Building Together | Winter 2021

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building together WINTER 2021



A handwritten message of support in the walls, courtesy of Habitat volunteer and donor, Mollie Wise: “Dearest Christina and family, life takes us unexpected places, love brings us home!”

Tonio (back left), pictured with wife, Jamesia (back right), and their children Terrance (front left), Ter’Rencia (front right), & LJ (center).


“Work hard, do good and have faith”


here’s a story in the bible,” Tonio recalls. “God told Abraham he was going to have a son. But Abraham just laughed and said, I’m too old.” True to his word, however, God did give Abraham a son, and it’s a story that reminds Tonio – God always has a plan. Throughout their lives, both Tonio and his wife Jamesia have longed for the stability of a home – something they both lacked in childhood. Now, as parents, they want better for their kids. If you ask Tonio and Jamesia, they’ll tell you that faith has always been the foundation for their success in life. “Faith and hard work,” Tonio says. That’s what’s always gotten them through – trusting Gods plan and following it. Like when they took in Jamesia’s niece and nephew. It was the first year of their marriage, they were living in a one-bedroom apartment, and they didn’t know the first thing about raising kids. Still, they trusted God’s plan. Tonio and Jamesia adapted, and just as they found themselves needing more space, a threebedroom apartment became available. It wasn’t ideal. Living in an apartment is no life for a



child – they both knew from experience. With people living directly above, directly below, and on either side of you, there’s no sense of privacy. It’s too easy to disturb your neighbors and for your neighbors to disturb you. Plus, while a one-bedroom apartment may be affordable for a young couple, the median market value rent for a three-bedroom in Fort Myers is around $1,400 a month.

“And I laughed at her –” just like Abraham laughed at God. Then, as the couple welcomed their new son into the world, they found themselves needing even more space; more privacy. “She told me she wanted a five-bedroom house,” Tonio says. “And I laughed at her” – just like Abraham laughed at God. “I just knew we couldn’t afford it.” Then she mentioned Habitat. “Habitat for Humanity is always overwhelmed with applications,” Tonio says. So, he dismissed that idea too, thinking it would be just as difficult as trying to obtain a traditional mortgage.

Then one day, as he was driving home from a friendly game of basketball, Tonio came across a construction site for a new Habitat home. “That was it. In that moment, I knew it was a sign from God.” Because of their faith, Tonio and Jamesia know that even though God has a plan, that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. Saving the money, putting in the hours, taking the homeownership classes – that’s a lot of work for a young family with three kids.

“There were many nights that I wanted to give up,” he says. “But we knew God was testing us... Then, due to COVID-19, Tonio lost his job. One of the main requirements for purchasing a Habitat Home is a proven and steady income, so without a job the homebuying process would have to be put on hold. Not ready to give up, Tonio talked to his boss who recommended him for a similar position – but in Orlando. Tonio accepted, and for a time, he was separated from his family. However, with this new steady income and support from their Habitat counselors, they were able to stay on track with their future home. That wasn’t the only challenge they faced, though.

In their new home, having a yard means LJ can grow up with the freedom to run, and play, and be a kid.

While working in Orlando, Tonio was exposed to COVID-19, and unfortunately, became ill. After that, “there were many nights that I wanted to give up,” he says. “But we knew God was testing us,” Jamesia adds. Through all of that, it was their faith in God, their determination, and the continued support they received from Habitat that kept them going. “Habitat came, they helped us through the process, and now we’re here,” Tonio says. They worked hard, they accepted Gods plan, they followed through, and in the end, they moved into that same home that originally inspired them to partner with Habitat. “If you are faithful and you show your faithfulness, God provides.” Tonio says. “Work hard, do good and have faith.” Now, the family enjoys their newfound space – both inside their home, and around it. “It’s different when you’re in a home,” Jamesia says. “There’s more space and you’re not right on top of your neighbors.” Plus, their kids can play outside safely, the baby can sleep through the night, and everyone has their own room. They’re proud of their home, they’re proud of themselves and it shows.

