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
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.”
The organization recently gave $10,000 to Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter for its Cottages at Heritage Grove project and $13,050 for the Lake Sumter Children’s Advocacy Center.
Although the bank accounts are running low these days due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Fraternal Order of Eagles in Okahumpka is still doing its part in helping the community.
Most recently, the organization gave $10,000 to Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter for its Cottages at Heritage Grove project and $13,050 for the Lake Sumter Children’s Advocacy Center.
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.
Details: Lacie Himes at 352-483-0434, ext. 146.
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.
The Impact of Housing on Mental Health
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.
Contact her at www.DrMichele.org, or call (904) 730-0775.
See more from her at https://www.youtube.com/user/drmichelefleming.
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!
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.
ReStore: coming soon!
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.
We can’t wait to see you again!
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!
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:
The Villages Charter High
1501 Grove Ave, Leesburg
South Lake High
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
Building a Healthy Home Environment for Children
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.
To schedule an appointment with Kristy Beron, call 352-343-3330 or visit AdventHealthMedicalGroup.com.
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.
Danielle Stroud, Senior Director of Programs & Partnerships, took us on a tour of our 5 construction sites in Lake and Sumter County. Stay tuned for the virtual dedications!
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.
Need help or some inspiration for you Women Build Fundraiser?
Set up your fundraising consultation with our experts today!
(352) 483-0434 x146
(352) 483-0434 x133
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:
- Paint the Bathroom
- Re-Caulk the Kitchen Sink
- Up-cycle an old piece of furniture
- De-Clutter/Re-Organize your Garage
- Go outside! Caulk Windows and Exterior Cracks
Want more? Download Habitat’s Home Maintenance & D.I.Y Guide: from organization basics to improving your home’s energy efficiency, you’ll be inspired to tackle something new!
So go ahead, make yourself at home!
Keep the good feelings going! Set aside the items you no longer use and donate them to the Habitat Lake-Sumter ReStore nearest you!
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.
Please reach out if you have any concerns to Info@HabitatLS.org or (352) 483-0434
We appreciate your patience during this time.
Did you miss the Pink Champagne VIRTUAL Party? Don’t worry you can still watch all the videos below!
We want to see your Cheers photos and videos! Post them on our Facebook Page!
Register for Women Build and download your online fundraising packet!
*The Women Build projects will begin in May and August
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!
Interested in Women Build? Contact Lacie at (352) 483-0434 x 146 or Lacie@HabitatLS.org
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 had to 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:
Are you interested in being part of this awesome club? Check out Habitat Lake-Sumter’s The Villages Club and get involved in what’ s happening next!
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.”
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.
LEESBURG — Leesburg High construction students celebrated with their community Friday at a dry-in ceremony for the house they’ve been building with Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter since the start of the school year.
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.
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.
“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
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!
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.
Work is expected to be completed in two weeks.
Citizens First Bank has vision.
Last year, they partnered with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter and The Villages Charter High School for the inaugural class of the Youth Construction Academy, they were the first to support the students in building a home, to encourage hands-on education, and to see the benefits: 12 students, future- ready and 1 family having the safety and stability of home for the first time.
Once again, Citizens First Bank has chosen to partner with the Youth Construction Academy and be the lead sponsor for the second year in a row; building the second home, supporting the next graduating class from the Villages Charter High School, and honoring their commitment as “a bank created specifically to fill the needs of our community.”
This week, the Villages Charter students begin framing the walls of the house they will build throughout the school year. From beginning to end, the students will have the opportunity to experience the hard work, planning, and details that go into building a home. During the project, students will work alongside Habitat’s construction staff and industry professionals; they’ll use methods they’ve learned in class to work on every phase of the build, including the foundation and framing, electricity, plumbing, windows, doors, flooring and painting.
Thanks to Citizens First Bank’s investment in the community we are able to not only educate the students on practical skills in the construction industry, but also what it means to be a good community member and to give back to those in need. Throughout the school year, we aim to offer our students hands on knowledge as well as the social understanding of the impact these homes will have on the lives of the families who will receive them.
“Success is a community of people who can rely on each other, people who joyously and enthusiastically strive to lift each other up on a personal level,” says Brad Weber, Chief Lending Officer at Citizens First. “This feeling is not only contagious, but also exponentially raises the confidence and productivity of each of us in a community, resulting in a much higher quality of life.”
Citizens First Bank is a major piece of the “good community” puzzle, partnering with Habitat Lake-Sumter to invest in tomorrow’s future generation; providing students a career option with a strong financial outlook for them to pursue, and working as a team to make our community a better place to live.
The Villages Habitat Club
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
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.
Hurricane Dorian hit parts of the Bahamas as a Category 5 hurricane.
To them, that meant providing infrastructure for the people on the ground helping in the Bahamas. They bought the containers and got to work.
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
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 — 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!
UCF Student and Volunteer
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.
LEESBURG — State and local officials, business leaders and community residents are invited to celebrate the ground-breaking of a new Habitat for Humanity home built by Habitat Lake-Sumter and students from the Leesburg High Construction Academy.
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.
Leesburg Construction Academy Students To Celebrate Groundbreaking of Home They Will Build With Habitat For Humanity
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.”
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.
EUSTIS — Amy veteran Edwin Seda carefully navigated his way out of his home, looked up at his roof and flashed a winning smile.
The 63-year-old, who is disabled and uses a walker, had reason to be happy.
A team of workers from Tadlock Roofing in Orlando were busy installing a much-needed new roof on Seda’s Lily Pad Lane home, courtesy of the Owens Corning Roof Deployment Project, a nationwide initiative that provides new roofs at no cost to veterans in need.
The Eustis project was a joint partnership between between Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, Owens Corning and Tadlock, one of its platinum contractors.
“I’m very grateful,” said Seda, a multi-lingual West Point graduate who spent the majority of his 20-year military career overseas working in intelligence in Egypt, Greece, Italy and Poland.
“These guys, the companies that are doing this they are the best,” he said. “It makes me want to cry.”
The new $11,000 roof, which can withstand winds up to 130 mph, was installed July 29 and couldn’t have come at a more opportune time.
His 20-year old roof was in such bad condition that his insurance company had been recently threatening to cancel his homeowner’s policy if he didn’t replace it soon. He called Tadlock for a quote.
The outlook was bleak. Saddled with a mountain of medical bills due to injuries he received while serving his country, and limited finances, Seda couldn’t muster the funds needed to pay for a new roof.
Tadlock had other plans.
“I didn’t know what I was going to do,” said the Washington State native, who moved to Eustis five years ago from Orlando. “They found out I was a veteran and said they could help me.”
Tadlock contacted the Roof Deployment project, which then contacted Habitat. The nonprofit vetted Seda, and soon after plans for a free new roof for the veteran were put into play.
Owens Corning Platinum Contractors are working with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter to provide new roofs to veterans in need and their families as part of the Owens Corning Roof Deployment Project.
