Hometown Habitat News

Habitat hosts its first double dedication

woman holding up brand new home keysJune 11, 2024 Courtesy of The Daily Sun. Written by Maddie Cutler, Daily Sun Senior Writer

Moving into a new neighborhood can be daunting for families, but for the Hunters and the Broughtons, the experience comes with a built-in friendship.

Ashley Hunter and her children, as well as Elexis and Rodney Broughton and their children, moved into their new homes on Monday at a Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter dedication ceremony. 

This marked the first time the Habitat affiliate hosted a double dedication with two homes at once. The houses were built simultaneously side by side, with the volunteers helping on both homes and the families making connections before the walls were even up.

To read the full story from The Daily Sun, click here.

SECO Energy Foundation $50,000 Grant Supports Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter

Three people standing in front of building home in backgroundJune 5, 2024 Courtesy of Seco Energy

The SECO Energy Foundation awarded a $50,000 grant to Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter. The SECO Energy Foundation presented the grant funds to the organization to assist with funding the Veteran’s Housing Preservation & Repair Program.

The mission of Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter is to bring people together to build homes, communities, and hope. Since 1989, Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter (HFHLS) has been the bridge to affordable and stable homeownership for families. The organization strives to provide innovative, affordable housing solutions in Lake and Sumter Counties. In 2015, the organization established the Preservation & Repair Program to address the growing need of individuals and families who owned their homes and may have lived in their homes for generations, but for various reasons, were unable to maintain the health, safety, and/or improve the accessibility of their homes for their aging or health needs.

To read the full story from SECO Energy, click here.

Publix volunteer days at Habitat

Publix Volunteer Measuring SidingMay 29, 2024 Courtesy of The Orlando Sentinel. Written by Orlando Sentinel Staff

Publix Super Markets Charities recently awarded Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter a $150,000 grant for the construction of a home in The Cottages at Heritage Grove, 1410 County Drive, Tavares, and employees from around the area will volunteer at the build from 8 a.m. to noon June 4, 6, 18 and 20.

Since 2015, Publix Super Markets Charities has been partnering with Habitat Lake-Sumter to transform affordable housing in the community. Their gift of $150,000 is an increased investment in affordable housing in Lake County and their largest award to Habitat Lake-Sumter to-date.

To read the full story from the Orlando Sentinel Staff, click here.

Women Build house is Habitat’s 300th home

Woman holding up hammer to wooden frame of homeMay 16, 2024 Courtesy of The Villages Daily Sun. Written by Maddie Cutler, Daily Sun Senior Writer

The noise of power tools combined with words of encouragement and teamwork was the soundtrack of the day during Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter’s Women Build event. Construction began May 11 at The Cottages at Heritage Grove, the first age-restricted community built by Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter.

The town of Tavares requested Habitat keep the neighborhood age-restricted, Development Coordinator Hannah Zeller said.

“The surrounding land is a 55-plus area, and when we acquired the land Tavares wanted to keep the whole area available for those 55 and older,” Zeller said. “Our goal is to service the community in the way it needs, so we were more than happy to let The Cottages be an age-restricted community.”

To read the full story from The Villages Daily Sun, click here.

VHA students build home and a future

Man holds up keys to new homeMay 4, 2024 Courtesy of The Villages Daily Sun. Written by Garrett Shiflet

Not many students can say they built a home in high school, much less two. But students from The Villages High School’s Construction Management Academy managed just that as they dedicated their second home to the Holbrook family Friday in Bushnell.

“I think we are changing these kids’ lives by giving them the opportunity for the future,” said VHS principal Rob Grant to the crowd. “Not just to be part of a class, but to be part of building a home and be a part of a tradition.”

Eight homes have been built in total by the academy over a six-year period. Each home is built in partnership with Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter. The other house was built in Wildwood and the keys were handed over to the family on April 23. The students split their time between the two homes.

To read the full story from The Villages Daily Sun, click here.

Habitat For Humanity Of Lake-Sumter Honors Youth Construction Academy Students And Dedicates 4 Brand New Homes For Future Families!

April 29, 2024 Courtesy of The South Lake Tablet

Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter in partnership with Leesburg High School, South Lake High School, and Eustis High School have built four new homes as part of a vocational education program, the Youth Construction Academy.

Habitat Lake-Sumter’s Youth Construction Academy, through the partnership of select high schools, is a vocational program designed to provide experiential learning and introduce students to the field of construction. Students graduate the program with access and opportunity for internships and employment.

Construction of each home began at the start of the Fall semester last year. The students and teachers will be included in each ceremony as we welcome home the families selected through Habitat’s Home Ownership program.

To read the full story from The South Lake Tablet, click here.

Students welcome new Habitat house owners

April 24, 2024 Courtesy of The Villages Daily Sun. Written by Garrett Shiflet, Daily Sun Staff Writer.

With tears in her eyes, Dakoata Wilcox accepted the keys to her new home in Wildwood, built by The Villages High School’s Construction Management Academy in partnership with Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter.

They were tears of happiness, as Wilcox is overjoyed to be able to settle down so close to her parents, who live in The Villages, and to VHS, where her son, Elijah, is in 11th grade.

“Thank you for everything,” she said to the crowd gathered at the home dedication ceremony on Tuesday. “You’re making our dreams come true through all of this and giving us a life that we couldn’t have dreamed, and stability and a forever home.”

To read the full story from The Villages Daily Sun, click here.

Calling for affordable housing

February 21, 2024 Courtesy of The Triangle Sun. Written by Lacie Himes, Development Director, Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter, Florida 

On Feb. 7, Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter joined forces with more than 400 representatives from Habitat’s across the Nation to champion affordable housing on Capitol Hill. 

Nationwide, housing costs are skyrocketing as more families lack access to a safe, affordable, and decent place to call home. Here in Florida, 1 in 6 households pay half or more of their income on housing. We called on Florida congressional members to act on the affordable housing crisis.

Habitat Lake-Sumter met with Rep. Daniel Webster, Rep. Mike Waltz, Rep. Kat Cammack, Sen. Rick Scott and Sen. Marco Rubio to urge action and prioritization of policies that will increase the number of affordable homes, especially for homeownership. 

To read the full story from the Triangle Sun, click here.

Journey to Homeownership: Meet new Homeowner Kim Marquad

Journal Entries courtesy of Kim Marquad, June 1st, 2024

During her time in the Habitat New Homeownership program, new homeowner Kim Marquad kept a journal. She details what it was like applying for a Habitat Home, how she fulfilled her sweat equity requirements volunteering on-site, and what owning her own home means to her.

January 31st, 2024

Our journey with Habitat for Humanity began in 2022. After graduating from UCF, I moved with my mother to Lady Lake from Orlando for my job. My mother – who always dreamed of owning a home – and I had been renting rooms since moving to America in 2015, trying to save money for college. We moved seven times due to rent increases or owners selling the homes. Finally, with our current place, we each had our own bedroom and a living space instead of sharing one room. Although it felt like we had settled in, we knew we might have to move soon. My mother, two generations older than me, was exhausted from moving around and just wanted peace of mind and a garden for her herbs and flowers. I was upset that my salary wasn’t enough to provide stability for my elderly mother. While searching for low-income housing options, I stumbled upon Habitat for Humanity.

 Our first application fell through, but Veronica, who supported us every step of the way, encouraged us to reapply the next year. With my mother’s hopes high, I reminded her not to get too hopeful as many other families needed homes. Despite this, I thanked God for our ability to sustain ourselves with a roof over our heads. Then, I got a call from Veronica saying we had been selected for a home, and I was in shock, that moment was super exciting for me and my mom.  I immediately shared the good news with my mother. We are incredibly grateful for this amazing opportunity and will do our best to pay back and pay forward for what we have been given.

 

February 16th, 2024

Saturday, February 10th,  was the day of house painting, and I was excited because I had not yet seen our future house. I arrived early and met Lacie, Danielle, and Bob, who greeted me warmly, and Bob gave me a tour of the house. Sometimes, I still can’t believe that we will finally have our own home. As more people arrived, including my mother with her two friends, I was surprised by the large crowd that came to help us, it was joyful. It was an honor to have mayors from Groveland, Mascotte, and Clermont, along with other officials, electives, and Habitat Homeowners, making it quite crowded. We stood in a circle, introducing ourselves and taking pictures together before pairing off, one with a paint bucket and roller, the other with a paintbrush. Chatting with the volunteers as we moved around the house, we gave it its new color and finished within two hours, ahead of schedule.

Thanks to Habitat for Humanity and my mum, we had snacks and beverages to nourish ourselves with, and the warm day made it even more enjoyable. We are incredibly grateful to everyone who spent time with us that day and helped us with our Sweat Equity. If you are unfamiliar with Sweat Equity, it is another term for volunteer hours. Future homeowners will participate for 200 hours which can be earned by participating in any of the events, assisting at any of the ReStore locations, working on construction sites, attending meetings with the Habitat team, and many more opportunities that is provided by the Habitat for Humanity.

 

March 24th, 2024

Today was a sod laying day for our future home! My mother and I joined a team from Habitat, the First Baptist Church of Mascotte, and a group from AmeriCorps to lay the sod, feeling thankful to the late Pastor Felix for donating the land that our house was built on, as today also honored his birthday. With the help of so many people, the hours of harmonious work flew by as everyone helped each other, getting to know one another while working. Thankfully, the weather was nice, with a cooling breeze and no rain.

Everyone worked in small groups, but in the end, we all joined together for the last section which is for finishing much faster than anticipated. My mother and I felt incredibly blessed and grateful for all the support from all the different communities, the late Pastor Felix, and Habitat for Humanity for fulfilling our dream of becoming homeowners soon.

 

April 27th, 2024

Today, I volunteered with Habitat for Humanity at Michael’s Foundation for their resource fair event. I met Dakota’s and Ashley’s family, along with Dave who managed the booth. Though I had looked up Michael’s Foundation online, I didn’t expect everything to be so big and beautiful. The sunny day, with occasional breezes, featured beautiful horses, numerous vendors, and many veterans. We provided information to quite a few people and enjoyed a lovely horse show presented by Camp McCormick. We even got to meet and greet the horses personally. The atmosphere was uplifting with music, food, and drinks.

I chatted with Dakota and Ashley, discussing their homes and recent home dedication. The resource fair offered help with housing, law, therapy, and had activities for veterans’ children like a scavenger hunt and coloring. Overall, it was a successful day for everyone!

 

May 7, 2024

We had our home dedication! Lots of people came and we felt so grateful and happy! Thank you, Danielle Stroud, CEO of Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter for the welcoming speech and introducing everyone. We are thankful for Pastor Adel Ramirez, for his prayer, and for his late father who donated the land our home was built on. Our gratitude goes to the main sponsor, White Aluminum and Siding, whose CEO, Bud Dorman, was there in person to represent! We were very much overwhelmed and touched by all the supporting representatives from Habitat for Humanity, such as Veronica Troxell, who helped us so much, Brad Weber, who is Board Vice-Chair with Habitat for Humanity, Allen Lane from Sons of the American Revolution who presented us with the flag, Marta Ramirez from College and Career Readiness of Lake County School, Altereque Baker, also from White Aluminum and former YCA student, and of course, last but not least, all the South Lake High School students who helped build our home, and everyone else from the community who attended! We are so thankful from the bottom of our hearts that you came to celebrate with us and be a part of our journey to become future homeowners!

You’re Invited!: Oxford Home Dedications

 

 

We are excited to announce that we are dedicating two new homes in partnership with New Covenant United Methodist Church and the Habitat Lake-Sumter Club of the Villages. We’d love to see you at the joint dedication ceremony to celebrate the Hunter Family and the Broughton Family! 
 
Come out and help us hand over the keys to the future homeowners!
 
To RSVP for the event, please contact Katy at katy@habitatls.org by June 9th. 
 
What: Joint Dedication for the Hunter Family and the Broughton Family
When: Monday, June 10th, 2024 @ 9:00 A.M.
Where: 10244 CR 229, Oxford, FL
RSVP: Email katy@habitatls.org by June 9th

Women Build 2024 Wrap Up

 

Women Build 2024 has come to an end, and with over $60,000 dollars raised and construction well underway on our 300th home, we’ve got some exciting updates to share!

 

Fundraising

During our Pre-Build Celebration on May 9th, we celebrated all of the incredible participants who raised funds for this year’s Women Build house.

 

Every dollar raised during Women Build has a direct and long-lasting impact on our community, and we are so appreciative for all the effort our participants put into their fundraising efforts. That being said, fundraising for Women Build is competitive, and the Habitat Lake-Sumter team had the honor of recognizing both the top individual fundraiser and the top fundraising team at the Pre-Build celebration. With $14,802 dollars raised, this year’s top fundraiser was Sara Cichielo! Sarah’s team, the “Chicks with Sticks” were also this year’s top fundraising team, with a collective fundraising total of $19,074!

 

All together, our Women Builders raised $65,157 for this year’s Women Build home. This is an incredible achievement, made all the more special because the funds are going to be used to help build Habitat Lake-Sumter’s 300th new home!

 

Volunteering

 

Our Women Builders weren’t finished when fundraising ended. From May 11th to May 24th, groups of Women Build participants were out on site starting construction. The amount of volunteers who came out for this year’s Women Build was so great that we were able to begin construction on not one, but two brand new homes in our Cottages at Heritage Grove neighborhood.

 

Over the course of the two-week build period, Women Build volunteers completed tasks such as framing, installing wall sheathing, hanging hurricane straps, and preparing the home to have their trusses set. The dedicated build period for Women Build is over now, but Women Build volunteers will continue to be invited out on site throughout the construction process to help complete the home. Women Builders will also be invited to the home’s dedication, so they can help hand over the keys to a deserving home buyer and help welcome them to their new home.

 

For many of our volunteers, their time on site was about more than just construction work. The bonds formed during this event are ones that last a lifetime, and we’re also so thrilled to welcome back past participants year after year as they continue see their impact in our community grow.

 

Thank you!

To all of our participants, volunteers, sponsors, and anyone in the Habitat family who lent a hand to Women Build 2024, thank you. Your efforts not only made this year’s event one of the best Women Build events in Habitat Lake-Sumter’s history, but you all have directly created a legacy of change that will branch far beyond this year’s home. The impact of your time with Women Build will continue to ripple out across Lake and Sumter county, and will help countless families find the strength, stability, and self-reliance they need to thrive.

 

Thank you all for a fantastic Women Build 2024. We can’t wait to see you back for Women Build 2025!

 

The 5 Benefits of Affordable Home Ownership

You’re Invited! Youth Construction Academy – Upcoming Dedications

Over $24,000 Raised during RoMac Building Supply March Match

With your help, we raised $24,208.14 for our Youth Construction Academy during our March Match. $20,000 of that total is being matched by our sponsor, RoMac Building Supply!

Because of your generosity, we are able to provide our Youth Construction Academy students with access to life-changing educational and professional development resources. Your gift has helped our students graduate ready to enter the workforce with the training and education we need to succeed in a thriving industry.

Together with Habitat Lake-Sumter and Romac Building Supply, you have done twice as much. Your donations help build safe, affordable homes and provide our students with the hands-on learning experiences they need to suceed.

With your donation, you have invested in more than just our student’s future – you invest in the future of our community.

 

 

 

Fundraising open for annual women build

April 3rd, 2024 – Courtesty of Maddie Cutler at The Villages Daily Sun 

Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter is celebrating a milestone as community members begin fundraising for the 2024 Women Build event. 

The home being constructed for the Women Build event will be Habitat’s 300th house. 

Women Build is a Habitat for Humanity initiative that encourages women to participate in the construction of affordable housing. The Women Build initiative is important to both Habitat and the community because it inspires leadership and passion, Habitat development director Lacie Himes said. 

“The sphere of influence women hold in the community is different than men, and we are trying to elevate that perspective,” Himes said. “We also want to expose women to civic construction sites, because it might not be something they have ever done before and it leaves you feeling super empowered and motivated.”

To read the full story from The Villages Daily Sun, click here. 

Live in the North Florida area? Find us in Target Circle!

 

We are honored and excited to announce that we have been chosen to participate in a special charitable giving campaign, sponsored and funded by Target. And you have the chance to help direct a portion of Target’s donation to us!

Now through June 30th, vote for us through the Target Circle program to help determine how Target’s donation will be divvied up. Find out more about Target Circle here: www.target.com/circle.

We’re asking our supporters to help us make the most of this incredible opportunity. Every vote counts to help us receive a portion of the available Target funds as we continue our mission to bring people together to build homes, communities and hope.

Don’t forget, as you earn more votes, you can keep voting multiple times during the campaign!

Thank you for your support, and we encourage you to share your support for us (and your thanks to Target) on social media throughout the duration of the voting!

