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.
Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter’s ‘Women Build’ event brings women of all ages and abilities together to make a difference by raising money and volunteering on Habitat build sites.
Alongside personal fundraising efforts, sponsors such as American Residential Products, Inc and Atlas Roofing, make events like these possible through monetary giving or by donating materials for the home.
American Residential Products Inc, an insulation contractor, has worked with Habitat for Humanity affiliates all over Florida for many years. They have provided insulation in the past, and recently sponsored Habitat of Lake-Sumter’s ‘Women Build 2019’ with a $2500 gift; this gift serves to underwrite the cost of construction for the two ‘Women Build’ homes and bridges the gap to keep the homes affordable.
Stephanie Vaughn of American Residential Products also personally participated as a Women Builder this year on Team ‘Hammer Knockers’. When asked if she thought an event like this was successful in helping to remove the barrier between women and construction, she said;
“The barrier between women and construction is getting smaller. I think an event like Women Build definitely showcases that. Construction is a fast paced, exciting industry. Every day is different, every day is challenging and every day is rewarding. It’s great to see younger women embrace the industry and I think Habitat encourages that with Women Build.”
Stephanie also had encouraging words for women who are thinking about volunteering, “Go for it! Habitat makes it easy to set up a team and individual website for fundraising. There are several pre-build events to get to know the other volunteers and the homeowners. The day of the build is all about teamwork & there are tasks for all abilities.”
Atlas Roofing was also a sponsor for this year’s Women Build event. They are donating all of the necessary roofing materials such as the underlayment, starter shingle, shingle, hip and ridge cap for the Women Build house in Eustis, FL. Roofing can be an expensive aspect of homebuilding, but thanks to Atlas Roofing, our family will be forever grateful for the gift of having a roof over their heads.
Thank you to our sponsors, Atlas Roofing and American Residential Products, for partnering with Habitat families and investing in real change. Together, we build homes, communities, and hope!
By Lauren Lester
Realtor & Habitat Volunteer
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!
“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
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!
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.
As many of you know, Habitat Lake-Sumter started our Preservation and Repair program in 2015 to serve homeowners who didn’t want or need a new house, but couldn’t afford to keep their current one in good condition. The program was meant to provide help with the exterior of a home – weatherization, safety, accessibility, and beautification – and we quickly realized how large the need was in our area. Since then, the program has grown rapidly, serving over 50 families last year with the help of specialized funding and a large pool of awesome volunteers.
However, the need is still larger than our ability to meet it, and because of that we’ve continued to explore new ways to help grow our abilities. So many families are in need of more than we usually provide and we’ve decided to seek out ways to provide ‘Critical Home Repair’ services. The newest method to accomplish this is with funding through the United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Housing Preservation grant program. These funds are meant to help agencies in rural areas to serve homeowners with similar assistance to what we’re already doing, but with more significant backing, allowing us to expand the scope of our projects. We were selected to receive a grant this year and we’re already looking forward to how to implement it. Part of the USDA guidelines are that funds expended are matched, and through a partnership with Bank of America we’re ahead of the game there as well.
Bank of America has regularly partnered with us through the years and they’ve continued to support our efforts as we move ahead into 2019. This will help us reach the matching requirements needed to obtain even larger funding, which means larger projects and larger impact, and that’s what we’re all about. Things like a new roof, interior work like replacing failing floorboards or replacing doorways with handicap-accessible frames, and more come with additional expenses; this new source of funding will help us handle that in stride and continue to provide this work to families in need at no cost to them.
Sometimes these jobs seem like nothing to us, but the impact it can make on a family is huge. Whether they’re a small family that’s been living with a tarped roof for three years, a disabled vet who can barely leave the house due to accessibility issues, or the multi-generational family who has to find towels and buckets during Florida’s storms – one day of our time results in a changed life for them.
Are you a homeowner who wants to see if you qualify for our Preservation & Repair program? Contact Veronica to learn more.
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 email@example.com.
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).
Hospitality. Hard Work. Stewardship. Innovation & Creativity. The pillars of Citizens First Bank were put on shining display this year as they sponsored our inaugural Youth Construction Academy class! Recognizing the value of hands-on education for the next generation, our longtime partner decided to invest in the Youth Construction program and help us ensure it gets off to an amazing start. Beginning on August 9th, the house in Lady Lake will be built from the ground up by seniors from The Villages Charter School’s Construction Science program, with guidance from experienced Habitat supervisors and instructors from the school. By the end of their year in May, they will have completed a full build, from concrete to keys, and be invited to participate in the dedication ceremony for the low-income family moving in.
Citizens First Bank was founded in 1991 and is headquartered in The Villages, Florida. Their two branches, one in The Villages and one in Leesburg, provide top-quality service focused on the needs of their area. By providing comprehensive banking resources and personalized experiences to their community, they are able to fully embrace their place as a hometown bank, and share a special relationship with their clients. For more information on the services they offer, check out their website here or give them a call at 352-753-9515 or 800-707-1893.
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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss upcoming opportunities and how we can get your and your group involved!