Thrivent is awarding Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter a contribution of $5,000 to help families in Lake and Sumter Counties stay in their homes. Thrivent’s donation will allow Habitat to provide mortgage relief to Habitat homeowners who need temporary assistance making their mortgage payments during the COVID-19 pandemic. With Thrivent’s support, Habitat Lake-Sumter will sustain affordable homeownership costs for more than 10 families locally.
Prior to the spread of the novel coronavirus, more than 18 million households across the U.S. were paying half or more of their income on a place to live. As the pandemic continues to cause job disruption and economic fallout, many households are enduring lay-offs, unemployment, and pay cuts. This wage loss has amplified the financial burden on households to maintain essential payments and can result in families having to trade-off between bills, mortgage, or medical care.
“We are grateful to partner with Thrivent and offer ongoing support for our Habitat homeowners,” Danielle Stroud, senior director of programs and partnerships, says in a news release. “No one should lose their home because of lost income or unexpected financial burdens caused by the pandemic. Because of Thrivent, we’re able to provide continued stability for local families.”
Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter is one of 100 local Habitat organizations across the nation partnering with Thrivent to help families stay in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic. In total, Thrivent is donating $750,000 to Habitat for Humanity to assist with mortgage-related relief and prevent foreclosures across the U.S.
Students from the Leesburg High School Construction Academy work on constructing a home for Habitat for Humanity in Leesburg. [Cindy Peterson/Correspondent] Cindy Peterson
For most people, 2020 has been a year of heartache, fear, and anxiety with little to smile about. We are all exhausted from the COVID-19 pandemic, the bitterness from the presidential election, and a hurricane season that never wanted to end.
Despite all the turmoil through the fall, a group of local young people have been working hard doing good work for their community while preparing themselves for a future with a respectable job in the construction industry. Since September, each week students from The Villages Charter High School Construction Management Academy and the Leesburg High School Construction Academy have been working on jobsites building homes for Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter.
These students are doing so while trying to combine virtual learning, wearing a mask, and following COVID-19 pandemic guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The students in The Villages Charter High School Construction Management Academy are working in two shifts on their project on Ann Street in Lady Lake. Under the direction of their instructor Bruce Haberle and Habitat for Humanity Project Manager Barry Martin, these students have constructed a home with little help. The walls and roof are up, and it is dried in.
The project is being done with the highest of craftmanship and the jobsite is neat and clean. However, the students are what make this project so special. Polite, hard workers who want to make a difference in the life of this homeowner. This something to smile about.
On Grove Street in Leesburg, the Leesburg High School Construction Academy students are building their Habitat for Humanity house on a beautiful corner lot just one block from the water. This home is being constructed with the highest of quality and the members of the “Dream Team” are working hard to understand every aspect of construction. Jobsite mentors have been instrumental in providing real world direction and all are motivated by the homeowner who has worked side by side with the students.
From being the first female president at Lake County’s Reunion Bank of Florida, to being a super mom to two daughters and wife of her husband Jeff for 27 years; Gail Baker brings a powerful background and endless enthusiasm to the Board of Directors of Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter.
“I enjoy volunteering because it creates a team spirit and it makes a huge difference in someone’s life,” says Gail, newly appointed member of the board. “I look forward to working alongside my peers in the Habitat mission.”
Gail Baker has lived in the Lake-Sumter area of Florida for 25 years and has grown to love and cherish the work at Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter. Gail has partnered with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter for over three years, prior to becoming a board member.
“Making a difference in someone’s life is what inspires me to do what I do,” Gail says. “Firstly, Habitat for Humanity provides safe, decent and affordable housing for individuals and families who work hard every day to make a difference for themselves. Without Habitat, these dedicated individuals may never achieve such goals that so many take for granted. Secondly, Habitat provides sound financial education, which leads to long term personal success.”
Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter has been serving the community since 1989 and has four main initiatives: Home Ownership, Preservation and Repair, Veterans Housing Initiative, and Construction Academies; with the ultimate purpose of creating communities where everyone has a decent place to live.
Gail also serves as treasurer for the Lifestream Foundation Board and in her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family. Gail is looking forward to serving the board to the best of her abilities and providing a positive and enthusiastic outlook to the team.
Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter is grateful to have such an experienced and positive person on the board in Gail, one who strives to inspire and encourage those around her.
Thanks to the generosity of the Community Foundation of South Lake, Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter will be able to provide critical repairs to low-income homeowners in the South Lake area.
The Community Foundation of South Lake has awarded Habitat Lake-Sumter a $20,000 grant in support of the Preservation and Repair program.
Preservation & Repair has become a vital way Habitat Lake-Sumter addresses the affordable housing need in our community, annually providing access to home repairs and critical improvements for 45 families and individuals.
Critical home repairs increase the safety and accessibility for low-income homeowners who are unable to keep up their home by themselves due to age, disability, or family circumstances and struggle to maintain the integrity of their homes; through Preservation and Repair, we ensure that the families who partner with us have housing that will be safe, secure, and a decent place to live.
Due to the economic impact of Covid-19, Habitat Lake-Sumter faced a significant decrease in the number of families we could serve through Preservation and Repair. However, because of the generosity of the Community Foundation of South Lake, we will be able to provide critical repair services to families in vulnerable housing situations. We look forward to working with the Community Foundation of South Lake to bring safe and stable housing to more families in 2021!
Home was the heart of Nancy A. Penn-Shaner’s life. As a donor to Habitat for Humanity-Lake Sumter, Nancy left a planned gift in her will. Because of her gift, a family now has an opportunity to build a life in a new home.
Through her gift to Habitat Lake-Sumter, Nancy continues her legacy of generosity. “This has been in her will for quite some time,” says Nadine Foley, Nancy’s friend of more than 50 years and the appointed trustee of her will. Giving back to others has been the theme of Nancy’s life.
As an avid traveler Nancy knew she always had a home to return to. She developed a love for travel in her 20’s as she began driving trucks for a living in Akron, Ohio. Nancy later moved to Umatilla, Florida in the 1960’s where she became a truck dispatcher.
Nancy’s lifelong friend, Nadine recalls how giving to those around her came naturally, “Nancy was careful and caring to everyone in her orbit.” As a member of Eastern Star, she added to the lives of young women through charity and service. “Nancy was a truly thoughtful friend who shared her wealth of knowledge in housekeeping and was generous.” She was an avid traveler who “loved to hit the road but loved to get back home.”
Nancy took great pride in her home and loved doing yardwork and upkeep of her house. She always thought of her friends and set aside money in her will to her friends and those closest to her. As Nadine describes, everyone was filled with so much gratitude to receive this gift from their dear friend.
July 7, 2020 is a day that will always be etched in the memory of those closest to Nancy A. Penn-Shaner. On that day, Habitat Lake-Sumter broke ground on the home being built by Nancy’s gift. A small, intimate crowd gathered for the ribbon cutting in celebration of what was to come. “It was a wonderful experience,” Nadine says.
The 4-bedroom, 2 bath home in Mount Dora is now almost complete. As the family awaits the keys to their new home, Nadine reflects on how pleased Nancy would be. Nancy’s legacy of giving back, her compassion and community will live through her contributions to Habitat-Lake Sumter. Reminding us what matters most, having a place to call home.
Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter hosted its second annual Jingle Build-Off, a playhouse build competition, on Dec. 5. This year, six teams competed: Advent Health, First National Bank of Mount Dora, Rotary of The Villages Noon, The Villages Charter High School (students from the construction academy and art students collaborated), Data Graphics and BNI Golden Triangle sponsored by Union Home Mortgage.
Teams build playhouses for a child or children in the community that they’ve been paired with – and they had the option of building at the Tavares event location, The Square, 122 E. Main, or at a location and date of their choice. The playhouses will be delivered to the selected families as unique gifts, just in time for the holidays.
In addition, the playhouse build is a snapshot of Habitat’s mission. Sponsors helped fund the playhouse build, teams and volunteers spent time building and creating the playhouses, and ultimately, the playhouses are given to families in Lake and Sumter counties.
“It’s a small representation of all of the partners that make building a ‘big’ home possible,” according to a statement by Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter.
All Jingle Build-Off donations help underwrite the cost of construction for upcoming Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter projects.
Thrivent and Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter partner to help families stay in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic
Lake & Sumter, FL (Dec. 21st, 2020) – Thrivent is awarding Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter a contribution of $5,000 to help families in Lake and Sumter Counties stay in their homes. Thrivent’s donation will allow Habitat to provide mortgage relief to Habitat homeowners who need temporary assistance making their mortgage payments during the COVID-19 pandemic. With Thrivent’s support, Habitat Lake-Sumter will sustain affordable homeownership costs for more than 10 families locally.
Prior to the spread of the novel coronavirus, more than 18 million households across the U.S. were paying half or more of their income on a place to live. As the pandemic continues to cause job disruption and economic fallout, many households are enduring lay-offs, unemployment, and pay cuts. This wage loss has amplified the financial burden on households to maintain essential payments and can result in families having to trade-off between bills, mortgage, or medical care.
“We are grateful to partner with Thrivent and offer ongoing support for our Habitat homeowners,” says Danielle Stroud, Sr. Director of Programs and Partnerships. “No one should lose their home because of lost income or unexpected financial burdens caused by the pandemic. Because of Thrivent, we’re able to provide continued stability for local families.”
Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter is one of 100 local Habitat organizations across the nation partnering with Thrivent to help families stay in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic. In total, Thrivent is donating $750,000 to Habitat for Humanity to assist with mortgage-related relief and prevent foreclosures across the U.S.
“This year has been incredibly difficult for many people as financial hardship has added stress and anxiety to daily lives,” said Nikki Sorum, senior vice president of Thrivent Advisors at Thrivent. “This pandemic has underscored how important it is for people to have safe, affordable homes. Given all we have endured in 2020, we are especially honored to provide financial support to Habitat for Humanity to help people stay in their homes so they can continue to build toward financial stability.”
Habitat for Humanity and Thrivent began their partnership in 2005. Over the past 15 years, Thrivent and their clients have contributed more than $275 million to Habitat and have partnered with families to build safe, affordable homes across the U.S. and around the world.
About Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, Florida
Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, Florida has been your local Hometown Habitat serving individuals in Lake and Sumter Counties with access and opportunity to affordable housing solutions since 1989. As an affiliate of Habitat International we empower local families to achieve strength, stability, and self-reliance through shelter and are united by a shared vision of a world where everyone has a decent place to live.
Thrivent is a diversified financial services organization that helps people achieve financial clarity, enabling lives full of meaning and gratitude. As a mission-driven, membership-owned organization, it offers its more than 2 million members and customers a broad range of financial products, services and guidance. Thrivent and its subsidiary and affiliate companies offer insurance, investments, banking and advice over the phone, online as well as through financial professionals and independent agents nationwide. Thrivent is a Fortune 500 company with $152 billion in assets under management/advisement (as of 12/31/19). Thrivent carries an A++ (Superior) rating from AM Best, a credit rating agency; this is the highest of the agency’s 16 ratings categories and was affirmed in May of 2019. For more information, visit Thrivent.com. You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter.
Felisha Wimes’ story began in 2012 when she married her husband Jerry. The Wimes’ family includes four children, two adults and one puppy – and space was soon tight with a family of six. Their three sons shared one room, while their dining room became their daughter’s bedroom.
“Jerry and I are very hard workers, but owning a house seems so far away when you are paying such high rent and taking care of a family of six,” Felisha said. Felisha works for the Lake County School system, and Jerry works in healthcare.
The Wimes family lives in Mount Dora, where Jerry’s family is from. They have been in a rental home for about three years, but have always wanted to own their own home.
“The house we are in now is just too small with my children getting older and bigger,” Felisha said, but they were hesitant to leave Mount Dora. “Any time we make any major moves we always ask the kids their thoughts, and they all said that if we could buy a home they would love to be in the Mount Dora area since they have been raised here.”
