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Hometown Habitat News

4th Annual RoMac Match!

RoMac Match: 4th Annual

As we reflect over the past few months, it is clear that 2020 will be a year of unexpected change. One thing that Habitat Lake-Sumter has been able to rely on is the consistency of community partner, RoMac Building Supply. In the midst of the many unknowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, RoMac Building Supply stood by their pledge to match up to $20,000 in March.

And the results are in! As the annual RoMac Match came to a close, RoMac’s commitment helped to rally 66 businesses and individuals to donate $25,605.00!

This marks the fourth consecutive year that RoMac Building Supply has been the lead sponsor and generously contributed to Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter through the month of March. Since the beginning of RoMac and Habitat Lake-Sumter’s partnership, the RoMac Match in March has encouraged significant contributions from community members like you. “Together we have raised over $190k in the last four years,” said Danielle Stroud, Sr. Director of Programs & Partnerships at Habitat Lake-Sumter.

Aside from donating $20k this year, they’ve also invested time and effort into making more homes possible for families throughout Lake & Sumter. Don Magruder, CEO of RoMac Building Supply, is a huge proponent and supporter of the Youth Construction Academy program; students from Leesburg High School and the Villages Charter High School receive hands-on education and industry mentorship while building a home from the ground up, with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter.

Don Magruder leads the charge as Board President of both the Leesburg High School and the Villages Charter High School’s Youth Construction Academy; under his leadership, the Youth Construction Academy program has successfully built 3 homes with Habitat Lake-Sumter and seen the program expand each year to include additional high schools, including the South Lake High School in Fall 2020.

“Sponsors like RoMac Building Supply are what makes the mission of Habitat Lake-Sumter possible. But true thanks go to our individual supporters as well, those who heard the challenge set by RoMac and took action. Our sponsors and individual supporters who invest a monetary amount, along with their time and effort, are the reason we are able to do this work: building homes, communities, and hope,” says Danielle.

The need for affordable home ownership in Lake and Sumter Counties has never been more evident than now. As a community, we have been forced to consider the fundamental importance of home—having a safe, decent, and affordable shelter.

Together, we can build back our communities to be stronger, and more stable than before.

RoMac Match- the power of giving (DOUBLED)

March Match the power of giving, 2 times the impact

RoMac Building Supply has been in business for over 70 years and is well-known for their community investments. In a lasting partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, RoMac Building Supply will match all donations for the 4th annual March Match, up to $20,000!

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

RoMac’s March Match benefits new home construction and future homeowners in the community, in addition to supporting the Youth Construction Academy in Leesburg, Florida. In partnering with RoMac, your gift will impact future generations for a lifetime!

Affordable home ownership is a key that unlocks the doors to better health, to better education, to stability and self-reliance. You can provide a safe, affordable home and invest in the skillful education of our students. The students enrolled in Habitat’s Youth Construction Academy can continue to gain experience, acquire employable skills, and engage in the social responsibility and community impact that shapes professional and personal development.

Thank you to the leadership of RoMac Building Supply CEO, Don Magruder, for encouraging and sponsoring the growth of Leesburg High School’s Youth Construction Academy with Habitat Lake-Sumter and for generously matching all donations made in March!

Join RoMac Building Supply in making Lake and Sumter Counties a better place to learn, work, and live!

 

Meet Women Build Team Captain: Laurie Bryant

 

Team HammerKnockers, Sweet. Sassy. Builders.

 

Hi, I’m Laurie Bryant and I have been the Corporate and Community Training Coordinator at Lake Technical College for about 2 ½ years. I have the opportunity to attend community events to represent Lake Technical College and to provide summer camps for the youth in our community.  I am a member of Leadership Lake Board of Regents and a Board Member for iBuild Central Florida.  I’m married to AJ Bryant and have a son, Román Newkirk, who will be graduating from high school in May.

Needless to say, my schedule keeps me busy but last year I took a little time to participate in Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter’s Women Build! I enjoy friendly competition so when I heard that anyone who raised $1,000 would join an elite group of women (The Sisterhood of the Pink Hard Hats) and receive a personalized hard hat, I knew I had to do it—and my whole family joined in!

I had an amazing team for Women Build named The HammerKnockers. Our team, consisting of 9 women and 2 gents, raised $3,743.09 and worked on a new home construction site in Eustis on two separate dates. Several team members earned pink hammers and hard hats and were proud to accept those honors at the Pre-Build Celebration and use them during the build!

It was very hot the day of our build, but we were hyped-up and ready to work!  I think a few of us were a little disappointed when the next group came and we had to stop building for the day. The HammerKnockers built and erected the first 2 walls on the house, and we loved every minute of it!

Team members have been asking about joining the team again, so that makes me even more excited about participating this year than last year, if that’s even possible! I’m grateful to my returning team members and the new members who will join us for Women Build 2020.

This past November, I had the honor of speaking at the key ceremony for the Lozada-Santiago family and to present the family with a Bible and took kit.

 Wow!

I let the family know that we put a lot of love into our portion of the build and told them about the kind, positive, and uplifting words we wrote on the framing at the front of the house.  After the ceremony we were able to tour the home and see the final product.  The HammerKnockers that were present felt so proud and happy knowing that we had something to do with providing a home for someone.

Women Build is such a fulfilling event that I encourage everyone who can to participate.  Participation could be forming a team, being a team member, or making a donation. There are so many ways to participate, and the end result is that you help someone own a home who otherwise may not be able to be a homeowner, if not for Habitat for Humanity and the efforts of Women Build.

I have done a lot of community service for the past 20+ years and have helped so many people, but I’ve never had the opportunity to provide a home for anyone!  How awesome is that?!

If you are not able to form your own team or would like to make a donation, please feel free to work with The HammerKnockers!

 

Women Build, We'd rather build it than clean it! Pink Champagne Party

 

Interested in Women Build? Contact Lacie at (352) 483-0434 x 146 or Lacie@HabitatLS.org 

Volunteer Spotlight: Don Williams

Have you visited Habitat’s ReStore in Eustis lately? If you have, you might have noticed some incredible improvements or upgrades, and maybe even seen the man behind them: Don Williams.

Don Williams is a problem solver who values efficiency, ingenuity, and independence in his work life. Since a young age, Don has always enjoyed building things, as a graduate from Syracuse University in the field of engineering, he dedicated the majority of his life constructing solutions to everyday problems. After obtaining his degree, Don served eight years in the United States Air Force; spending 4 of those years oversees and 4 years stateside, Don was stationed at the RAF Wethersfield, England Air Force Base, and in Alexandria, LA. After completing active duty, Don worked for the National Guard and later the Department of Energy, where he was able to put his love for engineering to optimal use. Don retired in 2002 and decided to enjoy some of his hobbies with his free-time, like fishing.

But retirement and hobbies left Don wanting more, “full-time fishing was unfulfilling,” Don says, as he recalls an intuitive calling to do something more with his retirement.

Being a little unsure what to do next, Don decided to try community service, he started volunteering at Lake Cares Food Pantry and eventually crossed paths with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter. Don began volunteering with Habitat Lake-Sumter on June 30th, 2018 and found he could put his background in engineering to use. During his time with Habitat, Don has been a huge contributor to the renovation of the Eustis ReStore (even planting flowers which are currently in bloom!); some of his improvements include installing new flooring, painting, constructing new shelves, and rebuilding the framework in the buildings. Thanks to Don’s expertise, the ReStore has been able to add more space for inventory and displays, “I just love to work, I’ve always enjoyed every job I’ve had,” explains Don.

Since 2018, Don has volunteered MORE THAN 2,000 HOURS working with Habitat Lake-Sumter, whether on a build site, the Eustis ReStore or as an office volunteer!

So we had to ask him, “Don, what makes you volunteer so much?”

Don says there are “endless opportunities for improving little things that go unnoticed,” he likes to think of a finished project catching people’s eye and the thought “who did that?” running through their mind.

Don is passionate about volunteering because it has allowed him to utilize his skills, keep his mind sharp, and continue to produce the work he enjoys doing so much.

In December, Don was presented with a Community Service Award by the Rotary of the Villages Noon, not only for the work he does with Habitat Lake-Sumter but also for his continued involvement with Lake Cares Food Pantry.

Don Williams is a one-of-a kind person and an incredible volunteer. We can’t thank Don enough for the hard work, time, and dedication he invests in Habitat Lake-Sumter every single week!

Thank you!

 

Don Williams

 

If you’re interested in volunteering and becoming part of our Hometown Habitat Family contact Carlos at (352) 483-0434 x 119 or Carlos@HabitatLS.org

Sponsor of the Month: Kelley Painting

Kelley Painting logo, January Sponsor of the Month

Amanda Kelley: Painting Central Florida

Our vision at Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, a world where everyone has a decent place to live, is simple in words yet it remains an extraordinary goal. One that could never be realized without the self-less contributions of time, talent and treasure that individuals, businesses and the community so graciously invest to that end. As we work towards that vision of safe and affordable housing, we find ourselves ever so fortunate to have benefited from a steady stream of businesses and area residents willing to support one project or another. Among those casual patrons of our cause we often find true partners; those with whom we build a lasting relationship, those who continually share in our mission to build homes, communities and hope.

Amanda Kelley is one of those community partners that has, time-and-again, supported not only Habitat Lake-Sumter, but our mission, as she’s gives back to the community in so many ways. Amanda Kelley, who owns Kelley Painting Services of Florida is a transplant from Chicago, circa 1985, and a graduate of Leesburg High who now considers Central Florida her home. And, as she’s done for countless homes in the area, she’s dedicated to making this one as beautiful as it can be.

Kelley regularly participates in Habitat Lake-Sumter projects and was involved in the organization’s first peer-to-peer event, Women Build, last March. When pressed for her thoughts on the challenges of the event, Kelley simply shared that she loves working with other women, whether it’s in construction or professional services, but this particular event was “just fun!” Kelley says, “as long as we were laughing and making someone smile, that’s all that matters.”

Kelley is also heavily involved with the Youth Construction Academy, a partnership between Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter and local high schools that gives students an opportunity to learn skills in various construction trades while earning credits towards graduation and giving back to the community. “I believe strongly that kids with a hands-on experience in this industry can go as far as their college counterparts,” says Kelley who helps teach them standard skills she says any painter starting out in the industry should know. Kelley says she likes to connect with the kids, hear about their goals in the industry and have some fun along the way. “We give them fun things to do like caulking … we get to see their mad skills and also how much they can get on themselves,” she says with a laugh.

When Hurricane Dorian struck the Bahamas in the fall of 2019, community partners stepped in to help convert a few shipping containers into homes as part of an international relief effort. Kelley, who has made community service part of the culture at Kelley Painting Services of Florida, wanted to help and so did her team. “Habitat mentioned the project and I said, ‘then let’s make them pretty and stand out’,” said Kelley. “They let me pick me the colors and, of course, I went BOLD!” Kelley and her team that volunteered with her completed the paint job in half a day.

With all the good that Amanda Kelley and her team has done, and continues to do, her motivation is simple. “I’m just paying it forward,” she says. “If times were reversed, I hope someone would do the same for me.” But in speaking with her, something more comes across. Many people are motivated to help better their community because “it’s the right thing to do.” However, Kelley seems to genuinely enjoy both the effort and the outcome of her occupation and volunteerism alike. At Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter, it’s something we often see in the pride-of-ownership displayed by new homeowners.

As Amanda Kelley continues painting Central Florida, whether it’s with Habitat Lake-Sumter or Kelley Painting Services of Florida, we’re sure her “pride-of-ownership” will show through as she helps make our homes and hers the best they can be.

By David Larrick

First National Bank of Mount Dora #GivingTuesday Match Sponsor

First National Bank of Mount Dora #GivingTuesdsay Match Sponsor

Any organization that continues to thrive after nearly 100 years of service to their community has earned the right to be called a fixture of that community. However, First National Bank of Mount Dora has also earned the right to be called a “member” of our community, a distinction clearly defined by their engagement in philanthropic endeavors and their eagerness to serve the area’s residents well beyond the walls of the banks they operate throughout the Golden Triangle.

First National Bank of Mount Dora is building upon their legacy of giving back to the community by sponsoring the construction of a new home to be built for a family in Eustis, FL. In addition, they have graciously agreed to be Habitat for Humanity’s Holiday Match Partner, matching any donations given to Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter between December 3rd and December 31st, up to $75,000.

The bank’s President, CEO and Vice Chair of the Board, Bob White, says the bank’s commitment to the community is part of their identity, having never strayed from the vision of their founders to remain an independent community bank. “We work and live in Mount Dora and the Golden Triangle area,” says White. “And we are pleased to be able to support our community in many ways, through the participation of our board and our employees.”

As it has been since the beginning, the board, management, and staff of The First National Bank of Mount Dora are members of the community, and the bank continues to be locally owned and operated. Now in its fourth generation of leadership, the executive team at First National grew up in the bank. White himself was born in Eustis and attended school in Mount Dora. And, as is the case with First National Bank, it’s often seen that organizations with a foundational connection to the community are among the first to give back when called upon to do so.

White noted the bank has been deeply involved in the community since the very beginning. “Employees have served on numerous boards and organizations including local Chambers of Commerce, Hospital boards and committees, Community Redevelopment agencies, Junior Achievement and the list goes on,” said White. “Donations have been as much in time and hours as monetary.  That involvement is something we find extremely important.”

In addition to sponsoring a home and their generous financial support during the Holiday Match program, First National Bank of Mount Dora has signed on to participate in Habitat for Humanity’s first annual Jingle Build-Off on December 7th. This friendly competition challenges teams to build a custom playhouse based on the interests of the child assigned to their team. “We have a great group of employees that are excited about being able to provide a child with a playhouse,” says White, who also shared that the bank expects to have more than 75 volunteers signed up to help build the home in Eustis during 2020.

White says he and the rest of the bank’s leadership team has always been proud of the level of participation of their employees. “Community involvement is encouraged, and we believe it’s something that comes naturally in great employees which in-turn translates into a great banking experience and a great bank.”

Through the generosity of the bank, its employees and those that participate in the Holiday Match program, Habitat for Humanity will be able to share the gift of home ownership with another deserving family in our community. Sponsors like First National Bank of Mount Dora not only make an impact on their own, but they encourage and enhance the impact of so many others and for that we are thankful to have them as a both a fixture and member of our community.

Double your holiday donation to Habitat for Humanity by clicking here and entering “Holiday Match” in the comments section.

 

 

First Year with the Inmate Construction Academy

inmate construction academy with Sheriff Grinnell & Habitat CEO/President Kent Adcock

The morning of November 22nd, 2019 marked the dedication of the first Habitat house completed by The Inmate Construction Academy. A crowd of family members, inmates, and others from the community gathered to celebrate the dedication of the Santiago-Lozada family and their new home. As Sheriff Grinnell handed the key to their home, sweet tears of joy fell as the crowd’s applause filled the air. This was a very special moment for the Santiago-Lozado family and all who were involved in its creation. The completion of this home also marks the close to the first year of the Inmate Construction Academy.

Back in 2017, when Hurricane Marie struck the island of Puerto Rico, the Santiago-Lozada family was one of many who lost their homes. Two years later, the Santiago-Lozada’s have been given a fresh start; a new home, one where their young son can grow up and they can begin to re-build their lives. In closing this first chapter to the Inmate Construction Academy, the program’s goal was to mirror the fresh beginning given to the new homeowners and symbolize a chance for inmates from the Lake County Sheriff’s Office to begin re-building their lives as well.

One of the things that makes this home so special, aside from the journey of the homeowner, is the hardworking people who volunteered their time to make it happen. The majority of this home’s  construction, and the record time in which it was built, is an accreditation to the Inmate Construction Academy; a partnership between Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, and community support. Under the direction of Construction Leader, Ernie Burley, and Master Deputy, Dave Wolniak, the home was completed in less than 5 months.

Deputy Wolniak describes the goal of the Inmate Construction Academy as a means to help inmates gain experience to carry into their lives post-sentence and as Wolniak says “to keep going in a good direction.”

Deputy Wolniak says the endeavor has been great for the inmates that built this home, saying “a lot of inmates are grateful for the knowledge and experience they’ve gained” and he looks forward to replicating a new home build with the partnership of Habitat Lake-Sumter in the near future.

Thank you to Sheriff Grinnell and the Lake County Sheriff’s Office for partnering with Habitat Lake-Sumter to build homes, communities, and hope.

Volunteer Spotlight: Pamela Chase

volunteer spotlight pamela chase

Maybe you’ve heard this one before, “December is the season of giving!”

But after sharing in the thanksgiving season with friends and family, we start to turn our gratitude outwards. There are many ways to give; time and money, talent and resources; and one of the most meaningful ways to give during this time of year is volunteering!

We are so grateful for the many volunteers who partner with Habitat Lake-Sumter during the holiday season and throughout the year. If you’re thinking about giving back to your community, now is a good time to meet Pamela and hear why she volunteers with us.

Pamela Chase is a volunteer at heart and is one of many committed volunteers based out of our Eustis ReStore. Pamela is committed to making a contribution to the community on a weekly basis.

Initially getting involved through the help of her partner who works at Habitat’s Eustis Restore, Pamela has been volunteering her time for about two months. Volunteering at the Eustis ReStore two to three times a week, Pamela’s main duty is sorting and organizing various types of clothing and donations brought in by the community.

Prior to volunteering with Habitat Lake-Sumter, Pamela often volunteered with organizations and shelters whose focus was animal cruelty prevention. Here, Pamela was able to work with dogs, walking them, showering them with affection, and preparing them for adoption.  Unfortunately, as the physical demands of caring for animals became too much, Pamela had to step down from her responsibilities. Pamela has handled physical setbacks and health concerns but that has not held her back from taking the time to volunteer.

Here at Habitat’s Restore, Pamela is once again able to donate her time and share her commitment to community. When asked why she volunteers, Pamela says “The people at the Eustis Restore are fantastic, fun to work with, and volunteering in general is a great way to get out of the house. It really helps to boost my self-esteem to be able to get out and make a difference.”

Interested in volunteering with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter? Contact our Director of Volunteer Services, Carlos, at (352) 483-0434 x 119 or Carlos@HabitatLS.org

 

Habitat presents local family with new home

Santiago-Lozada Family photo

After touring the home she and her family were presented Friday, Lorie Lozada said: “We have two beds and TVs but we need sofas and a dining table, things like that. But that’s OK, little by little we’ll get what we need. The house is the important thing.”

EUSTIS – Around this time last year, James Santiago, his wife Lorie Lozada and their now 8-year-old son Jianluc Santiago were pondering a move from Puerto Rico to Florida after losing their home and possessions to Hurricane Maria. They had no idea where they would be living or what was in store for them.