Veteran Edwin Seda will receive a new roof from Tadlock Roofing, an Owens Corning Roofing Platinum Contractor. This nationwide effort is a way to show gratitude and honor the veterans who served our country and the families who support them. Since the inception of the Owens Corning National Roof Deployment Project in 2016, more than 140 military members have received new roofs.
“We’re honored to continue to participate in the Owens Corning Roof Deployment Project,” said Dale Tadlock, Owner and President, Tadlock Roofing, Inc. “Mr. Seda is a true inspiration and we’re grateful to have the opportunity to install a new roof on his home after all that he has been through in service to our country.”
Owens Corning Roofing and its network of independent Platinum Contractors, along with support from the Owens Corning Foundation, are donating roofing materials and labor to replace roofing shingles on the homes of military veterans and their families throughout the country. Through a partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, Edwin Seda was selected and approved as the recipient for the roof replacement.
“Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter is dedicated to serving our local communities,” said Kent Adcock, CEO at Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter. “We rely on great partners like Owens Corning and Tadlock Roofing to make moments like this possible for such a deserving veteran living among us.”
For more information on the Roof Deployment Project, or to learn more about how you can get involved, visit www.RoofDeploymentProject.com.
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!”
By David Larrick
Inmates learn construction skills, build for Habitat for Humanity
LAKE COUNTY, Fla. – Jared Hainey has been in the Lake County Jail for nine months for drug possession.
But he spends his days outside of his cell, in the fresh air under sunny skies. He spends six and a half hours a day on construction sites, building houses for Habitat for Humanity.
“It’s nice to come out here because you get away from being enclosed in a cage,” Hainey said. “And you get to come out and learn new things, see new people.”
Lake County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Fred Jones said Hainey volunteered, like all inmates participating in the Lake County Jail’s home building program.
“They have to want to do it, we don’t force them to do anything,” Jones said. “They’re staying focused, they get up early in the morning, our thought process is they’re going to take that same thought process when they leave here and go out there and get a job.”
Jones said all of the inmates participating in construction are low-risk inmates who’ve been vetted. All of them are supervised on all on the construction sites.
Hainey said his plan is to get a job in construction when he gets out jail.
“I learned a lot more about the building process, like right now we’re framing and decking and putting trusses on, stuff I have never done,” Hainey said. “Before you get out, you already have that foot up that you’re going to be working. And you’re already stepping forward and being productive in society and working already.”
Jones said inmates often reoffend when they are released because they don’t have a job, they don’t have skills and they don’t have motivation.
“What I see a lot of time is people get into trouble because they don’t have that sense of purpose,” Jones said. “I think this gives them some of that.”
What does the Cost of Home mean to you? Habitat for Humanity has started a national ‘Cost of Home’ campaign and Habitat Lake-Sumter wants YOU. The advocate. The community partner. The game changer. The YOU that wants to make a difference.
Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter celebrates their 30th Anniversary this year, 2019! In 30 years of service we’ve built more than 230 homes locally and repaired dozens of homes to be safe and accessible throughout Lake and Sumter counties. Yet, according to the 2018 State of Affordable Housing Florida Report “nearly one-third of households in the United States face cost burdens, with housing requiring either 30 percent of their income (cost-burdened) or 50 percent (severely cost-burdened).”
These burdens leave households with very little income to buy food, health care, and other basic needs; 50% of their income spent on housing leaves members of our community– friends, family, and neighbors– struggling to afford the necessities.
As Habitat of Lake-Sumter partners with other affiliates nationwide, we ask that you partner with us to promote an awareness of the housing affordability crisis.
Learn about the Cost of Home Campaign, Post a picture using one of the #CostOfHome templates, tell us what the Cost of Home means to you, and if you’re ready to be an advocate—JOIN US!
Everyone deserves decent, safe, and affordable housing.
Seda was chosen as the recipient of the Owens Corning National Roof Deployment Project, which works with Tadlock Roofing and Habitat for Humanity in granting new roofs to veterans in need.
“It makes me feel like crying,” Seda said. “But a good soldier never cries. I’m so thankful for good people like this.”
Seda served 20 years in Army intelligence, retiring in 1995. Because of his extensive training, two years ago he was asked to come out of retirement to help train Air Force pilots on A-10 Warthog aircraft.
However, a terrible accident occurred during training and his plane plummeted to the ground. He spent nine months in a coma. He broke a hip and a knee, and the visor from his helmet lodged into his skull.
“When I woke up, all I could think of was, ‘What the hell happened?’ ” Seda said.
Seda remembers another plane hitting the top of his canopy and him trying to remove the seat belt, but he doesn’t remember ever deploying the parachute.
“Obviously I did or I wouldn’t be alive,” he said. “But I don’t remember much after being hit.”
Since then, his medical bills have been piling up, even on top of his insurance coverage. To top it off, his home insurance company was pushing him to get a new roof or he would lose coverage.
He reached out to Tadlock Roofing for a quote, but they had another idea: Tadlock reached out to Owens Corning about their deployment project, then Habitat for Humanity to see what could be done.
By Cindy Sharp / Correspondent of The Daily Commercial
Jessica Strunk has a lot on her plate, including the immense challenge of being a single mother of two young boys, but that hasn’t stopped her from charging through 2019 with her sights set on several significant milestones, one of which was owning her own home.
Jessica and her “little family,” as she calls it, moved in with her mother in August of 2019 along with her promise that she just needed a year to “figure everything out.” And now, with her home nearing completion, she’s poised to make good on that promise as her and her boys, eight-year-old Collin and four-year-old Clayton, are about to move into a home of their own.
As the Program Manager for an Adult Day Training Program, Jessica works with adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities. Her boss, Dr. Paula Whetro, who heads up Building Blocks Ministries in Minneola, Florida, first introduced her to the idea of working with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter to own her own home for the first time. A home she lovingly tells her boys will be their “forever home.”
The pair, Jessica says, are very close, even though they have a 4-year age difference. But, that doesn’t stop them from being excited about having their own rooms. So excited in fact, that 4-year-old Clayton asks to move in on a daily basis because he doesn’t quite understand that a house can have doors and windows and still not be 100% complete.
Jessica, however, has a bit more insight on what it takes to complete a home now that she’s put in her sweat equity with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter as a member of the “Women Build” event team known as “The Uplifters.” Although this wasn’t her first time swinging a hammer, Jessica says she did complete some tasks new to her as she installed window frames, built a wall and attached hurricane straps around the entire house.
If raising two young boys, building her first home, managing a day program for adults with learning disabilities and putting in sweat equity with Habitat for Humanity wasn’t enough, Jessica is also on track to complete her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology with an emphasis on Applied Behavior Analysis by the end of the year.
About the time her own home is complete, Jessica will be celebrating another milestone, turning 30 in late July. And while she noted that she’s always enjoyed entertaining friends and family at the homes she’s rented, she’s also incredibly excited to finally be inviting them to gather for a celebration in a home she can call her own. For a family led by a young woman with so much ambition, this surely won’t be the only celebration to grace the Strunk household.
