Habitat for Humanity-Lake Sumter preserves more than homes
The repair of Joan and Henry Kanczurzewski’s home is something that has been long awaited but with the aid of Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter that call for assistance has finally been answered. After four years of living in a home in dire need of repairs they are now in the process of rehab through Habitat’s preservation program. “I’m happy that we’re getting the help we need” says Mrs. Joan. Who has faced numerous challenges in getting their home repaired.
The past few years has taken a toll not only on the family’s home but also their spirits. Their home was hit by two hurricanes back to back which caused extensive damage. In 2016 Hurricane Matthew caused severe roof damage of their Lake County home. In 2017 Hurricane Irma caused their ceiling to collapse which exacerbated the damage. Mrs. Joan and her family were not sure where to turn after dealing with insurance companies not covering the costs. After resources seemed bleak Henry Kanczurzewski called the United Way hotline, who connected them with Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter.
May 15, 2018 was the beginning of a positive shift for the Lake County family’s life. That day was the initial point of contact between Habitat Lake-Sumter and the Kanczurzewski’s. Since then Habitat has been committed to finding a way to assist them. Habitat’s Family Services coordinator Victoria Troxell has worked closely with the family over the last 2 years to ensure this multi-gen family receives assistance. After reviewing the extensive roof and dry wall damage, they are now in the beginning stages of repair. In Mid-September, the permitting process began, and plans are being made for the roofing company to begin construction in November. Owens Corning Roof Deployment will be donating the roof replacement through their program specifically geared towards Veterans. After the roof is repaired, Veronica says they are looking to team up with local vendors in the community to repair the interior of the home including dry wall and floor damage.
Joan says that she is filled with gratitude for everything Habitat Lake-Sumter has already done for her family. Joan and Henry live in the home with grandchildren Teddy, 14 and Alison, 27 along with Alison’s husband, Kory who is an Army Veteran. The Kanczurzewski’s raised Alison and Teddy along with their sister Mckenzie, 22. When asked about her family, Joan says her family are her “heart and soul.” And raising her grandchildren turned to be a “blessing in disguise”. Mrs. Joan’s love for her family runs deep and feels that the finished home repairs will bring the already close-knitted family only closer. Joan is looking forward to opening her home up to her extended family for the holidays after the repairs are complete. Facing this adversity together this family has learned even more about each other’s love, selflessness and strength. The Kanczurzewski family will forever be thankful for their newfound safety and security that Habitat Lake-Sumter’s Preservation & Repair program has brought.
By Lauren W – Volunteer Writer
Six future Habitat for Humanity homeowners and several volunteers will unite on Sept. 12 to finish repairs on a Mascotte house occupied by a multigenerational family.
For the future homeowners, doing exterior painting and landscaping for the Valdez family will count towards completing 200 volunteer “sweat equity” hours with Habitat as part of their journey to homeownership.
“It is a unique volunteer day that brings all of these homeowners together,” says Danielle Stroud, senior director of programs and partnerships for Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter. “They are not only fulfilling their role as partner families with Habitat for Humanity, but they’re offering a hand-up to the Valdez family and putting the finishing touches to a critical repair project completed through Habitat’s Preservation and Repair Program.”
The Valdez family has already benefitted from receiving much-needed home repairs of a roof and air conditioning replacement. Exterior painting and some landscaping slated to take place Saturday will complete the preservation and repair work on the home.
Habitat Lake-Sumter’s Preservation & Repair program has become a vital way we serve families in our community. While our flagship program of home ownership provides access and opportunity to owning a home, Preservation & Repair maintains the safety and accessibility of homes. This program ensures that homeowners (some who have lived in their home for 40 years!) are able to safely live in their homes once again, this also lowers the risk of losing their homeowners insurance or losing the house itself.
One company has continued to show their support for the safety and stability of every single person in our community. Not only does Publix Super Market continuously care for their customers, their compassion extends beyond the doors of their stores every single day.
Since 2012, Publix has partnered with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter; as one of the top donors of your Hometown Habitat, Publix Super Market Charities gave $35,000 to our Preservation & Repair program this year.
We completed a total of 45 projects and served 97 individuals through Preservation & Repair, including 7 veterans. Because of Publix’s generosity, we are able to serve families who otherwise would not be able to maintain the safety of their home.
Families like the Duckham’s, Matthew and his three children were living with a badly leaking roof that led to dry wall issues within their home. We replaced the roof and repaired the leaks in the ceiling to prevent water from coming into the home, keeping the family safe and dry during hurricane season.
