As written for Habitat World Magazine

Tithe Testimony from Mike Sutton, CEO of Habitat of Pinellas County
By Mike Sutton


Our organization, Habitat of Pinellas County, finds ways to include the work that we do internationally in the work that we do locally. For example, at each home dedication we take time to acknowledge our home-for-a-home program: for each house we build in St. Petersburg, Florida, we build a house in Guatemala or Malawi. This has helped us from a local standpoint by making it known that Habitat is not just at work throughout Pinellas County and the United States but also throughout the world, as our ministry touches hundreds of thousands of lives each year.


Before joining Habitat of Pinellas County, I worked for an affiliate in Texas for 5 years. We tithed on average $2,000 - $5,000 annually to the global work. We were not really engaged. That affiliate has since become more engaged, but my experience at Habitat of Pinellas County has always been different. One main reason is because there are great champions for the global work within our organization, such as Gabby who is the VP of construction. She has been with our organization for 10 years and has led a number of Global Village trips. Gabby, along with several other staff, helps our organization stay focused not only on our local impact but also on our global impact.


Our organization has made a commitment internally to the tithe program. We budget for our tithe, and at the end of the fiscal year, we finds ways to give extra. This commitment is possible through strong board support. We cultivate this board support through a variety of ways. For example, at least one board meeting each year is dedicated to the international work. In addition, a few years ago, we had Susan Yow, the director of affiliate tithe and global engagement at Habitat International, come talk to our board about the global work. During her visit, we hosted a panel of three individuals in our community who regularly join our global village trips and who talk passionately about our global work. Ironically, these three panelists do not support Habitat of Pinellas County locally and so are only focused on our global engagement. Susan’s visit and this panel helped our board understand that not every single person is going to support us locally, as some people are just more interested in our work abroad. Recently, Kelvin, the national director of Habitat Malawi, also visited our staff and board to talk about the impact of our tithe. These visits build up great excitement around our tithe and global engagement.
Our organization is very fortunate to have a board that trusts our staff to make recommendations around our tithe. Our global work is driven largely by these passionate and dedicated staff. Malawi, in particular, has tugged at our heart strings. We have really rallied behind them in terms of support. For example, we have made a commitment to Habitat Malawi to send a global village team every other year to build with them. The trip to Malawi is a bit expensive though, and so our organization also offers global village trips to Latin America and the Caribbean region, which is more affordable and can attract a different type of supporter. We are looking forward to our next trip to the Dominican Republic in 2019.


Our organization continues to think creatively around how we can do more. We are in the initial planning stages for a fundraising event that Kelvin with Habitat Malawi would help us to host through which we will raise awareness about and funding for future global village trips to Malawi. We would also highlight the need for adequate housing in Malawi and other low-income communities around the world. This type of event is all about listening to the donor, which will allow us to attract new supporters. We are looking forward to this great event next year, among other global initiatives.


Mike Sutton is the chief executive officer of Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas County in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Click here to learn more about the upcoming Global Village Trip to the Dominican Republic.

Dear Habitat Pinellas Supporter,

The Tampa Bay Times published an article “They trusted Habitat for Humanity. Then it sold their mortgages to a Tampa company that flips houses” on Sunday, August 12th. This article addresses a business decision made by the Habitat for Humanity Hillsborough County Affiliate.

Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas County cannot comment on business decisions or practices of other Habitat affiliates. Each affiliate is individually incorporated, operating under its own set of governing bylaws.

However, we can address our business model which includes the sale of our mortgages to financial partners. Habitat Pinellas retains all servicing rights of each & every mortgage we write. The terms (years and 0% interest) of the mortgage note never change. We then use those funds to build the next Habitat home; we call this the Fund for Humanity. The home owner must remain current on monthly payments; failure to do so may ultimately lead to foreclosure.

We appreciate your continued support of Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas County and the need for affordable housing in our community.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to our CEO, Mike Sutton, at msutton@habitatpinellas.org or (727) 536-4755.

Sincerely,

Matt Frey – Board Chairman, Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas County
Mike Sutton – CEO, Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas County