Written by David Larrick
EUSTIS, Fla. (FOX 35 ORLANDO) – This 20-year-old roof has withstood the test of time and Mother Nature, but with threats from the insurance company to drop the homeowners coverage, it was time to replace it.
The timing couldn’t have been worse for retired veteran Edwin J. Sera, who served 20 years in the Army.
“I would do it again if I have the chance,” Seda said.
Just like his roof, his condition makes it difficult for him to keep going, but with help from a physical therapist and a walker, he persists.
“I broke my hip twice,” he said. “I broke my knee three times. And I have more bills than what I can afford.”
When he met with Tadlock roofing, the consultant knew he needed to help him in his time of need.
“Our consultant after meeting with him was so touched by his story and just who he was and his personality that we really wanted to dig in and see if there was a way to help him,” said Thomas Catalano, the branch manager at Tadlock Roofing.
Three newly built cottage-style homes in Coleman, including this one at 6702 Winkles St., will be dedicated Saturday by Habitat of Lake-Sumter before the keys are turned over to the new homeowners: Eddie Broglin, Kaylei and David Tranor, and Gennivieve Sprague.
“These are the first cottage-model homes we have ever built and dedicated; the first type of small trial homes,” says Danielle Stroud, director of development, for Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, Florida.
She says the 2 bedroom/1 bath homes of about 700 square feet each were designed for smaller families entering the housing market or those seeking to downsize.
“There is a huge interest and need for more smaller, entry-level homes,” Danielle says. “And when you think about the trends in housing, bigger homes have gone by the wayside. A lot of folks cannot buy that big for their first-time home.”
Danielle says the three cottages in Coleman are half the size of the cottage-style houses Habitat built in Veterans Village in Umatilla.
Saturday’s dedication will feature a gathering of volunteers, sponsors, the homeowners’ loved-ones, along with local dignitaries, including Congressman Daniel Webster, a strong supporter of Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter. The congressman also spent time volunteering to build one of the houses being dedicated.
On June 7 2019, Mr Handyman Serving Ocala to West Apopka had the privilege of working side by side with members of the Rotary Club and Habitat for Humanity. We helped to do repairs on a home in Wildwood FL. It was an honor to be able to give back in our community and we thank the nice folks from Habitat and the Rotary for the opportunity. We encourage EVERYONE to get involved in your community and offer a helping hand where ever and when ever you can!
Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter’s ‘Women Build’ event brings women of all ages and abilities together to make a difference by raising money and volunteering on Habitat build sites.
Alongside personal fundraising efforts, sponsors such as American Residential Products, Inc and Atlas Roofing, make events like these possible through monetary giving or by donating materials for the home.
American Residential Products Inc, an insulation contractor, has worked with Habitat for Humanity affiliates all over Florida for many years. They have provided insulation in the past, and recently sponsored Habitat of Lake-Sumter’s ‘Women Build 2019’ with a $2500 gift; this gift serves to underwrite the cost of construction for the two ‘Women Build’ homes and bridges the gap to keep the homes affordable.
Stephanie Vaughn of American Residential Products also personally participated as a Women Builder this year on Team ‘Hammer Knockers’. When asked if she thought an event like this was successful in helping to remove the barrier between women and construction, she said;
“The barrier between women and construction is getting smaller. I think an event like Women Build definitely showcases that. Construction is a fast paced, exciting industry. Every day is different, every day is challenging and every day is rewarding. It’s great to see younger women embrace the industry and I think Habitat encourages that with Women Build.”
Stephanie also had encouraging words for women who are thinking about volunteering, “Go for it! Habitat makes it easy to set up a team and individual website for fundraising. There are several pre-build events to get to know the other volunteers and the homeowners. The day of the build is all about teamwork & there are tasks for all abilities.”
Atlas Roofing was also a sponsor for this year’s Women Build event. They are donating all of the necessary roofing materials such as the underlayment, starter shingle, shingle, hip and ridge cap for the Women Build house in Eustis, FL. Roofing can be an expensive aspect of homebuilding, but thanks to Atlas Roofing, our family will be forever grateful for the gift of having a roof over their heads.
Thank you to our sponsors, Atlas Roofing and American Residential Products, for partnering with Habitat families and investing in real change. Together, we build homes, communities, and hope!
By Lauren Lester
Realtor & Habitat Volunteer
It sounds a bit like the ending of a bad joke to say that a plumber and his wife, who work for an HVAC company, just “go with the flow” but in the case of David and Kaylei, their journey with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter has been a ride along the path of least resistance.
David describes their current apartment complex as livable but dilapidated which prompted the hard-working couple to ponder their options. A suggestion from one of David’s coworkers, who had previous experience with Habitat for Humanity, put the organization on David and Kaylei’s radar.
David, who has a very laid-back approach to most everything, said he was actually worried that they wouldn’t qualify for any of the programs offered by Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter because both him and his wife, Kaylei, work full-time. However, Habitat’s mission to provide affordable housing and access to home ownership, to bridge the income gap and meet the needs of each Habitat family—was the opportunity David and Kaylei were looking for.
Though David and Kaylei both work in the construction industry, he says they haven’t been able to use their trade knowledge or skills on the build site just yet; but he says Habitat has been great to work with, finding opportunities for the couple to put in their “sweat equity” in other ways. For example, David says they’ve “done phone interviews, written thank you cards and basically anything else” Habitat needs extra hands and time to accomplish.
David described the small collection of houses in Coleman, FL, where the couple’s cottage style house is being built, as unique because it’s not part of larger neighborhood or development and is in a fairly rural setting. The Tranor’s two-bedroom home is scheduled to be completed in June and is perfect for the young family which he says is just him, his wife, and their dog but also pointed out that it gives them a little room to grow.
For now, the extra space gives them a place to enjoy some of their hobbies. And David says they have extended family within walking distance of their new home, “We haven’t really discussed having a house warming party,” says David. “But we have discussed what kind of traditions we might want to start in our new home.” Though they haven’t settled on anything just yet, David believes they’ll develop some traditions that are unique to them.
Perhaps David and his wife Kaylei carry a tradition or two for their family already: the hard work and humble expectations that are leading them to the beginning of a great future, one that Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter is proud to contribute to.
By David Larrick
Publix Super Market prides themselves on their long-standing tradition of being the kind of company a community can count on, beginning with their founding in 1930 and continuing to today; Publix Super Market Charities began its support of Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter in 2012 and has continued to be a generous partner for 8 years. Throughout the years, Publix has proven to be a committed, community partner to Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, FL; as one of the top donors of your Hometown Habitat, Publix Super Market Charities gave $35,000 to our Preservation & Repair program this year alone.
Our Preservation and Repair program began in 2015 to serve families who owned their homes but couldn’t afford to keep them in good condition. The program provides help with the exterior of a home – weatherization, safety, accessibility, and beautification – with the belief that every homeowner should experience safety, stability, and self-reliance within their home.