On Friday morning however, they received keys to their very own home in Eustis, built just for them by Habitat for Humanity and other organizations, including the Ohlsson Charitable Trust, the Women Builders and the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, who all came together for the cause.

“We are emotional and so excited,” Lozada said. “We just feel so incredibly lucky,”

The family had first been living in a hotel, and then in a nearby apartment.

“It’s a beautiful house and I feel so happy and grateful,” Santiago said.

Friends and family of the recipients, volunteers and members of all the participating organizations were invited to a “Welcome Home” dedication ceremony in front of the 3-bedroom, 2-bath home on Friday morning.

Habitat’s CEO Kent Adcock said for him, helping the family was especially meaningful because his own parents were victims to the wrath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and lost their home because of it.

“I know what they are feeling; what they are going through,” Adcock said at the dedication.

Through the building process, the house served to help many others along the way.

Lake Tech’s Laurie Bryant of the Women Builder’s “Hammer Knocker” team, said she was able to learn about what goes into building a home from scratch and found it very fulfilling.

Bryant and her team members on Friday, presented the family with a bible and a tool kit after they were presented with a flag by Ron Grove of the Sons of the American Revolution.

“I am honored that we were able to help build this house,” Bryant said.

Click here to read the full article and view a short clip by Roxanne Brown from the Daily Commercial

Around the House: Students should consider a career in construction

Leesburg High School Youth Construction Academy students with Don Magrader, Romac Lumber & Supply

Don Magruder talks to students of the Leesburg Construction Academy during a ground-breaking ceremony for a Habitat for Humanity project. [Cindy Sharp/Correspondent]

The construction trade programs in our local high schools and technical schools are exploding with student growth and interest as young people are realizing that college is not for everyone and great career opportunities exist with construction-related skillsets. The writing is on the wall as technology will eliminate millions of jobs in manufacturing, retail and service-related industries over the next decade. Good college degree jobs in offices that exist today will be gone tomorrow — just ask people in the banking industry. Young people are seeing the future clearly and understand career paths are changing.

There are now construction academies in Lake and Sumter Counties — at Leesburg High School, Eustis High School, South Lake High School and The Villages Charter High School. There are over 300 students enrolled in these programs, and two of these academies (Leesburg and The Villages) are building homes for Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter.

Lake Tech is growing each semester with technical training in construction-related fields, and they are seeing continued growth in students and industry needs. Apprenticeship programs are springing up throughout Central Florida with groups like iBuild Central Florida laying the foundation for huge growth in training.

For any young person who is undecided whether to pursue a career in the construction trades or go to college, allow me to make the case for pursuing a career in the construction trades.

  •  Most skilled craftspeople earn more than most people who have a college degree. Even entry-level workers in the construction industry have an opportunity to earn more than most liberal arts majors leaving a university. Master craftspeople can easily earn more than those who have a Ph.D.
  • Once you become a skilled craftsperson and you have your own tools, you become recession proof. Sure, the economy could falter and building slow down again. However, skilled craftspeople can always find work doing repairs for homeowners and businesses. If you have the skills, tools and ambition — you can always find work to put food on the table.
  •  No student debt is required. The high school construction academies are free, Lake Tech is stunningly affordable and many companies offer scholarships for training. There is over $1.5 trillion in student loan debt, which will bury a generation. The tradespeople will be the ones buying homes and fixing them up in the future because they will make more money and have less debt.

Click here for the full article by the Daily Commercial.

 

Trading Chaos for Craziness

before after now

“We looked out the window and watched our walls tumbling down our stairs,” says Lorie Lozada.

Lozada, originally from New York, watched in horror with her family as their house was torn apart in front of their eyes as Hurricane Maria, a category 5 storm, ravaged Puerto Rico in the fall of 2017.

“After my father passed away in ‘96, my mom moved back Puerto Rico to be closer to family” says Lozada. “When my mother had a heart attack three years later, my daughter Alexandra and I moved to Puerto Rico to take care of her.”

That’s where Lozada says she met her husband James. “By the time my mother passed away, I’d met James and we had a son, Jianluc.” So, rather than move back to New York when her mother passed, Lozado’s family built a life in Puerto Rico.  There they lived in a second story wooden addition, built above her mother-in-law’s concrete home.

“When the storm hit, we thought we were prepared,” says Lozada. “We had canned goods, gas, water, enough supplies for 8 or 9 days.” But the storm was much worse than they could have imagined.  “I’m from New York, I’d never seen anything like this, it was horrifying,” said Lozada who says she can remember the terrible noises coming from above as they hunkered down in her mother-in-law’s home.

Peering out during the storm, Lozada recalls seeing her refrigerator falling to the ground just outside of the window. “The wind picked the fridge back up, ripped it in two, and sent the doors flying in one direction and the rest flying in the other.” When the storm finally past, Lozada says their home was destroyed and, because her mother-in-law’s home sustained damage as well, they could not rebuild the second story addition. “One of the walls of our home was blown onto our car. We lost everything except for a few mementos and some clothing we had time to grab.”

“FEMA assessed the damage and our situation and offered us some help, including airfare to the United States.” As a territory of the U.S., citizens of Puerto Rico also have American Citizenship by birth so coming to the U.S., where both Lozada and her husband have family, was an option but it wasn’t an easy decision.

The couple’s son had grown close to Lozada’s daughter Alexandra, and her husband’s son Kevin, both of which chose to stay in Puerto Rico, making their decision to leave even harder.

“We sat down and prayed and prayed as a family,” says Lozada. “We’re big on our faith and we put everything in God’s hands.”

Rather than going back to her home state of New York, they chose to relocate to Florida where her husband has cousins and extended family. Lozada says the transition wasn’t easy but she’s incredibly grateful for all the organizations that have lent them a hand in their time of need, including Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter.

“After living in a hotel for a while, we eventually settled into an apartment in Eustis,” says Lozada. While they were looking for housing, one of James’ cousins encouraged the family to apply for help through Habitat. “Once we were contacted by Habitat, we still weren’t certain we be able to make it work. We really had to work with a lot of agencies to tie it all together.”  The Small Business Association, FEMA and help from Habitat Lake-Sumter all played a role in helping Lozada and her family qualify for a home through one of Habitat’s programs.

“It’s a pale green bungalow with orange shutters,” says Lozada. “When you see it in person, the colors work beautifully together.” And she’s seen the property often, living within walking distance now, Lozada passes by her future home on a daily basis and says it should be ready any day now.

Lacie Himes, Development Coordinator for Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, says construction on Lozada’s home began last spring and was made possible through the fundraising and volunteer hours of the organization’s Women Build program. Himes says the Inmate Construction Academy also played a significant role in completing the house, bringing together two of Habitat’s most successful programs to build a new home for Lozada and her family.

Two years ago, Lozada and her family were preparing for Hurricane Maria. This fall, they’re looking forward to a different kind of chaos.

“We’re hoping to be in our new home before Thanksgiving,” said Lozada who plans to start their own traditions, bringing together influences from both Puerto Rico and the United States. “We’re planning to share the holidays with lots of friends and family, bless the house with everyone in it and have a big, crazy Thanksgiving!”

By David Larrick

You’re invited to meet the Lozada’s and celebrate with them as we dedicate their home on Friday, November 22nd – Contact Shari for details and to RSVP: Shari@HabitatLS.org or (352) 483-0434 x 118

Board Member Spotlight: Monica Wofford

Monica Wofford

Board Member Spotlight

Monic Wofford, CSP

Chief Executive Officer | President | Founder
Contagious Companies, Inc.

From fond memories to a sense of moral responsibility, one of Habitat for Humanity’s newest board members, Monica Wofford, appreciates both the joy and necessity of giving back.

Wofford recounted her earliest connections to the mission of Habitat which can be found in the walls of homes that have stood for decades. “Mind you, I must have been five or six at the time of those builds as those homes are now close to twenty years old,” says Wofford who’s grateful for the opportunity to return to Habitat in a leadership role.

The lasting impact of those early builds, the enduring nature of the structures she helped to build at that early age, exemplify the reasons she has again chosen to share her talents with Habitat. “Habitat for Humanity provides the structure that surrounds the family,” says Wofford. “Call it a house or home or dwelling, with that in place, there is greater potential for a family not to worry about the basics and to be able to focus on not only being a responsible member of a community, but on helping others.”

Wofford says that the cyclical nature of giving promoted by Habitat is what motivates her to contribute her time, resources and energy to the organization. As she puts it, “providing a family or veteran with a home to call their own, solves not only one of their greatest needs, but fulfills the needs of those who wish to give back with their hands and with service.” And with that “foundation,” Wofford believes Habitat’s homeowners are better positioned to pay-it-forward, creating exponential value as they “give or do for others in the community.”

In addition to her role with Habitat for Humanity, Wofford shares her time and expertise with The United Way, as well as the Lake County Republican Executive Committee, where she serves as Secretary. She says that her ability to work with non-profits in this capacity has ebbed and flowed with the seasonality of her own life and career and feels fortunate to now have time again to be involved with nonprofits that share her values of service to the community.

“There have been times in my life when I served on as many as five boards simultaneously. There have also been times when I have found the need to focus almost solely on building or growing my business and spending time with my family,” says Wofford who went on to note that she finds her service to the community comes from a combined sense of obligation and passion which she aptly describes as a “labor-of-love.”

The business Wofford has spent time building is the Contagious Companies, Inc. where she holds the titles of CEO, President and Founder. Wofford says she has had the privilege of professionally speaking to audiences, writing books, and training adults, and consulting leaders across various industries from healthcare and government agencies to tech and entertainment.

Danielle Stroud, Director of Development at Habitat for Humanity, says Habitat for Humanity is extremely fortunate to have added Monica Wofford to the organization. “She brings a combination of enthusiasm, experience and leadership that is extremely valuable on its own,” says Stroud. “But her ability to elevate the conversation and the talents of those around her is immeasurable for an organization with an already exceptionally strong board of directors.”

Wofford says she’s looking forward to sharing the skills she’s acquired and developed as she built and led her company and is excited to learn new skills by serving Habitat for Humanity and working closely with the other talented staff and board members that serve the organization. “Our goals as an organization are exciting and our leadership is certainly doing a masterful job in both running and growing the results of every board and team members’ efforts,” says Wofford.

“We share Monica’s sentiment that working with, and for, Habitat is both a labor-of-love and an opportunity to satisfy a moral responsibility to the communities we live and work in,” says Stroud. “We’re excited to tap into that passion and look forward to helping Monica create even more fond memories of working with Habitat for Humanity!”

By David Larrick

Lake County Inmates Turn Shipping Con­tainers into Shelters

storage container

LAKE COUNTY, Fla. – As the recovery process continues in the Bahamas – safe housing remains an issue for residents and relief workers.

  • Inmates turning shipping containers into shelters
  • The containers will have bedding, electricity and air-conditioning
  • Work will be completed in a couple of weeks

Hurricane Dorian’s category 5 winds wiped out structures leaving many people in tents and other make-shift structures.

That’s why the people at Habitat for Humanity came up with this solution – converting shipping containers into portable homes. With the help of inmate labor, these two containers will soon have bedding, electricity, and air conditioning.

Everyone involved says it’s a definite win-win.

“Get to utilize our time, and our work, and our efforts, and knowledge, and learn a few more skills, and something that could benefit us when we get out, and benefit the people of Abacos,” Lake County Inmate James Pool said.

Habitat for Humanity says it’ll use these two units as a prototype for all future disaster relief housing.

Work is expected to be completed in two weeks.​

Click here to view the video also by David DeJohn of Spectrum News 13

Sponsor of the Month: Citizens First Bank

october sponsor of the month citizens first bank photos

Citizens First Bank has vision.

Last year, they partnered with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter and The Villages Charter High School for the inaugural class of the Youth Construction Academy, they were the first to support the students in building a home, to encourage hands-on education, and to see the benefits: 12 students, future- ready and 1 family having the safety and stability of home for the first time.

Once again, Citizens First Bank has chosen to partner with the Youth Construction Academy and be the lead sponsor for the second year in a row; building the second home, supporting the next graduating class from the Villages Charter High School, and honoring their commitment as “a bank created specifically to fill the needs of our community.”

This week, the Villages Charter students begin framing the walls of the house they will build throughout the school year. From beginning to end, the students will have the opportunity to experience the hard work, planning, and details that go into building a home. During the project, students will work alongside Habitat’s construction staff and industry professionals; they’ll use methods they’ve learned in class to work on every phase of the build, including the foundation and framing, electricity, plumbing, windows, doors, flooring and painting.

Thanks to Citizens First Bank’s investment in the community we are able to not only educate the students on practical skills in the construction industry, but also what it means to be a good community member and to give back to those in need. Throughout the school year, we aim to offer our students hands on knowledge as well as the social understanding of the impact these homes will have on the lives of the families who will receive them.

“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 Brad Weber, Chief Lending Officer at Citizens First. “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.”

Citizens First Bank is a major piece of the “good community” puzzle, partnering with Habitat Lake-Sumter to invest in tomorrow’s future generation; providing students a career option with a strong financial outlook for them to pursue, and working as a team to make our community a better place to live.

Volunteer Spotlight: Kevin Tucker

The Villages Habitat Club

Kevin Tucker has been a man of many trades throughout his life, but none have held on to his interest more than managing and rehabbing real estate. Now, the transplant from New York plans to bring his passion for property management to the Lake-Sumter chapter of Habitat for Humanity by starting a club in his adopted hometown, The Villages, FL.

Tucker, a part-time motorcycle enthusiast, has worked on oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, drove a taxi, worked as a driving instructor and owned a laundromat, a dog wash and a large records storage company, all before venturing into the world of investment property while still in New York.  There, he owned several properties which he enjoyed updating and where he did his own repairs. “I did everything I could myself, except the HVAC, which I contracted out,” says Tucker who also noted that he comes from a family full of roofers, siding hangers and construction workers.

Working on his businesses and his rental properties, coupled with his do-it-yourself attitude, honed a skill set that he says made Habitat for Humanity a natural fit. “When I was winding down my career in record-storage, I had more time for my rental properties and more time to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity,” says Tucker.

Tucker worked with a local chapter of Habitat in New York and picked up where he left off with his volunteerism when he moved to Florida. He noticed the potential right away, with more than 100,000 retirees in his new hometown, many of which would have skills or interest in helping out at Habitat, but he also noticed something peculiar.

“I’d run into people from the Villages at every Habitat build or function I attended,” says Tucker. “I’d see them once or twice and then they’d disappear.” Tucker believes that shows there’s plenty of interest among his fellow Villagers but, without a structure or format to keep them engaged, they likely become disconnected once their build or volunteer opportunity ends. Tucker plans to create that engagement with the Habitat Club and he’s already seen plenty of interest.

“I have about 40 people who’ve expressed interest in joining the club, just through word of mouth,” says Tucker who also noted that those joining don’t necessarily have or need a construction or trade background.

Tucker says they’ve already got their first assignment, once the club is up and running. “We’ll be assessing a couple of the Habitat Re-Stores to see how we can refresh them and update some of the landscaping.” The Villages Habitat Club will also be cutting playhouse materials for a new event, “Jingle Build-Off” in December.

Ultimately, he’d like to see the club tasked with their own build and have the club’s name attached to a house they complete in one of the surrounding communities. Until then Tucker says the club members will be available to Habitat in any way that benefits the organization and engages the club’s members.

If you are interested in learning more about The Villages Habitat Club, you’re encouraged to contact the club at VillagersHabitat@aol.com. Their first meeting will be held at the Sea Breeze Recreation Center at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, October 9th and Tucker says anyone interested is welcome to attend.

 

Habitat, Lake inmates to build shelters for aid workers

Lake County Master Deputy Dave Wolniak works alongside inmates in the construction academy who are build housing units to send to the Bahamas [Cindy Sharp/Correspondent]

Lake County Master Deputy Dave Wolniak works alongside inmates in the construction academy who are build housing units to send to the Bahamas [Cindy Sharp/Correspondent]

Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter is working with local partners and inmates with the Lake Inmate Construction Academy to convert two shipping containers into temporary shelters for aid workers in the Bahamas.

EUSTIS — Working to bolster aid efforts in the Bahamas following the destruction left by Hurricane Dorian, Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter has partnered again with Lake County inmates on a project meant to provide aid workers with temporary housing.

They started the project Monday with inmates enrolled in the Inmate Construction Academy and supplies donated by RoMac Building Supply. The plan, described by Habitat’s Senior Director of Development Danielle Stroud as an experiment, is to turn shipping containers into temporary housing.

“We have two shipping containers that we purchased that we’re going to turn into housing units,” said Shari Kuck, Habitat’s marketing and communications coordinator. They won’t be complex structures or offer many conveniences to aid workers, but they’ll provide air-conditioned shelter for up 16 people.

“It’s just somewhere for them to lay their heads down,” she said.

Stroud said that the experiment started to take form before Hurricane Dorian ever struck the islands to the south. Habitat CEO Kent Adcock started talks proactively among their leadership team and partners to prepare for possible aid missions in Lake County.

When the Bahamas was hit and the storm skirted Florida, they looked at the damage and thought they should try to help.

“It just turned out that a lot of people in this community have a lot of ties there,” Stroud said.

Some of their partners have homes in the Bahamas, she said, but are in a position where they are able to live without them or to rebuild them while they remain in Florida homes. Those partners wanted to focus on how to help out native Bahamians who lost a great deal more in the storm.

Hurricane Dorian hit parts of the Bahamas as a Category 5 hurricane.

To them, that meant providing infrastructure for the people on the ground helping in the Bahamas. They bought the containers and got to work.

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

Inmates transform shipping containers into housing for workers cleaning up Abaco Islands

construction inter and inmates from the inmate construction academy converting containers to be shipped to the bahamas

LAKE COUNTY, Fla. – Four inmates from the Lake County Jail transformed two old shipping containers into temporary housing for workers who are clearing the destruction that was left by Hurricane Dorian in the Abaco Islands.

The inmates volunteered for the project and teamed up with Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter.

“It will be fully furnished with bunk beds, AC, totally off the grid. Everything they need to be a little comfortable while they’re on the island doing the good work they’re doing,” said Danielle Stroud, of Habitat for Humanity for Lake-Sumter.

Habitat for Humanity’s director of construction found the two old containers that will house 16 people on the islands. If the containers work, more could be made.

“And from there, we’ll test to see how well they work for what they’re needing, and from that, hopefully there is replication,” Stroud said.

The inmates will be back to help if more need to be made.

“This is something these guys can do to help out, to provide shelter and a safe place to sleep at night,” said Lt. John Herrel, of the Lake County Sheriff’s Office.

Not only are the inmates helping the people of the Bahamas recover, they are also rebuilding their own lives.

“They use their skill set, and they hone their skill set so that when they’re out of jail, they get a certificate with the house that they’ve donated documented on it, so we hope that will all play together to help get them employment,” Herrel said.