Support families like Tonio and Jamesia’s by donating securely online at

Terrance and Ter’Rensia share big smiles and say they love having their own rooms. Terrance and Ter’Rensia share bigtalk, smiles and say love If LJ could we think he’dthey agree! having their own rooms. If LJ could talk, we think he’d agree.




Love thy neighborhood


he COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on industries across the globe. Stay at home orders, confirmed cases, and exposures are limiting the availability of necessary materials and workers, while at the same time, increasing the demand. This impact has had a ripple effect that’s led to changes in the way Habitat plans and executes land development and building projects. The good news is, we are now poised to complete each of our planned projects as previously scheduled. With your help, despite the challenges that this year has presented, critically needed homes will continue to be built and families will continue to be served.

Heritage Heights Heritage Heights is a 24-acre planned community situated between Gladiolus Drive and Summerlin Road in South Fort Myers. When we originally began scheduling and executing plans for this neighborhood, we had no idea how much COVID would affect progress. Then, as the pandemic broke out and began impacting local industries, our ability to get permits, access supplies and acquire laborers was severely stunted. Absolutely everything took longer than what we’d anticipated. However, thanks to Habitat’s elevated expertise and tenacity to overcome challenges, we’ve quickly adapted to the changes we’ve seen as a result of COVID-19. We’ve used our experience with the early stages of Heritage Heights development to come up with solutions that will keep us on track. Now, we’re starting certain processes sooner than previously planned, adjusting our budget as needed, and applying these changes to future developments. This will help us prevent any need for pushback on planned-project completions and avoid any delay in the value that these future homes will provide. Although COVID-related delays originally slowed progress with Heritage Heights, and despite the challenges we’ve faced, our resilience has put us back on schedule. As of right now, the land has been fully developed. Irrigation, water and sewer have all been installed. Streets have been paved and lined with lights, the landscape has been designed, the storm drainage is complete and the groundwork for Comcast and FPL are all laid out. We’ve even begun construction on six of the first eight Heritage Heights homes planned for fiscal year 20202021, some of which we expect will be ready for closing come spring. Future home development for Heritage Heights can begin following plat approval, which is currently underway. Then, one day, 150 families will call this strong and thriving neighborhood home.

Top Left: The first home in our brand-new Heritage Heights neighborhood stands proud—almost ready for a family! Top Right: The Heritage Heights monument sits at the entrance to welcome residents home. Bottom Right: These homes will begin a new chapter for eight families this year! 4


Streetsboro In Bonita Springs, the Streetsboro property will be an HOA neighborhood consisting of fourteen single-family homes. Our original plan was to begin moving dirt January 2021, but with COVID in mind, we got a head start beginning in October 2020. With the development of this land already underway, we’re on schedule to begin construction of the first homes for this neighborhood in Fall of 2021.

Carolina Street COVID-19 is not the only challenge we’ve had to overcome in development plans for new Habitat neighborhoods. The Carolina Street property is a seven-plot piece of land spanning the west and south sides of Greyhound Alley in Bonita Springs. This is a property we had to spend a considerable amount of time working to acquire. First, a lengthy zoning process delayed our ability to close on the property as planned in 2019. Then, once zoning was approved, a newly discovered title defect delayed closing even further. Initially, this title defect created question around the purchase viability of the property. However, thanks to our team’s tenacious spirit and impressive level of expertise, after many months, the title defect was corrected, and as of September 2020, the land was finally purchased. With our new COVIDadjusted planning already put into effect, the development of this land is scheduled to begin in March of 2022. This property will hold seven TwinVilla homes that will eventually house fourteen Bonita Springs families.