Felisha found out about Habitat for Humanity from her sister-in-law, who forwarded her an email she’d received about the organization and gave Felisha the information to apply. “This all happened by fate,” Felisha said. “At first I was very hesitant, but decided why not I could really use a miracle and here we are now on our way to becoming homeowners. From the very first call to the very first email, this experience has been wonderful and such a blessing.”
Felisha and her family are excited and feel blessed to become homeowners. Their daughter and eldest son are looking forward to having their own rooms, Jerry can’t wait to have a garage, and the family is planning to have family over for the first time with the extra space for cookouts.
“This journey seems so unreal, not only for myself and my husband, but for my children as well. They have all said how excited they are, but I don’t think it has hit yet that this will be our home forever,” Felisha said. “I am ready to show my kids how the community comes together as one to make things happen.” The one thing Felisha is looking forward to the most is getting a dining room table that can fit her family of six so they can eat together as a family every night.
“We are so excited and thankful to be a part of Habitat for Humanity. We can’t wait to make many memories that will last a lifetime as a family in our new home!”
Joyce Tohill cuts the ribbon for the breaking ground of her new home. Habitat for Humanity staff, members of Habitat for Humanity Lake Sumter The Villages Club, Tohill and her family gather together to celebrate.
Andrea Davis, Daily Sun
Joyce Tohill broke into tears as she walked up to the site where her new home was to be built.
This would be the first home the Tavares resident has owned, and it’s all thanks to Habitat for Humanity of Lake Sumter The Villages Club.
On Friday, club members gathered with Tohill’s family, and Habitat for Humanity staff at the location in Fruitland Park, where the home is going to be built, to celebrate breaking ground. When Tohill arrived, she was immediately overwhelmed by the support of everyone present.
“I’ve assisted with The Women’s Build for Habitat of Humanity,” she said. “But it’s different when you are the one receiving the home.”
After a ribbon-cutting, members celebrated with cake, muffins, juice and coffee and began discussing plans for the build.
“This is the first new build for the club,” said Sally Read, co-president for Habitat for Humanity The Villages Club.
“We are really excited and we will be doing all the decorating for the house as well. The Dream Team consists of several of the guys, and they will act as managers throughout the build so we thought it was the least us ladies in the club could do,” said Read, of the Village of Tall Trees.
Kevin Tucker, president of Habitat for Humanity The Villages Club, said everything was on track.
“The concrete will be poured Monday, and we can get started on the build by Wednesday or the following Monday,” he said. “We are so thankful we are able to provide a home for this family.”
Danielle Stroud, senior director of programs and partnership for Habitat for Humanity, said she was thankful to work with each family that benefits from the group.
“Four out of 10 families make under $30,000 a year,” she said. “So when these volunteers are out swinging hammers, they are the voices making a difference for our local families. I am so thankful Joyce and her family will be blessed and have a home to call their own, because they deserve it.”
Joyce Tohill, third from left, was joined by her children and grandchildren for the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new house that volunteers are building for her.
The Villages Habitat for Humanity Club has dedicated its energy to construct its first home to help a single mother and her children in their time of need.
Joyce Tohill coped with homelessness and substandard housing while raising her five children. Three of her children are now adults out on their own.
Tohill’s adult daughter, Grace Ware, explained how difficult it was to find adequate housing. Her mother also had the additional worry of caring for a disabled daughter who requires that Tohill be present at all times. In order to provide for her family she became a medical transcription specialist which enabled her to work at home. The pandemic affected her income and was making it difficult to make rent payments. When she was selected to receive the first home to be constructed by The Villages Habitat Club she said it was “a miracle” and “this home is securing a future for my daughters that I am just so thankful for.”
The Villages club also presented a check for $10,000 to Danielle Stroud , senior director of development for Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter, to help fund the Fruitland Park project. While this is the first house the group is building, President and club founder Kevin Tucker explained they have done a number of restoration and repair jobs in the community.
The Villages High School seniors Brock Esarey, left, Hayden Fink, center, and Tyler McLean help build a playhouse as part of the Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter’s Jingle Build Off 2020. Bill Mitchell, Daily Sun
The Villages High School’s Construction Management Academy will make Christmas a little brighter for the child who receives a playhouse the students built. Students participated Nov. 10 in the Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter Jingle Build-Off competition. The academy is one of the five teams entered so far, said Lacie Himes, associate development director for the Habitat Lake-Sumter. Teams may still enter Jingle Build until Monday for the best playhouse. The public may judge it online this year Dec. 5-10 at habitatls.org/jingle-build-off. Construction Management Academy teacher Bruce Haberle said he hopes students not only learned construction skills by building the playhouse, but also about giving to the community and to people who are less fortunate. Last year, the academy was one of eight teams that built 10 playhouses on site for Habitat’s Christmas Village in Tavares. This year will offer a Virtual Christmas Village. Teams have the option to build their playhouses at their own sites or on site.
The recipients of the home, Jessica Smith and her son, Otto, are introduced to the Leesburg High School Construction Academy who will be building the home for the Habitat for Humanity project in Leesburg on Monday Sept. 21 [Cindy Peterson/Correspondent] Cindy Peterson
LEESBURG — Red Apples Media premiered Habitat Academy Season 2 Friday, documenting the start of another year’s home-building project by students at Leesburg High and volunteers with Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter.
The Nov. 13 premiere showcased the new project to be built by 14 Leesburg High School students — known as the Dream Team — and the family who will benefit from their work. This season debuted a full month earlier than the first season, which initially aired its first episode on December 16, 2019.
The new season of the show includes updated graphics and an opening video which features clips of students working. As before, it’s hosted by the CEO of RoMac Building Supply, Don Magruder. RoMac is one of the show’s sponsors, and Magruder has been involved as a community advisor for the Leesburg High School Construction Academy for the past few years.
This season of Habitat Academy is starting off with extra ambition, and the benefit of partnerships and knowledge developed over the course of last year’s production.
“The house gets built at the rate that the house gets built,” Robertz-Schwartz said.
Season one was a couple episodes short of its projected run due to the rate the house reached its milestones, Robertz-Schwartz said. They couldn’t ask the construction team to hold off on a milestone for filming, for instance, so it was hard to capture every planned moment.
Still, with that experience under their belt, Red Apples is going in for a longer season this year.
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.
Meet Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter’s newest partner, Munn’s Air-Conditioning and Heating.
Munn’s has a trusted reputation as a locally owned and operated Heating and Air-Conditioning company and has been in business for more than FIFTY years! Munn’s knows about the importance of a job well-done, that’s why they are investing in the next generation of Youth Construction Academy students by sponsoring The Villages Charter High School’s latest new home construction project. Not only is Munn’s supporting the build but they’ll offering expertise and HVAC training to the students.
Munn’s is generously partnering with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter by sponsoring the Youth Construction Academy home and they’ll help us kick-off the season of giving by matching every donation made in December!
My Name is Michelle Boisvert and thanks to Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter I am a future homeowner!
My story begins with my family. I am blessed with six children, three boys, and three girls. The ages of my children are Richard 20, Jessica 17, Kenneth 16, Joseph 11, Anna 9, and Cheryl 7. Being single with six children has been very challenging, but finding affordable housing has been even harder.
I heard about Habitat for Humanity years ago when my employer asked for volunteers to join Habitat for Humanity in a preservation and repair project. A friend and I cleaned and painted the home for a few days. The homeowner was a single older woman who had no one to help her. It was a great experience meeting her and having the opportunity to see how happy she was after her home was complete.
Now, I work full time for Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter, Florida. I have been an employee for almost three years. It is amazing seeing all the families Habitat is helping and the hope in their eyes when someone is willing to help them.
My journey starts with hope for a safe home with a yard for my children. It is a big dream, but one that I have been working towards since we moved here in 2015 to be close to my parents.
Currently, we live in a tiny two-bedroom apartment. Inside the apartment, our stove has not worked since last Thanksgiving. The tub has a large hole, and the front door is breaking. None of the washers and dryers work when we need to do laundry. It is very depressing and makes the situation feel hopeless.
God can always bring good from evil and give hope where there is none. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.” (King James Version, Rom 8:28).
The Covid-19 virus pandemic has been very hard on everyone. We have lost jobs, even friends and family. Due to the virus, even Habitat Lake-Sumter made some changes. But these changes made this house available for my family.
We are all looking forward to being in our new home by Thanksgiving. I am very excited to be working towards this beautiful home for my children. This home is such a blessing for our family. The children are already making plans for the big yard that include a garden and fire pit to roast marshmallows. The main discussion right now is who will get which room. No matter which room they pick, they will finally have a safe place to call home.
Written by Michelle Boisvert – Future Habitat Homeowner
Edited by Rebecca Eaton – Habitat for Humanity Volunteer Writer
Calling local businesses and teams to sign up to build and customize wood playhouses as a special holiday gift to children during the second annual Jingle Build-Off, a fun, team-building competition, hosted by Habitat of Humanity of Lake-Sumter.
The 2019 event was the inaugural Jingle Build-Off with First National Bank of Mount Dora winning bragging rights as the overall winner. Coldwell Banker Camelot Realty won for constructing the most creative playhouse; Florida School Nutrition Association Lake County Chapter earned the Team Spirit award; and Lowe’s won the First to Finish award. Also participating in the first build-off were BP Smith Construction, Lake County Eagles Aerie No. 4273, Data Graphics, and VoluntEARS.
“We have five spots available for the 2020 Jingle Build-Off,” says Lacie Himes, associate development director for Habitat, who notes the playhouses can be built by a team of up to 10 participants.
All of the building supplies, instructions, coaching, tools, paint, and paint supplies will be provided by Habitat. The cost for the team build is $2,500 with up to 10 participants or $1,500 for a youth build of a playhouse built by one to two adults, and up to eight youths.
Local businesses can also participate as presenting and signature sponsors of the Jingle Build-Off.
Teams can do offsite building of their playhouses at a location, date, and place of their team’s choice, or they may participate at the onsite building on Dec. 5 at The Square, 122 E. Main St., Tavares.
Joshua Fulwider, left, Abigail Stewart, center, and Jakobe Zick bring in a roof truss to be raised on a home being built for Habitat for Humanity Lake Sumter on Oct. 12 on Ann Street in Lady Lake.
George Horsford, Daily Sun
The Villages High School seniors in the Construction Management Academy are back at work building a third home for Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter.
“It’s a great learning experience,” said student Jace Gray, 17.
“I’ve learned so much about a house I never would have learned in any other place — so much more respect for a house,” student Abigail Stewart, 17, said.
They carried and placed roof trusses in place on the house they are building in Lady Lake for a single mother with a daughter. Last March, students were almost done building another house for Habitat when spring break was extended in an effort to thwart the spread of COVID-19. Then the state closed schools for the rest of the year while students learned online.
Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter plans to break ground Oct. 16 for a new housing development in Tavares.
The Cottages at Heritage Grove is a 23-unit pocket neighborhood featuring cottage-style homes and townhomes at approximately 730 square feet. They will be the first age-qualified community, 55-plus, built by Habitat Lake-Sumter, in the area of 1406 County Drive, Tavares.
The groundbreaking for the new community comes at a time when housing affordability has risen to the forefront of conversation. In part, due to the efforts of Lake 100’s Workforce Housing Strategic Plan commissioned by locally elected officials.
Danielle Stroud, senior director of programs and partnerships at Habitat Lake-Sumter says the community will benefit those in the Central Florida area who are on a fixed income, retired, or looking to maintain affordable housing as senior citizens.
That’s how much you would need to earn from a full-time job to afford a two-bedroom apartment in Lake County in 2020. This comes from the latest edition of “Out of Reach” (OOR), the annual report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC). According to NLIHC, the OOR “documents the significant gap between renters’ wages and the cost of rental housing across the United States” and its findings illustrate the breadth of the affordable housing crisis nationwide, including here in Lake and Sumter Counties.