In 2019, the Publix partnership supported Habitat Lake-Sumter in serving 45 families in need of critical home repairs and accessibility modifications. For homeowners like Priscilla Tolbert, who did not have access to running water in the home because of a broken pump, or The McMurphy’s, a family of three whose home needed repairs but as a double leg amputee, Dan McMurphy, had no way of getting into the home with his wheelchair to make those repairs; Publix Charities has made a world of difference.
Replacing a water pump for Priscilla to have clean, running water or installing a ramp so that Dan could get in and out of the house easily – to make a better home for himself, his wife, and his daughter are just a few examples of how Publix Charities has had a daily impact on those we serve.
Publix Super Market Charities believes in Giving; in making sure their customers and communities are taken care of. Thank you for helping Habitat Lake-Sumter families build better lives for themselves; building Homes, Communities, and Hope in partnership with Publix for the past 8 years has truly been our pleasure!
Hurricane Season is upon us; it officially runs from June 1, 2019 to November 30, 2019 and though the storm season has already begun, it’s not too late to prepare! Rather than waiting for a hurricane to develop, now is the time to start making plans and gathering supplies.
Make sure your home, your family, and your pets are safe and secure- Be Habitat-Ready and use this Hurricane Preparedness Guide!
BEFORE A HURRICANE
To prepare for a hurricane, you should take the following measures:
- Stock up on supplies and have a communication and evacuation plan in place.
- Make plans to secure your property. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows. A second option is to board up windows with 5/8″ marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install. Tape does not prevent windows from breaking.
- Install straps or additional clips to securely fasten your roof to the frame structure. This will help reduce roof damage.
- Be sure trees and shrubs around your home are well trimmed.
- Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts.
DURING A HURRICANE
If a hurricane is likely in your area, you should:
- Listen to the radio or TV for information.
- Secure your home, close storm shutters, and secure outdoor objects or bring them indoors.
- Turn off utilities if instructed to do so. Otherwise, turn the refrigerator thermostat to its coldest setting and keep its doors closed.
- Turn off propane tanks. Avoid using the phone, except for serious emergencies.
- Ensure a supply of water for sanitary purposes such as cleaning and flushing toilets. Fill the bathtub and other large containers with water.
You should evacuate under the following conditions:
- If you are directed by local authorities to do so. Be sure to follow their instructions.
- If you live in a mobile home or temporary structure—such shelters are particularly hazardous during hurricanes no matter how well fastened to the ground.
- If you live in a high-rise building—hurricane winds are stronger at higher elevations.
- If you live on the coast, on a floodplain, near a river, or on an inland waterway.
- If you feel you are in danger.
If you are unable to evacuate, go to your wind-safe room. If you do not have one, follow these guidelines:
- Stay indoors during the hurricane and away from windows and glass doors.
- Close all interior doors—secure and brace external doors.
- Keep curtains and blinds closed. Do not be fooled if there is a lull; it could be the eye of the storm – winds will pick up again.
- Take refuge in a small interior room, closet, or hallway on the lowest level.
- Lie on the floor under a table or another sturdy object
COLEMAN — The finishing touches are being put on four cottage-style homes Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter is building in the quiet community of Coleman.
The homes, each about 700 square feet with two bedrooms and one bathroom, are Habitat’s first try at the new housing design, which serves as a precursor to Habitat’s upcoming Tavares Cottage Community.
The Tavares community will be the first age-restricted community Habitat is building in Lake County and will feature 23 cottage homes of approximately 730 square feet — some free standing and others as townhomes.
Danielle Stroud, director of development for Habitat of Lake-Sumter, said they are working on finalizing funding and getting an environmental review in the Tavares community. They are hoping infrastructure construction will begin by the end of summer, with building starting by the first of the year.
The cottage homes are expected to be a good fit for seniors trying to downsize or who are being squeezed out of the rental market. The homes in Tavares will be designed around a shared open space.
“It was harder than I thought it would be,” says Frances Garrandes after pounding nails with other women volunteers to construct and raise a 55’ wall on a home in Eustis. “But I’ll be back next year!”
Hammering in the heat and humidity didn’t slow her down. That determination to accomplish goals is evident throughout her life, including going back to college to finish her undergraduate degree at Stetson University, then finishing her Master’s Degree at age 50 through Strayer University. As a Property Manager at Disney, she’s even exploring ways to further her education as a Project Manager, a field she finds exciting and rewarding.
“I’ve been blessed in life and feel I need to give back.” When she heard about the Women Build campaign at an International Women’s Conference, she knew she wanted to get involved.
“I believe in Habitat’s program. They don’t give houses away; potential home owners have to go through the mortgage application process, they must give back through volunteer hours and by supporting someone else’s home construction.” She adjusts the pink hard hat on her head and smiles. “This program is a great boost to help someone who can’t do it on her own.”
She signed up for the Women Build events and began posting about her volunteer plans on Facebook. She was determined to raise at least $1,000 so she could be inducted into the Sisterhood of the Pink Hard Hats. By using social media to spread the word, she ultimately raised $2,200 and received the affiliate’s first-ever traveling trophy, “The Most Excellent Fundraiser” purple shoe.
Having raised three children as a single mom, she understands the importance of closing the gap between the cost of renting versus buying a home. Habitat’s program often means a mortgage payment is several hundred dollars less than a typical monthly rent. That financial “space” gives a family the financial breathing room it needs for other important things, such as healthcare.
And what does she get out of all this?
“I get the satisfaction of knowing I’m helping someone else. This will be my first time helping to construct a home, but it won’t be my last!”
-Lee Owen, Habitat Volunteer and Community Advocate
Jasmine Jacobs held tightly to her 6-year-old daughter’s hand as they walked up to their new home together. Awaiting their arrival were some of the people who helped her become a first-time homeowner, including 11 seniors from the construction management academy at The Villages High School. The young builders stood proudly outside the brand-new home on Winners Circle in Lady Lake as it glistened in the sunlight Friday morning.—Rachel Stuart, The Villages Daily Sun
As the first graduating class, the success of the partnership between the Villages Charter School and Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter was evident in the smiling faces of the new homeowner, students, teachers, and sponsors alike.
As the Youth Construction Academy expands to include Leesburg High School and over 70 new students; the success and growth of the Youth Construction Academy is due in no small part to United Way of Lake-Sumter. United Way has chosen Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter to receive an education grant in support of the Youth Construction Academy.
The Villages Charter High School students worked alongside industry professionals, instructors, and Habitat Construction Manager, Barry Martin, to build the house as part of their capstone project; construction began in August with the students building as their first period class.
“They were able to hone their construction skills and get a realistic feel for the business,” said Bruce Haberle, instructor of the construction management academy. “It’s a team-building experience where they were able to give back to those who are less fortunate.”
United Way’s mission is to “advance the common good by focusing on education, income and health,” Habitat of Lake-Sumter and United Way share in the belief that these three things are the “building blocks for a good life—a quality education that leads to a stable job, enough income to support a family through retirement, and good health.”