Although each project may seem small, the impact it has on a family is huge. Whether they’re a multi-generational family living under a tarped roof for 2 years, a disabled veteran who no longer leaves the home due to accessibility issues, or families like the Duckham’s, who had to rely on towels and buckets during Florida’s storms – each home repair project changes the lives of the families living inside.
Thank you, Publix Super Market Charities, for your shining example of leadership and commitment to making our community a better place to live!
A Block Party with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter is a one-of-a kind event. Through our Preservation and Repair program, we host a few “Spruce up the Block” Parties throughout the year that impact neighborhoods as a whole; volunteers spread out over the radius of a neighborhood and clean, caulk, paint, and repair homes to beautify the exterior, make minor safety repairs, and come together as a community.
The week of January 21-25th saw dozens of volunteers filtering in and out of a Wildwood neighborhood, even on mornings so chilly some worried the paint wouldn’t dry, working and repairing 11 houses overall and sharing in the camaraderie of transforming a neighborhood.
Throughout the year, Veronica Troxell, Habitat Lake-Sumter’s Preservation and Repair coordinator works to serve around 50 families but a “Spruce up the Block” Party is one of her favorite ways to provide much needed services to multiple families at once. “Block Parties are great because they ask for the whole community to get engaged. There is a lot of satisfaction in working on a large-scale project and seeing the neighborhood completely reinvigorated at the end of the week. Our volunteers are vital in working with the community to accomplish such a big task and to bring a lot of new life to the community!”
Working alongside Veronica to make the Wildwood Block Party a success was Kevin Tucker. Kevin is a Preservation and Repair Specialist with Habitat Lake-Sumter and the President of the Habitat Villagers Club. Kevin rallied club members and residents of the Villages to head up the volunteer work during the week while finishing touches were completed on Saturday from Block Party sponsor, Rotarians from Rotary of the Villages Noon.
In regard to the incredible effort and success of the Wildwood “Spruce up the Block” Party, Kevin writes:
Are you interested in being part of this awesome club? Check out Habitat Lake-Sumter’s The Villages Club and get involved in what’ s happening next!
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.
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.
EUSTIS, Fla. (FOX 35 ORLANDO) – 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.
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!
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
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
At 8 AM on a quaint little street in Yalaha, there was already a block party happening. This wasn’t your traditional type of party, however; it was remarkably different. Alongside Habitat for Humanity staff, volunteers were prepared with paintbrushes, hammers, screwdrivers, and a determination to transform not one, but three homes in the neighborhood.
The grateful homeowners – Mary Bedford, Sylvia Session, and Latasha Williams – stood by anxiously as work got underway and met the strangers who donated their time to helping them out. As any gracious host would do, Mary ensured there was plenty of parking for the volunteers, while Sylvia and Latasha joined to meet and greet their guests with smiles.
The homes in need of repair or restoration had proximity in common, but the homeowners each had their individual stories to share. Mary Bedford had recently lost her husband, and was still dealing with not just the emotional burden but also by the financial burden of trying to pay off his funeral service. Her home was in need of attention; there were piles of debris that needed to be hauled off, but in the midst of losing her loved one, it seemed impossible. Even so, Mary wasn’t the type to sit back and watch. She rolled up her sleeves and, side by side with the volunteers, she got to work. Volunteers called her genuine and kind, and she thought the same of them.
Sylvia Session had recently experienced respiratory failure and become unresponsive in her living room causing her to now be dependent on an oxygen tank. Upon their arrival, paramedics had no choice but to ram down her door in order to save her. During the project assessment, Habitat knew that a new front door would be on the top of the list, along with a repair on her AC unit. The unit’s fan was continuously running but not cooling, resulting in a sweltering hot home and a 900-dollar electric bill for the month. While Sylvia had only expected for Habitat to pressure wash her home, she was elated with the new paint job and other repairs. The volunteers, she said, were full of compassion, and went over and above what she had ever imagined. “I don’t know how to say thank you,” she said, choking back tears. “I can say it a million times but it isn’t enough. Everything that’s been done, they are little things to you, but they are big things to me.”