Habitat for Humanity said it hopes to have the containers ready to go in the next two weeks.

Click here to view the article and video by By: Katlyn Brieskorn WFTV 9

What Am I Doing Here?

I’m very excited to return to the Board! It is remarkable how many things are happening in our affiliate and how many ways we’re interacting with our communities to address the need for affordable housing in Lake and Sumter Counties.

Why am I involved?

Because I believe that home ownership changes everything: the owner, the family, the local community, our schools, and our economy. It impacts physical, mental, and financial health. It supports local businesses and improves students’ academic success. And in the big picture, any area that wants to promote its quality of life must recognize that a safe, decent place to call ‘home’ is vital to everyone.

I’m involved with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter because they’re on the front lines of this issue. Making housing affordable—meaning that no more than 30% of monthly income goes to the mortgage, taxes, and insurance—means a family has breathing room to handle the rest of what life brings.

And I’m involved because I know first-hand the importance of getting help to buy my first home. Long, long ago, in a decade far, far away, I bought my first place, a row house, with the help of a state-sponsored, first-time home-buyer’s program. I became the proud (and nervous) mortgage holder with a subsidized 11.5% fixed rate mortgage at a time when market rates were hitting 18%. Yup. You read that right. Can you imagine? And I knew I was getting a deal at 11.5%!

Decades have passed; mortgages have changed and so have rates (I, of course, haven’t changed a bit), but the need for programs to make home buying affordable hasn’t. I love that we’re building beautifully designed, energy-efficient, right-sized houses for a variety of needs, whether it’s aging-in-place, singles, or families.

It’s great to be a part of an organization that’s building hope and passing the keys to a “quality of life” to buyers who have worked hard to qualify. Your Hometown Habitat covers a big territory and does it with big hearts, big plans, and even bigger visions for the future. And I’m blessed beyond measure to be invited into all of that.

-Lee Owen
Board Member and Community Advocate

(from left to right)
Ray Sanfratello, Christina Campbell, Lee Owen, Rick Miller, Brad Weber, Matt Lovo, Bill Neron, Felix Ramirez, Paula Whetro, John Maze

Habitat Lake-Sumter’s 30th Anniversary: Is Home Out Of Reach?

Florida Out of Reach 2019 Infograph

Do you know that 2019 commemorates Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter’s 30th Anniversary?

Thirty years of providing access to affordable housing and removing barriers to opportunity, success, and health in partnership with YOU!

As we look forward to the exciting and unique projects being started this year; such as, The Cottages at Heritage Grove, a 23-unit community in Tavares, FL and the addition of the Leesburg High School to our Youth Construction Academy. We pause and reflect on how our affiliate has changed and grown, who we have served and how it has impacted where we live. In the midst of it all, we take an account of our cause- everyone deserves a decent, safe, and affordable place to call home.

Each year the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) releases an “Out of Reach” report documenting the Housing Wage (what an individual needs to be paid in order to afford housing in the area) and the Fair Market Rent (the standard cost of rent in the area).

Coincidentally, this year the NLIHC’s “Out of Reach” report also celebrates their 30th Anniversary and reflects how the housing market has changed in the past three decades. The “Out of Reach” report references the gap between wages people earn and the cost of living, specifically the cost of housing; arguably one of the biggest factors in the individual and families stability. HOME is a primary factor in safety, security, health, school and job performance; yet for many the cost of home has become too high.

Rents and homeownership costs are skyrocketing while wages are not keeping pace. Everyone should have enough money left over after paying rent or mortgage costs to cover life’s necessities. So what can we do to impact change, to make a difference for our family, our neighbors, and our community? We can be the advocates. It begins with knowledge, an understanding of how it affects you and where you live: Eustis, Tavares, Bushnell, Clermont, The Villages, and every pocket of Lake and Sumter Counties between.

“A recent national poll commissioned by NLIHC’s Opportunity Starts at Home campaign finds 85% of the public believes a safe, decent, affordable place to live should be a national priority (NHLIC, pg. 8).”

At Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter we believe it should be a local priority! Partner with us, join our Cost of Home campaign, read the NLIHC’s “Out of Reach” report and look for our How-To: Advocacy Guide in October. Together we can build homes, communities, and hope!

Leesburg High students earn valuable experience teaming with Habitat to build house

Leesburg High students put the shovels in the ground during groundbreaking ceremony for a joint project of Habitat for Humanity and Leesburg High School’s Construction Academy on Monday, Aug. 26, 2019. Students will work alongside professionals to build a home for a family in need on 12th Street in Leesburg. (Rosemarie Dowell/Orlando Sentinel)

Leesburg High students put the shovels in the ground during groundbreaking ceremony for a joint project of Habitat for Humanity and Leesburg High School’s Construction Academy on Monday, Aug. 26, 2019. Students will work alongside professionals to build a home for a family in need on 12th Street in Leesburg. (Rosemarie Dowell/Orlando Sentinel)

LEESBURG — A dozen Leesburg High School students will be doing more than math equations, English essays and science experiments this year. They’ll be constructing a home from the ground up, too.

The three-bedroom, two-bath home will be built near downtown Leesburg for a family in need as part of a unique partnership between Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter and Leesburg High’s Construction Academy.

Groundbreaking took place Monday at 107 N. 12th St., with a throng of state and local elected officials, business leaders and members of the community showing support for both the project and the academy. The vacant lot was donated by the city.

“This is great — the students and Leesburg High School needed it, the city of Leesburg needed it and the community needed it,” said Don Magruder, CEO of RoMac Building Supply and chairman of the academy’s advisory committee.

Roughly 100 students are enrolled in the academy, and the 12 students participating in the build were chosen based on their performance and leadership in the classroom. Each was required to have at least one year of construction classes.

“They are really a great group of talented kids,” said Lynnea Weissman, project manager with the Lake County school district’s office of College and Career Readiness. “It’s an opportunity for them to give back to the community.”

During the roughly eight-month project, the students will work alongside Habitat’s construction staff and professional tradespeople. They’ll use skills they’ve learned in class to work on every phase of the build, including the foundation and framing, electricity, plumbing, windows, doors, flooring and painting.

Senior Max Acosta, who is in his third year at the academy, said he walked into the academy during his sophomore year and fell in love with the program.

“It makes me feel really good to work on a project like this,” he said. “I’ll have a well-paid job after high school, too.”

Click here to read the full article by 

Learn More About Our Youth Construction Academy

Staff Spotlight: Cody Ives

Cody Ives
Intern Builder

Construction runs deep in the blood of Cody Ives, a recent graduate from the Villages Charter High School. Since a young age, Cody has been surrounded by the art of craftsmanship, and during the last three summers, he has worked with his dad doing custom cabinets and furniture. Family has played an important role in his life thanks to his parents and sister, and of course, the family dog.

Cody has been working as an intern builder for Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter since he graduated this past May. While attending the Villages Charter School, he was enrolled in the construction academy partnered with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter and even had the chance to help in constructing a new home. The Habitat Youth Construction Academy was actively seeking one student to come on as an intern, and with his previous track record with construction, Cody was a prime candidate for the position. To his delight, he was chosen to be a part of the newly formed academy and has proven his worth ever since; finally joining Habitat Lake-Sumter in an apprentice builder role.

Upon asking Cody what his favorite part about his new job was, he answered, “I enjoy assisting the other builders with the work and it’s great to be able to learn new skills along the way!”. Besides learning new tricks of the trade, Cody went on to emphasize how fulfilling it is to see the results of both the team and his hard work. Maybe even more impressive than his work ethic is his friendly attitude that he displays to others while on the construction site. His upbeat and radiant personality constantly keeps the team in good spirits throughout the day, which makes a lot of sense since his favorite saying is “Heck ya!”.

When Cody’s not working, his favorite activities to do in his free time are hunting, fishing, hanging out with friends, and going out on the boat. The West Palm native moved here when he was three and currently resides in Weirsdale, FL. We would like to wish Cody good luck with his future at Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter and a big thank you for the wonderful work he has done so far!

-Andy Anderson
UCF Student and Volunteer

Officials celebrate start of Leesburg High Habitat home

Leesburg High School Construction Academy students broke ground on a new home they’re building with Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter. At the end of the build, expected in May, the students will hand off the keys to the new homeowner.

LEESBURG — As the morning sun beat down Monday on 107 N. 12th St., the once-empty city lot bustled with activity.

Dozens of Leesburg, Lake County and state business people and representatives gathered at the unassuming address behind the Sunoco gas station to witness the groundbreaking of an innovative project: a home that will be built from the ground up with the help of local students.

Ten students from the Leesburg High School Construction Academy broke ground Monday on a home they’ll spend the school year building with staff from Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter. It’s a big task, but the team thinks they can do it.

“I feel like I’m gonna get out here and bust my butt and get it done,” LHS sophomore Jacob Moore said, looking out over the freshly turned dirt.

Moore said he and his classmates — who were selected from among those who qualified for the project based on their skill and exceptional teamwork — hadn’t had much time to get to know each other or their new instructor, but there will be plenty more time once they get on the job. They expect to work four days most weeks.

The academy’s new instructor, Jim Ellwood, said he’s confident too, and he wants to see the students succeed. Ellwood, who’s spent more than 40 years in the construction industry, said it’s more important than ever that students have opportunities like the build.

“Right now there’s a huge need for skilled workers,” he said. “If we do not train these students, we have no one to blame but ourselves.”

Kent Adcock, CEO of Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter, said a home build usually doesn’t take a full school year, but because it’s a teaching opportunity, they’ll be working slow. He predicts the students will finish it around April or May, just in time to hand off the keys to the homeowner.

“I think this will be a transformative event for the students,” Adcock said, noting that the students will get to see the finished product at the end of the year and will personally hand the keys over to the new owner.

Click here to read the full article by By Payne Ray / pray@dailycommercial.com

Learn More About Our Youth Construction Academy

LHS Construction Academy to build first Habitat house

students working on a preservation and repair project

Monday will be the official groundbreaking of a Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter home built by Leesburg High School Construction Academy students and Habitat staffers. Students will work on the project from start to finish.

LEESBURG — State and local officials, business leaders and community residents are invited to celebrate the ground-breaking of a new Habitat for Humanity home built by Habitat Lake-Sumter and students from the Leesburg High Construction Academy.

The ceremony takes place on Monday from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the home site, 107 North 12th St. The land for the home was donated by the city.

“This is a wonderful community project,” said Don Magruder, RoMac Building Supply CEO and academy advisory committee chairman. “We will have refreshments, a few speeches, the Leesburg High band and cheerleaders there. We are encouraging all the downtown merchants and the Leesburg Chamber of Commerce to participate with us, and we want the public to come out as well. It’s important for these students to know we support them in their efforts not only to prepare for a great career, but to also give back to their community.”

Production of the Habitat home will be a yearlong project in which students will put lessons from the previous year into practice. They’ll be working on the home from its foundations to the last coat of paint.

Students will work side-by-side with Habitat’s construction staff and professional tradespeople, many of whom plan to donate their time and resources toward the project and serve as mentors for the students.

Click here to read the full article from the Daily Commercial

Learn More About Our Youth Construction Academy

 

Leesburg Construction Academy Students To Celebrate Groundbreaking of Home They Will Build With Habitat For Humanity

students working on a Preservation and Repair Project

State and local elected officials, business leaders and community residents are invited to celebrate a new partnership between Leesburg High School Construction Academy students and Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter Florida, as the two break ground on a home they will build in Leesburg for a family in need.

The ceremony takes place on Monday, Aug. 26, from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the home site, 107 N. 12th Street, which was donated by the city.

“This is a wonderful community project,’’ said Don Magruder, CEO of RoMac Building Supply and chairman of the academy’s advisory committee. “We will have refreshments, a few speeches, the Leesburg High band and cheerleaders there. We are encouraging all the downtown merchants and the Leesburg Chamber of Commerce to participate with us, and we want the public to come out as well. It’s important for these students to know we support them in their efforts not only to prepare for a great career but to also give back to their community.”

Production of the Habitat home will give students an opportunity to put into practice what they have been learning in class. It will be a yearlong project, during which the students will work on every phase of the house including building the foundation and framing; installing electricity, plumbing, doors, windows, sheetrock and flooring; and painting. Students will work side by side with Habitat’s construction staff and professional tradespeople, many of whom plan to donate their time and resources toward the project and serve as mentors for the students.

Students participating in the build were selected from a large pool of applicants. They were required to have taken at least one year of construction classes at Leesburg High School and demonstrated exceptional performance and leadership in their classwork. They also had to write an essay explaining why they would be a good addition to “the dream team.”

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

Learn More About Our Youth Construction Academy

VHS seniors, habitat joining forces again

Danielle Stroud, right, senior director of development for Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, gives a high-five to Michael Goodridge, a 12th-grade member of The Villages High School’s Construction Management Academy who will help build a Habitat for Humanity home on Orange Circle in Lady Lake. -George Horsford, Daily Sun

Danielle Stroud, right, senior director of development for Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, gives a high-five to Michael Goodridge, a 12th-grade member of The Villages High School’s Construction Management Academy who will help build a Habitat for Humanity home on Orange Circle in Lady Lake.
George Horsford, Daily Sun

Dressed in her work boots, Villages High School senior Ashley Hess looked over the patch of grass Friday where, soon, she and her classmates will build a family’s home. “This experience will help me build something from the ground up,” she said. The Villages High School seniors, who are students in the school’s Construction Management Academy, joined about 40 others for a groundbreaking ceremony hosted by Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter on Friday for a new home on Orange Circle near Lemon Street in Lady Lake. Habitat and the academy are working together on the project to provide a new home for Brandee Shields of Ocklawaha. Shields attended the ceremony before she headed to work for The Villages Health. The mother of two boys, ages 8 and 9, is looking forward to her new home.

“I’m excited, overwhelmed and so thankful to be a part of the whole process,” she said.

Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, with the help of volunteers and sponsors, builds affordable homes. The homes are sold to those who demonstrate a need and are willing to partner with the organization by performing activities such as participating in the building of their home. The home on Orange Circle marks the second that seniors in the school’s academy will work on, said Bruce Haberle, the instructor for the academy.

Last year, Haberle led about 11 seniors on the project. They worked from August until May to complete their first home. The program was such a success that Habitat and the academy decided to work together again, Haberle said.

This year, he will have five seniors working on-site during two morning class periods, and hopes to have seven more seniors in his afternoon class work on the home.

Click here for the full article by 

Learn More About Our Youth Construction Academy

Disabled Eustis vet gets new roof through joint partnership: ‘It makes me want to cry’

Edwin Seda, middle, is surrounded by good samaritans that put a new roof on the veteran’s home in Eustis. (Rosemarie Dowell/Orlando Sentinel)

EUSTIS — Amy veteran Edwin Seda carefully navigated his way out of his home, looked up at his roof and flashed a winning smile.

The 63-year-old, who is disabled and uses a walker, had reason to be happy.

A team of workers from Tadlock Roofing in Orlando were busy installing a much-needed new roof on Seda’s Lily Pad Lane home, courtesy of the Owens Corning Roof Deployment Project, a nationwide initiative that provides new roofs at no cost to veterans in need.

The Eustis project was a joint partnership between between Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, Owens Corning and Tadlock, one of its platinum contractors.

“I’m very grateful,” said Seda, a multi-lingual West Point graduate who spent the majority of his 20-year military career overseas working in intelligence in Egypt, Greece, Italy and Poland.

“These guys, the companies that are doing this they are the best,” he said. “It makes me want to cry.”

The new $11,000 roof, which can withstand winds up to 130 mph, was installed July 29 and couldn’t have come at a more opportune time.

His 20-year old roof was in such bad condition that his insurance company had been recently threatening to cancel his homeowner’s policy if he didn’t replace it soon. He called Tadlock for a quote.

The outlook was bleak. Saddled with a mountain of medical bills due to injuries he received while serving his country, and limited finances, Seda couldn’t muster the funds needed to pay for a new roof.

Tadlock had other plans.

“I didn’t know what I was going to do,” said the Washington State native, who moved to Eustis five years ago from Orlando. “They found out I was a veteran and said they could help me.”

Tadlock contacted the Roof Deployment project, which then contacted Habitat. The nonprofit vetted Seda, and soon after plans for a free new roof for the veteran were put into play.

Click here for the full article from the Orlando Sentinel

Eustis Veteran Receives New Roof Installed by Tadlock Roofing

Veteran Edwin Seda poses with Thomas Catalano, Tadlock Branch Manager – Orlando at his home in Eustis

Owens Corning Platinum Contractors are working with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter to provide new roofs to veterans in need and their families as part of the Owens Corning Roof Deployment Project.
Veteran Edwin Seda will receive a new roof from Tadlock Roofing, an Owens Corning Roofing Platinum Contractor. This nationwide effort is a way to show gratitude and honor the veterans who served our country and the families who support them. Since the inception of the Owens Corning National Roof Deployment Project in 2016, more than 140 military members have received new roofs.
“We’re honored to continue to participate in the Owens Corning Roof Deployment Project,” said Dale Tadlock, Owner and President, Tadlock Roofing, Inc. “Mr. Seda is a true inspiration and we’re grateful to have the opportunity to install a new roof on his home after all that he has been through in service to our country.”
Owens Corning Roofing and its network of independent Platinum Contractors, along with support from the Owens Corning Foundation, are donating roofing materials and labor to replace roofing shingles on the homes of military veterans and their families throughout the country. Through a partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, Edwin Seda was selected and approved as the recipient for the roof replacement.
“Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter is dedicated to serving our local communities,” said Kent Adcock, CEO at Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter. “We rely on great partners like Owens Corning and Tadlock Roofing to make moments like this possible for such a deserving veteran living among us.”
For more information on the Roof Deployment Project, or to learn more about how you can get involved, visit www.RoofDeploymentProject.com.

Click here for the full article by the Triangle News Leader

Around the House: Community rallies for LHS Habitat project

Instructor Dan McCauley helps Leesburg High School Construction Academy student Austin Marshall with plumbing on a project in 2018. [Daily Commercial file]

Instructor Dan McCauley helps Leesburg High School Construction Academy student Austin Marshall with plumbing on a project in 2018. [Daily Commercial file]

The upcoming school year for the Leesburg High School Construction Academy promises to be exciting, challenging and very rewarding as the students are partnering with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter to build a home for a local family. The home will be constructed at 107 North 12th Street in Leesburg, which is just off Main Street and close to First Baptist Church of Leesburg. Although the owners o

f the home have not been determined by Habitat, the approval process should be completed by the group in early fall.

“Habitat for Humanity is a hand up, not a handout,” said Kent Adcock, president and CEO of Habitat, adding that the group has a qualification process that requires “sweat equity” homeownership for each project.

The Construction Academy’s Habitat project is a community project that is truly a collaborative effort.