Thanks to United Way of Lake-Sumter and their ongoing partnership with Habitat’s Youth Construction Academy, the graduating class will be the first of many students to gain experience, acquire employable skills, and engage in the social responsibility and community impact that shapes professional and personal development.
“It’s been amazing, and they’ve done a great job,” said Danielle Stroud, Senior Director of Development for Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter. “We really hope they learned something along the way, which is the purpose of this partnership.”
Check out some photos from the dedication on our Facebook Page!
Every once in a while, we get the opportunity to give back to someone who continues to selflessly give to others. Larry Andrews is one of those people. He is an honored Army veteran, who spent 8 months as a medical corpsman in Korea. During his time in the military, he sustained a back injury, but he was not considered disabled until after he left the service. Larry’s passion for people and his faith found him volunteering as a fire fighter and later as a licensed minister. He loves contributing to his community and spreading the word of God along the way.
Today, we have the chance to give a gift that will directly impact Larry’s life and well-being.
Larry lives in Wildwood with his wife, Barbara, on a large piece of property that he once bought from his father. While he enjoys working with his hands and takes pride in the beautiful lawn, his back problems and lack of income prevent him from keeping up with the property in the way he’d like to. His wife of ten years also suffers from health issues and has had multiple knee surgeries with difficult recoveries; Larry and Barbara are currently living with a leaking roof and a moldy interior, which only adds to their health complications. The mobile home is in poor condition and needs major help. With Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter’s reputation for serving veterans, the local Mission United branch referred Larry as he has been unable to find help anywhere else.
Larry is now part of our Preservation and Repair program, and it has been determined that there will be three steps needed to get the home back to a safe state. While there are many repairs needed, the ones most prioritized are re-leveling the home, repairing the roof, and interior repairs to address safety concerns. Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter has successfully completed the first step of re-leveling the home but needs donor support to underwrite the cost of the roof and interior. Even amongst the repairs needed, Larry finds peace in his home and he enjoys the good atmosphere he has created there. We are currently seeking donations to help Larry and his wife to live not only in a happy home, but a healthy one.
-Lauren Lester, Real Estate Advisor & Volunteer
To learn more about Larry Andrews and supporting Preservation & Repair in your community contact Lacie Himes at Lacie@HabitatLS.org or (352) 483-0434 x 146
Jasmine Jacobs held tightly to her 6-year-old daughter’s hand as they walked up to their new home together. Awaiting their arrival were some of the people who helped her become a first-time homeowner, including 11 seniors from the construction management academy at The Villages High School. The young builders stood proudly outside the brand-new home on Winners Circle in Lady Lake as it glistened in the sunlight Friday morning. For the first time, Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter partnered with The Villages Charter School to build the house. Construction started in August, with the students working several days a week until it was completed.
“They were able to hone their construction skills and get a realistic feel for the business,” said Bruce Haberle, instructor of the construction management academy. “It’s a team-building experience where they were able to give back to those who are less fortunate.”
Habitat for Humanity, a housing organization that works with communities across the nation, chooses its recipients through a first-come, first-qualified process.
Jacobs, a retail store manager, learned she had been selected after going through several steps for approval.
“I was overwhelmed,” she said. “I was like, ‘Is this really happening?’ But now that we’re at the tail end of it, I’m just so excited.”
The families chosen by Habitat for Humanity are required to contribute 200 hours of sweat equity, which means they take part in the building process.
Jacobs helped by greeting and thanking volunteers and donors, and she also took financial-education courses, credit counseling and first-time homebuyer courses.
“I got to help do the outside, and I did some caulking, painting and flooring,” she said. “I had no idea what I was doing, but the kids from school were very nice and helped me out.”
She said she enjoyed working with the students because they brought some lively energy to the site.
“They were loud and funny, making jokes and blasting music,” she said. “They made it fun.”
This is the first home students have built through the academy, which launched last school year.
“It’s been amazing, and they’ve done a great job,” said Danielle Stroud, director of development for Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter. “We really hope they learned something along the way, which is the purpose of this partnership.”
EUSTIS, Fla. (FOX 35 ORLANDO) – Lake County inmates are working together it build a home with Habitat for Humanity. At the same time they’re learning valuable skills to take with them after serving time.
Jared Hainey is one of the first to take part in the Inmate Construction Academy.
“It’s really nice,” Hainey said. “We get to learn new skills and do stuff and we also get to give back to the community.”
Hainey and the other jail inmates are all low-level non-violent offenders who found themselves on the wrong side of the law.
“Poor choices,” Hainey said about the crimes he committed. “Possession. Made a poor choice to decide to possess something I wasn’t supposed to have and I’ve grown from it and learned from it.”
Now he’s getting a second chance to make something right.
“You see a lot of people end up there because they don’t have a purpose — and this gives them a purpose,” Sgt. Fred Jones with the Lake County Sheriff’s Office said.
On the job site they’re learning new skills.
By Amanda McKenzie
TAVARES — Hoping to build on the success of the Inmate Sewing and Textile Program introduced almost two years ago, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office has launched the Inmate Construction Academy.
The academy, like the textile program, is a vocational program for inmates that tracks their work hours and documents their skills so they can move into well-paying jobs after serving time.
“I keep track of their hours they put in, and when they get released they’ll get a certificate with those hours on it,” said Master Deputy Dave Wolniak, who supervises the inmates. “So they can put that in their resume with their application to a company and have something on paper that says this is what we did, this is how many hours I did.”
The inmates started working in early April with Habitat for Humanity, which provides work sites, tools, materials and inspections for the projects, said Capt. Mike Fayette.
The first project they’ve been assigned is a house in Eustis, and in their first week they were learning to do plumbing. Danielle Stroud, Habitat’s director of development, said the inmates would be taking that house from start to finish, occasionally switching projects during ongoing inspections.
Wolniak said the inmates learn from each other and from Habitat personnel. One inmate had worked in plumbing 20 years ago and was rediscovering the trade. He helped other inmates keep up with the work even as they had just learned it.
The plumbers were fairly impressed, Wolniak said, and indicated he’d be willing to hire people out of the program after their release.
Sgt. Fred Jones said that’s the end-game. The Textile Program currently has a few relationships like that. Women can approach local textile companies and be open about their past without worrying it will cost them a job because of solid relationships between the programs and local business.
Jones also pointed out the savings that come from operating the programs. He said the women make bed sheets for the jail as well as uniforms, event T-shirts and a variety of other items. They also laser engrave plaques for the county now.
Deputies can also save on dry cleaning costs if they hand their uniforms over to the program for pressing.
Jones said other agencies have started reaching out to them for advice about starting up their own programs.
Wolniak said that prior to the Construction Academy, he worked with four inmates at a time on small construction projects. The goal there was also to save money while renovating or repairing county buildings, including the outreach center the Sheriff’s Office operates at Lake Square Mall.