Building Together The work we’ve done on Heritage Heights, Streetsboro and Carolina Street is just the beginning. Over the next ten years, we are poised to develop a total of nine strong and stable neighborhoods on land we own in Lee County. Yes, there have been challenges, but these are challenges that Habitat is uniquely poised to address and overcome. That’s because we have something that typical developers don’t have: each of you. Your donations, your advocacy, your passion and your determination are what enable us to do this work. For that we thank you, and we look forward to your continued support as we see each of these projects through to completion.

Learn more about Habitat’s neighborhood developments by visiting HABITAT4HUMANITY.ORG


Left: Construction Volunteer Manager David Rivera happily helping the short-staffed North Fort Myers ReStore team in July. Top Right: North Fort Myers ReStore Manager Brandon Eiland feeling grateful for the added support. Bottom Right: “It’s hot, and there’s no AC, but I’m enjoying it,” – ReStore Associate Josemar Barrett helping to build Habitat homes in March.


Teamwork, Integrity and Mission Focus


eeking to put God’s love into action, Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities and hope. This is our mission and it is driven by our vision for a world where everyone has a decent place to live. As an organization we are mission-focused, which means every action we take is done with the purpose of helping more families to own their safe, decent home.

they were, we saw an opportunity and we acted on it. So, our ReStore employees went to work on our construction sites.

Moreover, every individual who works for, volunteers with, or otherwise supports Habitat is vital to the mission. However, not everyone who helps the mission experiences the value of turning raw materials into homes. Like our ReStore employees, for instance. Our ReStores are heavily involved in helping raise money so that we can build homes, but outside of home dedications, ReStore employees rarely get to see the impact of their hard work.

Plus, for the first time, many of them got to see the value of their work in a new light. Raising walls and turning raw materials into homes – “It’s an eye-opening thing,” says North Fort Myers Store Manager Brandon. “It makes it all a little more real.”

Back in March, when the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic caused state-wide shutdowns, our ReStores were closed for nearly two months. At the same time, we had to suspend all volunteer activity. All at once, we found ourselves with no volunteers to help build homes, and a handful of employees unable to work. Integrity being one of our organization’s core values, leadership wanted to do everything possible to keep everyone employed. Circumstances being what 6


“Going from a volunteer environment to suddenly having no volunteers was a bit of a shock,” says Construction Volunteer Manager David. “Having the ReStore come over on board – they were instrumental in the whole process.”

Nearly two months went by before our ReStores opened back up, and throughout that time, ReStore employees continued to work on the construction sites. “A lot of people could have stayed home,” David says. “People were not only willing, but they wanted to come to work and continue to earn their pay checks. They wanted to support their coworkers.” Then, shortly after the ReStores reopened, our construction team had the opportunity to repay the favor. For a time, our North Fort Myers ReStore in particular was very short staffed. The construction team came in, helped to cover shifts, and supported

the ReStore employees the way volunteers normally would. “Teamwork is one of our core values,” says Brandon. “And everyone was able to live that out during that particular time.” In fact, our ReStores did really well considering the circumstances. “We did more than what we ever thought we could do,” Brandon says. “It showed the effectiveness of our team, and the value of having support from the construction staff.”

sales within the ReStore, resulting in more funding than we’d ever imagined possible during a pandemic. “Sometimes, great things can come out of difficult times,” says North Fort Myers ReStore Manager Brandon. As an organization whose core values are integrity, mission focus and teamwork, these challenging times have really shown us how deeply those values run.

With integrity, teamwork and a true focus on our mission, our construction staff helped to increase

Interested in donating your new and gently used items to the ReStore? Schedule a FREE donation pickup online:


ReStore by the numbers: *2019-2020 fiscal year constitutes a 9-month period, vs a 12-month period for previous fiscal year stats.