The Mills family has three generations under one roof. Mr. Mills is one of the first homeowners in Historic Midtown, St. Petersburg, Florida. After many years living in their home, the residence required extensive maintenance. His daughter who has lived in the family home all her life took responsibility for the repairs. She wasn’t sure where to begin getting the critical needs of the home met: roof replacement, electrical upgrades, plumbing repairs, HVAC replacement, attic insulation or exterior painting. When Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas County introduced the Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative, a home repairs program designed specifically for the Mills neighborhood, Miss Mills immediately agreed to partner with Habitat. Upon Habitat Pinellas' inspection of the home, the findings were that the house was beyond repair. The roof that needed replacement due to the expiration of the life expectancy was sitting on a termite infested frame that was structurally unsound. The electrical panel wasn’t up to code and there were some outlets and switches that were inoperable. The plumbing did not drain properly. The HVAC wasn’t cooling because of air leaks nor was it efficient because of lack of maintenance. There was zero attic insulation. The siding on the house was in desperate need of a new coat of paint. If Habitat would have completed the critical repairs there would still be other issues such as window and door replacement, and subfloor repairs needed. The critical repairs estimated around $25k. With such a large investment needed, Habitat Pinellas introduced the Mills family to the Habitat new homeownership program to which they were accepted. They deeded their property over to Habitat Pinellas at no cost for the duration of the construction process and their family collectively completed the 350 sweat equity hours and 16 homeowner classes required by the program. The Mills will now pay a zero interest mortgage and live in a brand new, energy efficient, hurricane-resistant home. Before After

Pinellas County's Day of Giving - Pinellas County has proclaimed November 29, 2016 #GivingTuesday. #Giving Tuesday is a global day of giving that harnesses the collective power of a unique blend of partners-charities, families, businesses, and individuals-to encourage philanthropy and to celebrate generosity worldwide. #GivingTuesday is held annually on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, the year-November 29, 2016, to kick-off the holiday giving season and to inspire people to take collaborative action to improve their local communities and to give back in better, smarter ways to charities and causes they support. Click here to donate now.

Seeing an opportunity to channel the generous spirit of the holiday season, Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas County is asking our supporters, donors, volunteers, and families to make a donation in honor of our 400th home.

The dedication of the 400th home marks an important milestone in our Habitat Pinellas history that has helped 400 low income families, including 1044 children, escape the downward path of substandard housing.

So many different people have come together to build each of these 400 homes. And just as important as those people who pick up hammers are the people and organizations that support us financially or provide government cooperation in each of the cities where we build. Their combined efforts have enabled Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas County to reach this milestone, while helping families in our community, like the Piantadosi family, obtain the dream of homeownership and the opportunity for a brighter future.

Click here to Donate to the 400th Habitat Pinellas Home Now!

Building Homes. Building Hope. Building Community.

On behalf of the families we serve, thank you!

About the Piantadosi Family
In December, Habitat for Humanity will begin building our 400th home for the Piantadosi family.

Amanda Piantadosi is a single woman with a passion for teaching young children. While she doesn't have a child of her own, she enjoys working as an Assistant Preschool Director and Lead VPK teacher. In addition to her passion for helping children, she has been lovingly sharing her home with her mother, niece, and niece's daughter.

The tight-knit blended family has been sharing a two-bedroom rental. The niece and her daughter share a room while Amanda's mother, Louanne, sleeps on a pull-out couch in the living room. The close quarters have been challenging for the women, and in addition to the space issue, the price of repairs and rising cost of rent has been a tremendous burden to the family.

When Amanda found out she was accepted into Habitat Pinellas's homeowner program, she was in disbelief. "I was very excited and kept thinking 'thank you, Jesus, I can't believe it," Amanda recalled about telling her mother the news. Amanda looks forward to providing stability both physically and financially for her family. They will no longer have to worry about rental increases and moving. Amanda's hardworking and deserving mother will finally have a bedroom of her own, and the women will finally be able to enjoy the simple pleasure of doing laundry at home. "This house will be our sanctuary, the place we can't wait to go home to at the end of the day," says Amanda about the family's future.

Did you know? Whirlpool is a National Partner with Habitat for Humanity! Locally, they have partially sponsored THREE Habitat homes.

During a beautiful Saturday morning dedication, Lexus Ramsey made the key presentation to the overjoyed Kabamba/Kabuya family on behalf of Whirlpool, a contributing sponsor of the home. The family expressed their gratitude to Whirlpool and a big thank you to all the volunteers who helped build their home.

Stephany Lavely presented the family with a flag that has been flown over the U.S. Capitol on behalf of U.S. Congressman David Jolly's office. Other participants included Tracey Benjamin, a volunteer on the home who presented the Hammer, Susan Sullivan, a Habitat Homeowner Partner who presented the Bible, and Dave Gerald from Anona United Methodist Church who blessed this home. We are grateful for partnerships like these and many others, as we work together to move our mission forward!