The OOR’s primary measure of this gap is the Housing Wage, defined as “an estimate of the hourly wage a full-time worker must earn to afford a modest rental home at HUD’s fair market rent (FMR) without spending more than 30% of his or her income on housing costs, the accepted standard of affordability”. In other words, the Housing Wage is what a full-time worker (40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year) should earn per hour to afford rent plus utilities in their area at a fair share (30%) of their income. Most workers’ wages don’t come anywhere near this number, which means affordable housing is out of their reach. The Housing Wage for Sumter County is $16.69 per hour and while that is significantly lower than Lake County’s $24.00, renters in Sumter still face substantial challenges in finding affordable housing.
Lisa would have to work 112 hours per week to afford a 2 bedroom apartment in Lake County
Jamie makes $11.86 an hour and still struggles to find an apartment he can afford in Sumter County.
Lake and Sumter County residents and workers make difficult choices when it comes to how they pay for housing. At the current minimum wage in Florida of $8.56 per hour, renters in Lake County need to work 112 hours per week to afford the FMR. In Sumter, the figure is 80 hours per week, but that is still two full-time jobs. Assuming a 40-hour work week at minimum wage, the maximum rent affordable is only $445, barely over a third of FMR for Lake and half of FMR for Sumter. Even for those renters earning the estimated mean hourly wage of $13.65 for Lake and $11.86 for Sumter, the monthly rent they can afford falls far short of FMR, at $710 for Lake and $617 for Sumter. Limiting their housing costs to 30% of income is simply not an option for many families in the area. Some service sector workers choose to live outside of the area where rents are more affordable and make long commutes to work. Others settle for housing arrangements that are insufficient for their families’ needs.
Policy solutions are badly needed, along with the political will to support them. At the local level, impact fees on new developments are often at odds with efforts to build more affordable housing. Federally, housing assistance is grossly underfunded. The OOR and NLIHC’s website provide examples of federal housing programs that can help solve the housing crisis, including the national Housing Trust Fund and Housing Choice Vouchers. For more information and to read the full report, click here to visit https://reports.nlihc.org/oor.
“The willingness of America’s veterans to sacrifice for our country has earned them our lasting gratitude.” -Jeff Miller
Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter is incredibly grateful for the sacrifices that our servicemen and women make, and to express our gratitude we are dedicated to investing in the lives of local Veterans. Through the Veterans Housing Initiative, we want to ensure that those who served are not forgotten and give them the same opportunities that their sacrifices allow us to have. After completing the Umatilla Veteran’s Village – a 13-unit community – we committed to increasing our service to Veterans and their families.
Since 2018, we’ve served an additional 15 Veteran households with Critical Repairs and Preservation. Veterans like Edwin Seda, who after a military career spanning 20 years in the U.S. Army, was faced with losing his insurance unless his roof was replaced.
To salute our Veterans, we invite you to join us from now through November in supporting Veterans in our community. There are many more Veterans living in sub-standard housing and we need YOU to help!
Donate Today! Your donation of $15 helps to build ramps, repair dilapidated roofs, and uplift the home of a Veteran
We invite Veterans and others to volunteer with us on a special Veterans project, Wednesday, November 11th
On Emilee’s birthday last year, her dreams came true when she accompanied Rey on an adventure to find Chewbacca in a small trading post in Batuu. Walking side by side with her hero, Emilee is strong with the force, and with a mom like Amanda, it’s not hard to see where she gets it from. Now, thanks to Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter’s Youth Construction Academy and Habitat’s newest partner, Munn’s Air Conditioning & Heating, both mother and daughter will find a new happily ever after with their dream home.
Like their favorite Star Wars heroes, Amanda Brooks and her daughter Emilee know how to use their powers for good. Having volunteered recently with Habitat Lake-Sumter, Amanda is excited to play the role of mentor for both Emilee and students who will be building her dream home. She hopes that the Villages Charter High School students feel accomplished building her and Emilee’s future home, learning strong foundational principles like hospitality, hard work, stewardship, and creativity. “I encourage my daughter to stick by these core values. I would also encourage the high school students to stick to these core values and to reach for their goals,” said Amanda.
Amanda volunteered on a Preservation & Repair project recently and helped re-paint a house, she said it was nice to meet other future Habitat homeowners and volunteers and learn about their journeys. Now that she’s on the receiving end of the program, Amanda says she’s still taking it all in. “Honestly, I’m still in a state of ‘is this really happening?’ ‘am I really getting this?’, I don’t think I’m going to be in shock anymore until I’m finally moving in.”
Students enrolled in the high school’s Construction Management Program began active construction on Amanda and Emiliee’s home in late-August, with the house completion slated for May 2021. This highlights the school’s third year being involved in Habitat Lake-Sumter’s Youth Construction Academy and third house built with The Villages Charter High School. The program was created to provide students with valuable hands-on training and viable career opportunities after graduation. This year, Munn’s Air Conditioning & Heating will be providing support of the project by sponsoring the build and offering expertise and HVAC training to the students.
In the end, just like the magic of Walt Disney World, Amanda and Emilee will be able to create new precious memories in their future home, where Emilee also dreams of using the extra room as a Star Wars playroom. For Amanda and Emilee, their new home just might be the happiest place on Earth.
Habitat Lake-Sumter Villagers Club members put construction skills to good use for people in need.
Villager Sally Read felt a strong desire to do something productive and meaningful after her husband died two years ago. She found her calling with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter Florida.
“I knew that God had a place for me, and Habitat is what it turned out to be,” she says. “I was searching because I didn’t want to sit in my house all the time or just go out with the girls. Habitat was the answer I was looking for.”
Sally bonded with other Villagers who are just as passionate about the nonprofit organization that works in partnership with volunteers and donors to build new, affordable homes for families and individuals who demonstrate a need, and who have the ability to sustain a monthly mortgage payment.
“What I have enjoyed the most is meeting like-minded people, the camaraderie,” says Sally, a Rochester, New York native. “We help each other out. If one person doesn’t know how to do it somebody else pitches in. It’s the feeling of doing it together more than anything. There are a lot of hardworking, talented people in the group. It’s quite amazing.”
The Villages is home to “a lot of people with a construction background,” adds Kevin Tucker, a former Ontario County New York resident who is involved in preservation and repair projects for Habitat.
Kevin formed the Habitat Lake-Sumter Villagers Club in October 2019, serving as president, with Sally as treasurer and membership chair. The group began meeting the second Wednesday of each month at SeaBreeze Recreation Center.
Since the coronavirus prevented Villagers from being able to meet at recreation centers, the club has relied on Zoom meetings.
“It has been a little bit of a deterrent, but we decided a couple months ago we needed to keep the ball rolling,” Kevin says. “We are looking to grow our club and we actually have been charged with building a new home, which we will start in October, and it looks like the house will be built in Fruitland Park.”
Students from South Lake High School are working with Habitat For Humanity of Lake-Sumter to help launch a new Habitat for Humanity home in Mascotte. Monday was a big day for the local Habitat for Humanity, as well as for some future homeowners and a group of students at South Lake High School. Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter started its program of partnering with high school construction students two years ago with The Villages Charter High School. Last year they added Leesburg High to the program, and this year they have added the Construction Academy of South Lake High School. The Villages school, located in Sumter County, started its home-building project in August. But Monday was the start day for students in Lake County. Eight students were accepted to the construction team in south Lake — six boys and two girls — and most of them were on hand in Mascotte for their first day on the job site. The plan is that students will spend three days a week at the job site, and two days in the classroom.
Students from the Leesburg High School Construction Academy work on constructing a home for Habitat for Humanity in Leesburg. [Cindy Peterson/Correspondent] Cindy Peterson
LEESBURG — Leesburg construction students took their first steps into their next housing project Monday as they met with the future owner of a Habitat for Humanity home on 1501 Grove Ave. in Leesburg.
The 14 students will be building the program’s second house in partnership with Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter, though for each of them it is a first — students are hand-picked to be on the team from LHS construction academy seniors.
“I chose the team, so I think they’re freaking amazing,” construction academy teacher Bryan Russ said.
Russ added that he’s really confident not only in their skills, but in their ability to work as a team and to work through any conflicts, which will be key in keeping the project moving.
The project generated a great deal of excitement not only for the team, but for the new homeowner, Jessica Smith, who has already been selected by Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter this year.
She attended a small, socially distanced event to kick off the home build on Monday, where district officials gathered to encourage students and thank Habitat for Humanity of Lake and Sumter for providing the opportunity for the students to work.
Smith, along with her son Otto, will make a home out of the new house after
Leesburg students complete it.
Smith has never been a homeowner, she said, and she and Otto, who is 13, have had to move a total of 13 times since he was born. The home he was taken back to after his birth was destroyed in a tornado in 2007, and they’ve lacked stability since.
That stability is one of the things they’re looking forward to most.
“Moving around house to house, it feels good to be living in a single spot for the rest of my teenage years,” Otto said.
“We are very blessed for this opportunity,” his mother said, looking over at the framework of the house.
Smith added that she was excited to have students working on the project, and was glad that people would be using her future home to further their education.
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.
Looking for ways to support Habitat Lake-Sumter this September? We have two fun ways that you can help families while supporting local businesses!
We are excited to announce that Habitat Lake-Sumter has been selected to be a part of the Community Bag Program at Winn-Dixie, making it easy for customers to contribute to their local community while supporting the environment.
For the entire month of September, each time a reusable Community Bag is purchased at the Winn-Dixie located at either 944 Bichara Boulevard, Lady Lake FL or 820 Old Camp Road, The Villages FL, $1 will be donated to Habitat Lake-Sumter! You can find the two colorful, reusable Community Bags with the Giving Tag on the reusable bag rack at either store. The key is to look for bags with a tag that features a blue heart with $1 on it.
We appreciate the support you give, which has allowed Habitat Lake-Sumter to maintain the work we do in our community. The Community Bag Program is a great way to continue to support our cause while working to eliminate single-use paper and plastic bags.
Imagine if each one of our supporters purchased just ONE bag! Please spread the word and pass this exciting news on your friends and family.
Maybe you’re looking for ways to support a local business and indulge in some self-care. We’ve been selected as the Charity of the Month at The Best Nail Spa: Pedicures For The People(18977 US HWY 441, Mt. Dora)
$1 Will Be Donated For Every Pedicure Done in September!
The Best Nail Spa is taking extraordinary measures to care for the health and safety of their customers, so invite a friend or two for a well-earned spa day and support Habitat’s mission to build homes, community, and hope!
Although it may look like there is a lot on my plate, consider it all relative. Being a chef and instructor gives me the opportunity to share my passion with others. I am proud to have been an inaugural speaker for TEDxEustis, inaugural Lake County Schools Hall of Fame inductee, award winning chef, on air food personality for FOX 35 Orlando, weekly Daily Commercial food columnist and monthly podcast contributor. If the list doesn’t seem long enough, add being sought out as an industry professional and consultant regarding food insecurity and culinary education to persons with mental and physical disabilities, and offender community reintroduction support. However, my main joy in life is being a Christian, wife, mother and now a Mimi, (Okay, so some refer to this position as grandmother. I choose progress.)
“I understand that when it comes to food and the disparities in our communities any positive energy in this direction can change the world.”
I chose to join the Habitat board because of my commitment to my community when it comes to battling food insecurity with unique perspectives and, believe it or not, home ownership is one major weapon in the fight.I hope that I can be a conduit when it comes to different housing options and support of communities and neighborhoods looking to change the landscape and quality of life. Anything that I can positively be a part of is worth my precious time and efforts, Habitat Lake-Sumter is definitely high on my list.
What I am most looking forward to achieving in my term is helping bridge the gap of misinformation when it comes to home ownership, support different housing opportunities and varied community plans. By doing this, my main goal of helping those affected by food insecurity get on a track to home ownership that will help toend a vicious cycle of food disruption in their household.