Latasha Williams’ husband works long hours in construction to provide for their family and to take care of their 3-year-old son. They had started to work on fencing their yard in but were unable to finish due to time and financial restraints. They were reluctant to put any of their son’s toys in the yard as they felt the space wasn’t secure enough without the fence. Habitat and the volunteers made sure that they completed the fence so that the family was able to enjoy the outdoors without worry. Besides playing outside, Latasha’s son has other plans for the fenced in yard. He wants either a dinosaur or a dog, and if he gets the dinosaur, it has to be a T-Rex.
The homeowners all feel very fortunate for having this experience with Habitat for Humanity. They say it has made a drastic change in their lives to have the homes clean, painted, and repaired. Along with a sense of solidarity, the projects have spread inspiration throughout the neighborhood; other nearby residents have inquired about the application process for Habitat for Humanity and are also working on cleaning and updating their homes in order to better the community.
By Lauren Lester
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
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.
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.”
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).
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.”
(Eustis, FL) Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, in partnership with Lake Cares Food Pantry, the Cross Church, and Second Harvest Food Bank, will offer free cases of bottled water, baby supplies, and food on Monday, September 18th and Tuesday, September 19th. Local community volunteers will be onsite to assist with the distribution, excited to help residents throughout the area who are still without power.
Distribution will take place from 9AM-12PM Monday and Tuesday at 710 South Bay Street, Eustis Florida. Monday’s distribution will consist of water and baby supplies only while Tuesday’s distribution will offer food, water, and baby supplies.
The donation of water came from the Lake Geauga Habitat for Humanity out of Chardon, Ohio where the local Habitat affiliate has been accepting donations of water all week for transport to the area.
Over the next few weeks Habitat of Lake-Sumter will mobilize resources to support local community members with repairs to homes damaged by the storm. To donate or volunteer visit www.habitatls.org or call 352-483-0434.
Free service helps low-income residents with disabilities better navigate in and out of their homes.
By SARAH WILSON, The Villages Daily Sun
For anyone making their way through life relying on the assistance of a wheelchair or walker, navigating stairs can be a struggle – especially when those stairs stand between them and the world beyond their front door.
Beulah Slaymaker, 97, was confined to her home for months earlier this year when she no longer had the strength to get out of her wheelchair and make her way down the four steps from the front porch of the Sorrento mobile home she shares with her daughter, Shirley Wencel.
Wencel had to cancel doctor appointments and switch to home health care for her mother after it became too unsafe for the pair to navigate their way down the stairs.
Then Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter stepped in.
Since January, program coordinator Shari Kuck said, Habitat has installed four ramps for disabled, low-income residents of Lake and Sumter counties at no charge to the homeowners, including one for Slaymaker in July.
Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter collaborated Friday with the Rotary Club of The Villages Noon to conduct their first project of the year in Lady Lake.
The project was to provide extensive landscaping, siding repair and painting for a home in Lady Lake.
The restoration of this home means more to us than you will ever know. The structure is more than 60 years old, built by hand by our father. We grew up with love, family and faith in that home. It is more than a house, it is our parents legacy.
No words can ever express how great we feel because of your unselfish and tireless efforts.
– Karen D. Bennett, Dorothy Harris & Thomas Davis
In August our team had the opportunity to partner with Home Depot for a critical preservation and repair project.
Thomas Davis lives in Coleman, FL in a home that had been in the family for over 60 years. This childhood home was a safe space that he cherished dearly – but he needed some help bringing it back to life. Considering his options, he filled out an application to take advantage of Habitat’s repair program. After the Habitat team met with Thomas and visited his home, we started work on preparing to approve his application – we joined forces with Team Depot as the sponsor and volunteer crew for the project to allow us to provide the funding and hands on labor needed to perform the job.
Volunteers yanked down overgrown plants, power-washed away years of dirt and replaced rotted trim boards before they slapped on a new coat of paint at a home in Paisley.
Robert “Sonny” and Beverly McKay were among homeowners on the receiving end of Habitat for Humanity of Lake Sumter’s newest mission — community engagement — aimed at helping low-income seniors, veterans and disabled residents throughout Lake and Sumter County who are unable to maintain their homes.
A handful of volunteers were at the McKay home Wednesday providing some fixer-upper help.
“Mr. McKay is just a super nice guy. He has been a hardworking man his whole life and he just can’t get up on ladders and do what it takes to make a house look nice,” said Ernie Burley, site supervisor.
The McKays were thrilled to have their house painted a cream color with dark brown trim and to get new landscaping.
“They have done just a marvelous job and I’m just really impressed,” Sonny said. “I’m pleased with the way that they have done it and really appreciate it.”
His wife of 52 years is thankful, too.