ReStore volunteers completed

ReStore locations

generated over

4,978 volunteer hours

$2.4 million in revenue to help Habitat build homes


items donated to the ReStore and diverted from landfills

thank you ReStore corporate sponsors:




Continuing to make an impact


n March 15th of this year – the day before we suspended volunteer activity – our Senior Director of Strategic Partnerships Elisha Baird and I were at the Chapel by the Sea Church celebrating their 40-year anniversary of volunteerism with Habitat. Although state-wide concern over the COVID-19 pandemic was beginning to peak, the church implored us not to shut down volunteer activity. Prior to that, we had simply asked high-risk volunteers and those with underlying medical conditions to self-suspend their own volunteer activity. Even so, those individuals continued to serve at our job sites, excited and ready to help make a difference for families in need of affordable housing. These experiences have truly reinforced for us the selflessness that goes along with being a Habitat volunteer and supporter. For that, we couldn’t be more grateful, and it made the weight of our decision to suspend all volunteer activity even heavier. It saddens me that, as a volunteer-driven organization, we’ve had to soldier forth without our most valuable asset – each of you. At the same time, we’ve had to prioritize our families. We wouldn’t be Habitat without giving them the opportunity to safely complete their sweat equity hours and own a piece of this mission. Even though you’re not working alongside us and experiencing our mission first-hand, our vital work truly does continue. Over the last nine months, despite the challenges we’ve faced as an organization, we’ve

Learn more about the impact YOU made by reviewing our 20192020 gratitude report. 8


accomplished so much. We’ve continued raising walls and serving families in need of decent and affordable shelter. We adapted to a temporarily shortened fiscal year as a result of changes made to our organization. Our Swanson Loop senior living facility was purchased by a local affordable housing non-profit, which enabled us to invest in Heritage Heights and keep the development of that neighborhood from coming to a halt. Plus, in partnership with the City of Cape Coral, we were given an opportunity to help even more families by disbursing rent and mortgage assistance for those who were financially impacted by COVID-19. Now, as we continue to move onward into the new year, we have big plans to put in motion. We’re committing ourselves to helping every family who walks through our doors, whether through financial and housing counseling, Habitat homeownership, home repair or home preservation. Plus, we are fully invested in our commitment to develop thriving neighborhoods that will serve families beyond the benefits of owning a home. It’s been a tough year but let us not be deterred. Often families who desire a better life and a place to call home only need a helping hand – and that hand continues to be yours. Although we’ve spent most of this year apart, your persistent faith, dedication and passion has remained the backbone of this organization. Stay strong, hold on to faith, know that you are making a difference and trust that we’ll be building together again soon.

Together in service,

Becky Lucas CEO, Habitat for Humanity of Lee and Hendry Counties

gratitude report FY 2019-2020 | OCTOBER 1, 2019–JUNE 30, 2020*

*2019-2020 fiscal year constitutes a 9-month period, vs a 12-month period for previous fiscal year stats.

gratitude report




purchased homes

FY 2019-2020 | October 1, 2019 June 30, 2020* *2019-2020 fiscal year constitutes a 9-month period, vs a 12-month period for previous fiscal year stats.

Executive Leaders Becky Lucas | CEO Rick Mercer | President & Construction John O’Donnell | CFO & Finance Tanya Soholt | COO & Family Services Vince Modarelli | VP of Strategic Partnerships Tammy Moran | VP of ReStore

3,356 volunteers

Board of Directors




children now have stability



Pam Avesian | Board Chair Carl A. Barraco | Vice Chair Robert M. Arnall | Treasurer Timothy F. Hawkins | Secretary Gary Aubuchon Patricia Benner Marion Briggs Tim Byal Edward P. Canterbury Vicki Cooper Claudie Delgado, DMD Ginny Dickinson Jeananne Folaros Cheryl R. Glover Gary Griffin John Hill Paul Martin Steve Mclntosh F. Michael (Mike) Mullinix MD Linda Miller David Owen Debra N. Penuel, RN

satisfied their mortgages

1% Misc



Donated Property Services & Goods

Gov. Grants


32 % First

Mortgages Issued






Total Revenue $11,169,000

served internationally through local tithe


% 22 ReStore

Total Expenses $11,601,827 5% % Rentals 3 Family

% 5 G&A

families came to us to learn about homeownership

% 2 Fundraising


% 21 Retail Stores

% 64 Construction

42,566 volunteer hours

FY 2019-2020 Government Grants $254,555 Lee County SHIP • $5,000 Other SHIP • $100,492 Lee County DRP • $26,029 Cape Coral DRP $110,000 Cape Coral CDBG • $55,400 Federal Home Loan Bank • $20,839 SIFR Funding • $16,164 Volunteer Florida