I would love to introduce a program to our future and current homeowners that includes basic cooking lessons and kitchen safety. We all need to eat. It is pivotal that we learn basic cooking concepts and food procurement processes to ensure that not only do we survive but that we thrive, especially in today’s climate. Home ownership and cooking can serve as more than a place to live and adding the ability to provide healthy meals will allow us to do much more in our lives and communities.
Being the former pantry manager and volunteer at Lake Cares food pantry I was afforded the opportunity to meet so many people and understand the problems they faced. Although I have never officially volunteered on a build, I look forward to assisting on future builds and obtaining one of Habitat’spink hard hats. I firmly believe that Habitat’s position of being a key component to building your house is the groundbreaking factor when it relates to home ownership. In closing, with my aforementioned mission in life of being the General when it comes to battling food insecurity with a unique perspective and helping to end the cycle of poverty; through affordable housing & home ownership, and with varied community & housing options. By doing this I hope we are able to further assist potential candidates not only to obtain housing but thrive in their homes as well. The dots are there, let’s connect them.
The issue of attainable housing has been a layered and often, complex problem to address. In a year of new norms and unexpected crisis, precautions and change; the need for housing affordability solutions remains. Even expanding as more families face financial insecurity and housing instability exasperated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Yet in the midst of uncertainty, Wells Fargo has maintained their commitment to champion affordable housing solutions in Lake and Sumter Counties. The collaboration with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter and Wells Fargo Builds is part of a nationwide effort for capacity building and direct mission support to build, renovate and repair more than 350 affordable homes across the United States.
Habitat Lake-Sumter was awarded a $30,000 grant to build an affordable home in Leesburg, FL and critically repair a home in Wildwood, FL.
Danielle Stroud, SR. Director of Programs & Partnerships shares how exciting this grant is for Habitat Lake-Sumter, “This is the largest award amount we’ve been granted through Wells Fargo Foundation and it directly impacts our affiliates mission by increasing Habitat’s capacity to serve even more families in Lake County.”
Typically, 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 millions of hours in volunteer time and created an environment where ‘community giving’ is embedded in the culture and attitude of Wells Fargo.
However, due to restrictions caused by Covid-19, Wells Fargo employees will not be on-site for the two upcoming projects with Habitat Lake-Sumter. Although the goodwill and camaraderie of the Wells Fargo volunteers will be missed, the output of a critical repair project and a new home build will be invaluable for 2 local families.
“Habitat Lake-Sumter exists to create access and opportunity to affordable housing solutions,” says Danielle, “We partner with families and build an affordable housing product which we are only able to do because of partners like Wells Fargo, who care enough about the end goal: communities where everyone has a safe and secure place to call home.”
Habitat Lake-Sumter is grateful for the legacy of giving from Wells Fargo. In the uncertainty of 2020, Wells Fargo continues to be a community partner and housing champion!
Between the pressures of statewide testing, staying active in after-school sports and navigating social norms, high school students rarely get the chance to learn skills that will stick with them beyond their senior year. Habitat Lake-Sumter’s Youth Construction Academy is determined to change that with a mutually beneficial program that not only teaches high school students construction, carpentry, and home-building skills, but also provides a new home to a family in need.
When asked what her thoughts on the program are, Ashley has nothing but positive feedback about the benefits it provides for the students now, and in the future.
“I really love this program. It comes with many opportunities for certifications and many different experiences with learning how to build a home. This program also gives us connections to construction companies and helps us do some networking whenever we make it into the real world. These connections could offer us jobs and a look at different parts of the construction industry.”
She likes that working in construction helps to buffer the bias of women in the construction industry, and she always gets a laugh when men react to her carrying heavy objects while working on site. While the work helps to make her strong physically, it also helps mentally, giving her, and other teens clarity and an outlet for stress.
Ashley’s hard work is paying off, prior to school closure due to Covid-19, she was awarded Student of the Month – this award focuses on a student’s employability (attendance, work performance, and willingness to excel) and overall attitude and competence “on the job” whether that is in class or onsite. As the only female construction academy student in her class, Ashley demonstrates her leadership skills by being a role model among her peers and encouraging other girls to see the construction industry as a viable career path; traits that will undoubtedly benefit Ashley in her chosen field.
Stay tuned for future updates on Ashley and find out where the Youth Construction Academy students are now!
By Lauren Lester- Real Estate Advisor and Community Advocate
Here at Habitat Lake-Sumter our mission is to bring people together to build homes, communities, and hope. But we know that we are only one piece of the puzzle; to build and repair homes for deserving families, we align ourselves with the future homeowners, volunteers, and community partners to make each and every home possible.
One such community partner is Bank of America, whose support of the work Habitat Lake-Sumter does and the families we partner with is emblematic of their commitment to the communities they reside in. On a national level, Bank of America’s partnership with Habitat for Humanity includes nearly $80 million in philanthropic funding and volunteer efforts in local markets and regions around the world, including 35,000 hours of volunteer time annually.
Locally, Bank of America has partnered with Habitat Lake-Sumter to invest $56,000 in grants over the past several years for our Preservation & Repair program and new home construction.
This year, we’ve joined forces with Bank of America for a new home build in Mount Dora, Florida. The new home construction is made possible in part by a $10,000 grant from Bank of America and stems from a shared vision that providing access to affordable housing advances economic mobility and enriches the community.
Future homeowners with Habitat Lake-Sumter invest 200 hours of their time through “sweat equity” and help build their homes alongside volunteers, homeowners also participate in financial education courses and pay an affordable mortgage. Because of Bank of America’s generous support, a new Habitat homeowner will achieve the strength, stability and independence they need to build a better life for themselves and for their family.
Better, affordable living conditions lead to improved health, stronger childhood development, and the ability—and financial flexibility—to make forward-looking choices. With Bank of America’s collaboration, Habitat Lake-Sumter is able to provide an affordable housing product and create sustainable solutions for our community.
On July 7th, we hosted a ceremonial ribbon-cutting at the site of the future home, 602 E. Jackson Avenue. However, due to precautionary health measures in regards to Covid-19, the site is currently closed to volunteers. But the home is quickly progressing, with walls raised and trusses being set just weeks later.
During a time when where you live is more important than ever, Bank of America has stood alongside Habitat Lake-Sumter and the families we serve to ensure equitable housing is available to those who need it most.
I’ve been involved with several Habitat projects, but it was this one that touched me so deeply. It was all because of The Dragon Sister’s, Kevin, Habitat staff and sponsors. But most importantly, because of Miss Dorothy, for sharing this experience with us- Kim Thayer, Dragon Sisters
At the core of Women Build is a group of people who are willing to advocate for attainable housing, garner support from their sphere of influence, and take action to create change in their community.
This year, Women Build came to an unexpected halt. Typically, Women Build begins in March and participants raise funds for 6 weeks, followed by the volunteer and build phase in May. But when the coronavirus halted everything, it seemed like Women Build would be indefinitely delayed.
But then something incredible happened. Women Builder’s started to reach out.
They asked questions like: What can I do? How can I help someone during this time? Is there a family who needs a little extra support right now?
So we told them. Habitat Lake-Sumter shared the stories of families who needed help before Covid-19 and who would still need our help as we began to recover. Families who were struggling and vulnerable in their housing situations and who, without our help, would only feel the exacerbated effects of sheltering in unsafe housing conditions.
Leesburg Evening Rotary, BSmart Masonry, The Dragon Boat Sisters, and Zonta International adopted 2 projects, raising the funds needed and offering their volunteer time to make it happen. After all of the changes to Women Build and with safety precautions in place, we were finally able to see the Women Build projects come to fruition.
In July, two Women Build Preservation & Repair projects were completed thanks to some incredible individuals, businesses, and civic organizations who took action to strengthen and unite our community.
The project took on more than originally scoped – the Dragon Sisters did some major landscaping, as opposed to just “trim back the bushes so the house could be painted” approach. Also, the house would not stand up to power washing before painting, so the Sisters washed the entire house by hand so that it could be painted. Without the Dragon Sisters, there’s no way this house would have been done by Friday. As a club they also supplied plants, mulch, landscape fabric, and a garden flag and the pictures don’t do it justice, but the landscaping alone was a difference-maker- Kevin, Habitat Site Leader
Women Build may look decidedly different this year but the one thing that remained steadfast were the people willing to take on key leadership roles and direct action in helping families in Lake & Sumter County.
First of all we have a group of THE MOST generous, caring, funny and loving women I have EVER BEEN ASSOCIATED WITH. And most everyone else will say the same thing. Each day when we arrived we all knew what had to be done and we just went right to work, no direction needed. At the end of each day whether it was a sisters first day or not, each went home feeling good knowing we were helping make a difference in a sweet woman’s day.
Ms. Dorothy fed us and praised us and she even prayed that God would put us to use to help someone else in need. I asked her if she could ask him to use us in cooler days since the heat index was not under 106° the entire week. She laughed! But not one sister complained about the work that was needed. On our last day Ms. Dorothy came out to see her freshly painted, repaired home and freshly landscaped and cleaned flower beds and shrubs. She had a poem she “gave” us and it is this :
A bells not a bell till its rung
A songs not a song till it’s sung
But love wasn’t put in our hearts to stay
Loves not love till you give it away !
We ALL gave love away that week and we ALL are better for it. Thanks for the opportunity. Hugs! -Vicki McMillan, Dragon Sisters
Project #1: Caitlyn and her 3 young sons have lived in their home for 8 years. Caitlyn was approved for a matching grant through USDA and Habitat. Leesburg Evening Rotary and BSmart Masonry sponsored the project to match funds for windows and roof to be replaced, and provided the family with a gate (for an added feeling of security for Caitlyn and her boys). As a final touch, both Leesburg Evening and Sunrise Rotarians volunteered to paint, giving her home a fresh feel to go along with the new windows and doors.
Project #2: Ms. Dorothy is 87 years old and lives on her own in Wildwood. She is a widow of an Army Veteran. She has lived in her current residence for 61 years and was facing loss of insurance unless she could get the roof repaired. The Dragon Boat Sisters and Zonta assisted in raising funds to repair her roof, fix her a/c, paint and build her a new accessibility ramp.
The Lake County Eagles Auxiliary No. 4273 recently surprised Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter with a $10,000 grant to be used towards their upcoming building project, The Cottages at Heritage Grove.
With infrastructure slated to begin in late fall, the cottages will be Habitat Lake-Sumter’s first 55+ community in Tavares. Construction on the 23 units is set to begin early 2021, according to Lacie Himes, associate development director for Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter.
Each cottage will be around 730 square feet, feature nice green space and a community pavilion. The cottages will be styled similar to the prototype four cottages Habitat recently constructed in Coleman.
Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter and Lake Cares Food Pantry are partnering together with last minute touches on a newly built Eustis home for a single mom, Rachel Storey and her son, Jackson, 6.
Lake Care has made it a tradition with every Habitat family to provide a well-stocked pantry and refrigerator prior to move-in day, and on July 21, Irene O’Malley, executive director from Lake Cares, will be delivering groceries to the Storey house with some help from Habitat’s Family Service Coordinator Veronica Troxell.
“As anyone knows, moving in is time consuming and we (Lake Cares and Habitat) want to make sure the home is ready with groceries and meals that can be prepared for the coming weeks and provide stability for the homeowner,” says Lacie Himes, associate development director for Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter.
Rachel and her son are eager to move into their new home.
“I’m looking forward to just being with my son and having our own house to call home,” Rachel told Style in an earlier interview. The pair has been living at her parents’ Grand Island home, which they moved into when Rachel was going through a divorce.
“My parents helped me with my son, too, because he was younger at the time,” she says. “I started going back to church and it was like God was putting me back piece by piece. I’m just so thankful for everything. God led me to the right people at the right time and Habitat couldn’t have been better to work with. I am beyond grateful.”