The revamped Construction Academy was one of the top priorities of incoming Lake County Schools Superintendent Diane Kornegay, who mustered the construction industry to support an $866,000 grant from the state of Florida. Through the efforts of Kornegay and the Lake County School Board, LHS received the grant last summer. Lynnea Weissman, grant project manager for Career and College Readiness, was tasked by Lake County Schools to develop the construction program and institute Kornegay’s vision.

A great deal of the success of the project is owed to State Rep. Jennifer Sullivan and State Sen. Dennis Baxley, who championed the grant in the Florida Legislature.

Weissman assembled an advisory board of local leaders who committed to the program’s success by meeting monthly to help develop a career pathway for students in the construction trades. The board brought real world construction expertise to the academy and helps with mentorships, training, demonstrations and the development of soft skills needed for employment. The board also assisted in setting up the first Academy of Construction Technologies (ACT), which allows member construction companies to hire students for summer paid internships. Students in the LHS Construction Academy now have the opportunity to work in real construction jobs at very attractive pay rates. Plus, these students are seeing firsthand the lucrative jobs offered in the building trades.

Click here for the full article by the Daily Commercial

Learn More About Our Youth Construction Academy

Cost of Home Campaign

What does the Cost of Home mean to you? Habitat for Humanity has started a national ‘Cost of Home’ campaign and Habitat Lake-Sumter wants YOU. The advocate. The community partner. The game changer. The YOU that wants to make a difference.

Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter celebrates their 30th Anniversary this year, 2019! In 30 years of service we’ve built more than 230 homes locally and repaired dozens of homes to be safe and accessible throughout Lake and Sumter counties. Yet, according to the 2018 State of Affordable Housing Florida Report “nearly one-third of households in the United States face cost burdens, with housing requiring either 30 percent of their income (cost-burdened) or 50 percent (severely cost-burdened).”

These burdens leave households with very little income to buy food, health care, and other basic needs; 50% of their income spent on housing leaves members of our community– friends, family, and neighbors– struggling to afford the necessities.

As Habitat of Lake-Sumter partners with other affiliates nationwide, we ask that you partner with us to promote an awareness of the housing affordability crisis.

Learn about the Cost of Home Campaign, Post a picture using one of the #CostOfHome templates, tell us what the Cost of Home means to you, and if you’re ready to be an advocate—JOIN US!

Everyone deserves decent, safe, and affordable housing.

Cost of Home

A Year of Memories and Milestones

Jessica Strunk has a lot on her plate, including the immense challenge of being a single mother of two young boys, but that hasn’t stopped her from charging through 2019 with her sights set on several significant milestones, one of which was owning her own home.

Jessica and her “little family,” as she calls it, moved in with her mother in August of 2019 along with her promise that she just needed a year to “figure everything out.” And now, with her home nearing completion, she’s poised to make good on that promise as her and her boys, eight-year-old Collin and four-year-old Clayton, are about to move into a home of their own.

As the Program Manager for an Adult Day Training Program, Jessica works with adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities. Her boss, Dr. Paula Whetro, who heads up Building Blocks Ministries in Minneola, Florida, first introduced her to the idea of working with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter to own her own home for the first time. A home she lovingly tells her boys will be their “forever home.”

The pair, Jessica says, are very close, even though they have a 4-year age difference. But, that doesn’t stop them from being excited about having their own rooms. So excited in fact, that 4-year-old Clayton asks to move in on a daily basis because he doesn’t quite understand that a house can have doors and windows and still not be 100% complete.

Jessica, however, has a bit more insight on what it takes to complete a home now that she’s put in her sweat equity with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter as a member of the “Women Build” event team known as  “The Uplifters.” Although this wasn’t her first time swinging a hammer, Jessica says she did complete some tasks new to her as she installed window frames, built a wall and attached hurricane straps around the entire house.

If raising two young boys, building her first home, managing a day program for adults with learning disabilities and putting in sweat equity with Habitat for Humanity wasn’t enough, Jessica is also on track to complete her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology with an emphasis on Applied Behavior Analysis by the end of the year.

About the time her own home is complete, Jessica will be celebrating another milestone, turning 30 in late July. And while she noted that she’s always enjoyed entertaining friends and family at the homes she’s rented, she’s also incredibly excited to finally be inviting them to gather for a celebration in a home she can call her own. For a family led by a young woman with so much ambition, this surely won’t be the only celebration to grace the Strunk household.

Written by David Larrick

Eustis veteran in need receives a new roof

 – This 20-year-old roof has withstood the test of time and Mother Nature, but with threats from the insurance company to drop the homeowners coverage, it was time to replace it.

The timing couldn’t have been worse for retired veteran Edwin J. Sera, who served 20 years in the Army.

“I would do it again if I have the chance,” Seda said.

Just like his roof, his condition makes it difficult for him to keep going, but with help from a physical therapist and a walker, he persists.

“I broke my hip twice,” he said. “I broke my knee three times. And I have more bills than what I can afford.”

When he met with Tadlock roofing, the consultant knew he needed to help him in his time of need.

“Our consultant after meeting with him was so touched by his story and just who he was and his personality that we really wanted to dig in and see if there was a way to help him,” said Thomas Catalano, the branch manager at Tadlock Roofing.

Click here for the full story By Amanda McKenzie, Fox 35 News

HABITAT TO DEDICATE 3 COTTAGES IN COLEMAN

Photo Taken by Photos by Furey

Three newly built cottage-style homes in Coleman, including this one at 6702 Winkles St., will be dedicated Saturday by Habitat of Lake-Sumter before the keys are turned over to the new homeowners: Eddie Broglin, Kaylei and David Tranor, and Gennivieve Sprague.

“These are the first cottage-model homes we have ever built and dedicated; the first type of small trial homes,” says Danielle Stroud, director of development, for Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, Florida.

She says the 2 bedroom/1 bath homes of about 700 square feet each were designed for smaller families entering the housing market or those seeking to downsize.

“There is a huge interest and need for more smaller, entry-level homes,” Danielle says. “And when you think about the trends in housing, bigger homes have gone by the wayside. A lot of folks cannot buy that big for their first-time home.”

Danielle says the three cottages in Coleman are half the size of the cottage-style houses Habitat built in Veterans Village in Umatilla.

Saturday’s dedication will feature a gathering of volunteers, sponsors, the homeowners’ loved-ones, along with local dignitaries, including Congressman Daniel Webster, a strong supporter of Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter. The congressman also spent time volunteering to build one of the houses being dedicated.

Click here for the full article written by Theresa Campbell, Lake & Sumter Style Magazine

Giving back with Habitat and Rotary

MRHANDYMANFL

On June 7 2019, Mr Handyman Serving Ocala to West Apopka had the privilege of working side by side with members of the Rotary Club and Habitat for Humanity. We helped to do repairs on a home in Wildwood FL. It was an honor to be able to give back in our community and we thank the nice folks from Habitat and the Rotary for the opportunity. We encourage EVERYONE to get involved in your community and offer a helping hand where ever and when ever you can!

Going with the Flow

It sounds a bit like the ending of a bad joke to say that a plumber and his wife, who work for an HVAC company, just “go with the flow” but in the case of David and Kaylei, their journey with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter has been a ride along the path of least resistance.

David describes their current apartment complex as livable but dilapidated which prompted the hard-working couple to ponder their options. A suggestion from one of David’s coworkers, who had previous experience with Habitat for Humanity, put the organization on David and Kaylei’s radar.

David, who has a very laid-back approach to most everything, said he was actually worried that they wouldn’t qualify for any of the programs offered by Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter because both him and his wife, Kaylei, work full-time. However, Habitat’s mission to provide affordable housing and access to home ownership, to bridge the income gap and meet the needs of each Habitat family—was the opportunity David and Kaylei were looking for.

Though David and Kaylei both work in the construction industry, he says they haven’t been able to use their trade knowledge or skills on the build site just yet; but he says Habitat has been great to work with, finding opportunities for the couple to put in their “sweat equity” in other ways. For example, David says they’ve “done phone interviews, written thank you cards and basically anything else” Habitat needs extra hands and time to accomplish.

David described the small collection of houses in Coleman, FL, where the couple’s cottage style house is being built, as unique because it’s not part of larger neighborhood or development and is in a fairly rural setting. The Tranor’s two-bedroom home is scheduled to be completed in June and is perfect for the young family which he says is just him, his wife, and their dog but also pointed out that it gives them a little room to grow.

For now, the extra space gives them a place to enjoy some of their hobbies. And David says they have extended family within walking distance of their new home, “We haven’t really discussed having a house warming party,” says David. “But we have discussed what kind of traditions we might want to start in our new home.” Though they haven’t settled on anything just yet, David believes they’ll develop some traditions that are unique to them.

Perhaps David and his wife Kaylei carry a tradition or two for their family already: the hard work and humble expectations that are leading them to the beginning of a great future, one that Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter is proud to contribute to.

By David Larrick

Publix Partnership Spotlight

Publix Super Market prides themselves on their long-standing tradition of being the kind of company a community can count on, beginning with their founding in 1930 and continuing to today; Publix Super Market Charities began its support of Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter in 2012 and has continued to be a generous partner for 8 years. Throughout the years, Publix has proven to be a committed, community partner to Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, FL; as one of the top donors of your Hometown Habitat, Publix Super Market Charities gave $35,000 to our Preservation & Repair program this year alone.

Our Preservation and Repair program began in 2015 to serve families who owned their homes but couldn’t afford to keep them in good condition. The program provides help with the exterior of a home – weatherization, safety, accessibility, and beautification – with the belief that every homeowner should experience safety, stability, and self-reliance within their home.

In 2019, the Publix partnership supported Habitat Lake-Sumter in serving 45 families in need of critical home repairs and accessibility modifications. For homeowners like Priscilla Tolbert, who did not have access to running water in the home because of a broken pump, or The McMurphy’s, a family of three whose home needed repairs but as a double leg amputee, Dan McMurphy, had no way of getting into the home with his wheelchair to make those repairs; Publix Charities has made a world of difference.

Replacing a water pump for Priscilla to have clean, running water or installing a ramp so that Dan could get in and out of the house easily – to make a better home for himself, his wife, and his daughter are just a few examples of how Publix Charities has had a daily impact on those we serve.

Publix Super Market Charities believes in Giving; in making sure their customers and communities are taken care of. Thank you for helping Habitat Lake-Sumter families build better lives for themselves; building Homes, Communities, and Hope in partnership with Publix for the past 8 years has truly been our pleasure!

Hurricane Prep Tips

Hurricane Season is upon us; it officially runs from June 1, 2019 to November 30, 2019 and though the storm season has already begun, it’s not too late to prepare! Rather than waiting for a hurricane to develop, now is the time to start making plans and gathering supplies.

Make sure your home, your family, and your pets are safe and secure- Be Habitat-Ready and use this Hurricane Preparedness Guide!

BEFORE A HURRICANE

To prepare for a hurricane, you should take the following measures:

  • Stock up on supplies and have a communication and evacuation plan in place.
  • Make plans to secure your property. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows. A second option is to board up windows with 5/8″ marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install. Tape does not prevent windows from breaking.
  • Install straps or additional clips to securely fasten your roof to the frame structure. This will help reduce roof damage.
  • Be sure trees and shrubs around your home are well trimmed.
  • Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts.

DURING A HURRICANE

If a hurricane is likely in your area, you should:

  • Listen to the radio or TV for information.
  • Secure your home, close storm shutters, and secure outdoor objects or bring them indoors.
  • Turn off utilities if instructed to do so. Otherwise, turn the refrigerator thermostat to its coldest setting and keep its doors closed.
  • Turn off propane tanks. Avoid using the phone, except for serious emergencies.
  • Ensure a supply of water for sanitary purposes such as cleaning and flushing toilets. Fill the bathtub and other large containers with water.

You should evacuate under the following conditions:

  • If you are directed by local authorities to do so. Be sure to follow their instructions.
  • If you live in a mobile home or temporary structure—such shelters are particularly hazardous during hurricanes no matter how well fastened to the ground.
  • If you live in a high-rise building—hurricane winds are stronger at higher elevations.
  • If you live on the coast, on a floodplain, near a river, or on an inland waterway.
  • If you feel you are in danger.

If you are unable to evacuate, go to your wind-safe room. If you do not have one, follow these guidelines:

  • Stay indoors during the hurricane and away from windows and glass doors.
  • Close all interior doors—secure and brace external doors.
  • Keep curtains and blinds closed. Do not be fooled if there is a lull; it could be the eye of the storm – winds will pick up again.
  • Take refuge in a small interior room, closet, or hallway on the lowest level.
  • Lie on the floor under a table or another sturdy object

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

Youth Construction Academy Program 2019 Sponsor United Way of Lake & Sumter Counties

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

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

C is for Comparing Budgets With an Affordable Habitat Home

In our last article we compared various hourly wages and what they could afford for rental housing based on the 2018 Fair Market Rent (FMR) per month. We learned that it took $18/hour, or $37,440 per year, for a person to afford the 2018 FMR of $840 for a one bedroom home.

But what if you wanted to buy a home?  On the traditional market, many of these same wages may face extreme difficulties in obtaining their own home and staying within the envelope of affordability.  That’s where affordable housing builders step in – organizations like Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter or Homes In Partnership exist to partner with families who are edged out of the traditional market.  These organizations offer opportunities to partner, allowing the financial entry point to homeownership to become more obtainable.

Let’s take a moment to look at a real life scenario – let’s meet Janice and Rose.  We’ve used her budget and income to compare her rental reality in a 2BR Fair Market rental prior to her obtaining a 2BR home built in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter.  Like all of the families who qualify for the Habitat program and are approved for their loan, Janice was able to get into a home with zero down payment, no closing costs, and a monthly mortgage that includes taxes and insurance that they can afford.  Now she and her daughter have a safe and secure place to call home.

 

 

$12/hour: Annual Gross Income $24,960: Monthly Gross Income $2,080

 

Janice moved from paying 48% of her gross income for her two bedroom rental (with a negative cash flow of $376) to owning her own home, paying just 23% for housing, with a positive cash flow each month. While these numbers are still based on gross take home, we can see the meaningful shift toward a more realistic budget.

What’s the impact on her health? Her outlook for a future? Her ability to withstand an unexpected expense?

* This number varies based on the qualified candidate, but is reflective of an average mortgage for a 2 BR home with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter.

Affordable housing is affordable not because it’s of lower quality or built to sub-standard codes.  It’s affordable because of the generosity of donors and volunteers who invest in the future of these families.  Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter works to build an affordable product, but also works to raise capital through relationships in the community in order to subsidize the homes for these families so they can be sold at a price that is affordable.

Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter firmly believes in providing a pathway out of poverty.  According to The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development studies have shown that “homeowners accumulate wealth as the investment in their homes grow, enjoy better living conditions, are often more involved in their communities, and have children who tend on average to do better in school and are less likely to become involved with crime.”  Because of the stability and financial flexibility that an affordable home offers, higher graduation rates for children of homeowners is 19 percent higher than for renters, and they are twice as likely to acquire some post-secondary education, according to a study in a journal published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

As with many of our families we are looking forward to seeing Janice and her daughter Rose prosper – you never know who Rose will grow up to be, but we are happy to have had a part in providing her the opportunity to thrive.

By Lee Owen

Lake County Inmates Help Build Habitat for Humanity Homes

EUSTIS, Fla. — Normally volunteers are called upon to build homes for Habitat for Humanity, but there’s a new program in Lake County that allows inmates to do the labor instead.

  • Lake County inmates for building homes for Habitat for Humanity
  • It’s through the Sheriff’s Office’s ‘Inmate Construction Academy’
  • Inmates get one day taken off sentence for every three days worked

Inmate Jared Hainey was convicted of possession, but today he possesses the ability to prepare for the future by learning how to construct homes side-by-side with professional home builders.

“(You’re) coming outside and being out in the community, seeing people and experiencing things to learn more toward a trade. And the freedom of being outside the jail is nice also,” Hainey said.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office calls the program the “Inmate Construction Academy”. It’s for non-violent, low-level offenders. There are five inmates for every one deputy.

“Make sure their charges are low enough to work outside the building, and see if this is something that they can do,” said Deputy David Wolniak with the Lake County Sheriff’s Office.

The project is to lay down a concrete foundation. Inmates get one day taken off their sentence for every three days worked. In return, Habitat for Humanity gets free labor to build a brand new house for a family in need.

“It’s about learning and having opportunity after they get out of jail, as well as while they are in jail, giving back to the community,” said Danielle Stroud with Lake-Sumter Habitat for Humanity.

By David DeJohn

Click here for the full article and video

Inmate Construction Academy created to build Habitat homes, help Lake County Jail inmates learn skills

Chad Johnson, left, and Jared Hainey, inmates at the Lake County Jail, dig ditches that will be used to install plumbing for a home under construction by Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter. (Martin E. Comas/Orlando Sentinel)

When Carlos Angulo leaves the Lake County Jail as a free man in the coming months, he will carry with him newly-learned construction skills — including painting, plumbing and flooring — that he hopes will land him a job.

But more importantly, Angulo said, he helped build an affordable home for a family in need while learning those skills.

Angulo, 20, is among half a dozen Lake County inmates who have started building a home on West St. Louis Drive in Eustis for Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter as part of the new Inmate Construction Academy, a jail work-release partnership with the Sheriff’s Office comparable to other efforts around the country.

“I like doing this kind of work,” Angulo said Wednesday as he took a break. “I hope to eventually get a job in the construction industry with the skills I’ve learned….And it gets me out of the jail.”

He and the other inmates were installing water and sewer lines on the home site before the concrete for the foundation is poured in the coming days. The three-bedroom, two-bathoom home should be completed in about six months.

Using inmates to build homes for Habitat for Humanity has been successfully implemented for years in other parts of the country as a way to reduce recidivism.

In 2015, the Habitat for Humanity Capital District and the Albany County Sheriff’s Office in upstate New York launched a similar jail work-release program.

Read the full article written by Martin E. Comas – Contact Report – Orlando Sentinel

Lake County inmates to help construct Habitat for Humanity homes

LAKE COUNTY, Fla. – The Lake County Sheriff’s Office announced on Tuesday that inmates will now be working to help build Habitat for Humanity houses.

Inmates will be able to leave jail and head out into the community to help on the project. Officials hope that the inmates will learn skills that will help them once they are released so that they won’t end up back behind bars.

The program, Inmate Construction Academy, was launched Monday at a site in Eustis.

“They’ll learn how to build a house, from start to finish,” said Danielle Stroud of Habitat for Humanity. “They will be part of the process the entire way.”

Officials said only a select bunch of inmates will get the chance to be a part of the program.

The sheriff’s office is hoping this program is as successful as the one launched last year that helped female inmates learn to sew.

