See more pics in our PICASA Album!
The handprints in the concrete walkway that leads to the Nielsen family's new home say it all: 'this is MY house!' And so on August 2nd, the three-year-old boy who laid his claim to the home during construction joined his mom, Kristina Nielsen, to make it official.
A crowd of family, friends, Habitat staff and supporters gathered to share the love and dedicate the St. Pete home for the Nielsen family, beginning with a prayer from Habitat Pinellas board member Tamara Davis, also a Habitat homeowner. The young and very sweet "master" of the home and his equally as sweet mom received several welcome gifts including a symbolic hammer from a volunteer who helped build the home, Juan Saa. Gifts were also presented by Juneau Collier of Valpak and Dave Gerald of Anona United Methodist Church. Pinellas County Commissioner Charlie Justice presented a flag to Kristina and Sarah Miller of HSN presented a bible signed by all in attendance. The family also received a welcome mat donated by Andrea Stark Home and presented by future Habitat homeowners, Antoinette Smith and her son.
The home was sponsored by Habitat Pinellas' "Havana Nights" fundraising gala and the house key was presented by gala committee member and Habitat Pinellas board member Mary-Ellen Howells.
Thank you to all who helped celebrate this beautiful day with Kristina and her son, and a great big thanks to all the volunteers who helped built their home. We also thank the "Havana Nights" sponsors (HSN, Quorum, Bayfront Medical, Adamo & Associates Realty Executives, EverBank, Florida Forest Products, Joe and Gina Fontana, Hill Ward Henderson, Mary-Ellen Howells, Scott and Julie Klavans, Pinellas County Housing Authority, Progress Energy, Skip and Vicki Tylman) and all the event supporters who made the sponsorship possible!Comments
Dear Habitat Pinellas supporter,
Please take a few minutes to read the info from Habitat International below and join us in showing your support for affordable housing. Tell Congress to protect the funding and flexibility of valuable federal programs that are meeting affordable housing needs in your community. These federal grant programs are extremely important to Habitat for Humanity affiliates throughout the nation. They help us increase the number of families served here in Pinellas County and in communities just like ours throughout our nation.
Thank you for your continued support of the Habitat mission.
-- Mike Sutton, CEO, Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas County
From Habitat for Humanity International:
Housing means stability. Ensuring that everyone has access to adequate housing helps individuals, families, neighborhoods, and communities. And that benefits our entire nation.
That's why it's so critical to protect federal programs that increase affordable housing opportunities and engage organizations like Habitat.
Tell your lawmakers to protect the funding and flexibility of programs that meet affording housing needs in our communities! Just fill out the petition form and we'll do the rest.
You'll send a clear message to your legislators to protect programs like the Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program (SHOP), which has helped thousands of families using the self-help, sweat-equity model that requires families to commit substantial time to constructing their own homes. The SHOP program provides unique value to all of us as taxpayers, drawing $5 in private investment in communities for every $1 of federal grant funding. In total, Habitat SHOP grants have leveraged more than $1 billion of private sector investment in local communities served by Habitat to address the growing housing crisis in the U.S. By leveraging private investment, we multiply our impact exponentially to help families in need. A current House bill proposes to eliminate this essential program — and that's unacceptable.
Adequate, affordable housing is critical to the safety, stability, and economic security of individual families — and our nation as a whole. Please ask your leaders to provide strong support for effective federal programs like SHOP in order to meet critical housing needs in responsible, effective and proven ways.
Thank you for your continued support. Together we will ensure that everyone has a decent, safe and affordable place to live.
Chief Executive Officer
Habitat for Humanity International
Last week we had the pleasure of dedicating two more Habitat Pinellas homes -- one in Clearwater for the Jacques family, and one in St. Petersburg for the Eliacin family!
On Wednesday afternoon, June 25th, we gathered inside the Jacques family home to officially dedicate and bless the home and welcome Morgan Jacques and her two children to their new home. Dedication participants included Juneau Colleur of Valpak, Tori McGee of Duke Energy, Dave Gerald of Anona United Methodist Church, and Clearwater City Council member Bill Jonson as well as several staff members from Clearwater Toyota, the home's sponsor.