Mount Dora Mayor Catherine T. Hoechst, Nadine Foley, a friend and representative of Nancy A. Penn Shaner Trust, and Monica Wofford, a Habitat Lake-Sumter board member, took part in a ceremonial ribbon-cutting ceremony July 7 for a new Habitat home to be built at 602 E. Jackson St., Mount Dora.
Bank of America will be the corporate sponsor for the project along with community involvement provided by bequest gifts from the Ohlsson Charitable Trust and Nancy A. Penn-Shaner Trust.
“The community involvement is stemming from individual donors who had the forethought to contribute this way,” says Lacie Lacie Himes, associate development director for Lake-Sumter Habitat.
She adds that the collaboration between Habitat and Bank of America has generated $56,000 in grants over the past several years for new home construction, preservation and repair.
Due to COVID-19, the building site on Jackson street in Mount Dora will be closed to volunteer workers. “We are slowly opening certain locations for volunteers, but we tend to gauge the response the current climate,” says Lacie.
Also before the coronavirus hit, Habitat had planned on female builders to start building a new home construction project in Leesburg, but they had to scale back fundraising and postpone the home build.
“Many awesome female leaders in our community still wanted to support local families,” says Lacie. “So, they raised funds as a group and funded two critical home repairs that had been delayed and were at risk of not happening due to lost resources because of COVID-19.”
The Lake County Eagles Auxiliary Post 4273 in Okahumpka surprised Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter with a $10,000 grant benefitting its upcoming project, The Cottages at Heritage Grove. The 23-unit pocket neighborhood in Tavares will be Habitat Lake-Sumter’s first 55-plus community.
Infrastructure work is slated to begin in the fall.
The Eagles has a long-standing history with Habitat for Humanity and were sponsors of Habitat Lake-Sumter’s original pocket neighborhood in 2016, The Umatilla Veterans Village.
In 2020, Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter worked with The Villages Charter High School Construction Management Academy and the Leesburg High School Construction Academy in the construction of two Habitat for Humanity Homes in Lake County.
The home built by The Villages Charter High School Construction Management Academy students is in the Carlton Village area of Lady Lake while the home built by the Leesburg High School Construction Academy students is on North 12th Street in Leesburg. Both projects were a complete success — with the new homeowners having a home for a lifetime built by students who developed skill sets in construction for a lifetime.
The only disappointment was the COVID-19 pandemic, which prevented both high schools from following the projects all the way to the end. The students missed the opportunity to finish their Habitat homes, participate in the dedication ceremonies, and receive accolades from a grateful community for a job well done, which resulted in the enhancement of each school’s program. Students in both programs have paved the way for future students and Habitat homeowners.
The 2020-2021 school year promises to be even bigger for the Habitat for Humanity Projects in Lake and Sumter Counties, as these projects are being planned for The Villages Charter High School, Leesburg High School and South Lake High School.
These projects merge public education with private partnerships to help train students for good paying jobs and careers while providing a needed home for a working family. They teach the young people in our community the important of benevolence. Honestly, these programs work because everyone wins.
Thanks to the participation of the community, school district, and private partnerships, these programs a true success. Many people want to get involved and here is how you can participate in one of these great projects.
Each high school has an Advisory Board, which bridges the partnership between the public and private sectors. These Advisory Boards are made up of educators and business-people in the construction community that meet monthly to address the needs of their high school’s program and coordinate community participation.
If you would like to participate on one of the Advisory Boards, contact Lynnea Weissman at the Lake County School District at 352-988-4876, or Rob Grant, the Principal at The Villages Charter High School, at 352-259-3777.
Inadequate housing can act as a barrier to mental health. But safe, decent, and affordable housing can remove barriers to opportunity and success, both mental and physical health; that might have been part of a family’s life for years, if not generations.
As a counselor for the last 22 years I have seen the effects the living environment has on the mental, emotional, and relational life of individuals and families. Having inadequate housing can cause depression, anxiety, and encourage poor methods of coping. It can affect how you see yourself, what you perceive as your value, and what you expect out of life; this can color and affect your personal identity. In turn, the opposite also proves to be true, a safe and secure home can provide a stable foundation for a healthy life where good habits and loving memories are created.
A home is more than just shelter from a storm, it is a place for personal growth. A comfortable home atmosphere produces a sense of safety, belonging, peace, and joy. It is an individual’s haven away from the world. A safe, stable, and affordable home provides a release from the anxiety of wondering if your needs will be met and instead fosters the opportunity for personal growth.
Let me give you a real life example. Angie (not her real name for privacy purposes) was a client of mine. She had been married for 10 years to a narcissistic, verbal and emotional abuser. She had two small children, a low-paying job, and felt crushed emotionally from years of abuse. As a counselor, I sought to help her restore her voice and identity. I planned on teaching her how to identify abusive patterns, set boundaries, and instead of reacting, respond with healthy thinking and life skills. I wanted her to obtain discernment skills for a better future.
This emotional journey would require Angie to learn how to re-frame faulty thoughts so that she could recast life patterns and have the ability to pass down healthy relationship skills to her children. It would require systematic change, one choice at a time, to produce health and wholeness for her entire family. But, how could any of that be obtained if we didn’t first address her immediate need for a safe place to live?
As a first step to starting this next chapter in her life, Angie and I worked together to find her a place she could call home. A place that was physically safe, devoid of toxins, or peeling paint. A place where her children could go outside without her being afraid for their safety. Once we found her a home that met her needs and provided a sense of security, she was able to put her effort into moving forward and healing mentally and emotionally from past wounds. Thanks to a safe place to call home, she was able to begin the journey into making a new life for her and her children.
About Dr. Michele
For over 22 years she has provided thousands of people with tools and skills to “Think, Choose, and Thrive.” She works in her local office but also serves clients all over the country via online platforms like Skype.
Two families who partnered with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter received the keys to their homes on Wednesday, June 17th 2020; Kim Stull and Sara Mcghee officially became homeowners with a hand-up from Habitat Lake-Sumter.
When a family partners with Habitat for Humanity, they take their first step down a new path – one with fewer barriers to a better, healthier, and more financially stable life.
Families may find themselves in need of decent, affordable shelter due to a variety of circumstances—unpredictable rent increases, overcrowded living conditions, damaged or dilapidated structures, or lack of access to affordable financing.
But Habitat Lake-Sumter and our partner families walk side-by-side on the journey to home ownership. Sara and Kim both became active participants in the homeownership process. Following the criteria of our home ownership program, each had to fulfill 200 hours of ‘sweat equity’ by working alongside volunteers to build trusses, paint walls, and hang the doors; to build the places they now call home.
In the midst of fulfilling sweat equity hours, homeowners also attend financial education classes and learn the basics of budget management. Receiving the key to your home signifies more than being approved through a traditional home buying process, it also shows that you’ve invested 200 hours into your new home and education to build a better future for yourself and your family.
While their journey with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter is complete, the journey to a stronger, more stable future begins; we celebrate with Kim and Sara as they take their first steps as new homeowners. Congratulations to The Stull Family and the Mcghee Family!
Greetings to all who have supported Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter this year! While 2020 has been a trying year for us all, I wanted to say thank you for your continued support of the organization and all the good work we have been doing. Despite the unexpected challenges caused by the coronavirus over the last three months, Habitat Lake-Sumter successfully continued to build homes, community, and hope – as I reflect at the close of our 19-20 fiscal year, I would like to share a snapshot of just some of the accomplishments we are celebrating, in partnership with you.
Community Advocacy & Leadership
We saw an increase in community buy-in from local leaders on the need for attainable housing for our communities. This resulted in action by the Lake County Commissioners voting unanimously to approve an impact fee waiver program for affordable housing units – this will help underwrite the cost of construction for homes, making the entry point of home ownership accessible to more people.
Habitat Lake-Sumter CEO, Kent Adcock, will be participating in leading the charge for research and development of the Lake County Attainable Housing Strategic Plan. By taking a leadership role in Lake County’s Strategic Plan, Kent gives a voice to those in our community who need access to attainable housing.
For the first time since 2007, the Florida House and Senate have agreed to fully fund the trust for affordable housing, The Sadowski Trust Fund. Resulting in a total of $370 million dollars of funding for the entire state of Florida, instead of taking money out to fund other projects like in year’s past. State-level changes are made possible through local advocacy!
Building More Homes & Creating More Partnerships:
We have weathered (and continue to weather) the storm of the pandemic as an “essential business,” continuing our mission with care and attention to necessary health and safety precautions
As an essential business, we’ve built 6 homes in our service area and served an additional 45 families through Preservation & Repair– including 7 Veteran households.
Completed our first Inmate Construction Academy home in partnership with Lake County Sheriff’s Office
Completed our first home, in partnership, with Leesburg High School through the Youth Construction Academy
Thanks to the $100,000 Disney Grant and great exposure from our television series, Habitat Academy, we garnered additional community support for the Youth Construction Academy program and as a result will be adding South Lake High School as our third partner school next year.
One last thing I really need to shed light on is the daily, creative leadership of CEO, Kent Adcock and the outstanding fundraising and administrative skills Senior Director, Danielle Stroud, uses for Habitat Lake-Sumter. Also, I could not leave out the Board and staff; truly the mark of any great organization is the people that are at work in it, and the above highlights are made possible by their dedication to the mission and belief that everyone deserves a place to call home.
Feliciano Felix Ramirez
Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, Florida
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!
Ann Walls, of Virginia, tries out a couch while shopping at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Leesburg on Wednesday. Michael Johnson, Daily Sun
Two Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter ReStores are now open to the public.
On Wednesday, the Leesburg ReStore at 200 N. Lone Oak Drive and the Eustis ReStore at 710 S. Bay St. reopened after closing in March because of COVID-19. Local residents can come inside the stores again and drop off donations. Staff are wearing masks to help keep people safe.
“We’re very excited to reopen ReStores,” said Lacie Himes, assistant development director for Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter. “They play a huge role in Habitat commissions.”
The sixth episode showed final interviews with many of those involved in the project and offered a glimpse into the future with insights into a planned second season.
LEEBSURG — The season finale of Habitat Academy, Red Apples Media’s six-episode series which followed the construction of a Habitat for Humanity house with the help of Leesburg High School students, aired last week on Lake Sumter TV.
Though part of production had to take place after social distancing guidelines were put into place to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Red Apples Media President Marc Robertz-Schwartz said the team was extremely proud of the production, and of those who worked together to build the home.
“It really was just a phenomenal experience for everyone,” Robertz-Schwartz said.
The sixth episode showed final interviews with many of those involved in the project and offered a glimpse into the future with insights into a planned second season.
It also revealed the new homeowner, Lauren McInnes, a single mother working in healthcare and raising two children on her own. She had previously been living with her parents.
New things are in store at Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter’s ReStores. We will be re-opening the Eustis and Leesburg ReStores in mid-June!
As we transition back to business, the Groveland and Wildwood locations will remain closed with no scheduled date for re-opening.
Take a sneak peek at some of the behind the scenes work at Eustis ReStore,
Our two ReStore locations are opening up bigger and better than you’ve ever seen them.
We can’t wait to show you all of the hard work the ReStore staff has been doing to prepare the Eustis and Leesburg ReStores for re-opening, with the health and safety of you in mind!
Important Things to Know:
Follow us on Facebook! Our official Grand Re-Opening date will be announced soon
Donation drop-off will resume on opening day at the Eustis and Leesburg ReStores
Free donation pick up will resume scheduling on opening day, throughout our service area (including Wildwood and Groveland!)
Health and safety procedures will be in place so you can donate and shop at our ReStores while keeping the community safe
A new D.I.Y section to inspire your next project
Feature items- generators and DeWalt lights- just in time for hurricane season!
Our ReStores are vital to our mission of building homes, community, and hope. We believe that everyone deserves a decent and affordable place to call home and when you donate and purchase items from one of our ReStores, you make it possible for Habitat Lake-Sumter to build and repair homes for families in Lake and Sumter counties.