By Payne Ray email@example.com
From Kyle, a Banker of three years and Judy, approaching her forty-second year as a Teller, to Lake-Sumter District Manager, Randy; the volunteers from Wells Fargo span age, careers, and experiences –yet they have one important thing in common: Giving Back.
Twenty-one volunteers from Wells Fargo worked at two Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter build sites on Saturday, April 27th. Spread between the home being built in Oxford and another in Eustis, in one day alone, Wells Fargo volunteers painted, caulked, and contributed over 84 volunteer hours and donated $15,000 to Habitat’s home ownership program.
Annually, 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 over 2 million hours in volunteered time, awarded over $500,000 in grants to non-profits where team members volunteer; and ultimately, has created an environment where ‘community giving’ is embedded in the culture and attitude of Wells Fargo.
Branch Manager, Rane, says this year’s “Day of Service” is helping to build seven homes in Central Florida and thirty homes statewide, “In the past we’ve been able to partner with Habitat and it’s our go-to. Everybody loves helping to build a home.” Rane also says the commitment to their visions, values, and goals for community involvement is what led her to working with Wells Fargo.
One of Wells Fargo’s goals is “creating solutions for stronger, more resilient communities,” and this goal manifests itself through first time home buyer programs, NeighborhoodLIFT, and partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter.
District Manager, Randy, has worked for Wells Fargo for ten years and has volunteered with Habitat for Humanity for the past five years; between painting, roofing, and putting up siding with Habitat and working alongside his father who is a general contractor, Randy has done it all when it comes to building a home.
However, working with his fellow team members provides more than volunteer hours. Randy says it cultivates purpose and community when they work together outside of the usual four walls; he finds that volunteering creates a different kind of bond that “translates into better partnerships and teamwork in the business.”
On why he volunteers personally, Randy says his goal is to leave things better, “Living and working in the community, I like to make it a better place. It gives me that sense of giving back and really helping families and individuals that need our support.”
Proving that the community involvement and camaraderie of Wells Fargo thrives because of the team members themselves, “I have the best team ever and we love being a part of it!” Randy shouts loud enough for every volunteer to hear.
If you are familiar with Habitat for Humanity you’re likely familiar with the term “Sweat Equity.” A simple phrase with a big meaning. Sweat equity is often used to describe the value someone adds to a project through the hard work they contribute to making it a success. For example, Habitat home owners contribute sweat equity by volunteering on a worksite, in the office, or through educational courses.
For Anita Brooks, the term “sweat equity” may have been new but the concept was far from foreign to her. Ms. Brooks, as her students call her, is a third-grade teacher who earned her teaching degree while working for the school district. “I worked as a receptionist for 12 years,” said Anita. “And I put myself through school so I could become a teacher.”
It was a colleague of Anita’s at the school that first turned her on to the idea of partnering with Habitat for Humanity to build a home. Anita and her family had always been renters but had a unique opportunity to build on land deeded to her by her mother. The two-and-half acre parcel was just minutes from their current home, in rural Oxford and the location played a part in the home Anita and her family chose to build.
“They gave us a few options in terms of models we could pick from,” said Anita. “Being in the country, I knew I wanted a porch.” Her daughter, 15-year-old Lailah suggested they go a four-bedroom model so Anita could use one of the rooms as an office. Anita agreed noting that she often brings work home with her no matter how much time she spends at school.
As her house begins to take shape, Anita says she stops by every day after school to see what has been accomplished and hopes that someone is still there working so she can express her gratitude. “I just want to thank everyone who has had a hand in building my home,” said Anita. Those working on her home often seem surprised by her gesture, but Anita feels it’s only right to express gratitude to those helping her accomplish something she couldn’t do on her own.
As a family that rented but never owned a home of their own, Anita says that her daughter is excited to finally have a room that she can do something with. “She likes to watch where her room is going to be. She’s enjoying the thought of picking out colors and making it her own,” said Anita.
The family plans to close on their home this summer and Anita says they’ll likely have a house warming party just to have family over. “I don’t need anything else, no more toasters or anything,” she said laughingly. “But we’re very family-orientated and this will be a great place to celebrate each other and the things we accomplish.”
Anita also wants her daughter and her older son Brandell, who’s 21 and no longer lives at home, to know that they finally have a home to come back to.
As for sweat equity in her new home, Anita says she’s ready to invest in the house she plans to make a home for her and her children. “I’ve been saving up my vacation days,” she says with enthusiasm. “I’m looking forward to helping out and getting my hands dirty!”
By David Larrick
In our last article we compared various hourly wages and what they could afford for rental housing based on the 2018 Fair Market Rent (FMR) per month. We learned that it took $18/hour, or $37,440 per year, for a person to afford the 2018 FMR of $840 for a one bedroom home.
But what if you wanted to buy a home? On the traditional market, many of these same wages may face extreme difficulties in obtaining their own home and staying within the envelope of affordability. That’s where affordable housing builders step in – organizations like Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter or Homes In Partnership exist to partner with families who are edged out of the traditional market. These organizations offer opportunities to partner, allowing the financial entry point to homeownership to become more obtainable.
Let’s take a moment to look at a real life scenario – let’s meet Janice and Rose. We’ve used her budget and income to compare her rental reality in a 2BR Fair Market rental prior to her obtaining a 2BR home built in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter. Like all of the families who qualify for the Habitat program and are approved for their loan, Janice was able to get into a home with zero down payment, no closing costs, and a monthly mortgage that includes taxes and insurance that they can afford. Now she and her daughter have a safe and secure place to call home.
$12/hour: Annual Gross Income $24,960: Monthly Gross Income $2,080
Janice moved from paying 48% of her gross income for her two bedroom rental (with a negative cash flow of $376) to owning her own home, paying just 23% for housing, with a positive cash flow each month. While these numbers are still based on gross take home, we can see the meaningful shift toward a more realistic budget.
What’s the impact on her health? Her outlook for a future? Her ability to withstand an unexpected expense?
Affordable housing is affordable not because it’s of lower quality or built to sub-standard codes. It’s affordable because of the generosity of donors and volunteers who invest in the future of these families. Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter works to build an affordable product, but also works to raise capital through relationships in the community in order to subsidize the homes for these families so they can be sold at a price that is affordable.
Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter firmly believes in providing a pathway out of poverty. According to The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development studies have shown that “homeowners accumulate wealth as the investment in their homes grow, enjoy better living conditions, are often more involved in their communities, and have children who tend on average to do better in school and are less likely to become involved with crime.” Because of the stability and financial flexibility that an affordable home offers, higher graduation rates for children of homeowners is 19 percent higher than for renters, and they are twice as likely to acquire some post-secondary education, according to a study in a journal published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
As with many of our families we are looking forward to seeing Janice and her daughter Rose prosper – you never know who Rose will grow up to be, but we are happy to have had a part in providing her the opportunity to thrive.
