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.”
EUSTIS, Fla. (FOX 35 ORLANDO) – 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.
By Amanda McKenzie
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 email@example.com
- 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
Inmate Construction Academy created to build Habitat homes, help Lake County Jail inmates learn skills
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.
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.
The First Presbyterian Church of Leesburg receives “Sponsor of the Month” in recognition of their decade’s long partnership with Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter and their sponsorship of a Cottage Home in Coleman, FL. The church will not only provide financial support, but also volunteer hours and hands-on labor to assist in building the home.
First Presbyterian Church of Leesburg has a long standing history with Habitat for Humanity and an established presence of charitable giving within the community; the church assisted with building one of the very first Habitat homes in the Lake-Sumter area in the late 1980’s. Pastor RJ Leek of First Presbyterian of Leesburg says of their continued support, “We are thankful for the opportunity God has given us through Habitat for Humanity to be a visible witness to God’s love for people everywhere.”
The cottage home being sponsored by First Presbyterian Church of Leesburg is one of four homes being built on the Coleman site and is part of a new and innovative floor plan for Habitat of Lake-Sumter. In an effort to match the specific needs of the community Habitat serves, we have designed a 2 bedroom/1 bath home at approximately 700 sq. ft. for smaller families who find rental properties and traditional home ownership to be beyond their reach.
The cottage homes in Coleman are Habitat of Lake-Sumter’s first try at this new housing design. The smaller scale 4 cottage home site is a precursor to Habitat’s upcoming Tavares Cottage Community. Thanks to Lake County’s award of Community Development Block Grant funds, Habitat will begin infrastructure of the development soon; including roadways, water and underground utilities, and will prepare the community for phase two: cottage construction.
Setting new precedents, the Tavares Cottage Community will be the first age-restricted community built in this area through Habitat of Lake-Sumter and will benefit residents who are on a fixed income, retired, or looking to maintain affordable housing as senior citizens. The ‘pocket neighborhood’ will feature 23 cottage-sized homes approximately 730 sq. ft. Some of the units are free standing homes with others designed in a townhome style, and a large central area with open green space for all residents to share. The master planned community will include similar design elements to Habitat of Lake-Sumter’s Veterans Village in Umatilla.
To learn more about First Presbyterian Church of Leesburg, the cottage homes in Coleman, or the upcoming Tavares Cottage Community please contact Danielle Stroud at 352-630-3318.
Board Member Spotlight
Christina A. Campbell
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 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.
With the success of its 14-home community for veterans in Umatilla and the introduction of small cottage-style homes, Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter is moving ahead with its next project — a 23-unit “pocket neighborhood” for seniors in Tavares.
The community will be built on a vacant three-acre lot near Mansfield Road and County Drive.
“The city has been extremely supportive and unanimously voted to approve the development,” said Kent Adcock, chief executive officer of Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter. “And they’ve been very supportive of the concept we’re trying to advance.”