the construction management academy. “It’s a team-building experience where they were able to give back to those who are less fortunate.”

Habitat for Humanity, a housing organization that works with communities across the nation, chooses its recipients through a first-come, first-qualified process.

Jacobs, a retail store manager, learned she had been selected after going through several steps for approval.

“I was overwhelmed,” she said. “I was like, ‘Is this really happening?’ But now that we’re at the tail end of it, I’m just so excited.”

The families chosen by Habitat for Humanity are required to contribute 200 hours of sweat equity, which means they take part in the building process.

Jacobs helped by greeting and thanking volunteers and donors, and she also took financial-education courses, credit counseling and first-time homebuyer courses.

“I got to help do the outside, and I did some caulking, painting and flooring,” she said. “I had no idea what I was doing, but the kids from school were very nice and helped me out.”

She said she enjoyed working with the students because they brought some lively energy to the site.

“They were loud and funny, making jokes and blasting music,” she said. “They made it fun.”

This is the first home students have built through the academy, which launched last school year.

“It’s been amazing, and they’ve done a great job,” said Danielle Stroud, director of development for Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter. “We really hope they learned something along the way, which is the purpose of this partnership.”

 

Lake County inmates build Habitat for Humanity home

 – Lake County inmates are working together it build a home with Habitat for Humanity. At the same time they’re learning valuable skills to take with them after serving time.

Jared Hainey is one of the first to take part in the Inmate Construction Academy.

“It’s really nice,” Hainey said. “We get to learn new skills and do stuff and we also get to give back to the community.”

Hainey and the other jail inmates are all low-level non-violent offenders who found themselves on the wrong side of the law.

“Poor choices,” Hainey said about the crimes he committed. “Possession. Made a poor choice to decide to possess something I wasn’t supposed to have and I’ve grown from it and learned from it.”

Now he’s getting a second chance to make something right.

“You see a lot of people end up there because they don’t have a purpose — and this gives them a purpose,” Sgt. Fred Jones with the Lake County Sheriff’s Office said.

On the job site they’re learning new skills.

Click here for the full article!

By Amanda McKenzie

Sheriff and Habitat offer construction academy for inmates

TAVARES — Hoping to build on the success of the Inmate Sewing and Textile Program introduced almost two years ago, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office has launched the Inmate Construction Academy.

The academy, like the textile program, is a vocational program for inmates that tracks their work hours and documents their skills so they can move into well-paying jobs after serving time.

“I keep track of their hours they put in, and when they get released they’ll get a certificate with those hours on it,” said Master Deputy Dave Wolniak, who supervises the inmates. “So they can put that in their resume with their application to a company and have something on paper that says this is what we did, this is how many hours I did.”

The inmates started working in early April with Habitat for Humanity, which provides work sites, tools, materials and inspections for the projects, said Capt. Mike Fayette.

The first project they’ve been assigned is a house in Eustis, and in their first week they were learning to do plumbing. Danielle Stroud, Habitat’s director of development, said the inmates would be taking that house from start to finish, occasionally switching projects during ongoing inspections.

Wolniak said the inmates learn from each other and from Habitat personnel. One inmate had worked in plumbing 20 years ago and was rediscovering the trade. He helped other inmates keep up with the work even as they had just learned it.

The plumbers were fairly impressed, Wolniak said, and indicated he’d be willing to hire people out of the program after their release.

Sgt. Fred Jones said that’s the end-game. The Textile Program currently has a few relationships like that. Women can approach local textile companies and be open about their past without worrying it will cost them a job because of solid relationships between the programs and local business.

Jones also pointed out the savings that come from operating the programs. He said the women make bed sheets for the jail as well as uniforms, event T-shirts and a variety of other items. They also laser engrave plaques for the county now.

Deputies can also save on dry cleaning costs if they hand their uniforms over to the program for pressing.

Jones said other agencies have started reaching out to them for advice about starting up their own programs.

Wolniak said that prior to the Construction Academy, he worked with four inmates at a time on small construction projects. The goal there was also to save money while renovating or repairing county buildings, including the outreach center the Sheriff’s Office operates at Lake Square Mall.

By Payne Ray pray@dailycommercial.com

Click here for the full article and pictures.

Volunteer Spotlight: Wells Fargo

From Kyle, a Banker of three years and Judy, approaching her forty-second year as a Teller, to Lake-Sumter District Manager, Randy; the volunteers from Wells Fargo span age, careers, and experiences –yet they have one important thing in common: Giving Back.