Over the past school year select Youth Construction Academy students have been hard at work building two new homes in our service area. We are proud to share they are complete, beautifully built, and will soon be filled with the laughter of children as the Shields and McInnes families move in next week! The student participants from The Villages Charter School and Leesburg High started their home building projects in August with raw land and have worked alongside our Habitat construction manager as well as local sub-contractors to gain experience within the various trades of residential construction. This program is a shining example of Habitat’s mission of bringing people together to build homes, communities, and hope. A special THANK YOU to all of our sponsors and community supporters who helped make these projects a reality. Check out the videos below to get a tour of the finished homes, meet the Habitat families, and join us in congratulating the students success!
The Villages Charter Dedication Video
A special message from Walt Disney World Ambassadors
Leesburg High Dedication Video
Exciting Plans for Next Year
Thanks to the generous support of Disney, Habitat Lake-Sumter was able to invest in securing a third school relationship for our Youth Construction Academy program. We are happy to announce that next year we will have three partner schools – Leesburg High, The Villages Charter High, and South Lake High! As each school works to build their construction program, we are ready to grow with them and provide an opportunity for real life, on the job training, creating a bright outlook for their career. Below are the locations of the 20-21 home building projects by school:
My name is Tamiko Kim Stull and I am a future homeowner thanks to Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter. Who knew that a chance encounter 6 months ago at my job would lead me to where I am today, about to close on a home of my own!
My journey has definitely been rewarding. I am 52 years old and a grandmother of 5 (soon to be 6) and I am raising my grandson, Ayden Kyle, who is 10 years old. I am originally from Sacramento, CA and my parents named me Tamiko Kim (pronounced Tommy-Ko) because my mother was a full blooded Okinawan. They were wonderful parents who brought me to Florida when I was 5 and I’ve never left. I grew up in the same house until I married so I had a wonderful childhood filled with happy memories of home and family.
My family is my greatest achievement. I have 3 children, Amanda, Glynnie and Jayson. My grandbabies are Ayden Kyle, Alexis Sophia (7), Corey Ray (5), Carter Preston (2) and Conner Matthew who was born this past February. I am also expecting another grandchild this year, precisely on the fourth of July. He or she will be our Yankee Doodle Baby and that is yet another blessing this year will bring.
Ayden and I are currently living in a 28 x 14 camper, we look on the bright side and call our small home “cozy and quaint” but trading in a camper for a brand new home is definitely a good thing! It gives me an overwhelming sense of joy because it hasn’t been easy living in such a confined space with my grandson. The tiny camper Ayden and I share is on a property owned by a friend, but it’s located in Webster and our commute is 30 minutes to and from school and work.
Our only mode of transportation is an old truck and that much driving everyday can cause a lot of wear and tear on an old vehicle, not to mention the possibility of being stranded alone with Ayden if it were to break down. So it’s an added blessing that our new house is right in town. Living in the camper can make daily tasks feel challenging. Small bathtub, limited hot water and no laundry; lugging our laundry to and from the laundromat is a lot of work. You can ask Ayden, he dislikes doing laundry and dreams of long hot showers. And I agree, I am most grateful for the laundry room that’s part of our new home. Finally, I’ll have a washer & dryer so that visits to the laundromat will be a thing of the past!
I met Wayne, the Construction Director at Habitat Lake-Sumter when he came into the Lake Panasoffkee Water Association, where I am the office manager. I helped Wayne set up water accounts for a couple new Habitat houses. Not long after, I heard that they were accepting applications for new homes and decided to look into it. I thought I might meet the requirements so I took a chance and applied. Before I knew it, I was advised that if I wanted to move forward, the house was ours. I was shocked!
I’m so thankful for how helpful everyone has been, especially Travis, he is the Site Supervisor who helped build my home. I worked alongside Travis to put some sweat equity into my house and he helped me paint our soon-to-be home. Although I had a wonderful time doing it, I will admit that climbing up and down the ladder put my legs out of commission for about 3 days, but it was still a great experience! The whole process has been amazing because Habitat is all about helping families succeed on their journey to being a homeowner.
Thanks to Habitat Lake-Sumter, we are saying goodbye to the camper and hello to a real home! A comfortable home where I can raise Ayden; I’m thankful that he’ll be growing up with his own room, in our own home.
Honestly, what I am really looking forward to is moving in and creating lasting memories of home and family for Ayden, the way my mother did for me. We might even have a fourth of July celebration for our two blessings, our Habitat home and our Yankee Doodle baby but it may have to be a short celebration because I’m sure Ayden Kyle will probably want to take a long hot shower…
Written by Tamiko Stull – Future Habitat Homeowner
Edited by Lorie Lozada – Writer & Habitat Homeowner
The home environment is considered to be one of the most important factors in the neurocognitive development of children. This is especially true in the first years of life when a child’s experiences are predominantly dependent on what is provided by their parents.
The home environment consists of physical and social components, such as household possessions, play materials, parent-child interactions, family size, and structure. Favorable surroundings provide the psychological stimulation and support necessary for optimal development of early cognitive skills. These factors have been proven to lead to education and employment success later in life.
Creating Space to Grow
When a child doesn’t have space to freely move around, normal development can be hindered. A healthy home environment allows children to thrive and reach important developmental milestones that lead to long-term health. For example, gross motor skills help children achieve many tasks that may seem minimal to adults such as learning to walk.
In an overcrowded living space or home full of clutter, children are not safe to be placed on the ground, which can stunt their development. By having floor time and tummy time, children learn to roll, crawl, pull to stand and subsequently walk. This activity enhances brain development which is key to language skills, problem solving skills and fine motor skills. Clutter and crowding in the home can prevent the child from being able to communicate their needs and wants, and exacerbate underlying mental health concerns.
The Importance of a Healthy Home
Children need room to run around and play outside and inside the home. They need an organized, clutter-free environment that promotes imaginative play.
Unfortunately, families of low socio-economic status are forced into choosing food to feed their family over a safe home environment with a yard and room for children to play safely.
Parents living in cost-burdened homes are often unable to provide stimulating materials for their children such as toys and books. A review of research indicates that crowded and inadequate housing increases tension, punitive punishment, aggression and conflict within the household. These conditions can also increase sedentary behaviors, reduce the ability to cope with stress, negatively affect quality of sleep, lead to inflammation and raise the risk of obesity.
A healthy home environment can transform the daily lives of children and create the foundation for long-term physical and cognitive health.
Kristy Beron, APRN, is an advanced practice registered nurse at AdventHealth Medical Group. She specializes in preventive health, acute and chronic illness management, test administration and interpretation, cardiac medicine and urgent care.
The finished Lady Lake home of a single mom of two boys was built by Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter with the help of students of the Villages High School Construction Management Academy. Michael Johnson, Daily Sun
The virtual dedication ceremony for a home that Villages High School students helped build is bittersweet for students. The volunteers and Habitat for Humanity supporters who would normally attend the dedication, including the 11 students, were all absent. “I know they’re disappointed they didn’t get to finish,” said teacher Bruce Haberle, who runs the charter school’s Construction Management Academy. His students built 80% to 85% of the three-bedroom, two-bath house for Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, he said. Habitat plans virtual dedications for all five homes that volunteers built this year. Female-led households will receive the keys to their new homes in the dedications between mid-May and June.
COVID-19 caused Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter to refigure some of its house-building procedures in March and April in order to stay on course in constructing five decent, affordable houses in Lady Lake, Leesburg, Eustis, and two homes in Lake Panasoffkee.
The homes will be owned by female-led households.
Single mom Rachel Storey and her son Jackson, who turns 6 on May 14, are eager for the July 1 (or sooner) closing on their future home in Eustis. Rachel says Habitat is waiting on some back-ordered cabinets to arrive for the house and once they’re installed and she’s given the house keys, the mother and son will move into the West St. Louis Avenue neighborhood.
“I’m looking forward to just being with my son and having our own house to call home,” says Rachel. The pair has been living at her parents’ Grand Island home, which they moved into when Rachel was going through a divorce.
“My parents helped me with my son, too, because he was younger at the time,” she says. “I started going back to church and it was like God was putting me back piece by piece. I’m just so thankful for everything. God led me to the right people at the right time and Habitat couldn’t have been better to work with. I am beyond grateful.”
Rachel says Habitat is a great program for those who qualify. “They help so many people out and they have their heart in it as well. All the people who work at Habitat love their job, love what they do, and they love helping people.”
Danielle Stroud, senior director of program and partnership for Habitat, says COVID-19 curtailed community volunteers being able to work on the houses.
“We worked with subcontractors a little bit more than normally,” Danielle says. “With limited opportunities, and of course for safety purposes, we really restricted who was allowed on-site. We increased the use of sub-contractors, we reallocated some job duties, and we also had a very small select crew of really skilled volunteers that felt comfortable still coming out to help finish the projects.”
She says construction on each house was deemed essential. “We had suppliers, contractors, inspectors to line up. There are so many facets that go into construction, and thankfully we were able to make all of those pieces aligned to be able to finish the homes.”
Habitat homeowners typically do sweat equity on their homes, yet the coronavirus pandemic prevented from them being able to be at the construction sites. “So, we provided a lot of virtual engagements that they could do to still earn their equity like promote us or engage with us on social media,” adds Danielle.
#GivingTuesdayNow is a new global day of giving and unity that will take place on May 5, 2020 – as an emergency response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19.
Families who were already struggling before the public health crisis began now face exacerbated setbacks caused by the economic upheaval. Local families continue to struggle in the financial instability and uncertainty of recent times.
In fact, the families who partner with us are often those who are particularly at risk. The uncertainty so many of us feel today, many families have felt for a lifetime- if not generations.
As a friend of Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, join us and use the individual power of generosity to stay connected and help heal our community. Whatever you can do — monetary or not — will mean a lot.
Answers to Frequently Asked Estate Planning Questions Christina Campbell, Estate Planning and Elder Law Attorney – McLin Burnsed
There are many ways to be involved with Habitat Lake-Sumter but unarguably, one of the greatest gifts you will ever give, will be the legacy you leave behind. Leaving a legacy gift is easy and Christina Campbell from McLin Burnsed is here to offer insight and guide you through the first steps to estate planning.
When you give to Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, Florida through your estate or long-term financial plans, you are forging your life legacy with the mission of building homes, communities, and hope and ensuring that later generations can secure decent, safe and affordable housing right here in Lake and Sumter Counties. Read the rest of this entry »
On March 27th, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act was signed into law and Congress passed a long-awaited for “universal” giving incentive, this is particularly beneficial for taxpayers who do not itemize their deductions.
If you are someone who does not itemize on your taxes:
The CARES Act makes a new above-the-line deduction available for total charitable contributions of up to $300 per taxpayer. The above-the-line adjustment to income will reduce your AGI, and thereby reduce taxable income. Additionally, you will not have to itemize other items to claim this deduction (Section 2204 of the CARES Act).
The incentive applies to cash contributions made in 2020 and can be claimed on tax forms next year.
If you are someone who itemizes on your taxes:
The CARES Act also lifts the existing cap on annual contributions for those who itemize, raising it from 60 percent of adjusted gross income to 100 percent. For corporations, the law raises the annual limit from 10 percent to 25 percent. (Section 2205 of the CARES Act).
What does this mean for you? You can support Habitat Lake-Sumter’s mission and receive new tax benefits typically reserved for higher thresholds of giving.
The duration of the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a public health emergency to bring a spotlight to the housing crisis. The uncertainty so many of us feel today, many families have felt for a lifetime- if not generations.
The time is now: to begin the work of building back our community, the foundation is the place to start. Living in a safe, healthy, and affordable home alleviates the burden of unreliable rent costs and out-of-reach mortgages; a home with Habitat gives families the opportunity to build a better future and make today more manageable.