By Lee Owen
- Lake County inmates for building homes for Habitat for Humanity
- It’s through the Sheriff’s Office’s ‘Inmate Construction Academy’
- Inmates get one day taken off sentence for every three days worked
Inmate Jared Hainey was convicted of possession, but today he possesses the ability to prepare for the future by learning how to construct homes side-by-side with professional home builders.
“(You’re) coming outside and being out in the community, seeing people and experiencing things to learn more toward a trade. And the freedom of being outside the jail is nice also,” Hainey said.
The Lake County Sheriff’s Office calls the program the “Inmate Construction Academy”. It’s for non-violent, low-level offenders. There are five inmates for every one deputy.
“Make sure their charges are low enough to work outside the building, and see if this is something that they can do,” said Deputy David Wolniak with the Lake County Sheriff’s Office.
The project is to lay down a concrete foundation. Inmates get one day taken off their sentence for every three days worked. In return, Habitat for Humanity gets free labor to build a brand new house for a family in need.
“It’s about learning and having opportunity after they get out of jail, as well as while they are in jail, giving back to the community,” said Danielle Stroud with Lake-Sumter Habitat for Humanity.
By David DeJohn
Inmate Construction Academy created to build Habitat homes, help Lake County Jail inmates learn skills
When Carlos Angulo leaves the Lake County Jail as a free man in the coming months, he will carry with him newly-learned construction skills — including painting, plumbing and flooring — that he hopes will land him a job.
But more importantly, Angulo said, he helped build an affordable home for a family in need while learning those skills.
Angulo, 20, is among half a dozen Lake County inmates who have started building a home on West St. Louis Drive in Eustis for Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter as part of the new Inmate Construction Academy, a jail work-release partnership with the Sheriff’s Office comparable to other efforts around the country.
“I like doing this kind of work,” Angulo said Wednesday as he took a break. “I hope to eventually get a job in the construction industry with the skills I’ve learned….And it gets me out of the jail.”
He and the other inmates were installing water and sewer lines on the home site before the concrete for the foundation is poured in the coming days. The three-bedroom, two-bathoom home should be completed in about six months.
Using inmates to build homes for Habitat for Humanity has been successfully implemented for years in other parts of the country as a way to reduce recidivism.
In 2015, the Habitat for Humanity Capital District and the Albany County Sheriff’s Office in upstate New York launched a similar jail work-release program.
LAKE COUNTY, Fla. – The Lake County Sheriff’s Office announced on Tuesday that inmates will now be working to help build Habitat for Humanity houses.
Inmates will be able to leave jail and head out into the community to help on the project. Officials hope that the inmates will learn skills that will help them once they are released so that they won’t end up back behind bars.
The program, Inmate Construction Academy, was launched Monday at a site in Eustis.
“They’ll learn how to build a house, from start to finish,” said Danielle Stroud of Habitat for Humanity. “They will be part of the process the entire way.”
Officials said only a select bunch of inmates will get the chance to be a part of the program.
The sheriff’s office is hoping this program is as successful as the one launched last year that helped female inmates learn to sew.
Habitat for Humanity officials said they always need volunteers, but the inmates will be extra help on top of what they already have.
Unlike other Habitat for Humanity sites, the one where inmates will be working will be closed to other volunteers.
The First Presbyterian Church of Leesburg receives “Sponsor of the Month” in recognition of their decade’s long partnership with Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter and their sponsorship of a Cottage Home in Coleman, FL. The church will not only provide financial support, but also volunteer hours and hands-on labor to assist in building the home.
First Presbyterian Church of Leesburg has a long standing history with Habitat for Humanity and an established presence of charitable giving within the community; the church assisted with building one of the very first Habitat homes in the Lake-Sumter area in the late 1980’s. Pastor RJ Leek of First Presbyterian of Leesburg says of their continued support, “We are thankful for the opportunity God has given us through Habitat for Humanity to be a visible witness to God’s love for people everywhere.”
The cottage home being sponsored by First Presbyterian Church of Leesburg is one of four homes being built on the Coleman site and is part of a new and innovative floor plan for Habitat of Lake-Sumter. In an effort to match the specific needs of the community Habitat serves, we have designed a 2 bedroom/1 bath home at approximately 700 sq. ft. for smaller families who find rental properties and traditional home ownership to be beyond their reach.
The cottage homes in Coleman are Habitat of Lake-Sumter’s first try at this new housing design. The smaller scale 4 cottage home site is a precursor to Habitat’s upcoming Tavares Cottage Community. Thanks to Lake County’s award of Community Development Block Grant funds, Habitat will begin infrastructure of the development soon; including roadways, water and underground utilities, and will prepare the community for phase two: cottage construction.
Setting new precedents, the Tavares Cottage Community will be the first age-restricted community built in this area through Habitat of Lake-Sumter and will benefit residents who are on a fixed income, retired, or looking to maintain affordable housing as senior citizens. The ‘pocket neighborhood’ will feature 23 cottage-sized homes approximately 730 sq. ft. Some of the units are free standing homes with others designed in a townhome style, and a large central area with open green space for all residents to share. The master planned community will include similar design elements to Habitat of Lake-Sumter’s Veterans Village in Umatilla.
To learn more about First Presbyterian Church of Leesburg, the cottage homes in Coleman, or the upcoming Tavares Cottage Community please contact Danielle Stroud at 352-630-3318.
Board Member Spotlight
Christina A. Campbell
From a young age, Christina Campbell’s mother instilled in her the importance of helping others. And that has become a priority for the local attorney who earned her Juris Doctor from the University of Florida in 2016 and still finds time to serve a number of community organizations.
Campbell has been a member of Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter’s Foundation Board since 2018 and was appointed to the Affiliate Board in January 2019.
“Christina has been such a valuable asset to our organization as a member of our Foundation Board,” says Danielle Stroud, Director of Development at Habitat for Humanity. “We’re so fortunate to have the opportunity to further tap into her passion and abilities as a member of our Affiliate Board.”
In addition to her work with Habitat for Humanity, Campbell has been a member of the Junior League since 2014 and currently serves on the Community Impact Committee. She is also a member of the Villages Morning Rotary Club and the Leadership Lake County Class of 2019. While in her hometown of Lakeland, she volunteers her time with Volunteers in Service to the Elderly.
Campbell says her love of volunteering stems from the values she was exposed to as a child as well as the feeling she gets from helping others accomplish something they couldn’t have done on their own. Though she had already shown her commitment to Habitat through her service on the Foundation Board, she says that seeing first-hand the impact of the organization’s time and effort solidified her love for Habitat and its mission.
“I had the privilege of joining a team for the Global Village Trip to Honduras in June of last year,” says Campbell. “This trip was life changing – the people I met, both volunteers and home owners, became a part of my family and I will never forget the memories we made on that trip.”
“I truly believe in Habitat’s mission. Home is where you go to feel safe, where you go to re-charge, where you go to be with your family,” Campbell shared when asked why Habitat’s mission is important to her personally. “If you don’t have a place where you feel safe and secure, it is much harder to make positive choices and achieve your goals. I believe that our work helps families who want to build better lives for themselves. I also like the fact that Habitat allows for hands on volunteer work so that I can see the actual benefit of my time in the community.”