Special Thanks to our 2019-2020 Major Corporate Sponsors: ®



Thank you, every gift empowers a family in Lee & Hendry Counties FY 2019-2020 | OCTOBER 1, 2019 - JUNE 30, 2020 Habitat Heroes

Anonymous Brian SM and Becky SW2 Lucas Shadow Wood Charitable Foundation

Home Sponsors

Anonymous B & I Contractors, Inc. Beacon Point Associates, LLC Daniel J. and Jane H. Berktold Habitat for Humanity Fund Chico’s FAS Clive Daniel Home David and Kay Daly Enterprise Holdings Foundation Home-Tech Services, Inc. David and Linda Lucas Marvin P. Verhulst Foundation Shawn and Jacque McIntyre Miromar Development Corporation Terry and Susan Mulligan Norris Furniture & Interiors Raymond Building Supply, LLC Scanlon Auto Group TIAA Bank Victory Layne Chevrolet Kent and Martie White

Dream Builders Club

Anonymous Alan Einhorn SM and Vicki Cooper* SW2 Dennis and Darlene Kozlowski Publix Super Markets Charities Sanibel Captiva Community Bank Ron and Carol Sperling The Barbara R. Salter Living Trust

Master Builders Club

Lynne Birdt SW2 John and Helen Cassin Entech The Fernandez Family Foundation Florida Hometown Title & Escrow, LLC Francis P. Hindelong Memorial Trust John* and Lesley Hill Larry and Beverly Hinman Jason Lipsher SM Ed and Connie Lizak SW2 The Long Bay Charitable Foundation Craig and Beverley Miller Andy and Denise Oakes-Lottridge Jim and Deb* Penuel SW2 Thomas and Audrey Redford Saint Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church Ernest and Sandra Schaub John and June Scheumann Dean and Jane Schreiner Art and Jeannie Steidel SW2 The Robert and Patricia Stift Charitable Fund, a Donor Advised Fund of The US Charitable Gift Trust Jeff and Kim Sutton Synovus Tom and Kathleen Morris Family Foundation The Verandah Fund, a fund of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation 12


William and Mary Ann Walter Zonta Foundation of Southwest Florida/ Sanibel-Captiva

Hope Builders Club

Robert* and Ann Arnall SW2 Bank of America George Byam Joseph and JoAnn Catti David and Doreen Davis Edison National Bank Doug and Diane Ewing Ron and Leslie Ezerski John and Sharon Felsenthal Michael and Viola Flynn GE Foundation - Matching Gifts Program GL Homes of Florida Corporation H.E. Hill Foundation Habitat for Humanity International, Inc. Habitat for Humanity International, US Grants - Lowe’s Home Improvement Hi-Tech Cooling & Controls, Inc. Bob and Judy Hoehn Elmo and Betty Hurst Keith Hynes Lance and Susan Johnson LaBelle Brewing Company Michael Lensing Berneda Meeks Pelican Sound Charitable Foundation J. Douglas Richardson P.A. Tom and MJ Ross Royal Palm Coast Realtor Association Housing Foundation Jeffrey Schrank Augie and Donna Turturro Wayne and Sharon Wellman William E. Cross Foundation, Inc.