Home Decorating Club gears up for showcase sale

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 29, 2024 – Courtesy of Anne Moser, The Villages Daily Sun

Laurel Manor Recreation will be packed with everything from vintage paintings to elegant vases Saturday for guests to display in their own homes. 

As one of their largest events of the year, the Home Decorating Club’s Showcase Sale brings in people from all over the community to purchase new and gently used decorations. But its purpose goes beyond that, as proceeds from the showcase will help decorate and furnish a home for Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter. 

 

“We started working with Habitat for Humanity in 2013,” said special events coordinator Diane Gilson, of the Village of Sanibel. “A lot of our funds for the project come from this showcase.” 

Double your Impact with RoMac Building Supply!

 

Hi Habitat Friends!

My name is Maria, and I’m graduating from high school this spring career-ready thanks to Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter’s Youth Construction Academy.

Today, you can partner with RoMac Building Supply to double your donation and give students like me access to life-changing educational and professional development resources through the Youth Construction Academy.

When you give, RoMac Building Supply will

match every dollar donated in March, up to $20,000!

Your gift helps my classmates and I graduate ready to enter the workforce with the training and education we need to succeed in a thriving industry.

Today, your gift

of $25 will be doubled to become $50!

And your gift of $100 will become $200!

Together with Habitat Lake-Sumter and Romac Building Supply, you can do twice as much. Your donation builds safe, affordable homes and provides hands-on education to students just like me!

Click here to give the gift of a brighter future today! 

The Road to Happiness

Pictured Here: Cheryl and David are on a roll volunteering at the Habitat Lake-Sumter Jingle Build Off 2023 creating a special playhouse for a local family. Habitat Homeowners are required to meet requirements other than a 640+ credit score and steady credit – they also perform sweat equity hours towards the purchase of their home.

To Cheryl and David, becoming Habitat Homebuyers means one thing: stability. For nearly sixteen years, the pair have been living in campers and other mobile homes: impermanent spaces that required them not only to move their living space every time threat of a big storm or other natural disaster came along, but also to climb shaky stairs in and out of their mobile home on top of having health conditions that make navigating stairs an especially hazardous task.

Cheryl and David knew that they couldn’t continue to live in that kind of environment, so they began to explore opportunities towards homeownership. Cheryl explains that the initial search was frustrating, as every property they came across was either totally unaffordable, or the condition of the home was almost unlivable.

About three years ago, however, a friend (who happened to be a Habitat Homebuyer themselves) recommended they explore Habitat’s program as a path to homeownership. Though they had to wait a while for the right project to open up, Cheryl and David couldn’t be more excited to finally be building their home. Their home is the second house being built in the Cottages at Heritage Grove, a 23-unit pocket neighborhood and Habitat Lake-Sumter’s first 55+ community. This community is intended for households just like Cheryl and David’s, who have been looking for a safe, affordable place to call their forever home.

“You know, you live in a camper for so long you, you learn to not bring stuff in.

I need something solid…I need something solid during the storms we get down here…

So, this build is very exciting.”

Cheryl and David believe their new home will provide the security, safety, and stability they’ve been searching for. They explain that to them their new space means “Peace, tranquility, quiet, [security], and fun.” Between their persistence in applying over the course of three years and the sweat equity they’ve put into their home, it’s clear that becoming Habitat Homebuyers is a point of pride for the pair.

They’re also both quick to express their gratitude towards those who have donated their time and effort into building their home. Cheryl explains that “I watched these people that come— they don’t know us— and they come, and they help put hours into our house. It’s just amazing. And I watch them in the heat, sweat…they just come out and volunteer their time. And that’s what is amazing…I can’t say enough about that. It’s just amazing that these people will donate their time to a total stranger to help them build or fix their house.”

Between their own sweat equity and the generous aid of volunteers, Cheryl and David are finally seeing their dream of homeownership come true. David explains that for himself— and he believes for many of Habitat’s volunteers and donors as well— participating in this build is about more than just changing someone else’s life: it’s about changing your own.

With the drive to go the extra mile on their journey, Cheryl and David have reached their destination with gratitude and joy.

Mending the Gap to Generational Wealth

Homeownership is a key that unlocks the doors of stability, security, and financial freedom. For families, it is an opportunity to pass down assets from generation to generation. Generational wealth can be defined as assets such as home/properties, cash, stocks and bonds, investments, etc. that can be passed down to one’s children, grandchildren, or chosen family.

For many, homeownership is the first and only introduction to generational wealth and with the current affordable housing crisis, this introduction moves further and further away. Furthermore, the lack of affordable homeownership is also widening the racial gap between minority and white homeowners. Black families embarking on their journey to homeownership continue to experience housing discrimination from banks, realtors, appraisers, etc.

A previous study conducted in 2021 showed that the homeownership rate for black homeowners was 46.4%

in comparison to 75.8% for white homeowners.

How can this be? Black Americans have less access to quality jobs and have lower wages. Black Americans are less likely to gain approval to capital for businesses, loans for home purchases, and/or home repairs. These barriers directly contribute to lower homeownership in the black community. Although the wage gap is significant across both gender and race factors, the income disparity greatly diminishes the ability of black families to increase their net worth, causing a heavy reliance on their home value.

So how do we intervene in this vicious cycle of housing inequality? Habitat for Humanity International and its affiliates, to include Habitat Lake-Sumter, have taken an intentional approach to strategize and advocate for solutions that address the inequitable access to homeownership. One strategy includes increasing community engagement through educational workshops and supportive services. By utilizing this strategy, we can expand opportunities for financial education and programs that provide tools and knowledge needed to prepare Black Americans for homeownership. This approach not only ensures access and opportunity for Habitat homeownership programs, but for other homeownership opportunities as well, while building community partnerships. Another strategy is increasing awareness and expanding our Preservation & Repair programs. Home maintenance and preservation repairs have a tremendous impact on a family’s ability to maintain their home value, retain their home assets, and transfer generational wealth.

We understand the invaluable opportunities that affordable homeownership brings to families, which includes providing generational wealth.

Having an affordable home provides the foundation for stability and financial freedom for families to set goals that can improve their family’s outlook and their future generations. Everyone deserves access to an affordable, safe, and decent home, and Habitat for Humanity is committed to doing our part to be the change in our communities.

 

 

 

Written by Geria Forrest 2024

Ready To Start Your Journey To Homeownership? (Registration Closes Feb 9)

February 7, 2024 – Courtesy of the South Lake Tablet 

Applications close soon. Register today! Habitat for Humanity /  Lake-Sumter is hosting a FREE financial education program in partnership with financial expert and educator, Jo-El Gonzalez with Seacoast Bank.

This 6-week course is designed to prepare you with the essential financial knowledge and tools you need to make your home-owning dreams a reality. To take part in this free program, save the date and be sure to apply online. Applications close February 9th, 2024.

Course subjects include Budgeting and Money Management, Savings, Fraud Protection, Credit Management, Debt Management, and Homebuying Basics, with additional information about Habitat’s Home Ownership program.

To read the full story from the South Lake Tablet, click here. 

Habitat for Humanity Club hits milestone

February 1, 2024 Courtesy of Maddie Cutler, Daily Sun Senior Writer 

Elexis Broughton always dreamed of being a homeowner, and now it’s becoming a reality. Elexis and her husband, Rodney, and their daughters will soon move into their home in Oxford, thanks to Habitat for Humanity of Lake Sumter. 

Things still feel surreal to Elexis, and she is reminded of how grateful she is when she sees the home. 

“I remember when I was applying, I was hopeful, but there’s always that chance that someone else will be chosen,” she said. “When I got the call, I was at work and I just broke out in praise and was crying.” 

Click here to read the full story from the Villages Daily Sun

 

Thank You, and Citizens First Bank Too!

There are a variety of ways that communities can work together to support the development of affordable housing. This past December, Citizens First Bank and Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter partnered to help make a difference for families in need.  Throughout the entire month during the campaign, Citizens First Bank matched every dollar that was donated to Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter by the community.

Together you helped us meet the goal of helping give the gift of safe, affordable homes to local families. Together we are transforming neighborhoods into strong, sustainable communities.

“We’re highly committed to supporting the community,” said Michelle Crawford, Citizens First Bank vice president and marketing officer. “The donation-matching doubles our impact and provides clean, safe housing for families in need.”

The evidence is clear: housing has a powerful impact on all aspects of our community’s well-being, from the economy and education, to public safety and health. The location and quality of a person’s home relate directly to schooling, job choice, access to doctors and hospitals, and overall outlook. As affordable housing continues to be an issue greatly affecting our community, we will continue working together with Citizens First Bank to make it a priority.  We are grateful for your help and the continued tireless hard work and dedication to solve the affordable housing crisis.

Together, as an incredible example of the strength of community, 153 individuals and businesses have rallied to donate $102,549.40 during this campaign.

Thank you for believing that everyone deserves a safe place to call home!

 

A Boutique Experience with The Creative Emporium

 

Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter Club of The Villages wants you to picture a community where every person and family has the chance to feel the safety and warmth of a secure home.  Adjacent to the Leesburg ReStore, The Creative Emporium is giving you the chance to realize this goal by helping support the community through the sale of handmade gifts and one-of-a-kind upcycled creations. 

Housing is more than just a roof over one’s head; it is the cornerstone of thriving communities and paves the way for brighter tomorrows. Club members realized that for many of our community’s essential workers, their wages have not kept pace with rising housing costs. Our neighbors earn a good income but still struggle to live near where they work. The Club worked towards a solution to this problem and it required an all-hands approach to open and run — the club designed and launched The Creative Emporium in Leesburg at 200 N. Lone Oak Drive in 2023.  Your purchase supports Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter Club of The Villages and their build in Oxford!

The Creative Emporium is an artisan boutique designed and created by the hardworking hands of the volunteer members of the Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter Club of The Villages.

Filled to the brim with beautiful, custom, quality and handmade products, all the proceeds from every sale are used to further the mission of Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter to provide affordable housing throughout our community.  The Creative Emporium sells products that the Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter Club of The Villages members build, repurpose, and upscale to upcycle. This club effort extends their reach and allows the community to purchase these creations to support Habitat Lake-Sumter. The Creative Emporium is committed to offering gifts that are not only beautiful and well-crafted, but also meaningful and thoughtful too. Their unique stock is never the same from one day to the next. 

We would love to have you stop by and see our beloved gift shop, known for our exceptional selection and friendly customer service, and support affordable housing in our community.

With all proceeds going towards constructing homes with Habitat Lake-Sumter in our local area, every handmade gift and repurposed piece of art supports the mission for affordable housing in Lake and Sumter counties.

We are delighted to share our carefully curated and created items with you!

 

The Creative Emporium is located at 200 N Lone Oak Drive, Leesburg, FL.

Only Open: Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays

Hours: Monday 9:30 AM–4 PM
[Tuesday Closed]
Wednesday 9:30 AM–4 PM
[Thursday Closed]
Friday 9:30 AM–4 PM
Saturday 9:30 AM–4 PM
[Sunday Closed]

Jingle Build-off: Playhouses gifted to families

Click here to check out Fox 35’s coverage of Jingle Build-Off 2023! 

Villagers help woman with access to home

January 25, 2024 Courtesy of Maddie Cutler, Daily Sun Senior Writer 

Sometimes, what would seem like the smallest of issues to most of us are serious obstacles for others. The Villagers Habitat for Humanity Club helped Linda Pellettieri so she could move around her home more easily.

The club’s Villagers Home Assist program does small construction projects and exterior repairs for community members who cannot do so themselves. Pellettieri, of the Village of Silver Lake, has multiple sclerosis and needed a ramp outside her home repaired. 

Click here to read the full story. 

Churches offer key volunteer opportunities

January 13, 2024 Courtesy of James Dinan, Daily Sun Senior Writer 

The cold weather couldn’t stop dozens of people from gathering to unveil the first partnership between New Covenant United Methodist Church’s Helping Hands ministry and Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter.

“This is the day the Lord has made for us,” said the Rev. Harold Hendren, senior pastor of New Covenant UMC. “We are so grateful to be pairing up with Habitat for Humanity on building homes for those in need, and a special blessing goes out to those volunteering to build the home.”

The home build requires plenty of volunteer hands to become reality. And in and around The Villages, houses of worship are asking their congregants to lend a hand to assist those both locally and around the world.

“It was around 20 years ago that New Covenant UMC had a vision to build homes in the community,” Hendren told those at Wednesday morning’s ribbon-cutting ceremony at the build site in Oxford. “This will be our 36th home, but our first partnered with Habitat for Humanity.”

Click here to read the full story. 

Local ministry finds new “hands” to build homes

January 9, 2024 Courtesy of James Dinan, Daily Sun Staff Writer 

Over the last 16 years, the Helping Hands ministry of New Covenant United Methodist Church in The Villages has built 35 homes for families needing help in Sumter County.

But the church’s missions and outreach director, Janine Rogers, realized that now was a good time to realign the ministry.

“Some of our volunteers are getting a little older and are not as active as they used to be,” she said. “Others have health issues. So the church thought it was time to consider partnering with someone to build homes in the community.”

Click here to read the full story. 

Tiny houses for the little ones

January 2, 2024 Courtesy of the Triangle News Leader 

Twenty-four area families now have individually decorated playhouses for their youngsters, thanks to the fifth annual Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter’s Jingle Build-Off. 

“This year, Jingle Build-Off teams created 24 individually designed playhouses gifted to children from Lake and Sumter counties. Winning by a single vote, Garney Construction was crowned with the title of ‘Playhouse Pros’ for the best playhouse for 2023,” Habitat said in a news release. 

The Dec. 2 playhouse build competition was the largest Habitat Lake-Sumter playhouse build to date, according to the agency. The playhouses were displayed in the Tavares Christmas Celebration in Town Square on the parade route and lined the pathway to Santa’s throne. 

Recipient families were selected through referrals from local schools and community members and received their family’s playhouses just in time for the holidays.

Community members were invited to vote for the playhouses online, and all proceeds from the fundraiser support affordable housing. The project raised $60,942 toward new home construction in Lake and Sumter Counties.

Click here to read the full story. 

A Timeline of Inspiration: Habitat for Humanity of Lake & Sumter Counties

December 26, 2023 Courtesy of the Live Well Foundation of South Lake

With the help of the Live Well Foundation of South Lake, Habitat for Humanity of Lake & Sumter Counties is helping fix critical home repairs for South Lake residents.

 

Toys for Tots delivers thousands of toys

December 22, 2023 Courtesy of Maddie Cutler, Daily Sun Senior Writer 

Laurie Bryant, who also helped out at the toy distribution, agrees and said she is proud to volunteer within her community.

“I get excited for distribution day, because you get to see the faces of all the families we are helping,” said Bryant, who is director of operations for Habitat for Lake and Sumter Counties. “It makes you feel really good to do something like this for the holidays.”

Bryant placed sorted bags of toys in car trunks, occasionally putting toys and stuffed animals directly in the hands of children who sat eagerly in the back seats. She said seeing their eyes light up made all the hard work worth it and then some.

To read the full story, click here. 

Creativity with compassion builds sensory-friendly wonderland for kids with special needs

December 19, 2023 Courtesy of Jed Dunstan with AdventHealth

With Christmas right around the corner, team members from AdventHealth Waterman are helping to make the holidays a bit more magical for a family with special needs through the 2023 Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter Jingle Build event.

About a dozen team members including Pediatrician, Dr. Sherryl Gordon-Spence, along with registered nurses Cameron Munoz and Heather Cedeno, who have a deep understanding of the sensory needs of autistic children, designed a built playhouse for this special family. In addition to being nurses, both Munoz and Cedeno both have children on the autism spectrum, providing them with unique insights into creating an environment tailored to these children’s specific requirements.

“Individuals on the autism spectrum view the world around them a little differently — they like tactile things and to manipulate items,” explained Cedeno. “They seek different sensory inputs like flipping light switches or stroking fabrics.”

Click here to read the full story. 

Habitat for Humanity’s Jingle Playhouse Build: MVA Upper School Students Build Playhouse for the Refuge at Jumper Creek

December 13, 2023 Courtesy of the South Lake Tablet 

On Saturday, December 2, MVA Upper School students participated in Habitat for Humanity’s annual Jingle Playhouse Build. This year, MVA students built a special playhouse that will be used by many children for years to come and will serve an important purpose for the Refuge at Jumper Creek. The Refuge at Jumper Creek provides emergency housing for homeless families and has housing dedicated specifically to veterans. They also have many families with children on site.

“This was a new experience for me and it was amazing to be a part of this Jingle Build Off,” said Kirstin Coffman, MVA’s Director of Residential Life. “The Montverde Academy students worked incredibly hard the whole time to make this playhouse the best it could be for the children that will get to play and make memories in there. What was also neat about it was the other teams that were there building and decorating their playhouses were all helpful and encouraging everyone around them. We are so grateful to Michael Pape and Associates, PA, for sponsoring our playhouse so that we could have this experience.”

