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 out of safety and concern for our staff, customers, and donors we have shut down all our ReStores, Fleet, & Dispatch Center *Effective immediately (March 20, 2020) until further notice. We apologize for the inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and cooperation. And we look forward to reopening and serving all those in the community. 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.
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.