Habitat for Humanity officials said they always need volunteers, but the inmates will be extra help on top of what they already have.

Unlike other Habitat for Humanity sites, the one where inmates will be working will be closed to other volunteers.

By: Myrt Price

Board Member Spotlight

Board Member Spotlight

Christina A. Campbell
Attorney

From a young age, Christina Campbell’s mother instilled in her the importance of helping others. And that has become a priority for the local attorney who earned her Juris Doctor from the University of Florida in 2016 and still finds time to serve a number of community organizations.

Campbell has been a member of Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter’s Foundation Board since 2018 and was appointed to the Affiliate Board in January 2019.

“Christina has been such a valuable asset to our organization as a member of our Foundation Board,” says Danielle Stroud, Director of Development at Habitat for Humanity. “We’re so fortunate to have the opportunity to further tap into her passion and abilities as a member of our Affiliate Board.”

In addition to her work with Habitat for Humanity, Campbell has been a member of the Junior League since 2014 and currently serves on the Community Impact Committee.  She is also a member of the Villages Morning Rotary Club and the Leadership Lake County Class of 2019.  While in her hometown of Lakeland, she volunteers her time with Volunteers in Service to the Elderly.

Campbell says her love of volunteering stems from the values she was exposed to as a child as well as the feeling she gets from helping others accomplish something they couldn’t have done on their own. Though she had already shown her commitment to Habitat through her service on the Foundation Board, she says that seeing first-hand the impact of the organization’s time and effort solidified her love for Habitat and its mission.

“I had the privilege of joining a team for the Global Village Trip to Honduras in June of last year,” says Campbell. “This trip was life changing – the people I met, both volunteers and home owners, became a part of my family and I will never forget the memories we made on that trip.”

“I truly believe in Habitat’s mission. Home is where you go to feel safe, where you go to re-charge, where you go to be with your family,” Campbell shared when asked why Habitat’s mission is important to her personally. “If you don’t have a place where you feel safe and secure, it is much harder to make positive choices and achieve your goals.  I believe that our work helps families who want to build better lives for themselves.  I also like the fact that Habitat allows for hands on volunteer work so that I can see the actual benefit of my time in the community.”

Campbell’s says her experience as an attorney has taught her how to listen to people’s needs and develop a plan to help them achieve their goals.  “I genuinely enjoy helping people. I do that in my daily work, and I want to continue doing that with Habitat,” says Campbell.

With all of Campbell’s commitments, she has still found the time to lead a team for Habitat’s Women Build Event which is a national initiative to provide safe and decent homes for families in need of affordable housing. Campbell, whose team is comprised of women from the McLin Burnsed law firm where she practices as an attorney, says she “looks forward to working together as women to make a difference in the community and break some stereotypes.” Something Campbell is already doing as she gives back to community in so many ways.

“Christina has already made a tremendous impact at Habitat,” says Stroud. “She was a natural choice for our Affiliate Board and we know she’ll bring the same level of drive and dedication that she has become known for in our community.”

By David Larrick

Romac Match

 

RoMac Lumber and Supply’s Match for March continues in 2019 with an unprecedented offer; in the month of March all donations will be matched, dollar for dollar, up to $20,000 and will benefit the Youth Construction Academy of Leesburg. Those interested in donating during the Match period can do so by going to www.habitatls.org/give or by mail to 900 Main Street, Ste 210, The Villages, FL, 32159.

Leesburg High School students will begin their Youth Construction Academy program in August 2019. Partnering with Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter, selected students will get the hands-on training of building a home from the ground up. Students who have entered the Youth Construction Academy in their Junior year will learn safety standards, plan reading, basic rough carpentry and framing; along with many other subjects that are necessary in the construction field.

During their Senior year, the students will take what they’ve learned in the classroom and spend a daily class period at a live construction site. Hands-on training of the techniques and safety standards previously learned will be applied as students practice concept reinforcement and acquire a certificate of completion that can be used when pursuing higher education or entering the workforce. By the end of the student’s senior year they will have the finished product of their labor standing in front of them, a brand new affordable home.  Students will be invited to join the dedication ceremony, meeting the Habitat family that they built this home for.

“Don Magruder, CEO of RoMac Lumber, has been a longtime supporter of Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter and our mission of providing housing for all.  As the president of the construction academy advisory board at Leesburg High School he is eager to invest in the students,” says Danielle Stroud, Director of Development.  “The construction advisory board wants this program to be the best in the state…so we are going to work to ensure that is a reality.”

RoMac’s Match is a limited time opportunity to double your impact for double the cause! Build a safe, affordable home in the community and invest in skillful education for our students, while building foundations in the community that will benefit home ownership and the future of our workforce for years to come.

 

Youth Construction Academy: Builds Dreams

Youth Construction Academy: Builds Dreams

For Jasmine and her six-year-old daughter, the dream of owning a new home began with an email from The Villages Charter Schools. For the students at the high school, they began building those dreams a year earlier.

The Villages Charter School, in The Villages, Florida, had just launched their Construction Management Academy and had assembled an advisory committee that included industry experts to help steer curriculum for the new academy. Don McGruder, CEO of RoMac Lumber and a member of the advisory committee, suggested the academy partner with Habitat for Humanity which then began working with the high school to hammer out the details of a partnership as soon as possible.

The following year, an email looking for applicants to participate as the home owner landed in Jasmine’s inbox. “I remember when I was chosen for the opportunity,” said Jasmine. “I was super excited and I’m still trying to wrap my mind around it.”

Jasmine’s daughter Carmen was overjoyed as well. “She was literally jumping for joy,” Jasmine said of her daughter’s reaction to being told they were getting a home of their own. “She’s excited about finally having a backyard.”

As for the students participating in the Construction Management Academy, they were excited about the opportunity to give back to the community while preparing for employment or advanced training in the building construction industry. The academy’s curriculum, which is a credit course for the students, outlines opportunities to learn everything from basic use of hand tools, plan reading and rough carpentry to more advanced concepts such as site preparation, estimating and knowledge of codes, regulations and sustainability issues relevant to the construction industry.

The academy’s students have had hands on involvement with everything except for plumbing, HVAC, and electrical work which must be done by licensed professionals. Even so, they were able to observe those trades being performed in a live environment and were presented with speakers and other learning opportunities to increase their knowledge of those trades.

Jasmine learned some new skills as well by helping with painting and the installation of the home’s dry wall. And, while her daughter was too young to help in the construction, they were both able to meet some of the young men helping them realize their dream. They have a great group of kids working on the house,” said Jasmine.  “It’s amazing to see what these young men have accomplished.”

The mother-daughter duo gets to see those accomplishments on a near daily basis. “They’re ahead of schedule and we’re closing in April,” said Jasmine who takes Carmen to check on their new home every day after school. Jasmine also noted Carmen’s excitement at seeing all of the young kids playing in their future neighborhood. “I’m excited because now we’ll be in a new neighborhood and I can make new friends,” shared Carmen.

The partnership with The Villages Charter School has been such a success that Habitat for Humanity is already in the process of selecting a home site on which to work with the academy next year. Habitat is also extending the program into Leesburg where it plans to partner with Leesburg High School on a similar program.

As for Jasmine and Carmen, they are planning on celebrating their move with both of their birthdays in June. “We’ll be having a housewarming party with some friends and family as well,” says Jasmine. But Carmen has much bigger plans. “In June, for my birthday, I’m going to have a mermaid slumber party with all my friends and cousins!” Surely a place and time for new dreams to come true.

By David Larrick

Affordable Housing Part 4: B is for Baloney: The Myth-ing Information Problem

Affordable Housing Part 4: B is for Baloney: The Myth-ing Information Problem

B is for Baloney: The Myth-ing Information Problem

 

What’s the first thing that pops into your mind when a young couple talks about finding affordable housing? What about when a politician talks about it? Or a non-profit?

Lots of myths and mis-information about affordable housing affect our understanding of it. Here are some of the highlights from a Community Housing Partners fact sheet, Affordable Housing Facts . (Similar sources are linked at the end of this article.)

 

  1. It’s ugly: In the past, this was probably true, but the laws have changed. Affordable housing has to fit the community character in size and style, and it has to meet the same building restrictions and design standards as market-rate housing. If government funding is involved, then construction might have even more restrictions or higher standards. What makes it ‘affordable’ is the financing of the construction and/or the mortgage.
  2. It increases crime: According the CHP fact sheet, “There is no correlation between safe, decent and affordable housing and crime. Studies show that what does cause crime (and a host of other socio-economic ills) is community disinvestment, overcrowding, and a lack of jobs and community services. Failure to build affordable housing leads to slum conditions of overcrowding, absentee owners and deteriorating properties with no alternatives available to low-income families…Careful screening, proper management, and security measures help assure that illegal activities do not take place and that, if they do, they are dealt with swiftly and decisively. Most affordable housing residents want nothing more than to become part of the quiet, peaceful life of the surrounding community. They have sought out affordable housing so that they can live independent, self-sufficient lives.”
  3. It isn’t an asset to the community: The opposite is true. Affordable housing “enables low-paid workers and others to avoid homelessness…avoid the need for public benefits…enables individuals to stabilize their lives so they can pursue jobs, access needed services, and deal effectively with any problems they may have…Availability of affordable housing enables the city to attract and to retain employers who require affordable housing for their lower level employees…also reduces the stress on other government-provided social services.”

 

Other sources note another common myth: “I don’t know anyone who needs affordable housing.” Actually, you probably know at least one and maybe even several. Let’s go back to the definition of ‘affordable,’ which is 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).

Look at the chart below; if you’re earning $10 per hour, on a 40 hour week, a 4 week month, an affordable rent or mortgage situation would mean paying no more than $480 per month. This is at an annual income of $19,200.  Another way to look at this is to look at the monthly rent column; for example, it’s very common to see a 2 bedroom apartment renting for $1200+ per month. To keep that ‘affordable’ you’d have to be earning $48,000 per year.

Hourly Wage

Weekly gross income @ 40 hours Income working 4 weeks per month Affordable Monthly Housing Expense Annual Income required:

40

4

30%

 $8.25

 $330  $1,320  $396

 $15,840

 $10.00

 $400

 $1,600  $480

 $19,200

 $15.00

 $600  $2,400  $720

 $28,800

 $25.00

 $1,000  $4,000  $1,200

 $48,000

 $30.00  $1,200  $4,800  $1,440

 $57,600

 

Any guesses as to a typical income in your company? Your church? Your community? Do you know what the median hourly wage is for your area? The median rent? Once we look at housing costs from the perspective of hourly or annual income, we learn a few things…and we’d be surprised at who we know or who we’re near who needs affordable housing options.

To better understand this way of looking at the issue, the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) calculates what they call “The Housing Wage.” This number illustrates what hourly wage you’d have to earn to afford the typical rent based on where you live. For 2018, Florida has the 16th highest housing wage requirement in the entire country. Any guesses at to what you’d have to earn per hour to afford a typical 2 bedroom rental home in the state? Or if you’re earning minimum wage, how many hours you’d have to work each week to meet that ‘affordable’ number?  I double dog dare you to find out!


it's your turnYour turn: If you’re up for the double-dog dare, go to the NLIHC site and see what hourly wage is required to afford (pay less than 30% of household income) rent/PITI in various locations. You can even drill down by zip code.

We encourage you to talk about this with everyone you know. Why? Because there’s someone out there who needs this information…and feel free to send them our way if they’re looking for an affordable home to buy in Lake or Sumter Counties. Let’s get the word out about making housing affordable!

And don’t forget to share your discoveries with us on social media.

Facebook     Instagram     Twitter

Additional resources:

click here https://www.abodo.com/blog/heavy-housing-burden/

click here https://www.abodo.com/blog/renter-cost-burdens-by-generation/

click here http://www.shimberg.ufl.edu/publications/FL_2017_RMS_fact_sheet.pdf  (Florida specific info)

Mary & Raymond Scott- Wildwood Repair and Restoration

To a passerby, the group of people at Mary and Raymond Scott’s house may have looked like a gathering of old friends and family. Among the hustle and bustle of a restoration in progress, there was laughter, story telling, and a sense of something special happening in the air.

They weren’t old friends though; they were a group of volunteers that Mary Scott saw outside another house in her Wildwood neighborhood, not too long ago. She noticed the Habitat for Humanity truck, and with her own home needing repairs, she felt drawn to get out and ask for help. Her application was approved, and her own experience with Habitat began. She considers it to be one of her greatest blessings in life.

The night before the restoration, Mary was so excited that she couldn’t sleep. “It was like my birthday and Christmas wrapped up into one,” she says. That following morning, when the volunteers stepped onto her property, she made it her mission to make them all feel welcomed. She greeted each volunteer with handshakes and hugs, taking the time to get to know each one personally. She would ask about their families and share stories about hers. She had cold drinks on hand, and prepared snacks and lunch so nobody would go hungry. “I like to make everyone feel special,” she says. “To me, everybody is somebody.” The gratitude and kindness Mary and Raymond showed ensured that those somebodies were going to pour their hearts into restoring their home for them.

As the house was being repaired and painted, a new AC unit was being installed and landscaping was being selected. If you didn’t know any better, you could have easily mistaken Raymond Scott for a volunteer. If there was a ladder being climbed, Raymond was at the bottom supporting it. When the AC was being installed, he was right there holding it in place. He stirred paint and brought tools, humble and helpful through the whole project.

Their experience with Habitat for Humanity has impacted the Scotts greatly. Not only do they have a fresh coat of paint on their home, but they also have a fresh perspective on life. Mary says she “thanks God every day” for this opportunity, and with her son being sick in the hospital believes that Habitat was sent into her life at a time she needed it the most. “I’ve never had anyone help me like this,” says Mary. “I feel so happy.”

When the project is completed, the volunteers leave but they are not forgotten.  This blessing has brought Mary and Raymond Scott closer together as a couple and they are thankful for that. Every morning they are up early, proudly taking care of their home. Together, they replanted a banana plant gifted to them by a volunteer so that it could get more sun. Neighbors slow down to compliment the colors Mary picked out for the house, and regulars at her church gush about how pretty it is. Their son joked about not recognizing the house at first, and their six-year-old great granddaughter picks up a broom and helps them sweep the “new house.” While this journey has brought the Scott family closer together, their kindness and appreciation has left an unforgettable impression on the volunteers.

I guess you could say that Habitat for Humanity doesn’t just work on homes, they work on hearts, too.

By: Lauren Lester

Affordable Housing Part 3: Affordable Housing Affects All of Us

Maybe you aren’t cost-burdened. You don’t have to decide between paying the light bill or buying food. And neither do your friends or neighbors. Maybe you’re thinking this whole issue of affordable housing doesn’t affect you.

Think again.

A 2014 report by Enterprise Community Partners (here) should make us all pause and reconsider. The lack of affordable housing has measurable impacts on families, communities, and society overall. The report on housing instability, including homelessness, presents their findings by major issues; below is an excerpt of just three of these issues we can all relate to:

• Education — Housing instability/homelessness (HI/H) jeopardizes children’s performance and success in school and contributes to long-lasting achievement gaps. The stress of HI/H makes learning difficult; in addition, it disrupts school attendance, lowering students’ overall academic performance. Long-term academic success is directly impacted by housing stability.

• Health — HI/H has serious negative impacts on the health of children and adults. Problems include asthma, being underweight, developmental delays, and increases the risk of depression, to name a few. Affordable housing provides stability, freeing up resources for nutritious food and health care.

• Neighborhood Quality — The report states that “A number of national and regional studies have found that investments in affordable housing produce benefits in the form of jobs, local income, sales, increased property values and property tax revenues…” and “…Numerous studies show that affordable housing has a neutral or positive effect on surrounding property values…”

Let’s bring this closer to home. In October 2017 the Orlando Sentinel published the results of a study done by the Shimberg Center for Housing Studies at the University of Florida and Miami Homes for All, a South Florida nonprofit. The research focused on student homelessness; the Sentinel’s article (“Central Florida’s Homeless Students Top 14,000”) can be found here. According to the study, “…only 24 percent to 27 percent of homeless students passed assessment tests, while 40 percent to 48 percent of other students did.” They had higher rates of truancy and suspension, and “Even compared with students who live in poverty but are not homeless, the students whose families stay in shelters, cars, doubled up with another family or in extended-stay hotels fared significantly worse…” The Sentinel quotes Christina Savino, Orange County Public Schools senior administrator for homeless and migrant education: “…that lack of a stable home still really makes a difference.”

The lack of affordable, stable housing eventually ripples through all aspects of the local community and economy. While you might not be cost-burdened based on your income, your larger community, including the central Florida region as a whole, suffers when families are priced out of a stable place to call home.


Your turn: Contact a local food pantry, teacher, community police officer, or health clinic and discuss the issues they see related to housing instability/homelessness. For example, ask the food pantry how hunger affects their clients’ choices on other critical needs; ask a teacher how hunger affects a student’s classroom behavior and academic progress; ask a local police officer how the lack of affordable housing affects crime; ask a health clinic about the impact of delayed medical attention on children and families. Who else might you discuss the topic with? Share your experiences with us!

Students experience building firsthand

Kaleb Ward, left, a senior at The Villages High School, and Bruce Haberle, construction management academy instructor, work on the roof trusses on a Habitat for Humanity home under construction Thursday at Winners Circle in Lady Lake. -Bill Mitchell, Daily Sun

Kaleb Ward, left, a senior at The Villages High School, and Bruce Haberle, construction management academy instructor, work on the roof trusses on a Habitat for Humanity home under construction Thursday at Winners Circle in Lady Lake. Bill Mitchell, Daily Sun

A local family soon will have a home with the help of 11 seniors from The Villages High School.

The students are building an 1,100-square-foot house in Lady Lake through the school’s Construction Management Academy’s partnership with Habitat for Humanity, a housing organization that works with communities across the nation.

On Thursday, the roof trusses were set on the house where the students have worn hard hats and climbed ladders four days a week since the beginning of the school year.

VHS Principal Bill Zwick stood at the construction site to observe and admire their hard work.

“This gives them the total experience of building a house from beginning to end,” Zwick said. “When they graduate, they’ll have this background knowledge. It’s a learning experience that will benefit them no matter where they go in life.”

The students started building the back wall Aug. 16, and their hands will be on the house until the project is complete at the end of the school year. So far, they are on schedule.

The two-year academy launched last year, and this is the first year it has been offered to both juniors and seniors.

The juniors learn the basics of construction and go through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration 10-hour training, and the seniors put their skills to the test.

“It gives us a good foundation to build a career,” said senior Colby Sharp, 17.

Click here for the full article!

Lake County students continue building home

 – A Lake County class has high school students building a home with their own hands.

The class works to build a home within the school year, leaving them nine more months to go. At the end of those months, the home will be turned over to Habitat for Humanity. The students will complete everything that is not mechanical, plumbing, or electric. As of Thursday morning, the foundation has been poured in and they are setting up the roof.