Campbell’s says her experience as an attorney has taught her how to listen to people’s needs and develop a plan to help them achieve their goals. “I genuinely enjoy helping people. I do that in my daily work, and I want to continue doing that with Habitat,” says Campbell.
With all of Campbell’s commitments, she has still found the time to lead a team for Habitat’s Women Build Event which is a national initiative to provide safe and decent homes for families in need of affordable housing. Campbell, whose team is comprised of women from the McLin Burnsed law firm where she practices as an attorney, says she “looks forward to working together as women to make a difference in the community and break some stereotypes.” Something Campbell is already doing as she gives back to community in so many ways.
“Christina has already made a tremendous impact at Habitat,” says Stroud. “She was a natural choice for our Affiliate Board and we know she’ll bring the same level of drive and dedication that she has become known for in our community.”
By David Larrick
RoMac Lumber and Supply’s Match for March continues in 2019 with an unprecedented offer; in the month of March all donations will be matched, dollar for dollar, up to $20,000 and will benefit the Youth Construction Academy of Leesburg. Those interested in donating during the Match period can do so by going to www.habitatls.org/give or by mail to 900 Main Street, Ste 210, The Villages, FL, 32159.
Leesburg High School students will begin their Youth Construction Academy program in August 2019. Partnering with Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter, selected students will get the hands-on training of building a home from the ground up. Students who have entered the Youth Construction Academy in their Junior year will learn safety standards, plan reading, basic rough carpentry and framing; along with many other subjects that are necessary in the construction field.
During their Senior year, the students will take what they’ve learned in the classroom and spend a daily class period at a live construction site. Hands-on training of the techniques and safety standards previously learned will be applied as students practice concept reinforcement and acquire a certificate of completion that can be used when pursuing higher education or entering the workforce. By the end of the student’s senior year they will have the finished product of their labor standing in front of them, a brand new affordable home. Students will be invited to join the dedication ceremony, meeting the Habitat family that they built this home for.
“Don Magruder, CEO of RoMac Lumber, has been a longtime supporter of Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter and our mission of providing housing for all. As the president of the construction academy advisory board at Leesburg High School he is eager to invest in the students,” says Danielle Stroud, Director of Development. “The construction advisory board wants this program to be the best in the state…so we are going to work to ensure that is a reality.”
RoMac’s Match is a limited time opportunity to double your impact for double the cause! Build a safe, affordable home in the community and invest in skillful education for our students, while building foundations in the community that will benefit home ownership and the future of our workforce for years to come.
C is for Clarifying the Calculation, Part II: Reality Check
In our last article we looked at the AMI, Area Median Income, and learned that the AMI for Lake County is $62,900 ($30.24/hour based on 40 hours/week, 52 paid weeks/year). Pop quiz: what does ‘median’ mean? It’s not the average; it means that half make more, half make less.
Median income drives the entire conversation on affordable housing. Pop quiz: What does the term ‘affordable housing’ mean? It means that no more than 30% of gross household income is spent on rent/utilities or, in the case of home ownership, PITI (principle, interest, taxes, and insurance). Why? Because everyone needs room in their budget to pay for other expenses.
Using the chart below, we see that someone earning the median income for Lake County would be able to afford the Fair Market Rent (FMR) for housing. What about those earning less than the median? Let’s walk through those numbers. The chart is based on the following details:
- Florida’s 2019 minimum wage is $8.46
- The Fair Market Rent (FMR) is from the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s (NLIHC) annual Out of Reach data for housing costs in zip code 32757 (at the site, click on the zip code for detailed information)
- The 1 BR and 2 BR columns show the difference between the affordable, 30% housing number (what you’d ideally pay) and the actual Fair Market Rent
- Income is pre-tax, based on 52 paid weeks/year at 40 hours/week, no overtime
How does paying more than 30% affect the rest of someone’s finances? Let’s look at three theoretical budgets for a single person renting a one bedroom home. We’re using percentage allocations commonly recommended by professional planners. Are you ready to see what those earning less than the median income are dealing with?
For Jasmine and her six-year-old daughter, the dream of owning a new home began with an email from The Villages Charter Schools. For the students at the high school, they began building those dreams a year earlier.
The Villages Charter School, in The Villages, Florida, had just launched their Construction Management Academy and had assembled an advisory committee that included industry experts to help steer curriculum for the new academy. Don McGruder, CEO of RoMac Lumber and a member of the advisory committee, suggested the academy partner with Habitat for Humanity which then began working with the high school to hammer out the details of a partnership as soon as possible.
The following year, an email looking for applicants to participate as the home owner landed in Jasmine’s inbox. “I remember when I was chosen for the opportunity,” said Jasmine. “I was super excited and I’m still trying to wrap my mind around it.”
Jasmine’s daughter Carmen was overjoyed as well. “She was literally jumping for joy,” Jasmine said of her daughter’s reaction to being told they were getting a home of their own. “She’s excited about finally having a backyard.”
As for the students participating in the Construction Management Academy, they were excited about the opportunity to give back to the community while preparing for employment or advanced training in the building construction industry. The academy’s curriculum, which is a credit course for the students, outlines opportunities to learn everything from basic use of hand tools, plan reading and rough carpentry to more advanced concepts such as site preparation, estimating and knowledge of codes, regulations and sustainability issues relevant to the construction industry.
The academy’s students have had hands on involvement with everything except for plumbing, HVAC, and electrical work which must be done by licensed professionals. Even so, they were able to observe those trades being performed in a live environment and were presented with speakers and other learning opportunities to increase their knowledge of those trades.
Jasmine learned some new skills as well by helping with painting and the installation of the home’s dry wall. And, while her daughter was too young to help in the construction, they were both able to meet some of the young men helping them realize their dream. They have a great group of kids working on the house,” said Jasmine. “It’s amazing to see what these young men have accomplished.”
The mother-daughter duo gets to see those accomplishments on a near daily basis. “They’re ahead of schedule and we’re closing in April,” said Jasmine who takes Carmen to check on their new home every day after school. Jasmine also noted Carmen’s excitement at seeing all of the young kids playing in their future neighborhood. “I’m excited because now we’ll be in a new neighborhood and I can make new friends,” shared Carmen.
The partnership with The Villages Charter School has been such a success that Habitat for Humanity is already in the process of selecting a home site on which to work with the academy next year. Habitat is also extending the program into Leesburg where it plans to partner with Leesburg High School on a similar program.
As for Jasmine and Carmen, they are planning on celebrating their move with both of their birthdays in June. “We’ll be having a housewarming party with some friends and family as well,” says Jasmine. But Carmen has much bigger plans. “In June, for my birthday, I’m going to have a mermaid slumber party with all my friends and cousins!” Surely a place and time for new dreams to come true.
By David Larrick