About the Whirlpool/Habitat partnership
In more than 16 years of partnership with Habitat for Humanity, Whirlpool has developed active programs in more than 45 countries with a commitment of more than $90 million. In the United States and Canada, the company has donated more than 168,000 ranges and refrigerators to new Habitat homes, serving more than 85,000 families. Additionally, Whirlpool has donated more than 41,000 products to Habitat ReStore retail outlets, helping raise nearly $5.7 million. The company has engaged thousands of employee volunteers, sponsored nearly 150 homes and donated products to more than 75,000 Habitat families Europe, Middle East and Africa. Whirlpool plans to support the work of Habitat around the world through product donations, financial contribution and/or volunteerism.
http://www.whirlpoolcorp.com/social-responsibility/

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The Burrell Family has been through a lot together. While living in CASA's transitional housing units, the Burrell's misfortunes turned around when they qualified for a Habitat for Humanity home. Aneika Burrell successfully achieved her Habitat sweat equity hours all while living in a shelter, working two jobs and caring for and supporting her family.

All her hard work paid off, because on June 18, Aneika Burrell and her family received their house key from Bill Van Law, the president of Raymond James Investment Advisors Division.

This dedication marks the 10th home for Raymond James, bringing their total donations to $490,243. Raymond James employees volunteered 442 volunteer hours. This converts to almost $6,000 in cash savings on this home alone.

Back in 1962, Bob James founded Raymond James on the principle that putting others first - from our clients to our neighbors - was the right thing to do. His deep commitment to doing what's right remains a core part of who Raymond James is as a company. Raymond James is proud to continue his legacy by investing our time, money and talents into the communities we serve. It's so much more than tradition; it's our way of thanking those who've supported us from the start.

Check out the Burrell's story by visiting 10News WTSP!

Special thanks to Raymond James for sponsoring this home. And many thanks to all of the volunteers who helped us build this home!

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We started our 365th home dedication off in the most uplifting way!

New homeowner Sharon Brown celebrated her home dedication with a symbolic butterfly release with her twin sister Karen Borders (also a Habitat homeowner), and some Habitat staff. Everyone watched the transformational experience take place, which symbolized hope and a new beginning for Sharon as she received the key to her new home from her sister Karen.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the dedication including: Habitat Pinellas Board Member Michael Kilpatrick, Habitat Pinellas' Homeowner Services Coordinator Deb Lay, Habitat Homeowner Partner Kathryn Welsh, Dave Gerald of Anona United Methodist Church, Random Acts of Flowers, David Jolly's office, Pinellas County Commissioner Pat Gerard and Vice Mayor of Largo Jamie Robinson.

PHOTO: Karen, Sharon and Habitat's Mike Sutton and Deb Lay release the butterflies that Karen brought to the dedication ceremony as a symbol of transformation and hope.

BUILDER magazine has ranked Habitat for Humanity as the No. 1 private home builder on "BUILDER 100," its annual listing of the largest U.S. home builders. This is the second year in a row Habitat's work across the country has been recognized as a top builder of affordable housing in the U.S.

Each year, BUILDER compiles data from U.S. builders and ranks them by the number of closings for BUILDER 100. With 3,237 closings in 2015, Habitat topped the private home builder list and placed No. 16 on the comprehensive list.

"As a local Habitat affiliate, we are very excited to see Habitat for Humanity recognized as our nation's top private home builder, especially because the homes we build are affordable for limited-income families and individuals who otherwise would not have the opportunity to own a home of their own, " said Mike Sutton, CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas County. "Last year, Habitat Pinellas helped 32 families achieve their dream of affordable homeownership. For fiscal year 2016, we are on track to increase that number by serving 45 families."

Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas County is one of nearly 1,400 Habitat organizations in the U.S. Since 1985, Habitat Pinellas has worked throughout Pinellas County empowering families and helping them achieve strength, stability and self-reliance through decent and affordable housing. Corporate partners help fund Habitat Pinellas' aggressive building goals and community volunteers, who will have contributed over 45,000 volunteer hours for the current fiscal year, help on the construction sites. To date, Habitat Pinellas has built or rehabbed homes for 365 local families and individual homeowners who contributed $336,821.88 to Pinellas County's tax base last year.

Our Habitat Pinellas ReStore and Administrative Office will be closed on Monday, May 30th in observance of Memorial Day.

We will be open our regular hours on Tuesday, May 31st, from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Thank you for supporting Habitat Pinellas and our ReStore!

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We dedicated our 364th home sponsored by Crown Automotive Group to the Rosado/Fleming family! Monday afternoon was filled with sunny skies and joy as Dominic and Kenja received the key from Jim Myers, President of Crown.

Other dedication participants included: Stephani Lavely of U.S. Congressman David Jolly's office, Habitat Pinellas Volunteer Emma Rumple, Dave Gerald of Anona United Methodist Church, Valpak, Random Acts of Flowers and Habitat Site Supervisor Dave Fornek.

Many thanks to Crown Automotive Group for sponsoring their third Habitat Pinellas home and volunteering their time to help us build! We are grateful for your continued support!

PHOTO: From left- Florida House Representative Dwight Dudley, Habitat volunteer Emma Rumple, Crown President Jim Myers and other Crown employees with the Rosado family.