Students come out to build the home four days a week. Friday’s are held in the classroom.

Affordable Housing Part 2: Affordable Alternatives

Affordable Housing Part I:  The A, B, Cs

A is Also for Affordable Alternatives

Housing burdened. That’s the diagnosis if you’re paying more than 30% of your household income in rent/utilities. If you’re paying 50% or more, then you’re extremely housing burdened, but you probably already knew that! Whether you’re renting or trying to buy a house, are there options for finding something that fits your budget?

The good news? Yes, many programs help with renting or buying, based on location, income, family size, and other criteria. Their goal is to keep you at/under that 30% benchmark. Habitat for Humanity Lake Sumter is one of them, though we’re a small non-profit rather than a government-funded agency. If you’re hoping to buy a home in Lake or Sumter County, FL, consider starting with us. Review our Home-Ownership Qualification Criteria here: https://habitatls.org/programs/apply/.

For more comprehensive options, explore what’s offered by the Federal government, as noted in the links below; we’re sharing content from these websites as well.

The bad news? Finding the right one takes a lot of time and effort, and there’s often a long waiting list to access these programs.

Renters: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is the mothership of programs and information. Start here https://www.hud.gov/topics/rental_assistance and use their links:

  • Privately owned subsidized housing – HUD helps apartment owners offer reduced rents to low-income tenants. Search for an apartment and apply directly at the management office.
  • Public Housing – affordable apartments for low-income families, the elderly, and persons with disabilities. To apply, contact a public housing agency (PHA).
  • Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8) – find your own place and use the voucher to pay for all or part of the rent. To apply, contact a public housing agency.
  • HUD Resource Locator – search for HUD field and regional offices, local PHAs, Multifamily and Public Housing locations, homeless coordinated entry system points of contacts, and USDA (Department of Agriculture), which focuses strictly on rural housing

Were you surprised to see the USDA listed? Their programs cover rentals, home purchases, and even repair grants. https://www.usda.gov/topics/rural/housing-assistance

Home Buying: Both HUD and the USDA are good sources for home buying information, guidelines, and financial input. Check these links to learn more:


Your turn: Find an affordable apartment for a) your elderly uncle (monthly income $960) or your cousin (a single mom with a pre-schooler, earning $15/hour working 40 hours/week). Rent + utilities cannot exceed 30% of the total monthly income. Using the resources above, find what programs are offered in your area; are they in a city or a rural area? What restrictions apply? Is there a wait list? How long? You have one week to find it…GO! Don’t forget to share what you learned in this process on our FB page, https://www.facebook.com/habitatls/

World Habitat Day

More than 30 years ago, the United Nations General Assembly took an important step in promoting the idea that everyone deserves a decent place to live by declaring that the first Monday in October would be World Habitat Day.

Every year Habitat for Humanity joins our partners around the world to rededicate ourselves to recognizing the basic right of everyone to adequate shelter. Habitat for Humanity asks everyone to join together as one global network in communicating the message that every one of us deserves the opportunity for a better future, and that a decent place to live can remove barriers to opportunity, health, and success that might have been part of a family’s life for years, and in many cases for generations.

Our effectiveness is only as good as the people who help enact our mission – that’s you!  Help us spread the word about World Habitat Day and the underlying need it’s meant to address.

Take Action Now!
1. Share!     Push out our World Habitat Day message on your favorite social media platform.
We may not go viral, but if we can go local then we’ve reached the community we serve and have the potential to change lives.
                                                              

2. Get involved!

Our build sites always need extra hands, and Carlos is always ready to sign people up for the next project. Reach out to him at (352) 483-0434 x119 or Carlos@HabitatLS.org.

3. Donate!

Money moves mountains, and it also builds houses for local families in need – help us increase our ability to serve by donating to your Hometown Habitat today!

Donate Here

Nifty & Thrifty

You’ve heard the old saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” and believe me, there are lots of treasures to be found while thrifting. Browsing through a thrift or resale store may seem fruitless at first glance and you may find yourself a tad underwhelmed, but the most seasoned thrifters will tell you that the key to a good find is a little bit of luck and a lot of looking.  In order to find fantastic deals and ideas for restoring items to their former glory or better, follow these tips and tricks.

Tip #1: Keep an open mind. You are not doing yourself any favors by judging an item in its current condition. Don’t disregard an item because the paint is chipped or you don’t like that crazy color. Even the saddest looking items can be spruced up with a vibrant paint job. Look for pieces that you like the shape and size of, or that need a simple touch up. For outdoor and smaller décor items, there is an array of spray paints that can turn almost any item from boring to beautiful. On bigger furniture pieces, chalk paint is your new best friend. It has the rustic farmhouse look, is easy to apply without prior sanding and is extremely forgiving over scratches and nicks. Experiment with colors, types of paint, and sanding techniques for a piece that will have others asking, “where’d you get that?”

Tip #2: Repurpose an item. 50% of my personal thrift store finds are not being used for what they were originally intended. Let your imagination go wild or take an idea that you’ve seen before and make it your own. Old windows are extremely popular for their versatility, and can be repurposed as photo frames, chalk boards, or coffee mug holders. An old wooden crate can be painted and used as an indoor or outdoor coffee table for that cute coastal look. Find an old real wood dresser? Paint it, distress it, and replace the bottom drawers with decorative baskets for a unique TV stand. The possibilities for repurposing are endless!

Tip#3:  Shop off season. If you follow the trends of thrift store donations, you will find that most people are donating the seasonal items that they aren’t currently using. It is much easier to purge summer items in winter and vice versa. If you are conscious of this, try shopping a season ahead to get first pick on those items. Shopping for winter clothes and Christmas décor in June will allow you to get all your winter items at a reasonable price before the cold rolls around.

Tip #4: Thoroughly inspect your items. While it is not expected for second hand or discounted items to be in perfect condition, make sure you check your items for functionality. Look for wood rot on furniture, holes in clothing, and ask an associate to plug in appliances to ensure they are in working condition. There is nothing worse than a purchase that you can’t use, so take your time to look over your items. I would never advise going into a resale store in a rush as it can be easy to overlook the best bargains and end up with something that you may not use.

Happy Thrifting everyone!


You can try these ideas and find your supplies at any of our 4 ReStores!

Eustis ReStore
710 S. Bay Street
Eustis, FL 32726
352-483-0410
Groveland ReStore
205 Woodfield Court
Groveland, FL 34736
352-429-9052
Leesburg ReStore
200 N. Lone Oak Drive
Leesburg, FL 34748
352-728-6366
Wildwood ReStore
6761 County Rd 148
Wildwood, FL 34785
352-330-0881

Wildwood family thankful for Habitat for Humanity refurbishing effort

Wildwood homeowners Mary and Raymond Scott say they’re thankful for the effort to refurbish their home.

In very short order, Raymond and Mary Scott’s home in Wildwood will be sporting a new coat of paint on the exterior, improved landscaping and a new window unit that runs both air conditioning and heat. That’s all thanks to Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter’s Preservation and Repair program and the large team of volunteers who showed up to do the work.

“Not everyone is aware that refurbishing homes is also part of our program, not just building new homes,” said Habitat for Humanity site supervisor Travis Wofford. “Last year we refurbished 50 homes in Lake and Sumter counties.”

A large contingent of the volunteers came from the Amigos Sports Club in The Villages.

“We’ve been around for 10 years” said Amigos Sports Club founder and president David Lindsey. “We gather to do charitable work and also party once a month.”

The club has grown and currently has a waiting list of more than a hundred people on it. Among the group’s many charitable projects is their work for Habitat for Humanity, which they have done for several years. Lindsey said that his chief duty on this project, in addition to rounding up enough volunteers, was to make sure he brought the doughnuts.

Qualifications for the Preservation and Repair program are based on income and home ownership. The Scott’s are retired and have lived in their home for 21 years. Mary retired after 30 years in custodial services with the school board. While she was driving one day, she saw a Habitat truck and a house being painted. She got out and asked questions and started the application process.

“I feel God sent me that way on that day,” she said. “This means the world to me.”

She was excited to pick out new colors for her exterior. “I wanted something brighter than the brown we had always had,” Mary said.

She decided to go with light gray and a darker gray for the trim.

“Travis helped me with the shades of the colors,” Mary said. “The thing I am most excited about is the new window unit,” she added, pointing out that the one they had “didn’t work very well and didn’t have heat.”

Click here for the full article and more photos!

Affordable Housing Part 1: The A, B, C’s

A is for Affordable…

“Can we afford it?”

This is one of the first questions any renter or home buyer should be asking. But what, exactly, does ‘affordable’ mean? What’s affordable to you might not be to me. Is this just a philosophy about how to handle money or is this something more concrete and measurable?

It’s actually very straight-forward. The term ‘affordable housing’ means that the household spends no more than 30% of their total household income on rent plus utilities.

Why?

Because households need money left over to pay for things like food, transportation, and healthcare—known as non-discretionary spending (these are ‘needs’ not ‘wants’).

“Housing expenditures that exceed 30 percent of household income have historically been viewed as an indicator of a housing affordability problem. The conventional 30 percent of household income that a household can devote to housing costs before the household is said to be “burdened” evolved from the United States National Housing Act of 1937” (1).

The Housing Act created the nation’s public housing program to serve families with the very lowest incomes. Since then, a variety of definitions were used to establish what was considered ‘affordable’ for public housing rents. By 1981, the 30% benchmark was put into place and has remained the standard.

This benchmark eventually became part of the home-buying process when lenders began using it as part of their evaluation of a buyer’s ability to repay the loan, especially if the borrower had other debts to pay. However, in mortgage-lending land, “rent plus utilities” was replaced by the PITI factor: this is the combined total of the loan’s Principle, Interest, Taxes, and Insurance.  “Through the mid 1990s, underwriting standards reflected the lender’s perception of loan risk. That is, a household could afford to spend nearly 30 percent of income for servicing housing debt and another 12 percent to service consumer debt. Above these thresholds, a household could not afford the home” and the lender wouldn’t take the risk of the buyer defaulting (1).

This benchmark helps families and landlords or lenders objectively gauge the household’s ability to handle the financial burden of the monthly housing payment. Whether it’s a rental or a purchase, then, it’s a very helpful tool and one we’ll come back to later in this series. The big question now is: based on this definition of ‘affordable’ what are my options if I can’t find a place I can afford?

If that’s the case, then it’s time to look at the variety of programs in place to help make housing affordable, whether it’s a rental or a home purchase. We’ll look at some of those next time and also consider why affordable housing is important…not just for a family but also for the entire community.

 

Your turn: Calculate what percent of your household income is used to pay for your housing (rent + utilities, or mortgage PITI). Next, ask others you know to do the same. Consider asking employees, young singles or marrieds, etc. Discuss how your and their situations would look if 50% or more of your total household income went to pay for housing. What other expenses would be affected?

 

(1): https://www.census.gov/housing/census/publications/who-can-afford.pdf

National Home Builders Association-Best in America

As one of the top 10 homebuilders in the country, Habitat for Humanity is not new to the construction world. What differentiates us here at Habitat Lake Sumter is the ways in which we adapt to the evolving needs of the community and take advantage of unique opportunities to do so. One of the ways we accomplished that was through the building of the Veterans Village in Umatilla, and the project was novel enough to catch the eye of the National Association of Homebuilders. Check out the full article here!

Sponsor of the Month – CVS

Community Collaboration

Partnering with local businesses, civic groups, and more has always been crucial to building Habitat’s ability to, well, build. Without a reliable network of volunteers and donors, our mission would be dead in the water, and the dream of safe, affordable housing would remain just that for so many people. As part of our growing network, we’ve teamed up with CVS Pharmacy to reach some families in need in the Wildwood area! CVS will be sponsoring three days of work through our Preservation and Repair program, which helps people remain in their homes while ensuring safety and accessibility needs are met, at no cost to the homeowner.

What We’re Doing

The Preservation and Repair program is vital to helping us make the most of the existing affordable housing stock and allowing people to remain in the homes they already own. The work involved can run anywhere from simple clearing of debris to replacing windows and doors or, often times, installing an accessibility ramp to allow easier access to their home. These projects, while often low difficulty for us, many times mean the world for those we serve, and the program has grown quickly in the last couple years. Here’s the details on this upcoming partnership project:

Date: September 18, 19, 20
Time: 8AM – 1PM
Location: 5175 CR 144, Wildwood, FL 34785 and 308 Jackson St., Wildwood, FL 34785

We need volunteers! To get involved, please contact Carlos at 352-483-0434 x119 or carlos@habitatls.org.

About CVS

CVS Pharmacy is a proud partner with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter. As a company, they always lead with heart and their mission is to help people on their path to better health in all aspects of life.  CVS recognizes the importance of Habitat for Humanity’s mission to build homes and and helping make our community as healthy as we can.

They are also excited to introduce a WALK-IN hearing center in your community. Within the CVS Pharmacy store in The Villages on E. County Rd 466, the Hearing Aid Center is offering WALK-IN hearing exams, over the counter hearing aids, and FREE fittings & cleanings. Stop by today and HEAR what they’re all about, ask questions, or get any existing hearing products serviced. The Hearing Aid Center is located in the CVS Pharmacy at 5208 E County Rd 466 at the corner of Belvedere Blvd and open Tuesday – Friday (10am – 5pm) and Saturday (10am – 3pm).

Taking the classroom outside, students learn to build homes

 

Click here for more!

Lake County high school students learn how to build homes

Students who are part of the inaugural senior class of the Youth Construction Academy, a new program Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, are learning how to build homes. (Sarah Panko, staff)

Students who are part of the inaugural senior class of the Youth Construction Academy, a new program Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, are learning how to build homes. (Sarah Panko, staff)

THE VILLAGES, Fla. — Some Lake County high school students are not only getting an education, but also learning how to build homes.

  • 10 students are part of Youth Construction Academy by Habitat for Humanity
  • Students first learn the skils and tools in the classroom
  • Then they take those lessons and apply them into building a house

Knowlen Kirkland is an 18-year-old senior at The Villages Charter High School. He says he wants to study construction management in college.

“My Grandpa was a shop teacher, my Dad and me remodeled my entire house and I enjoyed it all,” he said.

Kirkland is one of 10 students who are part of the inaugural senior class of the Youth Construction Academy, a new program Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter started last year.

Barry Martin, construction manager for Habitat, is supervising the students as they build a three-bedroom, two-bath house in Lady Lake.

Click here for the full article!

Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter builds homes for veterans, active military members

Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter built affordable homes for veterans, active military called ‘Veterans Village.’ (Sarah Panko, staff)

UMATILLA, Fla. — Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter is done building homes in a Lake County neighborhood.

  • Habitat for Humanity builds homes for ‘Veterans Village’
  • Affordable homes meant for veterans, active military

The 13 affordable homes are for veterans, activity military and spouses of those who have served.

It’s called the Veterans Village and it’s located in Umatilla.

Shawn Unger moved into the development at the end of June.

“(I) wanted to get out of the apartment living and into a home. I do have two small children in the house, so a little more wholesome living than that of the apartment,” said Unger.

Unger says he went into the Air Force when he was 17 years old after graduating from high school.

“My parents had to give me permission to do so and sign a form, and then I reported to Lackland Air Force base in 1985,” he said.

Unger’s house is one of 13 Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter started building in 2016.

Click here for the full article!

Family. Friends. Flamingos.

The Light
by Lee Owen

Some say there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel.

Some say it’s probably a train.

But not Priscilla. She’d just smile and say no, not a train. Something entirely unexpected and perfectly poignant. Something that includes you, dear reader.

After being laid off in 2009, Priscilla focused on education to improve her long term job prospects: an AS in Building Construction Technologies, a BAS in Supervision and Administration at UCF, and an AS in Drafting and Design. She graduated Suma Cum Laude, with Honors for highest GPA. Her mentor encouraged her to pursue her Master’s degree. All the while, she was working part time and driving an hour each way to help with her elderly mother’s medical appointments.

And then a tunnel named Alzheimer’s made its all-consuming debut. With no extended family in the region, the next step was obvious: she withdrew from the Master’s program, then left her job to become her mother’s fulltime caregiver. She even tried working from home but her mother’s needs made it impossible.

That was in 2014. By the time her mother was approved for Medicaid help in 2016, she and her savings were exhausted, credit cards were maxed out, and she’d sold every major item she could to help with the expenses. With all that going on, there wasn’t time, money, or energy left to keep the home in good repair. Then one day a friend told her about Habitat for Humanity’s Preservation and Repair Program.

Priscilla called Habitat and began the application process. She shares that the staff’s compassion and attention to detail were a great encouragement.  Habitat’s site supervisor helped the volunteers and sub-contractors understand her mother’s needs.  They performed their duties with gentleness, caution, and overall excellence.

“Never once was I made to feel I was ‘less’ because I was in need, or that I wasn’t worthy,” Priscilla says. “How the Preservation and Repair staff do business should be the benchmark for all other organizations that profess missions to help those in need.”

Her days of wondering if there’d ever be a light at the end of the tunnel are over. Habitat’s volunteers and sub-contractors made interior accessibility modifications, painted the house, tore down a rotting shed, removed dead trees, hung a “Welcome” flag, gave new life to the flower beds, and added a bird bath. Outside their living room window, a new light is shining. And no, it’s not a train. It’s one that Habitat’s Preservation and Repair team chose especially for this yard: a solar-powered flamingo light.

And how are you, dear reader, a part of this? Your support—by reading our newsletters, telling others, volunteering, and donating—has enabled us to reach more families who need a light at the end of their own tunnels. And the entirely unexpected, perfectly-poignant moment you helped create? Well…

“Each time my mom comes into and leaves our living room, she looks out the front window for that light.” Priscilla pauses, then smiles. “What all those people didn’t know is that my mom loves flamingos.”

So, keep reading. Keep telling others. Keep sharing what your Home Town Habitat is doing to lighten the lives of those who need a hand up, not a hand out. Together, let’s light up Lake and Sumter Counties!


Also, we’d like to pass along information about the team that Priscilla set up for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s event in honor of her mother. The Walk is on October 6th at Lake Eola in downtown Florida, and if you’d like to support her and the cause you can do so by donating, walking with the team, or both! Information on both can be found here.

Out of Reach: The High Cost of Housing 2018

Every year, the National Low Income Housing Coalition releases a report that discusses the cost of living around the country. With a specific focus on rent/mortgages, the report provides a very detailed look at just how unattainable safe, affordable housing can be for so many people. We’ve included some snapshots of this report below, and the link to the entire article is here.

Across a several-part series through the rest of the year, we’ll be breaking down what this information means for us through the “ABC’s” of the issue: Affordability, Baloney, and Clarity. These articles will seek to empower our community through understanding the problem, knowing the solutions, and being confident to act on them.