Many thanks to Clearwater Toyota and general manager Todd DeVoogel for sponsoring the Jacques home! And a huge thanks to the Clearwater Toyota staff, including Todd and members of his executive staff, for volunteering hundreds of hours to help build the home. This is Clearwater Toyota's second sponsored Habitat Pinellas home in a year.
On Saturday morning, June 28th, we welcomed Nirva Eliacin and her three daughters to their St. Petersburg home. Dedication participants included Nancy Cook of Valpak, Kathy McGovern of Transamerica, and Dave Gerald of Anona United Methodist Church. Representing the home sponsor, CHASE, District Manager Nathan Merrill and Manager Tracey Johnson presented the house key to Nirva and her daughters. Anne Marie Compas of Pinellas Christian Center blessed the home, and later sang hymns with other members of her congregation.
Special thanks to CHASE for sponsoring the Eliacin home and for their ongoing support of Habitat Pinellas!
Welcome home to the Jacques and Eliacin families!
PHOTOS: Top, from left, Tracey Johnson, manager, and Nathan Merrill, districkt manager for CHASE, with the Eliacin family and Habitat Pinellas CEO Mike Sutton. Below, from left, Clearwater Toyota GM Todd DeVoogel with Toyota staff and the Jacques family.Comments
Blog reports from our Habitat Pinellas “Global Village” volunteers who are building homes in Africa!Tuesday, June 24, 2014
An enthusiastic team of loyal Habitat Pinellas volunteers are currently building homes in Malawi, Africa, as part of Habitat International's "Global Village." Our team will be building throughout this week and will return to Pinellas County by July 1st. We have received text messages and photos from one of the volunteers, Ron Spoor, who is also our COO. Team leader and Habitat Pinellas site supervisor Gaby Camacho also sent us texts and pics. Enjoy their photos and impressions of the build and Malawi! Visit our Habitat Pinellas Facebook page to see more pics in our Global Village album!
June 23, 2014 -- Malawi, Africa
by Ron Spoor, Global Village volunteer and Habitat Pinellas COO
This morning, The Habitat Pinellas team was welcomed to Mwalama Village, near Mt. Mulanje, Malawi, by about 40 village residents.
The welcome ceremonies included about 20 minutes of traditional singing and dancing to a beautiful African beat. We were warmly welcomed by the village chief - a woman named Linda who rejoiced to learn of our team member with the same name. (Linda Higgins!)
The local masons put the Habitat team right to work installing brick exterior walls for a new home for a woman named Agnes. We also had the opportunity to visit Agnes' current residence and see how it is not able to keep Agnes' family of seven safe and dry.
Local school children got the day off to enjoy friendship with the Habitat Pinellas team. About 40 kids spent the day sharing smiles with the team and they especially loved seeing themselves in the pictures taken with the team's digital cameras. The team looks forward to more brick masonry on Agnes' home and the start of Cecelia's home in the coming days. And, the team looks forward to a growing friendship with our Habitat brothers and sisters in Mwalami Village, Malawi.
Photos: above right, "Agnes," center left, and her six children, surrounded by members of their village. Bottom left, members of our Habitat Pinellas volunteer team.
June 24, 2014 -- Green Building Malawi Style
by Ron Spoor
The Habitat Pinellas team enjoyed another day working with our Mwalama Village partners as we seek to build good homes for Agnes and her children and Cecelia and her children.
The team continues to install brick walls for the two homes. And, we are learning some "very green" local building practices. At Habitat Pinellas, we have embraced green building techniques as we strive to ensure the long term sustainability of our homeowners and practice good environmental stewardship. All new Habitat Pinellas homes are Energy Star certified and we have obtained LEED certification on homes as well. However, it would be difficult to match the green building practices of Habitat for Humanity in Mwalama Village, Malawi. All materials for the interior and exterior walls are "sourced" within 50 feet of the new homes. Bricks are made from Mwalama Village clay soils and baked on site. Mortar to bind the bricks together is made from village clay, village straw, and water hand pumped from the village well. No fossil fuels are used in the hand manufacturing process or transport (50 feet). And, the lifespan of the walls - through this traditional process - is 80 years. Hooray Habitat Malawi, Africa for your excellence in green building!