To see the full story, click here. 

 

Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter delights families with 5th Jingle Build-off

December 5, 2023 Courtesy of Julie Garisto at the Leesburg Daily Commercial 

If you remember cobbling forts out of branches outside or building a secret clubhouse with your mom’s sheets and chairs inside, you can imagine how exciting the idea of a custom playhouse is to kids, especially to kids in families facing economic and life challenges.

Not only did Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter’s Jingle Build-off, its fifth annual playhouse build competition and biggest to date, drew crowds and pleasantly surprised kids to last weekend’s showcase, but local children who often go without essentials were surprised with their very own fully decked out, originally decorated, personalized and themed playhouse built and designed by locals schools, nonprofits and companies.

This year’s Jingle Build-Off showcased 24 playhouses to be gifted to kids in Lake and Sumter counties.

“We invite community members to view the playhouses and vote online at HabitatLS.org for their favorite playhouse, with all proceeds supporting affordable housing in Lake and Sumter counties,” Lacie Himes, development director of the Lake and Sumter counties chapter, said in an email last week.

To read the full story, click here. 

To see the full photo album published by the Daily Commercial, click here.

Build-off raises funds for Habitat homes

December 1, 2023 Courtesy of Maddie Cutler, Daily Sun Senior Writer

Though the houses volunteers build for the Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter Jingle Build-Off are small, the impact they have on the community is not.

The organization that builds affordable homes for people in need is hosting its fifth annual Jingle Build-Off event from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Tavares Square, where community members will reveal miniature playhouses they built for local families.

Twenty-four groups sponsored jingle houses, the most ever for the event, which also serves as a fundraiser for Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter.

“This event is near and dear to my heart — the big picture is we have fun while helping provide affordable housing in Lake and Sumter counties,” said Melanie Lemmer, development coordinator for Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter. “The funds this event raises goes to the real, family-sized homes we build in the community.”

Jingle houses are playhouses that are given to the families who move into Habitat houses. Though several groups started building their playhouses ahead of the event, some will put on finishing touches Saturday morning before builders reveal the playhouses to families starting at 11 a.m.

Click here to read the full story. 

Giving Tuesday keeps the generosity flowing

 

November 28, 2023 Courtesy of Maddie Cutler, Daily News Senior Reporter

Giving Tuesday started in 2012 as a movement to inspire people to be more charitable with their time and money. The Villages is a hot spot for volunteerism and donating, and a wide range of organizations need support from the community. Here are a few ways to donate your time, money and goods to local nonprofits, and check out the How We Give report in each Thursday edition of the Daily Sun for ways you can help all year.

3 Ways to Donate Time

Build and fix homes with Villagers Habitat for Humanity: email villagershabitat@gmail.com.

Click here to read the full story. 

 

Disney announces $1.5 million in grants to Central Florida nonprofits

October 5, 2023 Courtesy of Brittany Caldwell at WFTV.com

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Some Central Florida nonprofit organizations received a little dose of magic this week.

The Walt Disney World Resort announced Monday that it would donate $1.5 million to 19 local groups across the state.

Disney said the organizations had created positive change in the community and the state through supporting the arts, education, environmental action, workforce development, social issues and tackling other causes.

Click here to read the full story. 

Local thrift stores continue to support their community

October 5, 2023 Courtesy of Maddie Culter, Daily Sun Senior Writer

The Creative Emporium thrift store opened on Monday, bringing to life a three-year dream of Villages residents Sally Read and Kevin Tucker. 

The co-presidents of the Villagers Habitat for Humanity Club were on hand for the grand opening of the store in Leesburg that benefits Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter. It joins multiple local thrift stores that raise funds for causes such as Combat Veterans to Careers, local humane societies and UF Health The Villages Hospital Auxiliary Foundation.

To read the full story, click here. 

19 nonprofits land Disney donations. See what they do.

October 4, 2023 Courtesy of Richard Bilbao – Associate Managing Editor, Orlando Business Journal 

Walt Disney World has donated $1.5 million across 19 Florida nonprofits, including many in metro Orlando.

The theme park giant on Oct. 2 gave grants ranging from $25,000-$100,000 to groups supporting Floridians and families, including establishing strong education and workforce development programs, supporting the arts and combatting homelessness and hunger.do corporate donations matter to Orlando businesses?

Corporation donations can spearhead initiatives that lead to revenue-producing work for businesses or help resolve regional issues such as workforce training, housing and more. Resolving those issues can help improve the overall landscape of the local business community.

“Florida has been our home for more than half a century, and each organization receiving a grant is doing amazing work for our community,” said Rena Langley, senior vice president of communications and public affairs at Walt Disney World Resort. “This will help them continue making big differences and is another step forward in our long history of giving back to those around us.”

To read the full story, click here.

Change Your Life with Habitat Lake-Sumter’s FREE 6-wk Financial Education Program!

 

Reserve Your Seat: Applications open January 8th, 2024    

Space is limited, so apply as soon as possible to reserve your seat!

Join Habitat Lake-Sumter for our FREE financial education program in partnership with financial expert educator, Jo-El Gonzalez with Seacoast Bank. This 6-week course is designed to prepare you with the essential financial knowledge and tools you need to make your home-owning dreams a reality. Course subjects include Budgeting and Money Management, Savings, Fraud Protection, Credit Management, Debt Management, and Homebuying Basics, with additional information about Habitat’s Home Ownership program.

Classes will be held online from 6-7pm

  • February 15th
  • February 22nd
  • February 29th
  • March 7th
  • March 14th
  • March 21st* — *Final class will be held in person, refreshments provided 

 

All classes must be attended to receive your certificate of completion.  You can provide the certificate to Habitat staff when applying for the homeownership program so they know you would make a great top candidate for a Habitat home. If you are approved for a home within two years of taking this course, we will also credit your time spent on the course towards your required sweat equity!

Please note: Completing the course is NOT an approval for Habitat’s Homeownership program.

It is an opportunity for members of the community to learn steps you can take to achieve your goal of homeownership.

Candidates wishing to apply for the course must meet certain requirements:

  • Must either live or work in Lake or Sumter Counties
  • Must be available to attend ALL class dates and times listed
  • Must be willing to partner with Habitat Lake-Sumter and commit to the work requested for the course

Save the Date for January 8th and Submit

Your Application Here!

*Applications open January 8th, 2024. Click the link and select the Applications Open to reserve your seat for our 6-week education course

Jingle Build-Off 2023: Wrapped Up In a Bow

 

Jingle Build-Off 2023 Playhouse Pros award winning Spiderman and Friends themed playhouse built by Garney Construction

Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter’s Jingle Build-Off 2023 was a jolly success!

The fifth annual playhouse build competition, Jingle Build-Off, was held on Saturday, December 2nd and was the largest Habitat Lake-Sumter playhouse build to date.  This year, Jingle Build-Off teams created 24 individually designed playhouses gifted to children from Lake and Sumter Counties. Winning by a single vote, Garney Construction was crowned with the title of “Playhouse Pros” for the best playhouse for 2023 with their Spiderman and Friends themed playhouse.

Together, these 24 teams’ dedication to Jingle Build Off 2023 raised $60,942 towards new home construction for Lake and Sumter County!

Teams of every kind build the playhouses with us each year – corporate groups, faith congregations, youth and school groups, members of community organizations and groups of friends too. Each playhouse takes  3-4 hours to build and paint with the help of 8-10 volunteers on each team. The wood for each playhouse was pre-cut by volunteers and brought to the event site where it was built and decorated with the children’s dream themes creatively applied to the design.  This year’s competition entries were exceptional, with a beautiful tiny home, a space ship complete with control panels, a yellow schoolhouse with a ringing bell, a cafe and a coffee shop, a few imaginative mermaid and superhero themes, and even an ice cream party train! 

The playhouses were displayed in the heart of the Tavares Christmas Celebration in Town Square on the parade route and lined the pathway to Santa’s throne for the Tavares Holiday Celebration. Recipient families were selected through referrals from local schools and community members, and the families received their playhouses just in time for the holidays.

Community members were invited to view and vote for the playhouses online at www.HabitatLS.org with all of the proceeds going to support affordable housing in Lake and Sumter Counties. Online voting for Best Playhouse occurred for one week, with local employee owned GARNEY CONSTRUCTION announced as the winner of the “Playhouse Pros” title on December 12th, with 1,449 votes for their Spiderman and friends themed playhouse.  Congratulations to Garney Construction for their contributions to affordable housing in Lake and Sumter County.

This playhouse build not only provides special playhouses to 24 different families during the holiday season but raised funds towards building REAL affordable Habitat homes in Lake and Sumter Counties throughout the coming year!

Together this event encourages community engagement for affordable housing and empowers these kids to dream big when it comes to their futures!

Citizens First Bank doubling donations made to Habitat Lake-Sumter

Citizens First Bank’s Michelle Crawford, vice president and marketing officer, and Brad Weber, executive vice president and chief lending officer, have organized a donation drive for Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter.

Photo Credit: Rachel Stuart, Daily Sun

Citizens First Bank’s Michelle Crawford, vice president and marketing officer, and Brad Weber, executive vice president and chief lending officer, have organized a donation drive for Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter.
Photo Credit: Rachel Stuart, Daily Sun

      • Citizens First Bank doubling donations made to Habitat
      By ANNE MOSER, Daily Sun Staff Writer Dec 20, 2023
     

Citizens First Bank and Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter are partnering to help make a difference for families in need during the holiday season.

Throughout the month of December, Citizens First Bank will match every dollar that is donated to Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter by the community. The goal is to help give the gift of safe, affordable homes to local families.

“We’re highly committed to supporting the community in The Villages,” said Michelle Crawford, Citizens First Bank vice president and marketing officer. “The donation-matching doubles our impact and provides clean, safe housing for families in need.”

 

 

Read this story and many others in Wednesday’s edition of the Daily Sun

 

Give the Gift of Home for the Holidays!

Donate Now!

Dear Friend,

As I celebrate alongside loved ones this holiday season, I am reminded of the many triumphs this year held. Because of you, we’ve built and repaired homes for 39 families this year!

We have been hard at work to provide affordable housing for our community, but there is still so much more to do. The need is great, and we can’t do it alone.

Will you send in a special gift today to give families a safe place to call home?

For single mom, Lindsey and her son, Ben, the year has been difficult. After being forced to move because of skyrocketing rent prices, Lindsey relied on friends and family members, bouncing from house to house, so Ben could have a place to sleep.

Your gift changes that.

As a first-time homeowner, Lindsey can raise Ben with the safety and stability that comes from home, and Ben knows exactly where he will sleep tonight.

This year, we can make an even greater impact. Every donation given in December will be matched by Citizens First Bank, up to $100,000.

Just imagine, for every dollar you give, another dollar is added.

Your $25 becomes $50, your $100 becomes $200, and your $1,000 donation becomes $2,000!

This is an incredible opportunity to double your impact and help us reach more families in need. That’s why it’s so urgent that you give before December 31st.

Every day, we see the transformations of having a safe place to call home. Families gain stability, children perform better in school, and neighborhoods thrive.

 

Will you give the gift of home? Donate today!                                                                                     

Danielle Stroud   

President & CEO

                                                                                                                               

 

P.S. Donate today and Citizens First Bank will double your gift!

Last Call! Jingle Build Off!

Join Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter in building playhouses for children in your community!

A Team Building Competition

 

Ready to be a Playhouse Pro?

Contact Melanie: (352) 483-0434 x141 or Melanie@habitatLS.org

Want to volunteer? Contact Carlos: (352) 483-0434 x119 or Carlos@habitatLS.org

Helping a Veteran Find Solid Ground on the Home Front

Habitat Lake-Sumter partnered with Homes for Veterans, working together to remove barriers for one local disabled hero with major renovations to his home.

Watch his touching story here.

Donate Today to Support More Veterans Like Mr. Prescott

 

Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter is dedicated to partnering with families and the community to create simple, decent, affordable housing for families in need because we believe a decent home provides the strength, stability, and independence to create a better life. Our goal is to help create a world where everyone has a decent place to live.

Homes For Veterans fund ramps, wheelchair accessible bathrooms, ADA kitchen adaptions, elevator installations that will remove a barrier from a disabled veteran’s home so that they can live their every day life freely, as they deserve. Our mission is to provide barrier-free renovations to disabled veteran home owners at no cost to the Veterans or their families. www.homesforveterans.us 

In Honor of our Veterans

Do you know?

Veterans are 50% more likely to become homeless than non-service members due to poverty, lack of support networks, and dismal living condition in overcrowded or substandard housing (HCOA).

Today, you can help.

 Donate today to provide critical home repairs for our Veterans. Your gift goes directly to address critical health and accessibility issues, guaranteeing that Veterans can live in their homes safely, now and in the future.

Veterans like Airman First Class Sergeant Daisy Kramer who was one of the 120,000 female soldiers who contributed mightily when she joined the Air Force as a young woman during the Korean war.  She received a ramp and can now enter and exit her home safely and with ease, whether visiting friends or going to doctors appointments.

Vintage photo from Korean War: Female Veterans

Your gift of $15, $50, or $500 makes our Veterans a priority. 

Honor our Veterans this November with your gift.

Your donation to the Veterans Housing Initiative makes sure that local veterans have the safety of home. 

Because of you, we have served over 50 veterans and their families in Lake and Sumter Counties, with many more to serve.

Will you give today?

 

 

Happy Veterans Day

Thank You and Happy Veterans Day!

Habitat For Humanity Of Lake-Sumter Receives $16,000 Grant From Lowe’s To Improve Home Safety And Health Outcomes In Leesburg

 October 19, 2023, Courtesy of the South Lake Tablet 

Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter has received a $16,000 grant from Lowe’s to help complete one critical home repair project in Leesburg, Florida. With the support from Lowe’s, Habitat Lake-Sumter is supporting aging-in-place by improving the home safety and livability for seniors within our service area.

The funding support and partnership from Lowe’s ensures Habitat Lake-Sumter can continue its efforts of helping families address critical health and safety issues in their homes. As the winter months approach, critical improvements like window and roof replacements and energy improvements keep temperatures regulated in the home, while interior renovations reinforce home safety which is especially necessary for our senior homeowners.

 For Evelyn, who cares for her elderly parents, ensuring their home safety is imperative. “I’m constantly worried about falls and their safety when I’m not around. I’m thankful for Habitat and Lowe’s for easing my worries and making sure their home is safe.” says Evelyn, whose parents are recipients of this year’s Lowe’s funding.

Click here to read the full story from the South Lake Tablet. 

 

Sponsor of the Month – Lowe’s

A community impact project made possible by Lowes + Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter

Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter has received a $16,000 grant from Lowe’s to help complete one critical home repair project in Leesburg, Florida. With the support from Lowe’s, Habitat Lake-Sumter is supporting aging-in-place by improving the home safety and livability for seniors within our service area.

The funding support and partnership from Lowe’s ensures Habitat Lake-Sumter can continue its efforts of helping families address critical health and safety issues in their homes. As the winter months approach, critical improvements like window and roof replacements and energy improvements keep temperatures regulated in the home, while interior renovations reinforce the home safety which is especially necessary for our senior homeowners.

For Evelyn, who cares for her elderly parents, ensuring their home safety is imperative. “I’m constantly worried about falls and their safety when I’m not around. I’m thankful for Habitat and Lowe’s for easing my worries and making sure their home is safe.” says Evelyn, whose parents are recipients of this year’s Lowe’s funding.

“Critical repairs not only extend the life of a home, but these repairs ensure that our seniors can safely remain in the comfort of the homes as they age, while also preserving the precious memories and traditions they’ve created at home with their families”, says Lacie Himes, Habitat of Lake-Sumter Development Director. “We are grateful to Lowe’s for their support.”

Since 2003, Lowe’s and Habitat have worked together to help more than 18,000 people build or improve a place to call home. Preserving the affordable housing stock is an essential component in addressing the housing shortage. The funding from Lowe’s is part of a two-year, $6 million donation to Habitat for Humanity International to support home repair and preservation efforts in owner-occupied homes. Through this partnership, more than 75 local Habitat affiliates will complete more than 480 projects this year to address critical health and safety issues in homes across the U.S.

Thank You, LOWES!

Grand Opening of The Creative Emporium Supports Local Housing Initiatives

October 2, 2023, Courtesy of Cindy Peterson 

On Monday morning, Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter and The Villages Habitat Lake-Sumter Club celebrated the official opening of The Creative Emporium at the Leesburg ReStore, located at 200 N Lone Oak Dr.

The day commenced at 9 a.m. with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, revealing a storefront filled with a diverse range of eclectic décor and handmade gifts. These items are the product of tireless effort from The Habitat Villages Club members, showcasing their commitment not only to craftsmanship, but also to their community.

