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.
Amanda Kelley: Painting Central Florida
Our vision at Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, a world where everyone has a decent place to live, is simple in words yet it remains an extraordinary goal. One that could never be realized without the self-less contributions of time, talent and treasure that individuals, businesses and the community so graciously invest to that end. As we work towards that vision of safe and affordable housing, we find ourselves ever so fortunate to have benefited from a steady stream of businesses and area residents willing to support one project or another. Among those casual patrons of our cause we often find true partners; those with whom we build a lasting relationship, those who continually share in our mission to build homes, communities and hope.
Amanda Kelley is one of those community partners that has, time-and-again, supported not only Habitat Lake-Sumter, but our mission, as she’s gives back to the community in so many ways. Amanda Kelley, who owns Kelley Painting Services of Florida is a transplant from Chicago, circa 1985, and a graduate of Leesburg High who now considers Central Florida her home. And, as she’s done for countless homes in the area, she’s dedicated to making this one as beautiful as it can be.
Kelley regularly participates in Habitat Lake-Sumter projects and was involved in the organization’s first peer-to-peer event, Women Build, last March. When pressed for her thoughts on the challenges of the event, Kelley simply shared that she loves working with other women, whether it’s in construction or professional services, but this particular event was “just fun!” Kelley says, “as long as we were laughing and making someone smile, that’s all that matters.”
Kelley is also heavily involved with the Youth Construction Academy, a partnership between Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter and local high schools that gives students an opportunity to learn skills in various construction trades while earning credits towards graduation and giving back to the community. “I believe strongly that kids with a hands-on experience in this industry can go as far as their college counterparts,” says Kelley who helps teach them standard skills she says any painter starting out in the industry should know. Kelley says she likes to connect with the kids, hear about their goals in the industry and have some fun along the way. “We give them fun things to do like caulking … we get to see their mad skills and also how much they can get on themselves,” she says with a laugh.
When Hurricane Dorian struck the Bahamas in the fall of 2019, community partners stepped in to help convert a few shipping containers into homes as part of an international relief effort. Kelley, who has made community service part of the culture at Kelley Painting Services of Florida, wanted to help and so did her team. “Habitat mentioned the project and I said, ‘then let’s make them pretty and stand out’,” said Kelley. “They let me pick me the colors and, of course, I went BOLD!” Kelley and her team that volunteered with her completed the paint job in half a day.
With all the good that Amanda Kelley and her team has done, and continues to do, her motivation is simple. “I’m just paying it forward,” she says. “If times were reversed, I hope someone would do the same for me.” But in speaking with her, something more comes across. Many people are motivated to help better their community because “it’s the right thing to do.” However, Kelley seems to genuinely enjoy both the effort and the outcome of her occupation and volunteerism alike. At Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter, it’s something we often see in the pride-of-ownership displayed by new homeowners.
As Amanda Kelley continues painting Central Florida, whether it’s with Habitat Lake-Sumter or Kelley Painting Services of Florida, we’re sure her “pride-of-ownership” will show through as she helps make our homes and hers the best they can be.
By David Larrick
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.
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.
Board Member Spotlight
Monic Wofford, CSP
Chief Executive Officer | President | Founder
Contagious Companies, Inc.
From fond memories to a sense of moral responsibility, one of Habitat for Humanity’s newest board members, Monica Wofford, appreciates both the joy and necessity of giving back.
Wofford recounted her earliest connections to the mission of Habitat which can be found in the walls of homes that have stood for decades. “Mind you, I must have been five or six at the time of those builds as those homes are now close to twenty years old,” says Wofford who’s grateful for the opportunity to return to Habitat in a leadership role.
The lasting impact of those early builds, the enduring nature of the structures she helped to build at that early age, exemplify the reasons she has again chosen to share her talents with Habitat. “Habitat for Humanity provides the structure that surrounds the family,” says Wofford. “Call it a house or home or dwelling, with that in place, there is greater potential for a family not to worry about the basics and to be able to focus on not only being a responsible member of a community, but on helping others.”
Wofford says that the cyclical nature of giving promoted by Habitat is what motivates her to contribute her time, resources and energy to the organization. As she puts it, “providing a family or veteran with a home to call their own, solves not only one of their greatest needs, but fulfills the needs of those who wish to give back with their hands and with service.” And with that “foundation,” Wofford believes Habitat’s homeowners are better positioned to pay-it-forward, creating exponential value as they “give or do for others in the community.”
In addition to her role with Habitat for Humanity, Wofford shares her time and expertise with The United Way, as well as the Lake County Republican Executive Committee, where she serves as Secretary. She says that her ability to work with non-profits in this capacity has ebbed and flowed with the seasonality of her own life and career and feels fortunate to now have time again to be involved with nonprofits that share her values of service to the community.
“There have been times in my life when I served on as many as five boards simultaneously. There have also been times when I have found the need to focus almost solely on building or growing my business and spending time with my family,” says Wofford who went on to note that she finds her service to the community comes from a combined sense of obligation and passion which she aptly describes as a “labor-of-love.”
The business Wofford has spent time building is the Contagious Companies, Inc. where she holds the titles of CEO, President and Founder. Wofford says she has had the privilege of professionally speaking to audiences, writing books, and training adults, and consulting leaders across various industries from healthcare and government agencies to tech and entertainment.
Danielle Stroud, Director of Development at Habitat for Humanity, says Habitat for Humanity is extremely fortunate to have added Monica Wofford to the organization. “She brings a combination of enthusiasm, experience and leadership that is extremely valuable on its own,” says Stroud. “But her ability to elevate the conversation and the talents of those around her is immeasurable for an organization with an already exceptionally strong board of directors.”
Wofford says she’s looking forward to sharing the skills she’s acquired and developed as she built and led her company and is excited to learn new skills by serving Habitat for Humanity and working closely with the other talented staff and board members that serve the organization. “Our goals as an organization are exciting and our leadership is certainly doing a masterful job in both running and growing the results of every board and team members’ efforts,” says Wofford.
“We share Monica’s sentiment that working with, and for, Habitat is both a labor-of-love and an opportunity to satisfy a moral responsibility to the communities we live and work in,” says Stroud. “We’re excited to tap into that passion and look forward to helping Monica create even more fond memories of working with Habitat for Humanity!”
By David Larrick
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!