Stay tuned to our social media pages as we lead into each new article with some questions for you; the answers, and how you find them, will help you better understand the depth and intricacy of the housing world and the subject matter we’ll be exploring.


Lake County veterans village offers homes exclusively for America’s military heroes

 – Kathleen Mabry says joining the U.S. Army at 32 years old, was one of the most difficult things she has ever done. It was the early 1970’s and Mabry was a single mom who needed a job. So, she turned over temporary, legal custody of her children to her best friend and shipped out for grueling basic training.”It was tough. But I was raised tough.” Mabry says. She served stateside in the Army for 6 years during the tail end of the Vietnam War. Her career ended not long after a severe injury while on duty. Decades later, she received a thank you for her service she says she never saw coming. She is one of the newest resident in the Veterans Village. It is a small Umatilla neighborhood built by Habitat for Humanity of Lake/Sumter. All of the homeowners are veterans of U.S. military service.

The News Station’s Tom Johnson takes you there.

Click here for the video!

Unger Family

Through his time in the United States Air Force and his various career tracks post-service, Shawn Unger has travelled across most of the North American continent. Born and raised in West Virginia, Shawn enlisted right after graduating high school in 1985 and spent a full year in Mississippi learning to be a radar technician. He was initially slated to head to Europe for his duty station, but it was then changed last minute to South Dakota.

Once he left the Air Force, he began working for SAIC, a major IT support company, and transitioned from there to Sprint where he worked up to a position as Network Service Manager for the AOL account. After a talk with his father one day at a NASCAR race, he decided to try out the trucking world, and drove big rigs all over the US and Canada; his last employer, out of Tampa, is what led him to make Florida his home.

He left the trucking industry to work for the Department of Homeland Security for a short while before returning to an IT position with Convergys in Lake Mary, Florida. He now lives with his two young sons, Phoenix and Caleb, while his eldest son Timmy lives in New Hampshire. Shawn is looking forward to his wedding later this year to his fiancée, Rowena, who is from the Philippines.

Global Village Trip to Honduras

Scientists say life is made up of atoms and energy, but I say it is made up of stories.  Stories help us understand how we impact the world and how the world impacts us.  Our stories can be silly, or heartbreaking, or thrilling.  Some stories are brief – a spontaneous weekend getaway and some can span years – a journey of self-discovery. I think the best stories are the ones we share with other people, the ones that are experienced both individually and collectively.  The people I met on the Habitat for Humanity Global Village trip to Honduras will forever be a part of my story because together we impacted the lives of a deserving family and of each other.

Our team of volunteers – a group of people, whom without Habitat for Humanity, would have probably never met – quickly became a family.  We grew to know and appreciate each other’s quirks and each other’s strengths. We shared once-in-a-lifetime-excursions – snorkeling through coral reefs, touring gardens and eating exotic fruits straight from the trees, sharing meals with locals, and visiting a pineapple plantation. For me, the most impactful part of our journey was working side by side, sharing tools and water and a lot of sweat at the build site.  The act of joining together to create something so life changing for another family truly fortified the bond of our new volunteer family.  

When my mom bakes my birthday cake she says, “I made it with love.”  That is how I felt at the build site.  As I filled cinder block joints with hand mixed cement and shoveled dirt to fill the foundation, I could feel my love and energy being poured into the Espinoza’s future home.  The warm air around me was filled with a surreal feeling of hope and I felt completely at peace.  I could picture Tatiana and Dylan playing in their bedrooms, safely surrounded by the walls I helped to build.  During our farewell celebration, after becoming so immersed in the culture of Honduras and the Espinoza family, I felt uneasy to be leaving this experience and these people behind me.  The Espinoza family touched my soul and I will remember this blessing always.  Just as the Espinoza family has become a part of my story, I have become a part of theirs and in that sense, I never fully left.  As they move forward and write new stories in their new home, part of me will be there with them…in the dirt, in the cement, and in their hearts.

-Christina Campbell

Christina is an estate planning lawyer for McLin & Burnsed and has been a volunteer and member of the board of the Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter Foundation since January 2018.

 

 

VHS, Habitat Team up to build a home Together

Students from The Villages High School Construction Management Academy will be lending a hand in the construction of a Habitat for Humanity home this fall. The project will give them the opportunity to gain firsthand experience on a job site.<br /> Bill Mitchell, Daily Sun

Students from The Villages High School Construction Management Academy will be lending a hand in the construction of a Habitat for Humanity home this fall. The project will give them the opportunity to gain firsthand experience on a job site.
Bill Mitchell, Daily Sun

Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter will break ground on a new home soon, but the construction crew may look a little younger than usual.

The Villages Charter School and Habitat for Humanity are teaming up through The Villages High School Construction Management Academy to give participating seniors the opportunity to gain firsthand experience on a job site.

Construction on the first home students will have a hand in building will begin in August, but families interested in applying for the home in Lady Lake can do so today through Tuesday by clicking here: habitatls.org/programs/home-ownership/qualifications or by calling 352-483-0434.

“Part of the ramp-up was deciding what projects students would take on, because all of our academies are project based,” said Randy McDaniel, the charter school’s director of education.

VHS academies begin with an advisory board made up with professionals from that field.

“We organized a group of people to be on the construction board and began brainstorming sessions,” McDaniel said. “It was during that discussion that one of the architects mentioned Habitat for Humanity.”

Thanks to the partnership, students in the academy with an interest in construction will have the opportunity to gain real-life experience.

“It’s just like all of our academies — the closer you can make the experience to real life, the better it is going to be,” McDaniel said. “They’re going to be learning how to build a house. They will be there from the foundation to completion. That’s about as real world as you get.”

McDaniel said students will practice time management. They will learn how to meet demands and deadlines, and they will gain pride in their work and skills they learn.

“We are very excited about the opportunity for the kids and the school,” he said. “Plus, Habitat’s mission to help people become homeowners is pretty big. My hope is that it goes really well and becomes a long-running partnership.”

As instructor for the academy, Bruce Haberle will oversee the partnership.

Click here to read the full article.

Sponsor of the Month: The Villages Insurance

As National Women Build Week came to a close, so did The Villages Insurance’s second Team Build with us. This group has been a strong partner of Habitat Lake Sumter for a while, promoting our cause and supporting our events. This month, they came out to work on-site during Women Build and helped us serve a family in Leesburg with some much-needed repairs and renovations. Having strong community partners is key to doing the work we do, and The Villages Insurance helps to fill those ranks with some great people and a drive for service! We wanted to learn more about what continues to drive them to participate in our mission, and this is what they had to say.

 

  1. Why does The Villages Insurance enjoy getting involved in Habitat’s mission?
    Scott Robertson, former president of The Villages Insurance, was passionate about Habitat for Humanity and its mission. It was important to him that the agency partner with Habitat and our colleagues take a hands on approach in assisting with projects. The first build the agency participated in took place one week before Scott’s unexpected passing. We continue our involvement because it brings us great joy to give back to our community and lend a hand up to families working hard to pursue their dreams of owning a home. Participating in builds and preservation projects is a truly humbling experience. The fact we are working side by side with the homeowner, seeing the excitement and pride first hand, is heartwarming; reminds us that the sweat, sore muscles and bruising are so worth it!


  2. What experience has been the most meaningful/impactful?
    They are all unique and hold special memories in their own right. If I must choose then I’d have to say the first one in November 2015. As I mentioned earlier, this was one week before Scott passed away so it holds extra special memories for everyone who was involved. This was our first experience working with the Habitat team and all the amazing people who work hard to make every step of the program possible for the volunteers, homeowners, professionals, and sponsors. This build was for the Elien Family home, and what a joy it was to see their daughter’s room decorated beautifully at the dedication knowing we helped put the nails in the foundation for her to grow on.


  3. What are your thoughts on National Women Build Week and the message behind it?
    Love it! I think many people still believe you have to be a man with strong muscles to build a home. The National Women Build reminds us all that we can do anything we put our minds to. It’s not necessarily about physical strength (although that certainly helps!) but more about the willingness and desire to help fellow humans wanting to improve their lives and open a world of opportunity for their family. Hard to believe I know, but quite a few of us in the agency are not carpenters or painters. Ask us how to protect the home and we’re your expert! Ask us about what nails to use in which board and we rely on the experts on site to show us the way! We cannot say enough good things about our experiences with Habitat for Humanity. Thank you for the opportunity to be involved, we only have one question – when’s our next our project?

If you think you’re as passionate as The Villages Insurance and would like to share in the experiences they’ve had, reach out to Matt at 352-483-0434 x146 or matt@habitatls.org to discuss upcoming opportunities and how we can get your and your group involved!

Volunteer Spotlight: Martha Cole

Whether it’s searching for jewelry, finding a new car, or – in our case – recruiting volunteers, sometimes you find one that truly stands out. In our case, this came in the form of Martha Cole, a retiree and well-tenured Habitat volunteer. Her background in volunteering is extensive and Habitat has usually been the focus of it all. After moving to Lake County, she wasted no time in getting engaged with our efforts and has proven to be a hugely valuable addition to our team.

With National Women Build Week presenting a large amount of work and volunteer groups, we decided we’d need a Crew Leader to help manage the workforce. We asked Martha to take that role and she was key to making that week a success. Now that we’re entering summer and work is slowing down, we wanted to hear from her about how her experience as a Crew Leader was, her thoughts on Women Build as a whole, and what the story is behind one of our favorite volunteers!

  • You were excited to be involved in National Women Build Week. What do you think about the event itself?
    I think it’s a great concept and I’m grateful to Lowe’s for sponsoring it.  It’s a super way to get new volunteers, and the resultant publicity builds public awareness.  What’s not to like?!?


  • What did you enjoy most about being a Team Leader for Women Build?
    Well, due to my advanced age, it’s kind of fun to have a platform from which to be able to inspire women to realize they can do a lot of things they never thought they could, and that age is not necessarily a deterrent.  One of my favorite sayings is: “Age is an attitude”.   At the end of the day, I tell them to take a good look at what they have just accomplished, and to be proud of having made a difference.


  • When did you first get involved with Habitat for Humanity – not our affiliate, but Habitat in general? 
    My first involvement with Habitat was in 1992.   I wasn’t even aware of Habitat for Humanity until a Habitat volunteer addressed the congregation at my church in Naples, FL one Sunday, explaining the concept and telling of the need for volunteer workers.  It sounded right up my alley, so I started volunteering and fell in love with the mission, the work, my co-workers, and the whole concept.  That was 26 years ago and I’ve done hands-on building one or two days a week ever since…and loved every minute of it.  When we decided to move to The Villages, the hardest part for me was leaving my Habitat friends in Collier County, and the first question I asked our realtor in The Villages was whether there was a Habitat chapter here.  That was last January, and as soon as I got the boxes all unpacked, I began volunteering at Habitat-LS’s Veteran’s Village site in Umatilla two days a week.  


  • What’s one of your favorite experiences or build sites? After building 1900 houses more or less the same [in Collier County], a fun experience was to come to the Veterans’ Village where the houses are built so differently, and learn all the new skills of building (vinyl planking floors instead of 12” vinyl tile squares; metal roofs instead of asphalt shingles; cement board siding instead of vinyl siding, etc).

  • We hear you’re planning on participating in a Global Village trip this year! Where are you going, and what excites you the most about the trip? 
    In late October I’m going to El Salvador for a week with my old chapter to build two houses in the area of Ciudad Arce, about 15 miles northwest of San Salvador, the capital.  I’ve never built anywhere outside of Florida and I’m really looking forward to the experience.  I have no idea what sort of houses we’ll build, but I’m excited to meet and work with the local families who will be the recipients of the houses.  Having been fortunate enough to do a lot of traveling, I am struck over and over again how much people are alike all over the world.  We all want to be able to provide our families with a decent place to live, and it thrills me to be able to help people achieve this.

Board Member Spotlight: Matt Lovo

 

As our fiscal year winds down and some board terms come to a close, we also welcome some new faces to the team. Among these is Matt Lovo, an Auburn graduate with over 30 years of purchasing and residential construction management experience. In June, he’ll be installed as one of the new members of the Habitat Lake Sumter Board, and will be bringing his experience, talents, and passion to the team.

With a background directly related to construction, Matt’s a natural fit! He’s worked for four of the Top 25 Homebuilders and currently holds a position as Director of Purchasing for The Villages, focusing on controlling costs and innovating new ways to build homes and efficiency. Prior to this role, he worked in purchasing for various homebuilders in the Tampa area. We asked him about his previous Habitat involvement and why he’s excited to join our team and mission.

  • We know you’ve worked with Habitat in the past; what was your involvement before landing here?
    My past experiences have ranged from working on job sites, to working with executive committees to reduce costs and designing homes (developed plans meet needs of larger families and included a storage area as part of the home designs to eliminate need for storage sheds), and even being on the Board of Directors. Regardless of my role, the experience has always been an incredible feeling of being part of a community that helps others.


  • What made you want to join the Board at Habitat Lake Sumter?
    Joining the Board allows me to become better involved with the community, as I am still somewhat new to the area, and also continue my involvement with an amazing organization.


  • Now that you’re part of the team, what are your goals for what you’ll give and get out of this experience?
    I hope to meet new people, whether other board members, executive committees, or volunteers, while sharing my talents and passion for people and building. I also hope to raise community awareness of volunteers needed for work days, fundraising opportunities, and share the stories of the people that are helped.  Another goal is to engage all of the businesses in my network with volunteering and providing any support possible, whether it is professional services, financial support, or in kind donations.

Habitat program makes dream homes possible

Enzo Cosani, of Paris, France, and Travis Wofford, a construction specialist for Habitat for Humanity, work April 24 on a wheelchair ramp at a home in Summerfield. Cosani is part of the international intern program for Habitat for Humanity.
Bill Mitchell, Daily Sun

 

SUMMERFIELD — James Collins sat in the shade on the porch of his Summerfield home and watched as two engineering students from France worked on a wooden ramp.

The addition of the ramp in April made the house more accessible for Collins and his wife, Deborah. Both have health problems that make climbing steps difficult at times.

“You can’t believe how important this ramp is for me and my wife,” James said. “I’m at a loss for words about this, and I’m never at a loss for words.”

The Collinses have lived in Summerfield for 13 years, and for most of that time they were able to make their own additions and repairs. But this time, they needed a little help.

The ramp was built as part of the Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter Florida’s Preserve and Repair program. It is just one of several ways Habitat is able to help families attain or keep affordable housing.

Since 1989, the Lake and Sumter Habitat has provided 265 homes for families in Lake and Sumter counties, said Danielle Stroud, Lake and Sumter Habitat director of development.

Stroud added that volunteers and sponsors are important elements in providing affordable housing for residents. Their donations of time, money and materials keep the costs down for new homes and repairs. The nonprofit has 4,000 volunteers who contribute 30,000 hours of volunteer labor annually.

This week, thousands of women will participate in Habitat for Humanity’s National Women Build Week. Lowe’s Home Improvement sponsors the national event with financial and volunteer support for hundreds of programs.

Locally, Habitat is planning to serve nine families in Lake and Sumter counties this week, including in Umatilla, Wildwood, Leesburg and Mount Dora, Stroud said.

“So far, we have 50 women set to volunteer,” Stroud said. “We still have some availability, so women are welcome to reach out to us.”

Anyone interested in participating can contact the office Tuesday or Wednesday for more information at habitatls.org.

Click here to read the full article!

Sponsor of the Month: My Favorite Things


One of the ways we get our community involved with our mission, beyond writing a check or attending an event, is to get them out on the work site on a Team Build. This creates a sense of ownership and engagement with the project and can feel so rewarding that some groups come right back for more! While many businesses, churches, and civic groups will come out once a year, some want the back-to-back experience; one of these groups is My Favorite Things out of Eustis, and they put in some serious work at the Veterans Village.

My Favorite Things emphasizes a culture of giving in their mission statement and focuses every aspect of their operation on fostering that mindset. A family-run business, they want to make sure that all employees are treated as one of their own and that everyone gives back, as a group. Putting their hands behind their words, their first Team Build in March was some low-glamour, high-necessity work at the Veterans Village. Their team primed an entire house with a healthy, paint-ready coat, and they scraped the floors in another house to have it ready for flooring. While it wasn’t the flashy stuff, the work they did was crucial for the next steps to happen on schedule.

On their second work day in April, we treated them to some more hands-on type of work. Splitting into groups, one worked on installing flooring and the others prepared the kitchen cabinetry for installation and finished up some decorative patio pillars. They breezed through the flooring like it was second nature and the patio is ready for some final touches, and as they wrapped up for the day said they were excited for the next one!

It’s this type of engagement and enthusiasm that keeps our projects ahead of schedule and helps us further our mission. If your group is interested in joining us, reach out to Matt at 352-483-0434 x146 or matt@habitatls.org to get hands on for a hand up, not a hand out.

Facebook Album Team Build 3.22.18

Facebook Album Team Build 4.19.18

Opening The Window

Apartment-size homes are being billed as a fresh idea for affordable-housing demands.

Aesthetically appealing, affordable, high-quality entry-level homes are in demand in Lake County, according to a local housing expert who claims the American Dream is out of reach for four out of ten families in the county.

“My purpose here is I intend to open a window,” says Kent Adcock, CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, as he metaphorically paraphrased the words of Pope John Paul XXIII while recently proposing a housing concept to the Lake County Board of County Commissioners.

“Just open a window and let some new thoughts blow in, some new ideas come into our thinking,” Kent says. “We should be challenged to bring in that innovation to consider alternative models for affordable housing.”

He has discovered many millennials are increasingly eliminated from housing opportunities due to entry-level incomes.

“I am not proposing a tiny home community, which is a phenomenon that has recently developed where people live in RV-like mobile units of 125 to 250 square feet. I personally believe that there is merit in that model, but what we are talking about is real high-quality, energy-efficient, small footprint, fee-simple, apartment-sized homes (where homeowner owns house and land) built in a walkable community that is either on a slab or stem wall,” Kent says. “The key term is apartment size—400 to 700 square feet, one bedroom or two bedrooms. In the past, historically, households began meagerly with a starter home, not a 1,600-square-foot, $160,000-plus home, but an apartment-sized home.”

The concept of cottage homes would offer a smaller price point for entry-level homeowners or those looking to downsize. Kent showed the county commissioners photos of some of these smaller houses built in the North Carolina mountains that were in the $70,000 to $80,000 price range.

“There is a movement toward minimalism, especially millennials, and even people my age,” says Kent, who recently downsized to a smaller home with his wife. “We cut our house in half. It’s less maintenance, less to keep up, less cost, and I think a lot of people are beginning to recognize McMansions are not necessarily everything they are cracked up to be.”

Click here to read the full article

Construction Academy welcomes partnership

Habitat Lake-Sumter Construction Manager, Barry Martin giving tour of trailer

If you thought construction in The Villages was booming — you haven’t seen anything yet.