The Creative Emporium emphasizes the power of community collaboration. Every purchase made directly contributes to Habitat Lake-Sumter’s mission to build and maintain homes for families in the two counties.

The Habitat Villages Club, deeply involved in supporting this mission, has a track record of hands-on contributions, having completed their third new home build as recently as November 2022.

“All the members love their involvement with Habitat, but they could not build homes without the support of the community,” Sally Read, co-president of the club, says.

Click here to read the full story from Cindy Peterson at Lake and Sumter Style Magazine. 

DISNEY ANNOUNCES NEW $1.5 MILLION DONATION TO CAUSES MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN FLORIDA

October 2, 2023, Courtesy of Beryl Frey

Walt Disney World is creating positive change in the state of Florida by giving donations totaling $1.5 million dollars to 19 nonprofit organizations throughout Florida.

From establishing vital education and workforce development programs to supporting the arts, and combatting homelessness and hunger, Disney Grant recipients are doing outstanding work within the community.

Disney has been actively supporting various initiatives, both as a company and through the participation of its Cast Members. These initiatives involve volunteering with organizations across Florida through the Disney VoluntEARS program. In 2023, Cast Members have generously dedicated over 115,000 hours to these causes.

The recent financial injection into these organizations will undoubtedly contribute significantly to their ongoing efforts to improve the lives of numerous Florida residents and their families. Disney’s commitment to the state spans over half a century, and its dedication continues to grow. In 2023 alone, Disney has undertaken several impactful endeavors, including hosting its largest wish-granting event at Disney World, providing $125,000 in support to local school districts, initiating an affordable housing development, and expanding its environmental conservation efforts with $500,000 in grants. It’s been a year filled with exciting developments!

Click here to read the full story from Beryl Frey at World of Walt

Walt Disney World Donating $1.5 Million to 15+ Florida Nonprofits

October 2, 2023, Courtesy of Luke Manning 

Announced today, Walt Disney World is giving new donations totaling $1.5 million to 19 nonprofit organizations creating positive change in Florida.

  • Each nonprofit receiving a Disney Grant is supporting important work in the state for Floridians and their families – from establishing strong education and workforce development programs, to supporting the arts, combatting homelessness and hunger and more.
  • Walt Disney World cast members spend time personally volunteering with many of the granted organizations and others across the state through the Disney VoluntEARS program. This year, the cast have spent more than 115,000 hours giving back through the popular program.
  • This latest donation joins recent company efforts like hosting Disney World’s largest wish-granting event ever, donating $125,000 to support local school districts, creating a new affordable housing development, expanding our commitment to conservation with $500,000 in environmental grants and more.
  • Disney will continue to seek out meaningful ways to make significant impacts as it looks to the future. To read more about the resort’s latest efforts in the state, visit DisneyFlorida.com.

Click here to read the full story by Luke Manning at Laughing Place. 

Walt Disney World Gives $1.5 Million Total to 19 Florida Non-Profits

October 2, 2023, Courtesy of Shannen Ace

Walt Disney World has announced that they are donating $1.5 million total to 19 Florida non-profit organizations. 

Here is the list of Disney Grant recipients:

  • Bok Tower Gardens: Inspiring a better and more beautiful world.
  • Central Florida Community Arts: Creating an artistic family that celebrates our natural abilities.
  • Children’s Home Society of Florida: Building bridges to success for children.
  • Christian Service Center: Preventing homelessness, combating poverty, cultivating self-sufficiency and restoring hope.
  • Conductive Education Center of Orlando: Transforming the lives of children and adults with motor disabilities.
  • Conservation Florida: Protecting Florida’s water, wildlife, and wild places.
  • ELEVATE Orlando: Equipping local youth to thrive and contribute to their community.
  • Foundation for Foster Children: Creating meaningful connections for children in foster care.
  • Habitat for Humanity — Lake & Sumter Counties and Seminole County & Greater Apopka: Bringing people together to build homes, communities, and hope.
  • Hope Partnership: Providing a holistic continuum of care in order to end homelessness and poverty in Central Florida.
  • IDignity: Restoring dignity and hope by providing identification.
  • Limbitless Solutions at the University of Central Florida: Empowering confidence and increasing accessibility in the limb difference community through art-infused bionics.
  • Orlando Science Center: Inspiring science learning for life.
  • Osceola Arts: Promoting, cultivating, and fostering interest and participation in the arts.
  • Page 15: Empowering children of all abilities to discover their own voice.
  • Steinway Society of Central Florida: Stimulating and nourishing the musical knowledge and artistic talents of disadvantaged youth.
  • Volunteers for Community Impact: Ending social isolation.
  • Zebra Coalition: Supporting and inspiring LGBTQ+ youth.

Click to read the full story from Shannen Ace at WDW News Today. 

Sponsor of the Month – Wells Fargo

We are so proud to once again partner with the Wells Fargo Foundation to provide access and opportunity to safe, affordable housing in Lake and Sumter Counties. Wells Fargo shares our belief that everyone deserves a safe place to call home and annually invests time and resources in our mission to build homes, communities, and hope. 

This year, the Wells Fargo Foundation has awarded Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter a $15,000 grant to critically repair a home in Mount Dora, Florida. We are one of more than 230 Habitat for Humanity affiliates awarded grant funding nationwide through the 2023 Wells Fargo Builds program to help more low-to-moderate income families access affordable homes.

The grant, along with the support of Wells Fargo volunteers, will help repair a home for a multi-generational family in Mount Dora. Critical home repairs increase the safety and accessibility for low-income homeowners unable to maintain the health and safety of their home by themselves due to age, disability, or family circumstances.

Repairs to the family home include electrical re-wiring, roof, and windows replacement, and required building code repairs and upgrades that will allow the home to be safe and livable for an additional 15 years or more.

“As a company, we believe a quality, affordable place to call home is something everyone should have,” said Kate Wilson, Senior Vice President, Community Relations at Wells Fargo. “We’re proud to join Habitat for Humanity once again here in Lake-Sumter to help families and older adults live more affordably and remain in their homes and communities they love.”

This September, we’ll join hands with Wells Fargo team members and Habitat affiliates around the world for the Wells Fargo #WelcomeHome volunteer event. Welcome Home is an annual Wells Fargo initiative focused on engaging volunteers in activities to build and strengthen communities worldwide. From Sept. 1 through Oct. 8, Employee Impact Teams partner with philanthropic organizations focused on Wells Fargo Foundation’s funding priorities — one of which is housing affordability.

The companywide initiative is expected to draw more than 5,000 employees from all facets of the company. Volunteers will spend more than 24,000 hours working on projects and charities in their local communities. Habitat alone is coordinating Welcome Home events in more than 14 countries.

While working with Habitat Lake-Sumter’s construction and project managers on September 16th, the Wells Fargo team will be framing and raising walls during their special volunteer day in Leesburg.  Their hard work will translate into a local family taking the next steps in their journey to homeownership.

Homeownership creates long-lasting and life-changing impact on families and communities, including providing a source of wealth and asset-building, influencing health and educational outcomes, and contributing to positive community development.

Thank you, Wells Fargo for your immeasurable impact!

 

The Villages Daily Sun: The Villages Charter School Construction Academy Breaks Ground on Habitat Home

Article courtesy of The Villages Daily Sun

written by Garrett Shiflet, Daily Sun Staff Writer
September 11, 2023

Brad Weber, executive vice president and chief lending officer of Citizens First Bank, cuts the ribbon with students from The Villages High School Construction Management Academy, from left, Thatcher Clarke, Joseph Lopez, Austin Rivera, Byron Carter, Connor Blazuk, Landon Collins, Daniel Barrera, Jakyhuen Fluitt, Alex Ventura, Lance Hutt, Conner Malone, Josh Burt, Tyler DePriest, Chris Quiles-DeJesus and Haileigh Duke, for a new home currently under construction in Bushnell.
Photo Credit: Bill Mitchell, Daily Sun

 

VHS breaks ground on Habitat Home

The next generation of construction workers and forepersons are being built along with homes through the Construction Management Academy at The Villages High School.

The academy and Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter broke ground on their first homebuilding project of the 2023-24 school year on Thursday in Bushnell.

The project is sponsored once again by Citizens First Bank, along with partners like RoMac Building Supply and RoMac Distribution.

 

The Construction Management Academy is run by instructors Bruce Haberle and Cody Russell.

“This is our seventh house and I’ve seen such a change in the last few years,” Haberle said. “The kids this year are fully engaged and raring to get going.”

Haberle said the home in Bushnell is a design he has worked on before with Habitat. The plans show a three bedroom, two bathroom home that will be 1,171 square feet inside with a 206-square-foot porch.

The plans for the second house have not been announced, but it will be built in Wildwood.

Russell has taught with Haberle since October 2022 and is poised for his first full year helping the academy build homes.

“It’s amazing,” Russell said. “Watching these kids come in and start out as juniors. Some of them come in not knowing how to shovel. Watching them grow, it’s just amazing to see the progress.”

The homebuilding projects are essentially a senior capstone project for Construction Management Academy students who learn the basics and certifications needed to work on the sites during their junior year.

The academy is looking to grow even more next school year, with 40 juniors currently in the academy.

The 15 senior students who will be working on the homes this year are split up into morning and afternoon classes. The seniors work alongside contractors and learn the homebuilding process through hands-on experience.

“It feels amazing,” said Landon Collins, a senior with the academy. “I’m thankful for the opportunity with the construction academy and that we’re able to provide a house for someone who needs somewhere to live —  a safe place where they can call home, come to every night, and have a family.”

Collins hopes to continue into a technical career after high school, and what he learns in the academy will help decide his future.

“I’m excited to tackle every obstacle that comes and learn new trades,” Collins said.

The homes take the entire school year to complete. Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter will select a family from its application pool to receive an affordable loan to buy the house. Once a family has been announced, they also volunteer with Habitat, often helping with the build itself. This shows their commitment to the program and project.

At the groundbreaking, Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter President and Chief Executive Officer Danielle Stroud addressed the crowd and students.

“As you guys go throughout  the course of the year, you’re going to be learning and hopefully growing professionally,” Stroud said. “Getting a job or going to college — doing something very productive for our community when you get out. But you also know  what you have done for the family that moves into this house and the future that you have helped them to begin. So it’s a very monumental moment.”

Prior to the official ceremony, the classes already had made some progress on the home build. They soon will be putting up interior wall partitions and eventually putting roof trusses into the home.

With the seventh home under construction and an eighth on the way, VHS Principal Rob Grant was glad to offer a few words at the ceremony.

“This is kind of becoming old hat for building homes here at The Villages (High School),” Grant said. “We couldn’t do it without the support we see here in the community. And I’m hoping that our students see that and take advantage of it.”

Stroud also is thankful for the many supporters of the homebuilding projects, and said 16 homes will be completed this year through Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter.

“As many of you know, the housing market is very challenging,” Stroud said. “So the work that Habitat does is not taken lightly. But it’s also not done solo. There is absolutely no way we could do what we do and work with the families that come to us without the partnerships we have in the community.”

Three homes will be completed this year by other youth Construction Academy programs affiliated with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, which are at South Lake High School, Leesburg High School and Eustis High School. The construction academy at Wildwood Middle High School also will be working on homebuilding projects this year.

Citizens First Bank is beginning its fifth year sponsoring homebuilding projects with the Construction Management Academy, according to Brad Weber, Citizens First Bank executive vice president.

“We all know there are three pillars for a strong community,” Weber said. “The first pillar is the partnerships — everybody who is here. RoMac, the bank, the school. The second pillar is getting families into safe, clean housing. And that’s what Habitat does for us, it provides that opportunity for deserving, hard-working families. Then we have the honor to work with a great group of students.”

Working with students means a lot to Weber.

“A community that is willing to invest in their students and to build careers is why we’re here,” Weber said. “We are so proud to be a part of this with each and every one of you. The things you’re going to learn in this are going to last you your entire lifetime.”

U.S. Congressman Daniel Webster also was in attendance to congratulate the partnership and the students.

“I’m just out here to cheer you on,” Webster said to the crowd. “This team over here, it’s a great partnership with Habitat and all that goes on there. We’re not just excited about them, but also the two houses that are being built and constructed.”

The students are ready to get to work on the project.

“It feels really good that I’m able to help with this family and be a part of the homebuilding and volunteer for it. It’s just amazing,” said Lance Hutt, a senior with the academy.

At the end of the ceremony, RoMac Distribution employees gifted each student with a tool belt equipped with tools.

“We can’t thank the sponsors enough,” Russell said. “It’s just amazing to see everybody out here for these kids. It’s an amazing opportunity for them and for us to help them learn and grow as people.”

Staff writer Garrett Shiflet can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 5367, or garrett.shiflet@thevillagesmedia.com.

 
FULL ARTICLE LINK to The Villages Daily Sun

Volunteer Voices: Mary Specht

Teaching and volunteering go hand in hand, according to Mary Specht.

“We feel more fulfilled when we volunteer. Presenting your abilities to others, you will be fulfilled and it gives you a purpose when you wake up in the morning.”

With a reputation for a true heart of gold, retired school teacher Mary spent years teaching elementary, junior and senior high school students, as well as graduate students at Lake Technical College too.  In 2017, she saw a newsletter that said Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter needed people, so she reached out to Volunteer Services Manager Carlos Beron and learned of the plentiful opportunities where she could help families in need and make an impact in the community.

The match was a perfect fit and she has since been a loyal Habitat volunteer.

Other than her love for dogs, cats and music, Mary has also loved continuously engaging in a range of volunteer opportunities for various organizations in the neighborhood. Her love has even reached globally by sewing clothing for people in developing nations.

Her devotion to all she does has certainly been an inspiration and a source of encouragement to others, her contributions making a significant impact on many lives. Mary believes anyone can volunteer and brighten someone’s life as long as you are “willing to spend time and commit yourself to what needs to be done.”

At the Habitat Lake-Sumter Eustis office, Mary volunteers weekly entering data

Mary likes that she is able to help with administrative work.  When asked what her favorite memory working in Habitat’s office, she states with the sweetest smile, “when I finish each week’s work…..I enjoy being able to help people, meet new people and, of course, spend time doing good work in the community,” says Mary.

“It’s a good opportunity to enjoy life.”

Mary identifies with all of the core values the Habitat Lake-Sumter exemplifies, and suggests that,

“We feel more fulfilled when we volunteer. Presenting your abilities to others, you will be fulfilled

and it gives you a purpose when you wake up in the morning.”

The diverse number of volunteer opportunities offered at Habitat Lake-Sumter keeps our volunteers fresh and excited for the next project. According to Mary, the number of ways people can get involved makes each and every volunteer opportunity feel special and she encourages others to get involved to join in on the feel-good fun.

If you have decided to pay it forward, whatever your reason, volunteering your time can be a personally fulfilling experience.  For those interested in helping out at Habitat Lake-Sumter, please reach out directly to our Volunteer Services Manager, Carlos, at 352-483-0434 EXT 119 

Welcome Home, Sankey Family!

Latoya Sankey is about to finally make her “last move” as she likes to call it, and it’s her biggest – into the role of homeowner!

 

Like many families, Latoya and her two children, Skyla and Mason have been moving from rental house to rental house. Through her renting experience, similar issues kept occurring, either the rental home prices increased, or the house was being sold out from under her and her family. Latoya will no longer have to endure rental price increases or need to worry about a rental being sold. They are overjoyed to finally have a forever home.

Welcome Home, Sankey Family!

Latoya’s career is focused on helping seniors with low budgets find a place to live. Through her hunt for housing for someone else, she learned about the housing program and her partnership towards homeownership began leading to her future home.

After completing the application process successfully and completing the qualifications, Latoya is looking forward to moving into her new 3bdrm/2ba home built in Mascotte.  Even with all the excitement, her awaited move-in is not without hard work and giving back. To complete her 200 hours of sweat equity, Latoya has been hands-on building her home and others. She has also volunteered at the local ReStore, and helped host community events for other programs.

As she nears moving into her new home, she is already planning her first get together.  Her favorite part of her new home is the open kitchen. She is excited to cook while being able to interact with her guests.

Of all the exciting things to come, Latoya and her children are most happy to say the home is theirs.  

 

ReStore Newsletter Retires!

Thank you for your support of the Habitat Lake-Sumter ReStores and for following along over the past year.

As of September 2023, we will be retiring our ReStore Newsletter, but you can stay up-to-date with all of the great things happening in our community!

Please stay in touch by subscribing to Habitat Highlights, our monthly newsletter that shares family stories and impact, community events, ReStore sales, and much more! 

Click here to Subscribe to – Habitat Highlights –

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Habitat for Humanity Seeking Families for Playhouses!

Click here to see the full story from Mark Roberts and AkersMedia

Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter to Team Up with Local Schools for Construction of 5 Homes

SUMTER COUNTY, Fla. — Students from schools in Lake and Sumter counties are teaming up to help Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter to build five homes this school year.