The CARES Act is the first giving incentive Congress has passed in response to a disaster or national emergency—an acknowledgement by Congress that the work of nonprofits, like Habitat Lake-Sumter, is an essential service.
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.
John Politz, a U.S. Air Force veteran, received a new roof on March 23 from Proformance Roofing, an Owens Corning Platinum Roofing Contractor, as part of the Owens Corning Roof Deployment Project. Through a partnership with Habitat for Humanity, Politz was selected as the recipient for the roof replacement. The Owens Corning Foundation donated roofing materials and Proformance Roofing donated the labor. The Owens Corning Roof Deployment Project is a nationwide effort to show gratitude and honor veterans who served our country and the families who support them. Since the inception of this program in 2016, more than 180 military members have received new roofs.
Hi, my name is Lorie Lozada. I am a recent Habitat Homeowner and very proud to be a part of the Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter family!
I want to share my story and to thank you for being a part of Women Build 2020. Helping others achieve their homeownership dreams is incredibly rewarding and after being so blessed, my family and I are happy to pay it forward. Since our home was built by Women Builder’s last year, I’m joining a team to become a Women Builder myself.
Some of you know my story but for those of you who don’t, my husband, James, and I lost our home in 2017 to Hurricane Maria. For us, it was a catastrophic and life changing event because on Sept. 19th our home was standing but on Sept. 20th, our home was gone. It was an incredible shock and the heartache was indescribable. We thought we were prepared: we had all the necessary supplies and gas in our vehicle. But a vehicle is of no use on roads blocked by trees and charged devices provide no communication when the infrastructure has collapsed.
We packed what little we had left in our vehicle and drove to a homeless shelter, we spent our nights sleeping in classrooms amongst strangers. Our journey was both scary and exciting, but leaving our family in Puerto Rico behind was very difficult and of all the things we lost, our stability is the one thing that has affected my son, JianLuc, the most.
After three months of what I can only describe as chaos, we arrived in the quaint town of Eustis. A town we had only seen on the return addresses of our relatives Christmas cards.
We knew nothing about our new home. New lives, new people, and for my husband, a new language. Our lives changed rapidly and the drastic difference is sometimes hard to manage.
Thankfully, we’ve met a lot of great people along the way and have had a ton of support. First, from our extended family here in Eustis, the “Berrios Clan” because a united family can get you through anything. Secondly, we have also received support through the American Red Cross, FEMA, and from local businesses; like Kevco Builders, who have been of great assistance to my family. In fact, the very caring owner of Kevco Builders, Mr. Joe Ziller, helped furnish our new home!!
We appreciate everyone, but nearest and dearest to our hearts is Habitat For Humanity of Lake-Sumter and specifically, Mr. Kent Adcock, whose kindness and commitment to us was extraordinary; without him, we would not have this beautiful and affordable “dream home.” A home where we can try to, once again, feel safe.
Actually, it’s been 2 years and 6 months of trying really hard to feel safe again. Trying to get our lives back on a familiar track, and trying to recuperate our stability and peace of mind because even with all of these blessings, some things have not been easy.
You see, a life changing event tends to leave scars. It has a way of affecting almost every aspect of your life, especially your mental health, and it can leave you riddled with fear, anxiety and a desperate need to feel safe.
Feeling safe, especially with what we are living through today, is the only thing on anyone’s mind as we face another crisis. One that’s bigger and scarier than any hurricane. The coronavirus has become a pandemic that is rapidly changing all of our lives. While it’s not at all like a hurricane, the preparations feel the same… racing to the stores, buying 2 or 3 of everything, hoarding food and water, feeling panic and confusion; and you realize that once again, you’re in the midst of chaos.
It all feels sadly familiar to me, and while I try to keep my anxiety in check, the flashbacks are inevitable.
We must remember that these changes in our daily activities are temporary, so let’s not let chaos take over. Let’s pray for calm and follow guidelines which state that we are to stay home and “hunker down.” What a relief it is to know that because of Habitat Lake-Sumter, my family and I have a home to hunker down in! And an affordable mortgage that allows me to save for emergencies just like this. That’s what every family should have.
Of course, let’s be mindful of our new normal and practice social distancing but let’s not forget to stay focused and remain connected via online support. It’s important that we continue to “provide families with strength and stability through shelter.” This way, other families can have their own place to hunker down, feel secure, and weather any storm, together!
Lorie Lozada (The Santiago-Lozada family)- Habitat Homeowner & Women Builder
So, you’ve found yourself at home a bit more than usual? Sounds like the perfect time to de-clutter the closet, start (or finally finish!) that D.I.Y project you’ve been meaning to do, and complete a few things off your home’s “To-Do” list.
We’ve included a list of 5 projects to get you started this week:
Habitat Lake-Sumter’s ReStores are vital to our mission of building homes, communities, and hope! The purchases and donations made at all 4 of our ReStore locations help to fund our work in supporting families in need of safe, affordable housing.
Since temporarily closing on March 20th, the ReStores are currently unable to accept donations at the store drop-off locations but STAY TUNED: once we re-open, you’ll be able to drop donations off or call (352) 589-3005 to schedule a free pick-up!
Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter cares about the health and safety of our staff, supporters and the people we serve. This includes the prevention of disease and viral infections on site, at our ReStores, and in the office. In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak we want to assure you that measures are being taken to keep our build sites, ReStores, and offices a safe, fun, and healthy environment.
We are actively monitoring and adhering to the guidance provided by Habitat for Humanity International as well as local, state and federal health agencies. By practicing of social distancing and our Eustis & Leesburg ReStores have reopened starting Wednesday, June 10th and the Groveland & Wildwood ReStores will remain closed with no scheduled date for re-opening. We apologize for the inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and cooperation. And we look forward to reopening and serving all those in the community. Construction sites are still open but are limiting spots for volunteering. We will continue to post additional updates here as conditions change.
While we continue to move forward, we do ask that if you feel unwell or have traveled recently to one of the areas designated by the CDC as level 3, you refrain from visiting a Habitat build, ReStore or office. Similarly, if a member of your household has potentially been exposed to the virus through travel or other means, seek medical guidance and refrain from participating in any Habitat-related events, including volunteering or shopping in our ReStores.
Please see below health guidelines that offer advice from the World Health Organization on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The impact of these uncertain times is felt by everyone. Cancelled events, businesses closing, lost wages from shortened hours at work, and increased cost of childcare as schools close.
And one of the primary safety recommendations? Stay home.
Can you imagine not having a stable place to call home, the potential that one missed paycheck holds the possibility of losing your home? Lack of stability in a home makes something like an unexpected crisis difficult to prepare for.
In this unprecedented time, we have the opportunity to make a huge difference in our community. We invite you to rally with Habitat Lake-Sumter and give a local family a hand-up for a stronger, more stable future. You can raise funds and raise awareness by registering for Women Build and sharing your fundraising page to friends and family, and finally, raise the walls and repair homes in Lake & Sumter Counties!
LAKE COUNTY, Fla. — Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter builds about eight homes a year, and refurbishes another 50 more. Although the organization does not give the homes away, it makes the financing affordable to fit small budgets.
Candidates for Habitat for Humanity can apply on-line.
Good credit is necessary.
Household income is looked at.
People who are accepted into the program must have a willingness to partner with the program.
Habitat for Humanity is looking for volunteers with a good attitude and work ethic.
On Wednesday, the nonprofit hosted the build at an under-construction home in Eustis, which will eventually go to Rachel Storey, a single mother, and her five-year-old son, Jackson.
EUSTIS – Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter and Lowe’s extended an open invitation to women volunteers from throughout the community.
The women were sought to participate in a local event for International Women Build Week.
On Wednesday, the nonprofit hosted the build at an under-construction home in Eustis, which will eventually go to Rachel Storey, a single mother, and her five-year-old son, Jackson.
The Lowe’s-sponsored event – they provided the tools and materials – served as the local kickoff of the global initiative happening simultaneously in more than 235 communities in the United States, India and Canada. International Women Build Week runs from March 1-8 to highlight the global need for safe and affordable housing.
A couple of local volunteers showed up, were handed hard hats and put to work.
Lowe’s representatives, expected to have been at the work site, were unable to participate due to scheduling conflicts.
Habitat staff however, jumped in to compensate and the morning turned out to be a productive, educational and empowering one.
Site Supervisor Ernie Burley, in charge of teaching new skills to volunteers said he is always glad to have able and most of all, willing volunteers on any project.
Several female volunteers and employees of Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter are taking part in a global effort with Habitat for Humanity International, Lowe’s, and some 6,000 women volunteers in more than 235 U.S. communities, India and Canada for the International Women Build Week, which runs through March 8.
The event is to highlight the worldwide need for safe and affordable housing.
On March 4, the local crew installed some wood siding and painted the exterior of a Habitat house under construction in Eustis at 56 W. St. Louis Ave., with site supervisor Ernie Burley guiding the way and teaching new volunteers how to use different tools.
“It’s so cool to pop out a new skill every once in a while,” says Shari McCray, a homeowner and marketing manager for Habitat of Humanity of Lake-Sumter, who calls the first time she learned to use a circular saw. “It’s intimidating at first, and when you see it and think, ‘oh, my fingers!’ But it is really neat at the end of the day when you’re pumping out those boards.”
Her colleague Lacie Himes found it found to learn the skills to frame a house. “I’ve really learned to fell confident using a hammer and walked away feeling like ‘I could build my owe house! I could do this!”
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!
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!
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.
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!
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 hadto 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!
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
It was just another day at Lake Sumter State College. Arriving on time to my 11am Philosophy class every Tuesday and Thursday morning had become a ritual for me from the months prior. Usually class would start with a lecture on some philosopher like Rene Descartes or Thomas Hobbes and lead into discussion, but this morning was different. It turned out that a job fair was being held at the center of campus and my professor instructed my classmates and I to leave class, enter the courtyard, and search for jobs.
Although I was employed at the time, it was lacking the sort of experience I was looking for. I wanted to be somewhere that I could use my skills in a practical sense, towards something that I wanted my career to look like. So, my search began. I made it my goal that before leaving the courtyard that day I would speak to each individual to see what they were looking for and in doing so, I hoped to find what I was looking for. There were all kinds of stands, Waffle House, H&R Block, you name it. But upon speaking with the representatives at each stand, one stuck out. One whose mission statement meant something. One that would uplift my community. That one was Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter.
This was my first-time meeting Shari, the Marketing and Communications Coordinator with Habitat Lake-Sumter; she was searching for an intern and that was precisely the opportunity I was looking for. So, we spoke, she handed me all of the information I needed to submit my application, and bam! A few weeks later I was deemed the Marketing and Communications intern under Mrs. Shari McCray. This was, and still is, a very exciting time for me. I have been able to take part in so many projects. I’ve done work to produce a new event, Jingle Build-Off, interviewed all sorts of people, created videos, wrote articles, took photos, but most of all I’ve learned something new each and every day I’ve spent working with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter.
Today, I continue to strive towards being as helpful as I can to everyone in the office, as well as the volunteers and homeowners that I see so often. The experience and knowledge I have gained through this internship is something that I am truly grateful for, so much that I will always remember my time here with Habitat Lake-Sumter.
Looking back, the most eye-opening experiences I’ve had continue to occur regularly when I get to hear wonderful stories from our volunteers with all different backgrounds and experiences. Their stories teach me something about life, and that is, no matter who you are or what you do, the central idea that can bring us all together: the importance of giving to others. So whether you’re a volunteer, community partner, or future homeowner with Habitat reading this, I hope that one day I can meet you and hear your story as well.
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:
It was a beautiful, clear morning on Tuesday, February 4th as executives of First National Bank of Mount Dora, directors from Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, and Lake County officials met at a newly set slab of concrete on West St. Louis Street in Eustis, Florida.