Finish Carpenters Club

Anonymous Barraco and Associates, Inc. Michael Beebe Patricia* SW2 and Harley Benner Lowell and Karen Benson SW2 Biotest Pharmaceuticals Corp. Robert and Judith Burgstahler First Bank Charles and Kitty Green SW2 Mark and Sandy Greenberg SW2 Joseph Heffernan Daniel and Bonnie Hollibush Howard and Biddy Lang Charity Trust David and Susan Knust Kenneth and Susan Kummer Lake Michigan Credit Union of Florida Lawson Family Charitable Foundation Tom and Beth Maguire David E. and Lillian E. Momot Charitable Gift Fund Morris Engineering and Consulting, LLC John and Lucia Nastasi NextEra Energy Foundation, Inc. Pavese Law Firm David Perrin and Margaret Hustad-Perrin Judith Siegfried Mary Sparkman

John and Judith Spoelhof State Farm Insurance Company Suncoast Credit Union Mark and Patricia Suwyn Swamp Cabbage Festival USI Insurance Services, LLC

Wall Raiser Club

Anonymous Pablito Almira American Subcontractors Association (ASA), Southwest Florida Chapter Darrel and Sandra Anderson Atlas Wealth Management, LLC Aubuchon Family Fund, Gary and Andrea Aubuchon SW2 Chuck Avery and Ellen Dennis Roger and Angie Baker William and Barbara Barbre James Bear Richard and Karen Bertrand David and Mary Beswick Bike & Build, Inc. Suzanne Blue Ann Boston Reamey Thomas Brenner and Shirley Jimmerson Marion Briggs* SW Britt and Diane Newhouse Charitable Fund Edmund and Patricia Burke Timothy Byal* and Lisa Mishler Katherine Caldwell Howard and Nancy Cohen Christopher and Diane Coughlin Claudia Cowart Denny and Deb Cowhey Crowther Roofing & Sheet Metal of FL Ray and Suzi Curler Henry and Marilyn De Francesca Desai Family Donor Advised Fund, a fund of the SWFL Community Foundation Dex Imaging, Inc. Beverly Dommerich William and Jane Drew Derick and Sally Driemeyer Richard Driscoll Gail Dupre Eddlemon-Farmer Family Fund Elias Brothers General Contractor, Inc. James and Lionel Elsesser James and Johanna Farley Jeananne Folaros* SW2 Fort Family Foundation, a donor-advised fund of The Philanthropy Fund Michael and Michelle Gambino Raymond and Catherine Garea Chancey and Jacqueline Graziano Michael and Carol Grimes Guardian Life Insurance Company of America Hampton Golf, Inc. Hansen Charitable Fund Henderson, Franklin, Starnes & Holt, P.A. Hendry County Board of County Commissioners John Henning

Stephen and Diane Hiatt Hopping Green & Sams, P.A. Thomas and Diane Howlett Ellen Hyndman Peter and Jan Jacobsen Peter and Diane Jones Paul and Marianne Kadlic James and Marilyn Keller Danny and Sheila Kelly Fred and Martha Kohnke Charitable Fund Joyce Koons Robert and Catherine Lawless Allen Lowen Dennis and Mary Lubozynski Caroline Lucas Grady Lucas Grant Lucas Richard and Marlys Lynch David Machamer Machamer Foundation Tom and Judy Maish Gail Markham SW Jane Masters Richard and Janine McLellan Larry and Charleen McPherson Mary McVay John Meiser and Lisa Duritsch SW Montage Women’s Club Roger and Mary Jo Morgan Bob and Alicia Morris Neal Communities Richard and Marilyn Nicklas George and Michele Nolan Gina Noonan Karen O’Bryan Florence Oden Old Republic Title Gregory and Shelley Olson Peter and Susan Ordway David* and Sarah Owen Owen-Ames-Kimball Company D. Reid and Mary Lee Patterson Jerry and Dawn Peppercorn Jacqueline Peregrin Robert Petersen Jan Phillips Michael Pratko Roderick and Susan Price David and Mary Reardon Reese Family Charitable Foundation Dennis and Eugenie Rehak Christopher and Susan Riley Alexander and Patty Robinson Richard Romano Victor Rosenberg Loretta Rosenmayer Saige Sanders (Lucas) Skylar Sanders (Lucas) Sanibel Congregational United Church of Christ Schenian Family Foundation, Inc. Thomas and Christine Schinke Robert Sebes Frank and Mary Jane Semcer Vinod and Usha Sethi Daniel Sheets Howard and Brenda Sheridan Charles Shirk Simons Law Group, PLLC