Throughout the school year, September through May, students from The Villages Charter School, Leesburg High School, South Lake High School, and Eustis High School will help construct the homes as part of Habitat’s Youth Construction Academy.

Officials said new classes of students will spend time during the school week working side-by-side with Habitat’s construction staff and professional tradesmen on the projects.

In May, the students and teachers will be included in a dedication ceremony to hand the house keys over to a family in need that has completed Habitat’s Home Ownership program.

The new homes will be located in Bushnell, Leesburg, Mascotte, and Tavares.

Click here to read the full story from Sarah Wilson for WFTV.com

National Day honors work of nonprofits

Mike Graham, left, of the Village of Largo, and Doug Burns, of the Village of Dunedin, and members of The Villages Habitat for Humanity Club cut siding as they help with construction of a Fruitland Park home.
Bill Mitchell, Daily Sun

National Nonprofit Day puts a spotlight on generosity each year on Aug. 17.

Local nonprofit organizations such as The Villages Habitat for Humanity Club, Friends of SoZo Kids, Angel Wigs of Hope, The Villages Woodworkers and many more give back in big ways to lend a hand to those who need it. 

“We have a lot of people who want to help,” said Sally Read, co-president of The Villages Habitat for Humanity Club. “When we are not building a house for the Habitat for Humanity aspect of our group, we’re at someone’s house trimming bushes and tree limbs, weeding and doing those harder tasks that they can’t do.”

These groups and groups across the state are working to keep up with demand. The 2022 Florida Nonprofits Survey, the most recent from the Florida Nonprofit Alliance, showed 45% of nonprofits surveyed served more clients in 2022 than in 2021. 

Click here to read the full story from Maddie Cutler, Daily Sun Senior Writer 

Building Memories and Impacting Lives with Habitat for Humanity

CLERMONT, Fla. – Ten Montverde Academy Upper School students volunteered for the Habitat for Humanity Youth Impact Build that took place from 8 am to 12 noon on Thursday, July 27, 2023. They painted the home of a family located in Clermont.

The site managers, two long-time Habitat volunteers, began with a safety lesson of project rules outlined by the Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA requires that volunteers must be age 18 or older in order to step higher than the second step on the ladder. The students also learned to check that the ladder is secure when working on uneven surfaces and procedures for flushing out their eyes with water if paint splatters into their face. After reviewing the safety rules, students were divided into groups of 3-4 to begin the exterior painting.  

Barry Steward, a retired chemical engineer who enjoyed a 46-year career in the industry, was one of the site managers. Bill Krug, former Professor of Leadership at Purdue University, retired 21-year navy commander, and forestry major, was also a site manager who has volunteered with Habitat for over 10 years.

Click here to read the full story from Margaret Price for the South Lake Tablet

Habitat for Humanity Receives Grant for More Housing

Mount Dora, FL (August 9, 2023) –The Wells Fargo Foundation has awarded $15,000 in grants to Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, FL to critically repair one home in Mount Dora, Florida. Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter is one of more than 230 Habitat for Humanity affiliates awarded grant funding nationwide through the 2023 Wells Fargo Builds program to help more low-to-moderate income families access affordable homes.

The grant to Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter along with the support of Wells Fargo volunteers will help repair a home for a multi-generational family, The Peak’s. Critical home repairs increase the safety and accessibility for low-income homeowners who are unable to maintain the health and safety of their home by themselves due to age, disability, or family circumstances.

“As a company, we believe a quality, affordable place to call home is something everyone should have,” said Kate Wilson, Senior Vice President, Community Relations at Wells Fargo. “We’re proud to join Habitat for Humanity once again here in Lake-Sumter to help families and older adults live more affordably and remain in their homes and communities they love.”

Repairs to the Peak family home include electrical re-wiring, roof, and windows replacement, and required building code repairs and upgrades that will allow the home to be safe and livable for an additional 15 years or more. Wells Fargo volunteers will join Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter to help the Peak family in Fall 2023.

This funding is part of a $7.5 million donation to Habitat for Humanity International through the 2023 Wells Fargo Builds program to build and repair more than 350 affordable homes nationwide.

Click here to read the full article from Kyle Coppola at Lake and Style Magazine 

 

 

 

2023 Playhouse Applications Now Open!

jingle build-off playhouses from 2022

Making children’s dreams come true, family applications are now open for Jingle Build Off 2023!

5 years ago, Habitat Lake-Sumter started something that has grown into a yearly tradition that many local businesses participate in, and families wait all year for this application to be open… the time is now!!!

Jingle Build-Off Family Application 2023  <<<< Apply Now for a chance to receive a special playhouse for your family! 

The Jingle Build-Off playhouse is a gift intended to alleviate the stress and cost burden that many families face during the holiday season.

They are designed to be a stepping-stone to teach young children the pride and joy of homeownership by giving them a space of their own.

If you or someone you know would benefit from a special gift of this kind, please submit your application to Melanie@habitatLS.org before September 9th, 2023.

Last year more than 100 volunteers participated in the construction and decoration of 13 individually themed playhouses that were gifted to local families.

Get Involved!

Does your business wish to build a playhouse and compete to win bragging rights for this year’s Best Playhouse?!

Ready to be a Playhouse Pro? Contact Melanie: (352) 483-0434 x141 or melanie@habitatLS.org to make magic happen with Jingle Build Off 2023! 

Want to volunteer? Contact Carlos: (352) 483-0434 x119 or Carlos@habitatLS.org


Ready to build? Register your team today!

Be the Jingle Build-Off Event Sponsor!

After completing paperwork email it to melanie@HabitatLS.org


Want to receive a playhouse?

Click here to fill Out an Application and Submit to:

melanie@HabitatLS.org


Check out our First Annual Jingle Build-Off Competition from 2019

Check out our Second Annual Jingle Build-Off Competition from 2020

Check out our Third Annual Jingle Build-Off Competition from 2021

Check out our Fourth Annual Jingle Build-Off Competition from 2022

Staff Spotlight – Carlos Beron

staff spotlight 2023 carlos

Meet Habitat Lake-Sumter’s Volunteer Services Manager

In 2008, Carlos started his service to Habitat for Humanity in the Miami-Dade area. Eight years later, he joined Habitat Lake-Sumter overseeing volunteers for various projects and events. Volunteers are the heart and soul of what Habitat does, they are the essential framework for the impact we are able to make every day within the community. Retaining people, talent, and knowledge is a key goal that Carlos strives to achieve in his role as Volunteer Services Manager.

Carlos’ favorite part of his job is meeting and organizing all the volunteers that come out to the homes we are building. Multiple groups of students have participated in Collegiate Challenge, or alternative school breaks over the years, coming from all over the country to stay in Habitat Lake-Sumter’s Domestic Global Village while they are here to help. Carlos likes to organize and facilitate these groups. He takes the time to get to know the volunteers individually, offering suggestions of local eateries and activities they may do on their down time, all the while making them comfortable during their stay.

Of Habitat Lake-Sumter’s 5 Core Values, Carlos identifies most with Trustworthy; We are committed to honesty and transparency. We aim to what’s right, even when no one is looking.

“We aim to do what is right for the volunteers and the community.  Neighbors and partners see what we do at Habitat, whether they see the employees, or the volunteers working hard, and they appreciate what they do, and the families we partner with are appreciative of whatever Habitat can do for them. This feels good every way you look at it.”

~ Carlos

The most challenging part of Carlos’ job is assigning tasks according to what the construction crews require and what the volunteers would like to work on during their time volunteering. It is his job to create a stress-free zone for our volunteers, who inevitably experience stress in their day-to-day lives. An easy way for Carlos to avoid stress for volunteers is to ensure that tasks and roles are clearly defined. This starts with an introduction between the volunteers and the crews they are working with. Carlos also checks in with our volunteers occasionally, ensuring that they are happy with their position and addressing any concerns or schedule challenges they may have.

When he is not working, Carlos collects vintage toys to resell. He sources his collectibles from flea markets, garage sales, and other collectors too.

Carlos’ has advice for anyone interested in volunteering with Habitat Lake-Sumter,

“If anybody would like to volunteer, email or call me.

Everybody is welcome, even if you don’t know anything about construction.”

~ Carlos

Did You Know? Annually, Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter hosts around 800 volunteers who invest more than 38,00 hours in building homes, community, and hope.

 

*HFHLS 5 Core Values are: Trustworthy; Intentional; United; Just; Driven

Sponsor of the Month: LGI Homes

lgi homes sponsor of the month july 2023

When you look at the LGI HOMES list of core values you’ll see that they are in alignment with the values that Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter operates with: Integrity; Ethical behavior; and Loyalty, to name a few.

Our Sponsor of the Month sits down to share why they’ve partnered with Habitat Lake-Sumter and why it matters for businesses to get involved in the community.

What is your name, and your role with LGI Homes?

John Gammon, Project Manager

What impact did LGI make partnering with Habitat Lake-Sumter for a team build day?

It was a great day overall for the entire team. They got out of the office, and it was a different experience for the Sales team to get to see the construction, and be hands on for the day. Meeting the homeowner we were building for really put it into a special perspective for the team too. LGI Homes has been giving back to the community we serve since 2016, with our LGI Giving initiative.

Tell us a little about LGI Giving Initiative, and your team’s volunteer experience.

The mission of LGI Giving is to support the community financially and through volunteerism, we want to empower our employees to make an impact. With the Office Manager and office teams participating in this build day, it let them experience the construction side of it to show their dedication to giving back. They really put in the hard physical work on the construction site.

How does Habitat Lake-Sumter’s mission align with LGI Homes mission?

Since LGI started building homes in 2003 our mission has been in alignment with Habitat’s goals of making dreams come true by fulfilling first time homebuyer’s dreams.

What other efforts does LGI make to give back to the community?

LGI Homes hosts a Service Impact Day every June, we close all of the offices nationwide for one day and dedicate it to giving back. Every LGI employee spends the day giving back dollars and hours volunteering in the local community. As a collective effort the sales manager and office manager chose to dedicate this year’s Service Impact Day to Habitat Lake-Sumter, and then the team really came through.

What do you think about the house they are building in the first 55+ age-qualified community?

Building alongside the homeowner showed their team that we are meeting the needs of the people who really deserve it. Plus, it gave that feeling of helping your mom or grandma in a big way.

We were happy to see that the construction manager on site was not cutting any corners, and gave clear instruction to us, so we could see that the quality of work going into the home is significant and that meant a lot to see the care being put into the construction of the home.

John Gammon, LGI Homes Project ManagerLGI Project Manager John Gammon
oversees the sales for Lake and Polk Counties
Congratulations, LGI HOMES for being our July 2023 Sponsor of the Month!

Volunteer Spotlight – Angeline’s Journey

angelines volunteer photos 2023

Volunteer Spotlight

Habitat Lake-Sumter is blessed with volunteers and interns that travel from all over the globe to dedicate their service to community with our organization on “volunteer vacations,” with some internships lasting from one week to a month or more. 

“It is encouraging that so many humanitarian-minded people choose to invest short periods of time living and working with us developing communities

in Lake and Sumter counties.” 

~ Danielle Stroud, CEO 

Our most recent construction intern is 23 year old college student, Angeline Collet, from France. After passing a scientific baccalaureate and a 2 year technical degree in civil construction and green building at Egletons, she embarked on a 3 year general engineering degree specializing in housing design and energy systems. In Bordeaux, France, Angeline is employed at a company where she works in a design office specializing in HVAC, thermal and environmental engineering. 

With both the desire to continue her studies and to take part in real projects, Angeline chose the apprenticeship route and traveled to Eustis, FL for her construction internship with Habitat Lake-Sumter. Many French engineering schools require that you spend time abroad to graduate. A friend had recommended Habitat Lake-Sumter to her and the connections fell into place.  

While in Florida Angeline worked on construction projects during the week and on the weekends she explored the Sunshine State. She went hiking, taking lots of photos at the springs and parks; experienced the Kennedy Space Center, where she was lucky to see a rocket take off. She toured the state with stops in Saint Augustine, Daytona Beach, Cedar Key, and Miami. She tried BBQ and seafood too. She was delighted to go snorkeling in Key West, where she saw dolphins, and even took an airboat tour of the Everglades. At the end of her stay, she went to EPCOT with the a few of the Habitat staff, where she said “Paris” was a good copy of the real city in France.  

While working on various Habitat sites, Angeline was exposed to the practical experience of all of the physical daily activities on a construction site. While she was on-site with Habitat builders, she received training in labor tasks and developed her technical vocabulary in English. For Angeline, “Home” is more than a shelter from the weather and source of protection – it is a personal refuge – a “cocoon” that, she says, “we design to our taste, to our image, where we feel safe, at peace, with the members who are close to us.”

Gaining new skills and knowledge is helpful as she advances her expertise towards her career goals, volunteering to build and repair Habitat-partnered homes has been meaningful to Angeline. Her internship carried on throughout various projects. Most notably, the Women Build project, where Angeline was inspired daily working alongside 62 women on 13 teams to build a home.  

“Every woman has the power to change the world, and I’m convinced of it! I advise everyone to experience this adventure,

and even more so as a woman with the Women Build program at Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter!” 

~ Angeline Collet 

With her positive attitude, Angeline reminds us to never doubt how significant you can be helping with community-based projects. 

We wish her all the best for her future! 

Gender diversity in the construction industry is shockingly poor. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2022 approximately 14% of construction workers in the entire workforce were female, but even this figure includes many who work behind a desk, often in design, management or secretarial roles. 

Women make up half our population, and students like Angeline are stepping up to fulfill her potential and thrive with the fundamental knowledge to succeed. Way to go, Angeline! 

 

 

Meet the Watson Family

watson family 2023

Though we may not always realize it, life’s limitations can sometimes inspire us to strive for heights we may not have reached otherwise.  Ashton Watson is teaching her two children by example, that to be successful you have overcome obstacles to reach your goals in life.

Born in Lake County, Ashton’s road to homeownership has been a goal that she worked hard to achieve.  The family has spent time in a tiny home, lived in a small apartment together, and most recently have been living with Ashton’s mother in Groveland.  Everyone is happy to finally have their own space.  Her two children, Bryson and Kensley, are very happy to finally have their own bedrooms.

“I am excited. Over the moon! I am so thankful and hopeful about finally becoming a homeowner.

Being able to provide a safe space, a place for my kids to finally be able to call home is all I have wanted.”

~ Ashton Watson, Homeowner

Ashton qualified for our homeownership program after going through the application process two separate times with the help of Program Director, Veronica Troxell. When she didn’t qualify the first time she applied for a Habitat home, Ashton didn’t give up. She made the changes needed to qualify and reapplied during another application cycle.  Ashton, like all Habitat Homeowners, invested in the outcome of her new home every step of the way, and participated in her Sweat Equity throughout the process.

“Each homeowner has different needs when they enter the program, so we work with them to offer the specialized support they need in order to participate and become a successful homeowner.”

~ Veronica Troxell, Programs Director

The homeowners earn sweat equity through activities such as volunteering on a worksite or in the office, by attending educational courses such as a First Time Homebuyer, Financial Literacy, or Credit Counseling classes, and many other opportunities for them to get involved. She has participated in different events during this process including Women Build, a veteran’s focused event, and helping place American flags out for the commemoration of Memorial Day.

Ashton wasn’t the only one invested in this process… Habitat homeowners build their homes alongside community partners. For Ashton’s home, Habitat Lake-Sumter partnered with First National Bank of Mount Dora as lead house sponsor to provide the financial investment to build the home, and the students from Eustis Construction Academy at Eustis High School.  The students put the finishing touches on the home before the end of the school year. Some of Ashton’s favorite features of the home are the big blue front door, the spacious backyard and having a bedroom for everyone.

President and CEO of First National Bank of Mount Dora, Bob White, had the privilege to hand over the keys to the Watson Family on May 1st, 2023 during the Home Dedication Ceremony celebrating the completion of the home and the end of the school year for the Eustis Construction Academy students. Established in 1925, First National Bank of Mount Dora has been part of Lake County for nearly a century, helping the area grow and prosper.

It all came together.

Ashton thought owning a home was impossible, but for her family, the impossible became possible!

She is looking forward to the new memories she and her children will make there – their new home has made all the difference in her family’s life.

Habitat for Humanity helps Eustis mom become 1st time homeowner

publix super markets charities with black family 2023

Katy Black , her 17-year-old Chase moved into 3-bed, 2-bath home

EUSTIS, Fla. – For the second time in less than a week, Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter is welcoming a family to their future home.

Katy Black and her 17-year-old son Chase were presented with the keys to their new home in Eustis on Thursday.

“To have my own stove again is going to be great and then the closet is going to be even more wonderful because it’s so huge and I have a place to put my things,” Black said.

The three-bed, two-bath house is going to be a big change for the single mother, who currently lives about an hour away in Silver Springs.