Photos: Above left, Malawi clay bricks - still wet! Above right, volunteer Steve working hard laying bricks. Lower left, Habitat Pinellas volunteers Deanna and Mike building walls.
June 25, 2014 -- Malawi, "The Warm Heart of Africa!"
by Ron Spoor
A Habitat for Humanity Global Village trip leaves many lasting memories. Among the most brilliant, are the smiles of local children. The warmth and brilliance of the smiles of the children in Mwalami Village is truly inspiring and contagious.
Children in the village sleep on dirt floors in small buildings open to the elements and insects. They have no electricity and walk to pump water from the village well. And they have few, if any, belongings - usually not even shoes. Yet, they love to smile and their joy is shared with visitors in abundance.
The team is greeted each day by the smiles of a multitude of children and their welcome is ever present throughout the workday. The favorite activity of the children is to see images of themselves on the screens of the team's cameras and phones. For many, this is the first time they have seen their picture. Today, we were able to bring a soccer ball to the village children and join a large group of kids in a soccer game. As you might imagine, the Habitat team didn't get to kick the ball much but the village kids had a blast playing with a real soccer ball.
We love building homes with Agnes' family and Cecelia's family. But, equally as memorable is the opportunity to build friendships with the village residents and children and see their truly abundant and inspiring smiles.
June 26, 2014 -- Njerrwa and Matope (brick and mortar)
by Ron Spoor
Under the supervision of Habitat for Humanity of Malawi staff (including local masons), the Habitat Pinellas team has worked diligently to ensure our masonry work is in accordance with the designated local quality standards. Around the world, Habitat for Humanity International utilizes local building materials and methods and employs local tradespersons. And, Global Village teams follow the direction of local leadership in building Habitat homes, which provides a great opportunity for teams to learn about and show respect for local building techniques and culture. In Malawi, the Habitat Pinellas team has focused on building brick walls for the homes of Agnes' family and Cecelia's family.
Since English is the official language in Malawi, we have been able to communicate with the local Habitat leadership in English. However, in the Mulanje area and in Mwalami Village (the location that we are building) the fluent language is Chichewa. The team has worked to learn and communicate in Chichewa as we strive to grow in understanding and appreciation of the local culture. Some words we have used most frequently include moni (hello), njerrwa (brick), matope (mortar) and madzi (water). With those few words, a teachable spirit, and the leadership of our Malawi Habitat friends, we can add our favorite Habitat phrase - Tiyni Timange! (Let's Build!)
Photo: Above, Habitat Malawi volunteer and our new friend who is known as "Elephant."
June 27, 2014 -- Dedication Day
by Ron Spoor
The Habitat Pinellas team concluded the week with the dedication of Agnes' family home and Cecelia's family home.
Around 300 people gathered for the ceremony including the Mwalami Village Chief (a woman) and the area 'chief of chiefs' (also a woman). Mwalami Village residents celebrated with traditional singing and dancing. And, the Habitat Pinellas team performed some of their own 'traditional dancing' (the Electric Slide and the Macarena).
Agnes, Cecelia, the Mwalami Village Chief and the area "chief of chiefs" offered their sincere gratitude to the volunteer team. The ceremony concluded with the traditional Habitat Pinellas "'laying hands on the homes" and prayers of blessing.
The Habitat Pinellas team finished the week with a genuine spirit of thanksgiving for the chance to grow in friendship with our brothers and sisters in Malawi - the warm heart of Africa - and for the opportunity to dream of and work for "a world in which everyone has a decent place to live."
Photo: Above, Agnes and Cecelia, and both their families join the village chief, the "chief of chiefs," and Habitat Pinellas volunteers in front of one of the two new homes built during this trip.Comments
We are honored to be nominated for the 2014 GOOD 'BURGER Awards!
And we'd be twice as honored if we received your vote! Please take a moment and vote for Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas County in the Community Service/Nonprofit category at www.StPete.com
A "Good 'Burger" is a business, organization, or individual in greater St. Pete making a positive impact in our community. Voting begins on Monday, June 23rd and is available through August 28th when the Good 'Burger awards will be announced at Jannus Live beginning at 6 p.m.
Thank you for voting for us!Comments