Ted and Jean Smith Jason and Tanya Soholt SW2 Stahlhuth Family Charitable Foundation Mark and Leslie Steskal Suncoast Beverage Sales Tamer Foundation Michael and Sharon Tanielian Robert and Linda Taylor The Benevity Community Impact Fund The Linda and George Miller Fund The Robert and Marcia Oswald Family Foundation Thrivent Financial Anna (Boots) Tolles SW2 Tri-City Pools, LLC Charles and Nancy Von Maur Edward Vonderbrink Carol Walker William Watts Michael and Louise Weber Kevin Weidling Robert Weiss Dennis and Rita Wells Tim and Janet Whiteman Jim and Carolyn Wier Tom and Mollie Wise SW2 Jo Ann Withrow Randy and Kathy Wittman Patricia Zambuto SW Zion Lutheran Church

Sustaining Builders

Violet DeSilva Samuel and Christine Disano Ellie Fox Louis Friedrichs James and Mary Hamilton Deborah Hervey Susan Krauter John and Lucia Nastasi Cassandra Nocifora SW Miriam Pereira Anne Ragland Shirley Sloper Rhoda Todd

Gifts “In Honor of”

Pat Benner Patty and John Corbo Annette Daigle Angel Drwal Inna Dudko Ed and Bev Duff Don Eddlemon Jude Falango Ivan and Dorothy Gorr Kitty Green Andy and Joan Harteveld Jim Herrell Sharon Hildebrand Bob and Nancy Jaycox Phoebe Joseph Charles Kitchen David and Susan Knust Michael and Vicki Konover John Marten Byron and Cathy McCalmon Steve McIntosh* David and Susan McPherson Lillian Mendenhall

David and Barbara Peirson Pelican’s Nest Golf Club Ash and Dianne Persad Charlotte Ross Joan Rudnick Mary Gayle Sartwell Bill Shelly Ted and Jean Smith Augie Turturro Jerry Welty The WHBM Knit Tops Team Bill and Betty Whitaker Janice White Baby Wise

Gifts “In Memory Of”

Linda Almira Tom and June Ames John J. Applegate Suzzie Moore Baldwin Lester Benson Janet Booth Walter L. Butler Cynthia Caputo Francis Costella Walter Dudko David Edson Charles Edwards Harold Elsesser Linda K. Kirkpatrick Erickson Bob Fiedler Libby Fox Daniel L. Frye Marty J. Gallagher, Jr. Bob Hebeisen Joyce Hurley Nickolai Kerpchar Mary Lyn Kraft Ana Machamer Gerald F. McManus Baby Philip MacKessey Anthony Leonardi Ken O’Brien Janet Frazier Olsen Frances Prigmore Sylvanio Perino Jerry Phelan Trixie Pottorf Dorothy Racza Willard “Raff” Rafferty Helen Schoene Roberta Schoper Bill Sprayberry Angie Tellis Rev. Susan B. Rice-Waller James Winston Watts David B. Wiest

KEY: * SW(2)/SM


= Board Member Women Build = SuperWoman(2)/Man =

Building a Future Legacy Society Member HABITAT4HUMANITY.ORG



“Love brings us home”


his year, life has taken each and every one of us to unexpected places. Everyone involved with Habitat has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. From day to day operations to our largest campaigns, we’ve been feeling the effects of COVID-19 too. Yet, through and through, we’ve seen inspiring levels of resiliency from future homeowners, volunteers and supporters across the board. Take Women Build for example. This campaign gets local women and Habitat supporters involved in fundraising, teambuilding, women’s empowerment, and most importantly, building affordable homes for female led households in need of a decent place to live. Each year, the Women Build initiative is one of the most popular, inspiring and successful building campaigns Habitat for Humanity of Lee and Hendry Counties hosts. However, like so many things throughout 2020, our Women Build Campaign looked slightly different.