“Here, it’s going to open a lot of doors,” Black said. “I’m closer to work. (Chase) will be able to get a job. We’ll be able to do more things.”

Last year, Habitat of Humanity selected Black to build an affordable home with Publix Supermarkets Charities as the signature sponsor.

Black said she faced difficulties in repairing her credit during the application process but is grateful for the opportunity to become a first-time homeowner.

“Just to see the support that I do have, it’s really great because I don’t always see it,” Black said.

While construction has been completed, final touches still need to be made at the home and Black expects to move in by the end of July.

Habitat for Humanity dedicated another home in Eustis Friday in partnership with RoMac Building Supply.

Click here to view the video from News 6 WKMG/ClickOrlando, Mark Lehman, reporter

Habitat for Humanity looks to the future

 
Yvonne Mooney, of the Village of Duval and a member of the Villagers Habitat for Humanity Club, carries a piece of siding as she helps with construction of a home in Fruitland Park. Staff with Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter are reviewing hundreds of applications and choosing the next families who will receive new homes. Bill Mitchell, Daily Sun

Yvonne Mooney, of the Village of Duval and a member of the Villagers Habitat for Humanity Club, carries a piece of siding as she helps with construction of a home in Fruitland Park. Staff with Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter are reviewing hundreds of applications and choosing the next families who will receive new homes.
Bill Mitchell, Daily Sun

Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter is gearing up to build its next seven homes. 

The organization closed its application period this week after receiving more than 200 applicants for its next seven homes, which will be built in Leesburg, Lady Lake, Mascotte and Coleman. 

The number of families who applied for affordable housing help was a slight increase from past cycles,  said Lacie Himes, development director with Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter.

“It feels great to know we are reaching the people in need, but it’s bittersweet to not get to everyone at once,” she said. 

The next step is to evaluate each application and and choose which families will be accepted, a pime.

“Things like family size, their location and median income are all considered,” Himes said. “So are things like credit.”

Some families are close to meeting the requirements, but need extra help before being eligible.

Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter hosts free financial literacy programs to help families learn tools like budgeting and credit counseling.

“I had a homeowner recently close on a home who had previously applied two times and didn’t qualify,” Himes said. “It felt so good to see her grow and get to where she wanted and needed to be.”

Himes said families also need to know how to be good homeowners and how to properly budget for home expenses, and Habitat offers the training even after people are placed, if needed.

Other factors, like where a family is located, can determine whether they make it through the process.

If a family is located in Lady Lake and can’t or does not want to relocate to somewhere a house is being built, they might not get a house in that “cycle,” Himes said. 

Giving Stability to Gail

 summer appeal header 2023

This is Gail.

Gail is a lifelong Sumter County resident who works hard at her part-time position at a local grocery store. At 71 years old, she is proud to have lived in the same beloved home for over 40 years. Sadly, Gail became a widow two years ago and found herself unable to manage the major repairs that her home requires.

Gail’s journey with Habitat Lake-Sumter began with our Preservation and Repair Program. We partner with very low-income and fixed-income families like Gail, who own their home but due to age, health, or life-circumstances are unable to maintain the safety of their home.

Gail’s story offers a window into the life of many older adults who are struggling to maintain their homes, but together, we can stand in the gap to ensure every family in Lake and Sumter Counties has a safe place to live. 

The feeling of safety and security that a decent home brings is priceless.

Your gift of $25, $50, or $250 gives safety and stability!summer appeal before and after roof 2023

Donate Now!

With your help, Gail’s roof will be replaced, and her bathroom made accessible. Gail is no longer burdened by the financial and physical stress of repairs and can now safely age-in-place in the comfort of her own home.

We saved 50 homes from ruin this year through our Preservation and Repair Program. Together, we can continue to make lasting impacts on families in need. Since 1989, Habitat Lake-Sumter has been able to make great strides in our local area, but there is still much work to be done.

Will you donate today?

With gratitude,

Danielle Stroud signature

Danielle Stroud
CEO and President
hfhls logo in black

                                                  

P.S. Give $100 today and change Gail’s life!

Women Build Progress Report!

women build participating teams on site 2023

Women Build 2023

13 teams and 62 women came together throughout May to begin constructing the very first 2 bedroom/1 bath cottage-style home in The Cottages at Heritage Grove. The new community is a 23-unit pocket-neighborhood specifically designed to meet the needs of Lake County residents on a fixed income, retired, or who are looking to maintain affordable housing as senior citizens.

The teams volunteered their time at the site all month, working Monday through Saturday on the site.

“I am so excited to work with the teams of women building my home! What a great feeling!”

~ Beth, Senior Homeowner

At the end of the very first day, the exterior walls were up. Day by day, the home has been coming together. So quickly, that by the time the final team met on May 20th, the roof was being staged to be next on the agenda.

Building the first 55+ age-restricted community in Tavares is going to change the lives of 23 families that we are excited to partner with, serving a need in our community and building it stronger.”

~ Danielle Stroud, CEO of Habitat Lake-Sumter

Upon completion of the home, Habitat Lake-Sumter will host a Dedication ceremony to dedicate the home and hand over the keys to it’s new owner, Beth Dyhr.

The opportunity to own an affordable home can remove barriers that might have been part of a family’s life for years, if not generations. Thanks to Women Build, we can offer that opportunity for a family who needs it most.

If you would like to get involved and to learn more, please contact Melanie at 352-483-0434 EXT 141.

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Sponsor of the Month: Publix Super Markets Charities

Black Family Dedication with Publix Super Markets Charities Header 2023

For single mother Katy Black, Publix Super Markets Charities has helped radically changed the life of her family.  Publix Super Markets Charities awarded Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter a $50,000 grant in 2023, as signature sponsor of her new home that was constructed in Eustis, FL. Annually, Publix Super Markets Charities has been contributing $35,000 since 2015. Their gift of $50,000 is an increased investment in affordable housing in Lake County and their largest award to Habitat Lake-Sumter to-date.

By being the lead house sponsor, Publix Super Markets Charities provided single-mom, Katy and her son Chase, a decent and affordable place to live. Katy, a first-time homeowner never thought this could be a reality for her and her son, but Publix helped fulfill her dream of homeownership. Katy will now live closer to work, which will lessen her travel expenses significantly. Owning an affordable home will provide Katy and her son the financial freedom they need to improve their future outlook.

“When I found out that owning a home wasn’t out of my reach, that it was obtainable for me at that point after working on and fixing my credit, I could see that I am going to be able to move my kids to a place that is safe and stable.”

           -Katy Black, Homeowner

This home sponsorship has also served as a visual representation of the high-level commitment that Publix has to supporting the community and families. Katy and Chase, along with volunteers from the community, youth groups, and local Publix stores, have put in many hours of sweat equity building their home. To date, there has been 122 volunteers and 2,244 hours spent building this family’s home, including two days of volunteer support from local Publix team members. The home is now completed and Habitat Lake-Sumter invites you to celebrate as Publix helps hand over the keys to the new homeowner.

Katy and Chase are so grateful and excited to embark on this new journey as homeowners.

“Finally, we have something to look forward to and before we know it, we are going to have a safe place to live and call HOME.  This whole journey will all be worth it in the end, and I can’t wait to pull the moving truck into the driveway of our new home.”

-Katy

Our partnership with Publix Super Markets Charities and volunteers, makes it possible to provide local partner families access, opportunity, and guidance on attaining an affordable home. It has been a great example of what it means to be a changemaker, paying it forward and giving back into your communities.

Media and public are invited to join us on Thursday, June 29th at 9AM for the Black Family Home Dedication Ceremony.

For location and details, please contact Melanie at 352-483-0434 EXT 141

 

Mike Welch Legacy Build – In Honor of Mike

alston family dedication and mike welch legacy celebration 2023

In partnership with volunteers from across the country, Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter is dedicating the home built during their first ‘blitz build’. The Mike Welch Legacy Build completed building the home from the foundation up in only four weeks, between February 27th and March 25th, 2023.

The build was sponsored by family and friends of Mike Welch. Mike spent a significant amount of time as Construction Manager with the Habitat Lake-Sumter affiliate prior to working for Habitat for Humanity International as the US. Director of Long-term Disaster Recovery.

In Mike’s memory and to honor his life, this Habitat home was constructed for Dionna Alston. This local family was in need of decent, affordable housing. Dionna and her sons, Travon and Dashi, had lived in the same apartment complex since 2013. As a single mother and grandmother, Dionna was accustomed to being solely responsible for meeting the needs of her family.

“I always prayed that one day I could stop renting and obtain my own home. Renting has become more and more expensive throughout the years, and it has not always been the best experience. It was time to step out on faith to reach my goal of home ownership.”

~ Dionna, Homeowner

This Legacy Build, with the partnership of every person involved, helped Dionna’s family realize every bit of her growth and the hard work she put in to build her credit, was beyond her imagination.  

“It is never too late to realize your dreams. Thanks to Habitat for Humanity and all of the people who came together to build our home for helping me to realize mine for me and my family.”

~ Dionna

Mike’s memory will live on in advocacy and Habitat’s mission – building strength, stability, and self-reliance through shelter.

“We are privileged to celebrate the spirit of a great community investor, Mike Welch. Building alongside his friends, family, and top-brass members of Habitat for Humanity to commemorate Mike’s lasting influence and to build a home for a deserving family has been memorable,” says Danielle Stroud, CEO and President of Habitat Lake-Sumter.

A Legacy Build not only honors your loved ones but impacts generations, to learn more about Legacy Builds, contact Lacie at (352) 396-6763 or Lacie@HabitatLS.org 

Leesburg students and NAACP work together to beautify, restore building

leesburg high school youth construction academy students 2023

LEESBURG, Fla. — Students and volunteers helped spruce up a building in Lake County this week.

Leesburg High School Construction Academy students worked on a community service beautification project with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

The project restored the Tri-City NAACP in Leesburg, which was built in 1978.

Students and volunteers pressure-washed the building, sidewalks, and entry signs.

They wrapped the iron porch columns with wood, put crack filler on the walls, and framed out a stone marker embedded in one of the exterior walls.

Teams added a touch of color by painting the building with blue and yellow, the NAACP logo’s color.

Many of the students participating in the project hope to be part of next year’s Habitat team, which partners with Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter to build a house for a local family.

In Loving Memory: Dorothy Wallace

in loving memory of dorothy wallace 2023

We are saddened to share that our dear friend, Dorothy Jean Wallace entered eternity on April 22nd, 2023. We were first introduced to Dorothy when she became a homebuyer with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, Florida in 2016 and she has been a part of our family ever since.

After receiving the keys to her home, Dorothy was often a familiar presence at our office, volunteering throughout the week, donating to support other families in our community, and showing up with baked goods in hand, simply to say ‘hello.’ We will carry many fond memories of Dorothy forward and hope to share them with you.

Dorothy Wallace was not only a Habitat homeowner but a valued volunteer and friend to many in the Habitat family.  Upon closing her home, she was most excited to start her garden – veggies, flowers, all the delicious things bees loved.  She liked spending time on her back porch, but she was also so excited to begin volunteering with Habitat because she believed in offering others a helping hand as they had so kindly done to her.  More often than not, when she came to the office, she would bring home-baked treats for the staff and loved to make her sweet-spiced nuts, she would share the “nuts are heart healthy” so everyone should enjoy them.  Every day when she arrived, she had a smile on her face, words of wisdom and joy, and was ready to pray for anyone that needed it at a moment’s notice.– Danielle Stroud, President and CEO, Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter

Quite a few years back Dorothy asked to meet with me, and she was not like many others who seek after Habitat’s help for housing.  She was one who took ownership of her housing needs.  When we met, she quickly presented me with a Commitment Letter from HUD stating that she had (on her own) gone and submitted and applied for a HUD pre-approval loan.  As a result, she was approved for a federally insured HUD loan for a specific sum of money.  She promptly asked if we could provide her with a house for the amount of her pre-approval, and when I told her she was a bit short she indicated she would be open to a rehab house if we had one.  It just so happened that we had one and while her pre-approval was not quite enough to cover the cost of acquisition and repair, it was very close.  As a result, we were able to provide her with a 2nd mortgage so that she was able to secure and afford a home of her own.

Dorothy was always optimistic and thankful for the opportunities she had, and though she could have – she never played the victim card – she ‘owned’ her situation and worked and disciplined herself to make the most of the opportunities she had – truly a remarkable trait that endeared me to her, and we became lifelong friends.  I will miss her greatly! Kent Adcock, Former CEO, Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter

Thank you, Dorothy. We love you.

Under Construction: Women Build 2023!

women build prebuild celebration 2023

In March 2023, Habitat Lake-Sumter kicked off their annual Women Build campaign with the goal of building the very first home in our upcoming 55+ community in Tavares,  The Cottages at Heritage Grove.

62 women on 13 teams made extraordinary efforts which resulted in fundraising $79,350!

We celebrated an incredible evening at the Venetian Center in Leesburg on April 27th.  A grand total of 341 donors contributed to this great cause. With the help our Purple Hard Hat Sponsor, Sun Kool Air Conditioning, we had fun celebrating all the Women Build participants and honoring the top fundraising team, Chicks with Sticks, who raised $21,963!

Sun Kool Air Conditioning staff members were on hand at the Pre-Build Celebration, including Sun Kool Executive Vice President & CSO Holly Nicholson Tobin, who shared with the attendees the importance of local businesses stepping up to heed the call for affordable housing for our workforce and families in our community. Sun Kool Air Conditioning also graciously donated the HVAC for the new home.

A special highlight of the evening was the induction of new members into the Sisterhood of the Pink Hard Hats! The ladies welcomed 12 new members to the not-so-secret Sisterhood. Members of the Sisterhood individually raised over $1,500 and were inducted into the notorious hard hat society for surpassing their goals.  Our event was a hit with Our DJ Rocks! DJ Jennie Smith spinning tunes, 360 & Beyond hosting our 360 photo booth, and Ponder’s Catering offering delicious bites. A special thank you to our vendors and supporting players!

Top Fundraising Team:

Chicks with Sticks raised $21,963 to build the home!

Honorable Mentions:

  • The HammerKnockers raised $10,447!
  • Golden Triangle Girls raised $8,071!
  • Chicks with Bricks raised $6,059!

 

Top Fundraiser:

Lisa Carter Harsh from Chicks with Sticks raised $10,599! A record-setting achievement!

On May 6th, 2023, teams began actively building the home for Habitat homeowner, Beth Dyhr. The home being built is a 2 bedroom/1 bath cottage-style home in The Cottages at Heritage Grove. The new community is a 23-unit pocket-neighborhood specifically designed to meet the needs of Lake County residents on a fixed income, retired, or who are looking to maintain affordable housing as senior citizens.

Teams will continue to volunteer their time at the site until completion of the home, at which time Habitat Lake-Sumter will host a Home Dedication ceremony to dedicate the home and hand over the keys of this home to it’s new owner. 

The opportunity to own an affordable home can remove barriers that might have been part of a family’s life for years, if not generations. Thanks to Women Build, we can offer that opportunity for a family who needs it most.

You can still get involved with Women Build 2023, donate today to help build Beth’s home! 

Welcome Home: The Brewington Family

Brewington Family Home Sweet Home 2023

On August 22, 2022, Marsha Brewington was told she had been approved to be a future Habitat homeowner, and she was ecstatic. She had not thought about being a homeowner until she gained custody of her grandchildren, but having them under her care, she knew she wanted a home for them.

Marsha grew up in Sanford, Florida. She lived there her whole life until unexpected circumstances, and a giving friend, brought her to Lake County. During this time, Marsha’s daughter was facing difficulties she could not overcome, leading to Marsha becoming the caretaker for her two grandchildren, Kaemon and Demyla. Though they did not plan on becoming their own family, they wanted to make it as complete as possible. So they added Bella, a cat, and she has been an amazing addition.

They have been living in apartments in Leesburg but have had many issues this year. Pipes burst, causing flooding and damages to their personal belongings, as well as AC issues creating mildew on walls, have left them in a less than ideal living situation. Marsha had heard about the Habitat program and the “amazing things they done to help others and change lives,” so when she had the opportunity to apply, she did not hesitate. Marsha is “excited to be a part of the Habitat family” and so far, she said her “experience has been wonderful.” She is looking forward to helping at the build site as much as possible, and she is also interested in volunteering at the ReStore.

The excitement of having a new home is in full swing for her and her grandchildren. Marsha is looking forward to a few things, one being the driveway/garage. She cannot wait for her own parking space. She is also excited about having a porch to watch the “kids be kids” in the yard. Kaemon and Demyla are both thrilled about having their own rooms. Once in the home, the Brewington’s want to have a small housewarming party with family. They also plan on starting a few new traditions: a happiness jar and a monthly picnic in the yard. No matter the traditions that take place in the home, Marsha believes “the memories are already being made.”