There to commemorate the first wall raising of the home being built in partnership with First National Bank of Mount Dora, Bob White, the president and CEO expressed why he was excited to play a role in this project with Habitat Lake-Sumter, “Home ownership in Lake County is a big part of making people productive citizens and of course, as a bank we are excited to be part of that financial well-being.”
For 30 years, Habitat Lake-Sumter has relied on committed partners like First National Bank of Mount Dora, who share a vision of the world where everyone has a safe and stable place to call home. As our county grows, so does the need for affordable housing that is within reach for hard working families; in the state of Florida, 1 in 7 households pay 50% or more of their income on housing. But by building a home with Habitat Lake-Sumter, we continue to bridge the gap to home ownership and make it possible for one less family to spend half of their income on housing.
Although it’s not just corporate partnerships that make new home construction possible. In the month of December, almost 90 individuals and local partners donated to our Holiday Match Campaign and raised $74,067 to be matched by First National Bank of Mount Dora; making the home on West St. Louis a reality for a future homeowner in Lake County.
After helping to raise the first wall, Commissioner Leslie Campione summed it up by saying, “It is because of community involvement and people coming together to help each other, it makes all the difference in the world and this house really represents hope and joy and stability for a family, and that’s what Habitat is all about.”
Interview with Bob White, CEO/Pres of FNBMD
Interview with Leslie Campione, Lake County Commissioner
Leesburg High School construction students showed community members around the home and guests wrote positive messages for the eventual homeowners. The rest of the house will be built out in the coming months.
Dozens of community members and partners attended the dry-in, held in the partially built home at 107 North 12th St. to mark the completion of the home’s outer shell and the beginning of interior work for the students
“I loved seeing it, piece by piece, come together,” construction student Abraham Ledesma said during a brief tour of the home’s undeveloped interior.
Ledesma said it was the first time he’d ever gotten to work on such an expansive and satisfying project even having worked construction with his family in the past.
He pointed to the back wall of the house — the first wall they lifted into place — and began pointing to the different rooms, which included multiple bedrooms and two bathrooms.
He talked about the features of each room as though the wooden framework had already been walled off and he could see the finished product.
One sheet of drywall was set for the celebration as members of the community wrote positive messages on the inside and school district officials including Superintendent Diane Kornegay and board members Stephanie Luke, Bill Mathias and Sandy Gamble drilled the first screws.
The rest of the house will be filled out in the coming months.
Ledesma was happy, and surprised, with how much of the house he and his fellow students got to build. At first, he thought they would mostly be watching and chipping in on small things.
He said every part of the project, save for the air conditioning and electrical work, had at least one students’ hands in it, and most of the work was done independently: they’d get their instructions and be trusted to get it done.
The dry-in was also the first time the community was introduced to Bryan Russ, a 1996 Leesburg High graduate who just took over the construction academy from Jim Ellwood at the end of the fall semester.
Under the direction of instructor Bruce Haberle, reflected right, The Villages High School Construction Management Academy seniors David Routzahn, 17, and Trey Jones, 19, make chalk lines for the siding on a Habitat for Humanity house Tuesday in Lady Lake. Photos by Cindy Skop, Daily Sun
By building a house for Habitat for Humanity, Villages High School Construction Management Academy students are learning a lot. Students celebrated reaching the dry-in stage Wednesday with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, Citizens First Bank, business partners in the construction industry, volunteers and the high school’s pep band. Dry-in is the turning point of the construction process when the framing, windows, exterior doors, roof, shingles and waterproof barrier are all done to protect anything inside the house that could be damaged by water. It’s usually the halfway point of the construction project, said Barry Martin, construction manager for Habitat for Humanity, who is supervising volunteers and working with VHS academy instructor Bruce Haberle.
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.
Leesburg High School construction students have been working with Habitat for Humanity volunteers and local tradesman in the construction home at 107 N. 12th St. in Leesburg. The home, pictured Friday had made great progress to Marc Robertz-Schwartz, Habitat Academy’s executive producer. [Payne Ray/Daily Commercial]
The show will feature Leesburg construction students, local tradesmen and other partners as they work together to build a Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter home in Leesburg. New 15-minute episodes will air the third Monday of each month on Lake Sumter TV.
LEESBURG — Those curious how high school students could help build a house from start to finish have an opportunity to find out.
Habitat Academy, a 15-minute television show documenting the Leesburg High School Construction Academy’s work on a Leesburg home with Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter, will debut Monday at 7:30 p.m. on Lake Sumter TV. The channel will also upload it to Youtube and play it again throughout the week.
“I think people are going to be surprised by the progress,” Red Apples Media President and Habitat Academy executive producer Marc Robertz-Schwartz said. “We’re just amazed at how quickly that home is going up.”
Red Apples will continue to visit the home at 107 N. 12th St. once monthly in order to record the episodes, which will be released around the third week of every month. Robertz-Schwartz said they waited till the end of the year to produce the first episode as the build — a collaboration between expert tradesmen, Habitat volunteers and 11 LHS construction students — needed a few months to get off the ground.
Now that the build is underway and the production schedule has been outlined, Robertz-Schwartz said they’re expecting to produce nine episodes of Habitat Academy.
Their aim will be to showcase the build as it goes up, with episodes themed around the progress of the house.
The first episode will feature interviews with the construction students as well as community partners on the build and the show. In the following episodes, to be hosted by Don Magruder of RoMac Building Supply, the show will feature interviews with tradesmen and other experts as they showcase the progress of the build.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
“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
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!”
November is a time to honor our Veterans and those who have sacrificed so much in service to our country. As part of our Veteran’s Housing Initiative, we serve veterans through our Home Ownership program and through Preservation and Repair. Here, you’ll get a chance to meet veteran, Eddie Broglin and learn what’s next for our Veterans in Lake and Sumter Counties.
Born and raised in Florida, Eddie Broglin is a true Florida Native. When speaking to Eddie about his home state, you can barely mention a new place before Eddie tells you his connection to that area; Lake Wales, Bartow, Lake City, Fort Pierce, it becomes apparent very quickly that Florida holds a special place in Eddie’s heart.
After graduating high school, Eddie Broglin was faced with the challenge of what he was going to do next. A fellow classmate told him that he was going to join the National Guard and convinced Eddie to sign up as well. Stationed at Wauchula, Florida where he worked with gunners and as a mess cook, Eddie then moved to the Naples Armory where he went on to serve an eight year career. While Eddie learned a lot from being in the service, he unfortunately suffered a heat stroke that would have a lasting impact on him the rest of his life. After his military career, Eddie moved around the state, and left feeling un-grounded while staying with friends or renting, he decided it was time to find a home of his own.
Eddie describes his experience of working with multiple real estate agents and exhausting his resources through Veterans Affairs, his search for a home appeared hopeless. “I was looking for a studio apartment, but mortgages and rent have flopped. Now it’s cheaper to pay a mortgage than to pay rent,” says Eddie. Eddie describes an experience that is relatable to many and sits at the very heart of Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter’s mission.
Eddie decided a “tiny home” would provide the best solution to affording a home of his own and started to search out of state, believing he would have to move from Florida in order to find affordable housing.
Finally, Eddie met real estate agent, Maureen Campbell. Maureen knew about Eddie’s desire to stay in Florida and his interest in “tiny homes.” With these two requests in mind, Maureen suggested Eddie look into Habitat for Humanity as a resource and facilitated the process for Eddie to apply to be a homeowner with Habitat Lake-Sumter. A cottage-style home currently being built in Coleman, Florida was THE home Eddie had been searching for.
While discussing his newly built home, it’s evident how grateful Eddie is to be able to be a part of the Habitat Lake-Sumter’s home ownership program; a home he believes is built with love by the staff and volunteers who have put “their heart in to it.”
“The first thing I did was plant my red maple tree,” a tree Eddie bought when he first learned of being accepted into Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter’s home ownership program, “to symbolize being rooted here,” says Eddie. In this quiet community in Coleman, FL, balanced by rural and growth; Eddie has found a place to plant his roots a little deeper into Florida.
If you’d like to know more about the work we’ve done with Veterans this year, come visit Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter’s booth at the Villagers for Veterans Film Festival on Wednesday, November 6th.
To support upcoming Veterans projects throughout Lake and Sumter, donate today!
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.
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.
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.
Hurricane Dorian was a Category 5 when it slammed into The Bahama’s just one month ago. As relief and rebuilding efforts slowly begin, Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter decided to take action.
Kent Adcock, CEO of Habitat Lake-Sumter, has specialized in relief efforts during past disasters, Hurricane Katrina among them, so we knew major efforts would be needed to clean up and stabilize The Bahamas after being effected by a storm of this scale.
We are currently retro-fitting two shipping containers to act as housing units for relief workers on The Abaco Islands. The shipping containers will be furnished with bunk beds, air conditioning, and electricity, for the relief workers to have a place to rest and recharge.
Community partners, RoMac Building Supply, Kelley Painting, and the Inmate Construction Academy will help turn these shipping containers into temporary housing, giving on-the-ground relief workers a place to call “home” while they do the hard work of clearing debris after the destruction.
Want to help? If you have material supplies or would like to make a donation contact Lacie: (352) 483-0434 x 146 or Lacie@HabitatLS.org
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.
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.
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.
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
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 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.”
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
Brad Weber, EVP
Chief Lending Officer
Citizens First Bank
“Success is Built on Relationships” – a powerful statement and one of the many mantras of Brad Weber, who was recently appointed to the Lake-Sumter Habitat for Humanity Board of Directors.
Weber brings a variety of experience earned over his thirty plus years in the banking industry where he has worked in consumer, commercial and agricultural lending. He also holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Technology from Barry University and is a graduate of the Graduate School of Banking of the South at Louisiana State University.
Through his work in the banking industry, he has been involved in finance, marketing, staff development and strategic planning. Weber makes special note of the people and relationships he’s formed during his tenure as a banker. “My lending background has allowed me to work with people from all types of industries and walks of life in helping them realize their dreams,” says Weber who looks forward to seeing where his experience can best benefit Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter.
Weber’s connection with Habitat started when he first volunteered his time to help build a home sponsored by Citizens First Bank roughly five years ago and has continued as he has volunteered to help with a number of other Habitat for Humanity projects since that time. During the past five years, Weber has built more than homes for Habitat, he’s built relationships with a team that works to deliver new homes to members of our community. “I have built relationships with several staff members, and truly learned the true mission of Habitat through their actions,” notes Weber.
The Boys & Girls Club, The Boy Scouts of America, Lake Sumter State College and the local Chamber of Commerce have all been beneficiaries of Weber’s enthusiasm for volunteerism yet, true to his philanthropic spirit, Weber says it’s his career that has grown through the opportunities he’s had to serve those organizations.
He says the experience of working with Habitat has given as much to him as he has to the organization. “At this point in my life, and after having witnessed a number of families be handed the keys to their dream come true, their first home; and experienced the emotion and passion of that moment, this became my reason to serve Habitat,” says Weber.
Weber hopes to use his experience and talents to support the idea of an incubator community that could potentially create affordable housing that remains accessible for generations to come. “This community could solve several struggles such as providing affordable workforce housing, teaching families how to be a part of a community and providing opportunities for financial growth,” says Weber. It’s just an idea for now, however, it has the possibility to move into reality and thereby improve home ownership opportunities for families.”
Building communities such as this one goes back to the heart of Weber’s mantra: success is built on relationships. “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 Weber. “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.”
Weber’s enthusiasm for the local community also resonates at a personal level as he and his wife have lived in the area since 1996. They have been married for 30 years and have raised three children who received their education through the Lake County School System where his wife, Glenda, has been a teacher for almost 20 years.
“Bringing people together to build homes, communities and hope – these are all hallmarks of Habitat’s mission,” says Danielle Stroud, Director of Development at Habitat for Humanity. “Brad has personally and professionally embraced this mission for many years and we wholeheartedly welcome him to the Board of Directors at Habitat for Humanity!”