“It was a little harder because you didn’t have as much help as you would normally.” - Christina After COVID-19, our three Women Build future homeowners went from putting in their sweat equity hours alongside supporters and volunteers to completing those hours all on their own. “It was a little harder because you didn’t have as much help as you would normally,” say’s Christina, one of three single

Candiss Dombkowski, Christina’s mom Maria, Christina and Mollie Wise raised the walls together prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.



After moving from a shared trailer to their Habitat home, Christina and sons, Kevin, Elijah and Izek are relieved to have their own rooms and their own beds.

moms who partnered with Habitat through Women Build last year. “It’s more exciting – more enjoyable when you have more people there.” In fact, without being able to bring her mom or anyone else along to help, Christina found herself completing the last of her hours all on her own. It took longer, it was more difficult, and she lacked the sense of community that usually comes with building a home through Habitat. Then, as schools across the state were shut down over concern for the spread of COVID-19, Christina, like so many others, was furloughed from her job as a bus driver. With no reliable income, she worried that she would lose her future home all together. Plus, living in a small trailer with her brother’s family meant sheltering in place with a total of nine people. Although they were lucky enough to avoid getting sick, Christina and her children were sharing, not just a room, but a bed! Privacy, personal space, even just a moment alone was next to impossible. Despite the challenges she faced, Christina’s determination was strong, and she was resilient. She may have been on her own, but she still managed to complete her sweat equity hours. Her children were out of school, but she still found time to complete her homeownership education classes. She was furloughed from work, but she still saved the money

A handwritten message of support in the walls, courtesy of Habitat volunteer and donor, Mollie Wise: “Dearest Christina and family, life takes us unexpected places, love brings us home!”

needed for closing. In the end, although the closing was delayed, Christina managed to achieve her dream of homeownership and provide her children with the space and privacy they deserve. “As a single mom of three kids, it’s hard to find a place you can afford to rent.” Christina says. “Habitat changed my life by helping me buy a home that’s safe and affordable.” Christina is not the only person who’s shown patience and strong will this past year. Thankfully, all three of our Women Build moms managed to close on their homes despite similar challenges. Our volunteers and supporters have stayed with us despite not being able to participate in the ways they’d originally anticipated. Fundraising events were cancelled, but funds were still raised. Volunteer opportunities were eliminated, but homes were still built. Familiar ways of supporting Habitat all but disappeared, but Habitat was still supported. Many volunteers and supporters were just as disappointed as our homeowners when volunteer activity was suspended. “Habitat made such a difference in my hope for the future,” says Habitat volunteer and supporter, Mollie Wise. “There’s so much that we can do – even past our working years – to use our time and talent, our funds, our energy, our connections. It’s made me feel like I have something meaningful to contribute

and that was a wonderful gift given to me by Habitat.” As co-captain of her Women Build team, Dream ReStorers, and a member of the Women Build Committee, Mollie is heavily involved with Habitat and has been for several years. As a former educator who’s spent her life working with children, she understands just how life-changing homeownership can be for a family. When volunteer activity was suspended and Mollie learned that things would not be moving forward as planned, she said, “it only inspired more effort – because it was harder than ever, and we couldn’t be together face-to-face, and we knew we wouldn’t be able to come together in the end before Mother’s Day – we decided we were going to do everything else possible.” Although the changes we’ve seen over the last year have been difficult, limiting, and disappointing, we’ve found new ways to rally together. The last year has taught us how truly selfless our supporters are and how much they really care. Amazingly, many of our supporters have doubled their efforts and poured even more into this mission, because, as Mollie says, “now a house means so much more. Especially in the last several months – it’s been our lifelines.”

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