On, April 26, 2023, Marsha was surrounded by the Youth Construction Academy students, the Leesburg High School band and cheer team, staff from the City of Leesburg, home sponsor RoMac Building Supply, and many esteemed members of the community.

During the ceremony, the students shared highlights of their experience and expressed gratitude for participating in the program which has taught them many useful skills they may carry into adulthood. The keys to the home were ceremonially passed from one student to the next, through the hands of Don Magruder, CEO of RoMac Building Supply, into Marsha’s excited hands. Passing this significant set of keys marked the completion of this special project and ushers in a new chapter in the life of the Brewington family.

New Home Key Presentation For Habitat For Humanity In Mascotte

sankey family dedication 2023

The students and faculty of South Lake High School’s construction academy recently turned over the keys to a new home in Mascotte.  The build was sponsored by Habitat For Humanity Lake-Sumter, FL and many local community support partners.  New homeowner, Latoya Sankey, simply shouted, “I’m excited!”  When asked about the process she added, “Has this been a long road?  In general yes but with Habitat it doesn’t seem like it’s been that long.  It’s been over a year but I also can’t believe that a year ago, I was sticking a shovel in the dirt.”  She is anticipating moving in with her son Mason and daughter Skyla.

Danielle Stroud, Habitat For Humanity Lake-Sumter CEO shares, “This day is the most exciting day of the year.  The day we get to celebrate the students.  For all of their hard work and everything they’ve learned over the course of the year.”  Looking over at Ms. Sankey she continued, “We also get to bless the family as they move on to this next phase which will be moving into the house.” 

Jared Fullerton, construction teacher at South Lake High School shared his perspective.  “We’re here at the third dedication ceremony we’ve had.  This is a great program working with Habitat For Humanity.  I’m super proud of the students and all the community support we’ve gotten.”  He shifted to thoughts of the Construction Academy program at South Lake High School.  “This is one of the best learning environments for students that want to be in construction.  Without our partners and the students’ dedication, this doesn’t happen.  We are excited to start our fourth house next year.  The program has just gotten more and more popular at school.  This year I had the greatest application numbers for students that want to be in this program.  It’s nice to see the excitement taking place at school.” 

Click here to read the full story by Marty Proctor, South Lake Tablet

Student-built homes bolster community

Victoria Duket, left, wipes her tears as her mother, Debbie Duket celebrates alongside Aidan Campbell, a VHS Construction Management Academy student, during the their new home’s dedication ceremony. With help from Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, students built the house. Rachel Stuart, Daily Sun

Victoria Duket, left, wipes her tears as her mother, Debbie Duket celebrates alongside Aidan Campbell, a VHS Construction Management Academy student, during the their new home’s dedication ceremony. With help from Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, students built the house.
Rachel Stuart, Daily Sun

It didn’t take long for Debbie Duket to start making plans for her new home.

“First, I’m going to put everything in my kitchen and I’m going to cook to my heart’s desire and have people over to eat,” Debbie said. “I’m so excited about using this kitchen, I can’t even tell you.”

Duket and her daughter, Victoria Duket, and granddaughter, Dylann Duket, are the recipients of one of two houses in Wildwood built by students in The Villages High School’s Construction Management Academy in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter.

The dedication ceremony for the Dukets’ home, sponsored by Citizens First Bank, took place April 20, and the ceremony for the McPherson family home, sponsored by RoMac Distribution, happened Monday.

“This isn’t a house, it’s a home,” said Brad Weber, executive vice president and chief lending officer of Citizens First Bank. “And Debbie, this morning you woke up in the place you were living and tonight you get to lay your head down in your own home.”

This is the first time VHS students built two homes in one school year. The program allows them to get hands-on experience in construction while learning the importance of community service.

“It’s a vision in the beginning and they bring it to life,” Debbie said. “With Habitat, the people and the kids, every person involved — they bring it to life.”

VHS student Brett Wilke liked working with his classmates on the project, especially the early stage of putting the framing together.

“It was very interesting — it was fun,” Wilke said. “We learned a lot.”

Wilke said the program has benefits beyond bolstering a future career.

“With this type of stuff, even if you don’t do it for a career, it’s stuff you can do by yourself at your house if something breaks,” Wilke said. “You don’t have to pay someone a bunch of money to fix it, you can do it yourself.”

Though contractors are required to do some of the work on the homes, students work right alongside them.

“It’s a great hands-on experience,” said Pastor Perez, a senior in the academy. “From literally starting from the ground up, starting the framing, all the way up to doing the roofing and the shingles and all that.”

Perez said he enjoyed the experiential form of learning.

“There isn’t a day you’re not learning something different,” Perez said.

At the second ceremony, Shannon McPherson and her son, Devin McPherson, got the keys to their home.

Both expressed appreciation for the work that went into the project.

“I’d come to look at and take pictures (of the home), and there was love and energy when you walked in, even from just the outside,” Shannon said to the students. “I was always seeing all the precision and hard work that you put into our home, and I thank you so much.”

A first for Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter: an age-restricted community

The Cottages at Heritage Grove Master Plan

TAVARES – Habitat for Humanity will be building a “pocket neighborhood” for homeowners who are 55 and older.

“It’s the first time we are building an age-restricted community,” said Lacie Himes, development director for Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter.

The site, which has been cleared and infrastructure installed, is in an area behind the Dunkin’ doughnut shop on State Road 19. It was once occupied by mobile homes, and it remains

surrounded by seniors living in mobile homes and a portion of the Dora Canal.

An application workshop will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday (April 20) at the Leesburg Resource Center in Leesburg on County Road 468. Applicants must be on a fixed income, and that income must fall under the requirements of the program.

“There is a need for affordable housing for this population,” Himes said, and Tavares recognized it, too.

It will be called The Cottages at Heritage Grove.

Construction on the first home is expected to begin in May. The organization hopes to be building two houses at a time.

Part of Habitat’s practice is to have the new homeowners participate in the construction with what it calls “sweat equity.” That might look different in the case of the seniors, depending upon their physical condition. They may end up volunteering in the office or thrift store, but opportunities will be available on site, too, she said.

Click here to read the full article by Frank Stanfield for the Daily Commercial

Meet The Benton Family

benton family house and photo with the villages club 2023

Nicole Benton is a hardworking single mother of two growing daughters, Janaiza and Jaide, who has been employed with local company M & S Air Conditioning for over 10 years. Nicole and her daughters have always lived on and off with her grandmother; Shirley, who is now 90 years old. Nicole has always dealt with the hardships of finding a home that was capable of fitting her family, as well as being a good environment for her children to grow up in.

“I have never not appreciated living with my grandmother.  There is never a dull moment, but as

time goes on there is a point where children need their own space and so does a mom.”

~ Nicole Benton

When Nicole’s family heard the great news about Nicole meeting mortgage criteria and being chosen to construct a Habitat Lake-Sumter home, they were  just as excited as Nicole and her daughters.  With their life is a non-stop, 24/7, continuous loop. The Benton family is always on the go for school, work and after school activities. Their new home gives the girls endless opportunities and the education they need to achieve anything they put their minds to.

“As we get ready for this new change in our lives, I go on to think about all of

the opportunities this house will give us and cannot wait for the new beginnings we are

going to face as we move for in the process, thank you so much for this chance to give

my family what we have always, a home to call all ours!”

This new home will bring Nicole and her children closer to other family members and their school.  As they get ready for this new chapter in life, she reflects on the opportunities this home will provide and the new beginnings that come with a home to call their own!

RoMac Match Update 2023

Fulfilling their 7th year as Habitat Lake-Sumter’s March Match sponsor, RoMac Building Supply continues to be a driving supporter of our Youth Construction Academy. Under the leadership of CEO Don Magruder, the Youth Construction Academy has expanded to 4 schools across Lake-Sumter, and we are welcoming in our newest partnership with Wildwood Middle High! To date, the Youth Construction Academy has built 15 homes across Lake and Sumter Counties.

Thanks to the generous donations and community support throughout the month of March and the RoMac Building Supply matching investment and you contribution we were able to raise an additional $45315 during this year’s RoMac Match campaign more than doubling our match!

This is our highest match result to date, with an estimated $6,000 increase from last year, for a TOTAL community investment of $65315!

We not only met our goal, but we surpassed it! This great accomplishment was made possible because of caring supporters like each and every one of you believing in our youth and the importance of decent, affordable homes!

Every donation received directly supports the vocational training for the students in the Youth Construction Academy, as well as fulfilling the dream of a future homeowner with decent, affordable housing.

RoMac Building Supply continues to pledge their support in Habitat’s mission to build communities, hope, and homes and an unwavering commitment to bettering the opportunities of our youth. Because of RoMac’s devotion to improving the lives of deserving families and future outlook of our students through skilled trades, these families and students will have the tools to brighter futures ahead.

Thank you for supporting and investing in the future of our youth and future homeowners.

Family moves into home from Habitat

benton family house and photo with the villages club 2023

There was no room for words, only tears, as Nicole Benton and her two daughters received the keys to their home. 

“I’m feeling everything right now; I’m excited, nervous, overjoyed,” Benton said. “This is something we have waited for, for years.” Benton started building the house in November in Lady Lake once the foundation was poured, along with the Villagers Habitat For Humanity club, which sponsored the project. 

This is the third home built by the club since it started four years ago. The first house was completed in November 2020. Now, the group is to the point where members hope the Bentons’ new home won’t be the only one they build this year. 

Read said she remains in contact with every Habitat family she works with.

“They become friends, they are people you build connections with,” Read said. “I can say Nicole is one of my dear friends now.”

Benton and her two daughters, Jaide, 10, and Janaiza, 17, were officially able to move into their three bedroom home after about four months of construction. 

This is the first time both daughters get a room of their own, Benton said. 

“Jaide is so excited to decorate her room and show it off,” she said. “She and Janaiza both already have decorations ready to hang up.”

Excitement was the theme of the day as more people arrived at the home for the dedication.

Sally Read, co-president of Villagers Habitat for Humanity, said she hardly slept the night before.

“There isn’t a more loving, grateful person who deserves this home than Nicole,” Read said. “She was here every single day putting in the work.”

For Habitat recipients, they have to put in a certain amount of sweat equity and are required to participate in a percentage of the construction of the home.

 

WHMS construction program helps with Habitat homes

wildwood student 2023

Senior Brandon Martinez puts the house wrap onto a Habitat for Humanity home under construction. The Wildwood Middle High School Construction Academy has helped out on Habitat for Humanity home projects this year.

Wildwood Middle High School is training the future builders of the community. 

The school is developing a new Construction Academy. Last year, it began its HVAC — heating, ventilation, and air conditioning — and electrician program. It will bring those programs together to make the Construction Academy. 

Students in the program have helped with Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter’s homebuilding sites in Eustis and Leesburg by putting house wrap and siding on homes, among other tasks.

Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter to dedicate new home built for family in need

benton family dedication header 2023

LADY LAKE, Fla. — Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter is set to hand over the keys to a newly built home.

Officials said this will be the third home built along with members from the Villagers Habitat Lake-Sumter Club.

The club raise funds and built the home from the foundation up.

“Working alongside community-minded individuals from the Villagers Habitat Lake-Sumter Club has given us the opportunity to develop meaningful relationships in our community and provide affordable housing solutions for those who need it,” said Danielle Stroud, CEO and President of Habitat Lake-Sumter. “Together, we can do so much more, and we are grateful for their continued partnership.”

Officials said The Villagers Habitat Lake-Sumter Club members have shared Habitat’s mission to advocate, fundraise and volunteer to build a home each year, since 2019.

The group will hand over the keys to the Benton family at 9 a.m. on Thursday, March 30, and will be joined by representatives of community partner, TD Charitable Foundation.

In the pink and ready to build

 

The program's past and future homeowners gathered at the event. From left. Latoya Sankey, Ashton Watson, Shannon McPherson, Tori Duket, Katy Black, Debbie Duket, Sandra Young, and Dionna Alston.

 

Like-minded, hard-working women got together March 9 at a pink champagne party to kick off Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter’s six-week fundraising campaign to build a local resident a new house.

Women Build is an annual nationwide initiative that invites women from all walks of life to join together to fundraise and eventually lend a hand in the building of a new home. This will be the area’s fifth project.

At the event, held during Women’s History Month at the RoMac Training Center in Leesburg, Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter CEO Danielle Stroud said that with the average Lake County household income being just around $35,000, it’s more important than ever to take a grassroots approach to providing houses for people in need.

We build for our families,” Stroud said. “It has become increasingly difficult and challenging for people to afford to buy their own home, and we at Habitat want to bridge that gap. Women Build is an important part of this.”

So far this year, Women Build has nine teams and 37 participants. The goal is to raise $100,000 in six weeks to build a two-bedroom, one-bath property that the women will help to build in May

The property will be the first house to be built in The Cottages at Heritage Grove, Habitat’s first 55-plus age restricted community in Tavares. This is a project that has been some years in the making and ultimately is to provide 23 cottage-style houses and townhomes.

As of March 9, the ladies of Women Build had already raised $14,148 toward their huge record-setting goal.

Click here to read the full article by Sharon Keeble, Triangle news Leader

Affordable housing advocates oppose Lake County moratorium

 
 

Habitat for Humanity receives $50,000 grant from Publix for affordable housing

Publix Volunteers at Bates House in Eustis 2023

Katy Black says living in Eustis will make huge difference

EUSTIS, Fla. – Katy Black gave News 6 a tour of what her new Eustis home will look like.

She and her son Chase Allison, 17, were selected to build an affordable home through Habitat for Humanity.

Though, Black said it was not easy. As a single mom, she had to fix her credit and apply for the program.

Black said living in Eustis will make a huge difference since they currently live in Silver Springs, about an hour away.

“My income goes to paying all the bills on my own and then if I want anything extra, it’s coming out of my pocket. I don’t have a second person to help me,” she said.

Chase has been helping volunteers around the structure and he is looking forward to starting senior year at Eustis High School next year, which is right across the street.

“I’m just ready to graduate and go to trade school just.. it’s a great situation. My mom, she, she deserves it,” Chase said.

Publix Super Markets Charities awarded Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter with a $50,000 grant as a signature sponsor of the new home.

Team members from across multiple Publix locations have come together to build the home.

“For me, you’re giving me a safe, stable place to live and making it affordable for me at the same time,” Black said.

The family said the goal is to move into their new home sometime this summer.

Click here to watch Katy give a tour of her new home with Ezzy Castro, WKMG News 6 reporter

RoMac Match – Double Your Impact!

RoMac Match website blog post 2023

With your help, Caleb has a brighter future.

Today, you can partner with RoMac Building Supply to double your donation and help Caleb obtain valuable vocational skills with Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter’s Youth Construction Academy.

When you give, RoMac Building Supply will match every dollar donated in March, up to $20,000!

Your gift helps Caleb graduate high school career-ready, with the training and education to enter the workforce in a growing industry!

Today, your gift
of $25 will be doubled to become $50!
And your gift of $100 will become $200!

Together, we can do twice as much.

Your donation builds safe, affordable homes while providing a hands-on education to the next generation.

Give today to double your dollar and double YOUR impact with RoMac Building Supply!

With Double the Gratitude,

Danielle Stroud signature                                           DONATE NOW

Danielle Stroud
CEO

P.S. Your gift today unlocks the door to better education and a more stable future for Caleb! Will you donate the key?

Spring Cleaning with Habitat Matt

habitat matt 2023

Spring cleaning is not only an opportunity to tidy and refresh your home, it’s also an opportunity to do small but necessary maintenance checks to keep your home running efficiently. Here are some tips and reminders from our very own Preservation & Repair Construction Manager, Habitat Matt, to maximize your spring cleaning routine.

  1. Check and replace air and furnace filters. Dust build up can slow the efficiency of your HVAC system and affect the quality of the air in your home. Changing your filters every 90 days gives you clean air, keeps your HVAC running smoothly, and minimizes allergy and sinus flare ups.

 

  1. Check for leaks. Leaks over time can cause larger issues such as mold and deterioration, which can lead to structural and flooring damage and health hazards. Catching leaks early before they become bigger issues, can save your home, health, and pockets. Areas to check include plumbing, appliances, ceiling, and HVAC. Also, pouring vinegar or a capful of bleach can also remove build up in HVAC drain lines.

 

  1. Inspect and clean debris from gutters. As we prepare for spring showers, it is important to ensure that water is properly draining off your roof and away from your home. Roof damage is the leading cause of policy drops from homeowner’s insurance. Cleaning your gutters can extend the life of your roof, protecting your home and your family. Remember, to always practice ladder safety when cleaning your gutters.