Twenty-one volunteers from Wells Fargo worked at two Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter build sites on Saturday, April 27th. Spread between the home being built in Oxford and another in Eustis, in one day alone, Wells Fargo volunteers painted, caulked, and contributed over 84 volunteer hours and donated $15,000 to Habitat’s home ownership program.

Annually, 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 over 2 million hours in volunteered time, awarded over $500,000 in grants to non-profits where team members volunteer; and ultimately, has created an environment where ‘community giving’ is embedded in the culture and attitude of Wells Fargo.

Branch Manager, Rane, says this year’s “Day of Service” is helping to build seven homes in Central Florida and thirty homes statewide, “In the past we’ve been able to partner with Habitat and it’s our go-to. Everybody loves helping to build a home.” Rane also says the commitment to their visions, values, and goals for community involvement is what led her to working with Wells Fargo.

One of Wells Fargo’s goals is “creating solutions for stronger, more resilient communities,” and this goal manifests itself through first time home buyer programs, NeighborhoodLIFT, and partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter.

District Manager, Randy, has worked for Wells Fargo for ten years and has volunteered with Habitat for Humanity for the past five years; between painting, roofing, and putting up siding with Habitat and working alongside his father who is a general contractor, Randy has done it all when it comes to building a home.

However, working with his fellow team members provides more than volunteer hours. Randy says it cultivates purpose and community when they work together outside of the usual four walls; he finds that volunteering creates a different kind of bond that “translates into better partnerships and teamwork in the business.”

On why he volunteers personally, Randy says his goal is to leave things better, “Living and working in the community, I like to make it a better place. It gives me that sense of giving back and really helping families and individuals that need our support.”

Proving that the community involvement and camaraderie of Wells Fargo thrives because of the team members themselves, “I have the best team ever and we love being a part of it!” Randy shouts loud enough for every volunteer to hear.

Anita Books is No Stranger to Sweat Equity

If you are familiar with Habitat for Humanity you’re likely familiar with the term “Sweat Equity.” A simple phrase with a big meaning. Sweat equity is often used to describe the value someone adds to a project through the hard work they contribute to making it a success. For example, Habitat home owners contribute sweat equity by volunteering on a worksite, in the office, or through educational courses.

For Anita Brooks, the term “sweat equity” may have been new but the concept was far from foreign to her.  Ms. Brooks, as her students call her, is a third-grade teacher who earned her teaching degree while working for the school district. “I worked as a receptionist for 12 years,” said Anita. “And I put myself through school so I could become a teacher.”

It was a colleague of Anita’s at the school that first turned her on to the idea of partnering with Habitat for Humanity to build a home. Anita and her family had always been renters but had a unique opportunity to build on land deeded to her by her mother.  The two-and-half acre parcel was just minutes from their current home, in rural Oxford and the location played a part in the home Anita and her family chose to build.

“They gave us a few options in terms of models we could pick from,” said Anita. “Being in the country, I knew I wanted a porch.” Her daughter, 15-year-old Lailah suggested they go a four-bedroom model so Anita could use one of the rooms as an office. Anita agreed noting that she often brings work home with her no matter how much time she spends at school.

As her house begins to take shape, Anita says she stops by every day after school to see what has been accomplished and hopes that someone is still there working so she can express her gratitude. “I just want to thank everyone who has had a hand in building my home,” said Anita. Those working on her home often seem surprised by her gesture, but Anita feels it’s only right to express gratitude to those helping her accomplish something she couldn’t do on her own.

As a family that rented but never owned a home of their own, Anita says that her daughter is excited to finally have a room that she can do something with. “She likes to watch where her room is going to be. She’s enjoying the thought of picking out colors and making it her own,” said Anita.

The family plans to close on their home this summer and Anita says they’ll likely have a house warming party just to have family over. “I don’t need anything else, no more toasters or anything,” she said laughingly. “But we’re very family-orientated and this will be a great place to celebrate each other and the things we accomplish.”

Anita also wants her daughter and her older son Brandell, who’s 21 and no longer lives at home, to know that they finally have a home to come back to.

As for sweat equity in her new home, Anita says she’s ready to invest in the house she plans to make a home for her and her children. “I’ve been saving up my vacation days,” she says with enthusiasm. “I’m looking forward to helping out and getting my hands dirty!”

By David Larrick