Now, all eyes are set on training the next set of builders and craftsmen.

On Tuesday, representatives from The Villages High School’s Construction Management Academy were joined by community and business partners to officially announce a partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter.

Starting in August, 12th-grade students enrolled in the academy will no longer start their day in the classroom, but rather on the job site working side-by-side with volunteers to construct an anticipated 1,200-square-foot, 2-3 bedroom home.

“This gives the kids the ability to build a home from start to finish,” said Larry Green, construction management teacher at VHS and resident of the Village of Osceola Hills. “They’ll get to be a part of all the different components — from the ground substructure, all the way to the top of the roof.”

The school currently offers nine academy options to juniors and seniors, including health sciences, engineering, entrepreneurship and more.

Both agriscience and construction management were added prior to the start of the current school year, largely to accommodate growth and demand

in The Villages.

Tuesday’s partnership with the local chapter of the nonprofit organization was the result of many months of planning that included gaining building permits, negotiating with insurance providers and attracting local business partners.

“It’s going to be exciting working with these young people,” said Barry Martin, construction manager with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, who already has secured the site for the new home off Griffin View Drive in Lady Lake.

“You know not everybody is cut out for college,” added Martin. “In construction, there’s just so many different arenas that you can go into. Each one of them all have the potential to make an excellent living, and maybe even start their own businesses one day. Being able to share with them the joy in building a home, and seeing something like this go up — it’s just going to be awesome.”

Tuesday also served as a platform to unveil a new 24-foot trailer designed by Mike Manly, owner of MiCo Customs — a Wildwood-based residential and commercial contracting service.

Click here to read the full article.

Thrift stores are more than treasure chests

 

Habitat for Humanity ReStore logo

That unwanted sweater, tennis racket or couch could make an impact on the local community if it is donated to the right thrift shop.

And that’s not just because someone in need could buy it at an affordable price.

Many local thrift stores use proceeds to support the missions of organizations in the tri-county area. Among them, one funds equipment for The Villages Regional Hospital, another supports an organization that helps victims of domestic violence and yet another helps fund the construction of affordable homes.

These thrift stores provide good bargains to shoppers, but residents who donate, volunteer and shop in the stores are making a difference in other ways.

Each store has different items and each cause is different, but leaders of the nonprofit shops all agree that building strong relationships within the community is important to success.

Pat Wesolowski volunteers with Ye Olde Thrift Shoppe in Lady Lake and is one of the founding members of the store. She said the people make the store special.

“The growth has been amazing, but so have the friendships I’ve developed with other volunteers and our customers,” Wesolowski said. “These relationships are so important to creating a place people want to shop. They have to feel welcome.”

Ye Olde Thrift Shoppe

The store opened in 2008 in Lady Lake to help fund The Villages Regional Hospital Auxiliary Foundation and ultimately, The Villages Regional Hospital.

It started with one small building, and anotherbuilding was purchased in 2015. The store expanded and added furniture to the long list of items it sells.

Dick Campbell, president of the foundation development team, expanded on the list of traits he thinks a store should have to be successful.

“There are numerous thrift stores in the area, so we have to be unique,” Campbell said. “The staff and volunteers look for ways to present the merchandise at its best. Nothing goes on the floor dirty. The store has to be inviting — both the way it looks and the volunteers who run it.”

It does not hurt that the store is now a stop on the Lake County bus route. That definitely brings in more people, Campbell said.

Dot Casleton, of the Village De La Vista, made her regular stop at the store Wednesday morning.

“I’m here for the books,” Casleton said. “I read about three books a week, and the books here are cheap. And the selection is great.”

She also has purchased furniture and linens in the past. Casleton credited the staff’s ability to showcase the merchandise and sell only the best for bringing her back to the store regularly.

Habitat for Humanity

The Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter ReStore in Wildwood is almost always busy. Either someone is dropping off donations or numerous customers are filling shopping baskets, said Shari Kuck, program coordinator.

“The donations and ultimately, the sales, help build homes for people in need,” she said.

Click here for the full article!

Matching Donations for the Month of March!

There’s a big reason happy hour is usually so happy – buy one, get one! Everything is better when it’s doubled, and it’s no different for your donations.

We now have an amazing opportunity to make your $25, $50, or $100 donation go twice as far and help us build twice as many homes for low-income veteran families in the community. For the entire month of March, our longtime partner and sponsor, RoMac Lumber & Supply, will be matching every dollar donated to Habitat for Humanity of Lake Sumter, up to $10,000!  All proceeds under this program will go towards our Veterans Village in Umatilla, Florida, and will help us place more veterans in need into a new home. For many of these families, home ownership is just out of reach, but with your help we’ll be able to give them a hand up and help them towards a more stable future.

In a month otherwise known for its madness, take a moment and donate towards someone’s peace of mind, brought by the fact they now have a safe, affordable home to call their own. You have through March 31st to double your dollar!

Double Your Donation Now!

About Ro-Mac:

Ro-Mac Lumber & Supply was founded in 1945 by the McDonald and Robuck families when they jointly purchased Woods Lumber Company in Green Cove Springs, Florida. A second yard was opened in Tallahassee, Florida in 1945, and the company officially took the Ro-Mac name with the purchase of Leesburg Lumber and Supply in 1947.

The flagship store in Leesburg went through a major renovation in 1950, and was a leading provider of construction materials in the Central Florida area. In 1972, a fire devastated the facility, and the Robuck family, along with members of the community, rebuilt the facility.

During the 1980′s, the company added its door shop, and expanded the Leesburg operation to offer more services to the professional customer. In January 1988, Dan Robuck, a successful practicing attorney in Central Florida, took the lead and became sole owner and CEO.

Under Dan Robuck’s direction, the company opened a store in Lady Lake, and acquired Golden Triangle Supply in Mount Dora in the early 1990′s. The company greatly expanded its garage door installation business with several acquisitions, and it became a leading provider of commercial doors and hardware.

Click here to learn more about our sponsor.

Event Spotlight: Spruce Up the Block Party

 

They say it takes a village to raise a child, but what does it take to keep that village up? An active community!

While our usual Preservation and Repair projects focus on individual homes in need of exterior restoration, clean-up, and accessibility improvements, we know that there’s bigger ways to meet the needs of our community. That’s why we’re partnering with various local groups – from police departments to churches – to start providing these types of services to larger groups of homes at one time. By addressing a larger group of homes with a larger group of volunteers, our impact is, well, larger.

For the first “Spruce Up The Block Party” event, we’ll be heading into Mt. Dora and putting our efforts into the homes on Gorham Street. With some homes having come from the 1930s, there’s many ways we can gear up, buckle down, and get to work. Most efforts will focus on increasing the safety and cleanliness of these homes while improving the appearance of the area as a whole. Not everyone wants a new house, but it’s hard to turn down a fresh coat of paint, a pressure-washed driveway, and a well-groomed yard. Homeowners and community members will get to interact and work together on this initiative, creating a stronger bond and forming new relationships.

Volunteers from all backgrounds and experience levels are welcome! We’ll have our experienced staff on-site to coordinate efforts in conjunction with other community leaders, so don’t worry about being new to the game. For more information about dates, locations, and how to get involved, head to the event page here!

Habitat for Humanity Advocates in D.C.

Judy Woodruff speaking at Habitat on the Hill 2018

Representatives of Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter were in Washington, D.C., this week, warning that proposed federal cuts will worsen the affordable housing crisis facing Lake and Sumter counties and other communities across the United States.

“Too many people in our communities are already struggling between making their housing payments and buying food for their family,” said Kent Adcock, CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter. “We are in Washington, DC, to ask our representatives on Capitol Hill to make greater investments in affordable housing, not less.”

The budget proposed by the White House this week would drastically cut—and in some cases entirely eliminate—funding that communities use to finance the development of new affordable homes. Funds from programs like the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) allow access to capital for infrastructure and development, while funding from the Home Investment Partnerships Program (HOME) offers down payment assistance to families – ultimately allowing homes to become affordable for the families who need them.

Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter joins more than 340 Habitat leaders, volunteers, and homeowners from across the country in Washington, D.C., this week to advocate for affordable housing. In meetings with Congressman Daniel Webster and Mario Diaz-Balart, Habitat for Humanity is calling on Congress to set aside the flawed budget proposal and instead work to prioritize solutions that will end the affordable housing crisis.

“There is no question that we are in an affordable housing crisis,” said Adcock. “More than 18 million families are paying more than half of their paychecks on their housing. Leaders in cities and towns across the country are sounding the alarm, because even middle-class workers like teachers can no longer find housing that fits their budgets. We will make sure those voices are heard in Washington this week as we meet with members of Congress.”

Click here to read the full article.

Sponsor of the Month: R.L. Mace Universal Design

Habitat’s Veterans Village offers affordable homeownership as state signals shift toward rentals

UMATILLA — Military veteran Don Marshall, 76, lived with his wife, Mae, for 14 years in an RV in this Lake County city.

“I’ve paid $47,000 over the years into the campground,” said Marshall, a retired railroad car builder who was drafted into the Army during the Vietnam War. “They’d raise the rent, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Now, I’m paying to own.”

The couple recently moved into a 1,100-square-foot cottage, one of 14 in the Lake-Sumter Habitat for Humanity’s Veterans Village. Averaging about $110,000, the idyllic, porch-front homes are aimed at providing quality affordable housing to low-income veterans and their widows in Lake and Sumter counties, where 45,000 military veterans reside.

But even as Habitat helps veterans become homeowners in the community off State Road 19, a state task force is recommending that more public dollars be put instead toward rentals for the thousands of people, including non-veterans, affected by the housing crisis.

Click here to read the full article.

First responders, volunteers paint 13 homes in Clermont

CLERMONT — Personnel from the Clermont police and fire departments, as well as a large contingent of volunteers from multiple sources, painted 13 homes Friday in the Oakhurst Townhomes in Clermont’s Lincoln Park area.

Click here to read the full article.

Impact Report 2017

For many organizations, the check you write, the cash you donate, or the credit card you charge is the last you see of those funds. However, we don’t want you feeling like your donations are sent to a mysterious account with unknown results; to help ensure that doesn’t happen, we provide an annual Impact Report that details the work we’ve done and how your contributions have been put to use in the community. With various initiatives and passions among our partner base, we know it’s a reassuring and rewarding feeling knowing that your desire to help a certain program has measurable and tangible results!

Read over our report and take a look at the last year of progress, and remember that all those lives affected have been due to your continued support; on behalf of your Hometown Habitat and the homeowners we serve, thank you!

June 2016-July 2017 Impact Report

Sponsor of the Month: Publix Super Market Charities

Publix Super Markets Charities has been a consistent partner in our Preservation and Repair program for the third year in a row. They just recently announced a major partnership with Habitat for Humanity International and numerous affiliates; here’s a snippet of their press release, but for the full spread you can check it out by clicking here!

LAKELAND, Fla., Dec. 7, 2017 — Publix Super Markets Charities (PSMC) announced today it would donate $5 million to more than 125 Habitat for Humanity affiliates, including those impacted by Hurricane Irma, and over 30 shelters and other nonprofit organizations across the Southeast.

This generous donation continues the Foundation’s commitment to meeting the basic needs of the communities it serves through additional financial support for housing, transitional support and client service programs.

“No individual or family should have to worry about the basic needs of food or shelter,” said Carol Jenkins Barnett, President of Publix Super Markets Charities. “I am honored our Foundation is continuing my father’s legacy of supporting the communities Publix serves. And I am so proud of our Publix associates for giving their time and talents to building houses and providing hope to those in need.”

Collegiate Challenge Contributions: Ohio State

With winter breaks beginning across the country, the season of Collegiate Challenge groups has begun! This program allows students to take “alternative breaks” and forgo the usual Caribbean cruise or ski trip to volunteer with a community service program of their choosing.

For us, that means putting students to work at one of our projects – new home construction or preservation and repair efforts. With Ohio State having been involved with the Veterans Village from the start, we we sure to continue the tradition, and the local Patriot Guard was eager to join us in thanking them. Check out some of our pictures of the Buckeyes in action!

Habitat Homeowner Corner

Upcoming Home Dedication:

You’re invited to join us in welcoming our newest Habitat Homeowner, Jessica, to her home!

When:  Saturday, January 20 from 9AM – 10AM

RSVP:  352-483-0434 Ext. 118;  shari@habitatls.org

Read the rest of this entry »

Habitat for Humanity looking to build community of small houses

 

Kent Adcock was flipping through a builder’s trade magazine recently when he had a “eureka” moment.

Adcock, the head of Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter, saw a story on small houses in the National Association of Home Builders quarterly magazine and soon envisioned pocket neighborhoods, complete with the pocket-sized houses, which could help fill the need for affordable housing.

Click here to read the full article.

Why We Build…Curtis Walter’s Story

Curtis was one of the first Homeowners we served through our Veterans Housing Initiative.  His story is moving, and continually reminds us of the importance of a safe home.

Ways to give…

…this holiday season!

 

This December we encourage you to join us in supporting our local families.  Here at Habitat we are proud to partner with families offering them strength, stability, and self-reliance through shelter.  We couldn’t do that without the generosity of our beloved volunteers and donors.  Here are a few ways to give as we close out 2017…

Cars for Homes

Donating your car to Habitat allows us to use the net proceeds from the sale to build and repair affordable homes locally.  This donation may qualify for a tax deduction and it’s fast and easy!  To donate contact Cheryl Conner – cconner@habitatls.org or 352-483-0434 Ext 141.  Provide information such as vehicle make, model, vehicle identification number and current mileage.  If your car is accepted, you can schedule your car to be picked up!

IRA Charitable Rollover

Congress made permanent the law that allows people age 70 1/2  or older who own an IRA to make cash gifts directly from their IRA to charity.  For many people, this is the best tax-friendly way to give.  An IRA rollover gift will not be included in your taxable income and will qualify for your required minimum distribution.  Plus, it will offer a family a safe place to call home!  Contact Danielle to learn more at 352-483-0434 Ext. 133.

Outright Gift of An Asset

If you wish to make a gift to support the mission of Habitat this year but are concerned about preserving your cash reserves, consider a gift of an appreciated asset.  A gift of securities, business interests, or real estate can provide you with significant income and capital gains tax savings, while offering strength, stability, and self-reliance for a family in need.  Contact Danielle to learn more at 352-483-0434 Ext. 133.

Zero-Tax Gift and Sale

If you are planning to sell an asset like securities, real estate, or a business, before you sell, consider a “zero-tax” charitable gift and sale.  By making a gift of part of the asset before you sell, you can use a tax-saving charitable deduction to significantly lower or eliminate capital gains tax.

Donate to our ReStore

Our staff and volunteers make the donation process as simple as possible. You can always donate goods in person at one of our four locations throughout Lake or Sumter Counties or if you have a large item, just simply call our scheduling center for your free donation pick up – 352-589-3005.

Outright Gift of Cash

Want to simply join us in our mission of providing homes, community, and hope?  Feel free to donate in person at anyone of our four ReStore locations, online, or by mail – 900 Main Street, Suite 210, The Villages FL 32159.  Our Habitat families are grateful for your support!

Staff Spotlight

Matt is the newest addition to the Habitat Lake-Sumter team, filling the role of Development Coordinator out of the Eustis office.

 

Matt obtained his Associate’s degree locally at Lake-Sumter Community College and graduated from UCF in 2015 with a Bachelor’s degree in Communication. Prior to and partially during his education he spent time in the United States Marine Corps Reserves, something he compares to having a house full of puppies; lots of crap, but the reward is worth it. He served with the 4th Amphibious Assault Battalion out of Tampa, FL, and was discharged as a Corporal in 2016.

 

Now ready to begin his professional career, he has brought his extensive background in customer service and relationship development skills (he admits to using fancy terms for “worked in retail”) to help identify, grow, and cultivate donors. Initiatives like the Veteran’s Village are appealing to Matt, both in their innovation and targeted demographics, and he is eager to help further HFHLS’ growth and advancement of their mission.

 

Season of Generosity

It’s giving season across the nation and in The Villages.

Here, some organizations are preparing to collect their largest volume of donations.

Many local charities and nonprofits, such as Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, Villages Honor Flight,  and the Humane Society/SPCA of Sumter County, hold some of their largest fundraising events this time of year.

“The majority of the individuals who give to our local Habitat chapter give from now through January,” said Danielle Stroud, director of development for Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter.

Click here to read the full article.

Giving Tuesday

Donate Online

Celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving.

#GivingTuesday is a global giving movement that has been built by individuals, families, organizations, businesses and communities in all 50 states and in countries around the world. Millions of people have come together to support and champion the causes they believe in and the communities in which they live.

We have two days for getting deals – Black Friday and Cyber Monday. On #GivingTuesday, we have a day for giving back. Together, people are creating a new ritual for our annual calendar. #GivingTuesday includes people of all ethnicities, religions and backgrounds. Together, millions of people demonstrate our common capacity to give.

#GivingTuesday is a celebration of America’s greatest traditions: generosity, entrepreneurialism, community. Everyone has something to give. You can give time or expertise, monetary donations large or small, simple acts of kindness, food or clothing.

Join us…

Your gift provides families with strength stability, and self-reliance through shelter.

 

Donate Online

HABITAT RECEIVES $100,000 GIFT FROM HOME DEPOT FOUNDATION TO BENEFIT VETERANS VILLAGE

Thanks to a generous $100,000 gift from the Home Depot Foundation, Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, Florida will join Home Depot’s associate-led volunteer force, Team Depot, on Saturday to celebrate Veterans Day and to continue building Veterans Village in Umatilla.

The grant allows Habitat of Lake-Sumter and volunteers to start work on the second phase of the building low-income homes for veterans.

Click here to read the full article.

Come In & Shop!

Every Habitat ReStore is unique, and inventory at each changes daily. You can find something new every day!

Most ReStores will include a variety of new and used building materials, appliances and furniture. Many stores have inventory that expands beyond these three categories. Check out your local ReStore to see what they have in store for you today.

Stop in and visit our 4 Locations:

Eustis ReStore
352-483-0410
710 South Bay Street
Eustis, FL 32726» View Map
Groveland ReStore
352-429-9052
205 Woodfield Court
Groveland, FL 34736» View Map
Leesburg ReStore
352-728-6366
200 N. Lone Oak Drive
Leesburg, FL 34748» View Map
Wildwood ReStore
352-330-0881
6761 CR 148
Wildwood, FL 34785» View Map

 

Call the scheduling center today at 352-589-3005, Monday – Friday: 8AM – 4PM for FREE donation pick-up on select items.

Sponsor of The Month!

This year marks the 30th year of Bank of America’s long-standing partnership with Habitat for Humanity in our shared goal to connect working families to affordable housing in order to build thriving communities.

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