 

  1. Check grout and caulking. in tile to prevent loose tiles in shower or floors.

 

  1. Check smoke detectors and fire extinguishers. for proper functioning and that they are up to date.

 

  1. Clean dryer vents. A vacuum cleaner is a quick and efficient way to remove lingering lent build up from the dryer vent. Build up in your dryer vent can impact the efficiency of your dryer causing your clothes to take longer to dry, but more importantly, it’s a fire hazard! So be sure to clean your dryer vent frequently to avoid damp clothes and the risk of fires.

 

  1. Check/flush drains for clogs. Build up in your pipes can cause a lot of harmful effects such as odor, mold and mildew growth, water contamination, and structural damage. Also, standing water and/or food build up in your pipes can attract pests. Simply pouring boiling hot water can remove any residue build up and pairing it with vinegar or baking soda washes away unpleasant odors.

Did you know that average home repair costs range from $3,000-$10,000 for standard repairs? Following these routine maintenance checks can not only improve the efficiency of your home, but can save you money on costly repairs. 

Always remember, when getting rid of gently-used household items and appliances, call up your Hometown Habitat at (352) 589-3005 to donate your gently used goods to our local ReStores. Your donations help build homes and change lives in Lake and Sumter Counties!

In Loving Memory of Pastor Feliciano Felix Ramirez

in memory of felix 2023

Felix was an amazing person who will be dearly missed, he was an advocate for so many people in the community through his work as an educator, counselor, pastor and of course his service and passion for Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter and the families we represent. Felix leaves a legacy of faith, love, and compassion. He was committed to serving and encouraging others throughout our area and his passing leaves a hole in our community and our hearts.

Felix was employed with Lake County School Board for 35 years as an Educator, Specialist, and Administrator. Felix held a Masters in Supervision and Administration so he could be an Administrator and Teacher Trainer with the School Board.

He served with many different organizations and boards. He loved being part of Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, The Lake County Republican Party, the Hispanic Republican Club, Leadership Lake County,

Felix was a Licensed Christian Marriage & Family Therapist through the Federal Association of Christian Counselors & Therapists, Inc.

One of his greatest passions was being the Pastor of La Primera Iglesia Bautista de Mascotte. He is the founding Pastor of the congregation at First Baptist Church (La Primera Iglesia Bautista) of Mascotte, Florida, and has pastored there since 1983.

Felix has been married for 53 years to his teenage sweetheart, Maria. They have 3 children and 8 grandchildren. His passing will leave a void in the hearts of many in our community, but we look forward to celebrating his life.

“Faithful. Compassionate. Devoted to God and family. Community leader.

A man of integrity. These are just some of the things that come to mind when I think about Felix.

Whether his role was husband, father, pastor, teacher, counselor, mayor, volunteer, or Habitat Board member his heart was always ready (and seeking) to serve his community–a community that extended well beyond his family and his church to include people from every walk of life in Lake County.

He personified Henry David Thoreau’s words, “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” Felix saw the heart of the person and the potential within, and would encourage that person to persevere until s/he realized that potential for herself.

Felix’s legacy of faith and service lives on in his family and on the Board of Habitat-LS. We are grateful for all that he has done for our community, including the many Habitat homeowners who have been blessed by his service.”

~ Lee Owen, Habitat Lake-Sumter Board Chair

IN LIEU OF FLOWERS and in remembrance of Pastor Felix’s life, the family asks that any charitable donations be made to his church First Baptist Church of Mascotte / La Primera Iglesia Bautista de Mascotte (P.O. Box 98, Mascotte, Fl 34753) and in continuing Pastor Felix’s memory as an advocate for our community, a donation can be made in his name (Feliciano F Ramirez) to Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter online at www.habitatLS.org or by mail to 906 Avenida Central, The Villages FL 32159

No Images found.

‘Time to pay it forward:’ This Villages-based nonprofit puts veterans first

Marie Bogdonoff started Villagers For Veterans to serve those who served

SUMTER COUNTY, Fla. – The Villages has attracted one of the highest concentrations of veterans of any community in the nation.

Nearly 20,000 military veterans call The Villages home, and this week’s Getting Results Award winner tells us their donations and support have helped her nonprofit make a difference in the lives of others who are less fortunate.

Marie Bogdonoff started Villagers For Veterans in 2015.

The retired accountant was looking for a way to give back and after a visit to Walter Reed Medical Center, she found her calling.

The nonprofit is dedicated to helping veterans get the tools they need for independent living. Her current project includes remodeling a home in Fruitland Park that will become a transitional home for six formerly homeless women veterans. Bogdonoff calls it Ashley’s Cottage.

“This is going to be the living room and over here we’re going to have a nice modular for the TV,” said Bogdonoff, giving News 6 a tour. “Super excited to make this happen and we just love the idea of welcoming our women veterans here.”

Right now, the three-bedroom home is under renovation. The cabinets are torn out and crews will be updating the flooring and painting the walls soon.

“I never knew there were so many homeless veterans because you don’t see them on the streets,” Bogdonoff said. “They move in with friends and family. There’s a term of endearment they use called couch surfers.”

She said women veterans in particular have been in the shadows for a long time.

Habitat presents family keys to their new home in Eustis

Sheena Tynes holding keys

Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter in partnership with AgeWave Solutions presented Sheena Tynes, a single mother of three, keys to her new home on Wednesday. Her kids, Nathan and Nicholas Demeritte and Skye Cartwright were by her side for this emotional presentation. 

“I can’t stop saying thank you,” Sheena says. “I’ve been praying for this moment.” 

In February 2020, Sheena had lined up a home for her and her children, but it fell through. However, she clung to the promise, “For I know that plans I have for you, says the Lord.” 

The family moved into the Mount Dora Children’s Home for single parent families to help get back on track while maneuvering through a wavering economy during the pandemic. 

Her social worker encouraged her to apply to Habitat for Humanity’s affordable housing program. She was approved and the Women Build 2022 went to work building her home in Eustis, which was completed earlier this month. 

“What an awesome day for an awesome celebration,” Habitat for Humanity board chair Lee Owen says. “We’re so excited for this family and want to give thank for all the hands that went into to building this place for this family.” 

As the presenting sponsor of Women Build 2022, AgeWave Solutions, Inc made it possible to build the Tynes family home, while raising awareness of housing issues facing women, their families, and the community.

A Bible, American flag and a toolbox was presented to the family by supporters in the community during the dedication ceremony. 

Click here to read the full story by Cindy Peterson, Lake & Sumter Style Magazine

Meet Hannah: Massachusetts Maritime Academy Student

Hannah -MMA Group A 2023

 

“My name is Hannah Burton and I am currently a freshman at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. I began an extraordinary journey in Eustis, Florida, on January 15, 2023. I had the chance to volunteer at Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter for two weeks with a few of my classmates. We had the opportunity to provide service in Eustis, Mascotte, Fruitland Park, and Leesburg, four cities in Lake County.

We painted an entire house’s outside as a group, added siding to two other homes, tore apart one’s interior to begin the process of a fresh new start, and constructed a house from nothing more than a pad of cement, complete with walls and a roof.

Being able to connect to the individuals we are helping is what made this experience so unique. The stories of their journeys, the reasons why they needed our assistance, and their gratitude for having us here made working so much more rewarding. I personally want to go into the public service once I graduate from college which made this an amazing opportunity to discover what real recovery work is like.

This journey has been enlightening, humbling, and a great opportunity for friendship-building with people I might not have otherwise met. By interacting and speaking with the homeowners, supervisors, and volunteers, I have gained more knowledge about poverty, privilege, and gratitude. Overall, I never planned for the impact this experience would have for me and a bit of my heart will always remain in Lake County, Florida.” – Hannah

Hannah is one of 36 students that came with Cadet Group A from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. The cadets, along with Seniors and their Instructors, worked hard throughout the week doing building, repairing, and rehabbing sites in Eustis, Wildwood, Mascotte, and Clermont. During their two week stay, they framed walls, secured trusses, and put up plywood at a new construction site in Eustis. For their Preservation and Repair projects, cadets installed siding and windows at a site in Wildwood and rehabbed the flooring and assisted with wiring and plumbing to add to the renovation process in Mascotte. 

Aside from all of their incredible industriousness, the cadets also got to have fun on trips to Universal and visited the historic sites in St Augustine too. After one of their workdays, the Lake County Emergency Operations Center was generous enough to give the cadets a tour of their facility. This gave the cadets a real world look at the true scale and capabilities of a county EOC. At the end of their time here, the community came together with the Knights of Columbus, a charitable organization that has been working closely with Habitat Lake-Sumter, providing a cookout lunch for the cadets to thank them for all of their hard work.

To learn more about our volunteer opportunities, reach out to Carlos@HabitatLS.org or 352-483-0434 ext. 119

VHS Academy holds dry-in for two homes

Debbie Duket, right, learns about her new cabinets from members of The Villages High School Construction Management Academy Jake Phillips, left, and Brady Widmann, who are helping to build her Habitat for Humanity home in Wildwood. George Horsford, Daily Sun

Debbie Duket, right, learns about her new cabinets from members of The Villages High School Construction Management Academy Jake Phillips, left, and Brady Widmann, who are helping to build her Habitat for Humanity home in Wildwood.
George Horsford, Daily Sun

Debbie Duket’s 13-year-old granddaughter soon will have her own room for the first time. Duket’s family is receiving one of the homes students with The Villages High School’s Construction Management Academy are building in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter. “She and I have shared a room for 13 years, so we are thrilled,” she said. “She wants to decorate.” 

The 27 academy seniors are building two homes this year instead of one — a first for the academy. Students, sponsors and community members celebrated the halfway point of both homes with a dry-in ceremony Friday at the home sites in Wildwood. 

Citizens First Bank is sponsoring Duket’s home, a 1,461-square-foot house with three bedrooms and two bathrooms.

Duket will move in by the end of the school year with her daughter Victoria Duket and her granddaughter Dylann Duket. 

“They’re beautiful homes, well-made,” Debbie said. “And I just feel like there is so much love in it. I got goosebumps walking in it today. It’s almost done. It’s so close.”

Brad Weber, executive vice president and chief lending officer of Citizens First Bank, said projects like this benefit families and communities as a whole. 

“We know it is proven that homeownership brings up the quality of every community,” Weber said. “And that’s why projects like this are so important.” 

Weber also said it is an investment for the students. 

“Not only are we building two homes, and not only are we improving the quality of the community, but we’re improving the quality of our future with these students who work so hard on these homes,” he said. 

RoMac Building Supply, based in Leesburg, is sponsoring the second home, a 1,215-square-foot house with two bedrooms and one bathroom. 

Don Magruder, chief executive officer of RoMac Building Supply, said he looks at the students as the future of the industry. 

“But more importantly, you guys are doing something very important for these families and this community,” he told them during the ceremony. “You’re doing something good and it makes you feel good about this generation coming up.”

The construction projects allow students to work with industry partners and learn all the skills needed to build a home.

They can earn industry certifications while in the academy and gain valuable job experience. 

Jingle Build-Off 2022 Recap

Shuffield Lowman Jingle Build-Off Winners 2022

What started out as a spark of imagination has grown into a flourishing fundraiser for Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter. In its 4th year, more than 100 volunteers were on site in downtown Tavares participating in the construction and decoration of 13 individually themed playhouses.

Teams sponsored the build of each playhouse to support and benefit Habitat’s affordable homeownership programs and preservation services. Teams of any kind can build playhouses – corporate groups, faith congregations, youth and school groups, members of community organizations and groups of friends. Each playhouse takes 3-4 hours to build and paint with the help of 8-10 volunteers.

It is an inspiring opportunity to see something beautiful and meaningful come together out of a few pieces of wood, knowing that it will bring light into the life of a deserving child in the community. After they are decorated, later in the day the parents, some with many family members present, arrived with the children to surprise them with a playhouse of their own in their favorite theme.

The 2022 Winner of Best Playhouse was the team from ShuffieldLowman with their Princess Castle themed playhouse, which was decked out with a pink fur rug, bookcase full of books, and even a pink chandelier!

It was a magical experience for all involved to see the look on the children’s faces when they saw their playhouse for the very first time, lighting up with animation when they realized the special playhouse was their very own home! The Jingle Build-Off is designed to be a stepping-stone to teach young children the pride and joy of homeownership. 

It’s moments like this that reinforce what HFHLS builds within our community! 

Want to get involved for next year’s friendly team build competition?

Would like to receive a playhouse next year?

Contact us! Lacie@habitatLS.org or Melanie@habitatLS.org

Old time radio club donates to Habitat

Old Time Radio Club with Lacie 2022

A $740 check was presented to Lacie Himes of Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter by Old Time Radio club president and players director Ed Williams and show producer, Richard Bigelow. The check was presented on Nov. 29 and was collected through the Old Time Radio group’s presentation of War of the Worlds.

The Villages Old-Time Radio Drama Club donated $740 in proceeds from their “War of the Worlds” performance to Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter.

The Old-Time Radio Club and Players staged a performance in the Lake Miona Recreation Center of the famous H.G. Wells radio program – a radio drama that startled millions of people who were listening to it on the original air date of Oct. 30, 1938.

On that same date, 84 years later, Oct. 30, 2022, a theater audience of 250 enjoyed a live re-creation of the original script. In lieu of an admissions charge, The Villages Old-Time Radio Club requested donations in support of Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter.

The donations will help support new construction and Preservation and Repair projects in Lake and Sumter counties.

Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter’s mission is to bring people together to build homes, community and hope.

Click here to read the full article from Sumter Sun Times

Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter hosts biggest playhouse building event of the season

Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter hosts biggest playhouse building event of the season - Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter hosts biggest playhouse building event of the season

Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter hosts biggest playhouse building event of the season – Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter hosts biggest playhouse building event of the season

TAVARES, Fla. — Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter held their fourth annual “Jingle Build-Off” on Saturday.

This year’s was the largest playhouse building event so far, as 13 different playhouses were built for donating to kids for the holidays.

Teams competed to build their houses and have them showcased in the Tavares Christmas Parade and Celebration.

Holiday Appeal

brewington family end of the year appeal 2022

As I look forward to the season of celebration that is upon us, I can’t help but recall the families who have been blessed this year, thanks to your compassionate giving.  

Because of your support, we’ve built 278 new homes and repaired more than 280 homes for families since 1989, providing access to the most valuable gift we can give– a safe place to call home.

But families in Lake and Sumter Counties are facing unprecedented challenges. In this time of tremendous need, here is a powerful opportunity to make a difference.

For the second year in a row, Citizens First Bank has offered an outstanding match (up to $100,000)!

Give today and your gift of $50 will be doubled to become $100.

Your gift of $250 will become $500!

This year’s challenge gift opportunity is coming at a crucial time. Between escalating housing costs and inflation, owning a home feels out of reach for more and more people in Lake and Sumter counties. Families like the Brewington’s face the difficult choice between rising housing costs and life’s necessities, like nutritious food or new shoes for school.

During difficult times, we count on you.

Your donation gives hope to families like the Brewington’s. As a first-time homeowner, Marsha will be able to raise her grandchildren with the safety and stability that comes from home, providing Kaemon and Demyla a place to learn and grow. An affordable home removes barriers to opportunity and provides financial flexibility to build a better future for the Brewington Family.

Will you give the gift of home this holiday season?

 

Danielle Stroud signature

Danielle Stroud
CEO

P.S. Make a gift today and help us double the $100,000 donation from Citizen’s First Bank, so we can make an even BIGGER impact for people in need of decent housing.

Club raises walls on new Lady Lake home

 

villages daily sun article 11.2022

Jaide Benton, 10, right, watches as her mother, Nicole Benton gives a hug to Marv Baden, of Fruitland Park, who is the project manager for the Habitat for Humanity Villages Club build site in Fruitland Park.
George Horsford, Daily Sun

Tears traced a path down Nicole Benton’s cheeks as she helped raise up the first wall of the home that will soon belong to her. On Tuesday, Benton and her two children helped lift the wood frames for the first four walls of their future home in Lady Lake. It’s being built by The Villages Habitat for Humanity Club, which is affiliated with Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter. The Benton home is the club’s third house, and it will be the first house members finish in 2023. Sally Read, co-president of the club in The Villages, said the members do all the fundraising needed to build the homes. It costs $15,000 for the club to have exclusive rights to build each house. “We do constant fundraising, but it’s always worth it,” she said. “I’ll help raise whatever it takes to build homes for these families.”

Benton, who is a single mother of two, said she knew their lives would change the moment the walls started going up.

“It’s a lot of emotions,” she said. “You’re feeling so much at once. It’s a lot of gratitude. I’m thankful to Habitat and everyone who is helping us and helping make this happen.”

Read and other club members are ready to get the house’s construction going and are aiming for an April finish.

“It could change because of supply chains and other delays,” said Read, of the Village of Tall Trees. “But it’s nice for us to do houses this time of year because the weather is cooler. No one likes to do construction in intense heat.”

Click here to read the full article by Senior writer Maddie Cutler at the Villages Daily Sun.