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Harvest United Methodist Church Supports Manatee County Habitat for Humanity Interfaith Build 2018

Harvest Check Presentation

1st row: The Rev. Rosemary Backer, Vice President of Manatee Habitat Board of Directors and Chair of the Interfaith Build, Diana Shoemaker, Executive Director of Manatee Habitat, Jacqueline and Marvin Kendall, Interfaith Build Habitat homebuyers. 2nd Row: Harvest United Methodist Church members:  Jeff Lewis, Gale Whitson-Schmidt, Laura Whalen, Don Whitson-Schmidt, Barbara Moore, Paloma Cuevas and Kathy Shjarback.

Members of Harvest United Methodist Church showed their support for the Manatee Habitat Interfaith Build in three ways on Saturday, April 21. First, they helped remove the form boards from the foundation and rake the soil to the appropriate grade while others built the first course of Insulated Concrete Form (ICF) blocks on the foundation of the house. Jacqueline and Marvin Kendall, the Habitat homebuyers of the Interfaith Build were there working alongside the Harvest United Methodist volunteers and others. At break time, the members of Harvest United Methodist Church presented a check for $10,000 to Manatee Habitat for Humanity to help fund the home construction. Funds were raised by donations from church members at the Christmas Eve services.

“We are thrilled to have Harvest United Methodist members participating in the Interfaith Build and are so grateful for their generosity to help fund this endeavor,” said Diana Shoemaker, Manatee Habitat Executive Director.

“Harvest is honored to partner with Habitat via the Interfaith Build, because we are committed to serving our community, and to expressing the love and grace of God so that people have the opportunity to flourish.” – Rev. Katie Pestel, Co-Pastor, Harvest United Methodist Church. In addition to the volunteers and financial contribution, they brought along a very welcome addition to the jobsite – their own wood-fired pizza oven and all the ingredients to make pizza.

“The church purchased this mobile pizza oven so we can do events and offer homemade pizzas when we are out in the community,” said Don Whitson-Schmidt. He and his wife Gale made pizza and salad for the entire crew after the work for day was done. “We call it Holy Smoke,” Don said.

The founding faith communities committed to the project are: Church of the Annunciation and Gloria Dei Lutheran Church of Anna Maria Island, Harvest United Methodist Church and Knights of Columbus Council 13341 of Our Lady of the Angels Catholic Church of Lakewood Ranch, Faith United Church of Christ, St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church and Trinity Lutheran Church, all in Bradenton; St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Palmetto; and St. Armand’s Key Lutheran Church and the Islamic Society of Sarasota and Bradenton in Sarasota.

Collectively, they have committed to raise the $95,000 needed to cover construction costs and to provide 3,200 hours of volunteer service – much of it at the work site on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings. The Interfaith Build is located at 604 11th Ave. E. in Bradenton.

Early on, the Interfaith Build Steering Committee – consisting of representatives of the participating groups – identified three purposes of their project:

  • to build a single-family affordable home in Manatee County
  • to build a coalition of faith communities serving God
  • to witness their unity and their service to the local community

Several of the faith communities have been involved previously in Manatee Habitat homebuilding, but this is the first time multiple denominations and faiths have come together to take on a project from start to finish. The planners of the Interfaith Build invite more faith communities to join the effort. For more information, faith organizations can contact Amy Van Dell, Resource Development Manager at (941) 748-9100.

Local contractors build home for Habitat for Humanity volunteer in honor of fallen employee

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BRADENTON, FL (WWSB) - The Manatee County chapter of Habitat for Humanity builds 5 homes per year. One home on 17th Avenue West in Bradenton represents a future for one family, as it provides closure for another.

"Everybody is so excited and enthusiastic about getting the job done," said Jackie Melendez.

For Melendez, it isn't just construction for a house, this is a home; her home.

"Everybody here is full of love and support and everybody works so hard to make it happen," said Melendez.

She isn't a stranger to the organization. Melendez is a volunteer home buyer for Habitat for Humanity. She recently learned she is financially eligible to build a home through habitat, and in just a few months, she and her two kids will be moved into a 3 bedroom, 1,100 square foot home.

"Just to see the fruit of your labor and just to know that you worked so hard for, you're going to get the benefit of it," smiled Melendez.

The construction would take an extra month if it wasn't for Carpenter Contractor's of America. The group is donating its labor and materials to build the roof and interior walls. They say it's in honor of their Vice President Jeff Pfeifer who died in a car crash in Parrish in September.

"We all stick together and when times are trouble we are all there for each other," said Sue Connolly, who worked with Pfeifer at CCA.

"It's great that they've brought all of their people to work on our houses as it's going to help us get our families into a home much quicker," said Bruce Winter, Director of Construction for Mantaee Habitat for Humanity.

Once the green build construction project comes to an end, the 5th Habitat house in the city of Bradenton will honor the man who co-workers describe as a gentle soul, full of life.

"I know he is sitting on a cloud above us watching us all, and smiling with pride," smiled Connolly.

The project is expected to be complete by June 2018.

More than 100 families have purchased and built homes through the Manatee Habitat for Humanity program since 1994.  Read more

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Let’s get acquainted Monthly Volunteer Coffee

2nd Saturday of the month 11a.m.-noon

Meet us at the Cortez ReStore/Administration Offices
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Manatee Habitat for Humanity Interfaith Build Groundbreaking Draws the Faithful to Washington Park

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Dec. 12, 2017(Bradenton, Fla) - On Saturday, December 9th more than 40 supporters of the Manatee Habitat Interfaith Build braved the rain standing under tents and umbrellas to celebrate and bless the ground breaking of a new home. On the lot at 604 11th Ave. East in Washington Park, members of ten faith communities came together to turn a shovel of dirt and share words of faith and encouragement.

The Kendall family that will be the Habitat home buyers and Habitat staff and volunteers all joined the ceremony. “What a joy as we partner in this Interfaith build! This is a great visible witness to the local community and putting into action our work for affordable housing. Come join us!” said Rev. Rosemary Backer, Manatee Habitat Board of Directors Vice President and Chairperson of the Interfaith Build.

The founding faith communities committed to the project are: Church of the Annunciation and Gloria Dei Lutheran Church of Anna Maria Island, Harvest United Methodist Church and Knights of Columbus Council 13341 of Our Lady of the Angels Catholic Church of Lakewood Ranch, Faith United Church of Christ, St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church and Trinity Lutheran Church, all in Bradenton; St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Palmetto; and Islamic Society of Sarasota and Bradenton andSt. Armands Key Lutheran Church the in Sarasota.

Those representing the participating faith communities read passages for the Old and New Testaments of the Bible and from the Quran in the ceremony.

“What a wonderful outpouring of love we are receiving,” said Jackie Kendall with her husband Marvin Kendall and their grandson Marcus. Marvin is a custodian at Suncoast Behavioral Health Center in Bradenton and Jackie is a housekeeper in private homes and a “minister outside the walls of church.” Marcus is a 10th grader at Southeast High School. The Kendall’s have three grown children. Their two daughters and son are all military veterans.

After the ceremony people enjoyed a reception held at the home of Mae Lizzie Jennings, a community leader in Washington Park. The participating faith organizations brought sandwiches, chips, cookies, fruit and drinks and the guests had the opportunity to meet the family that will call the Faith Build home their own in roughly six months. The Faith organizations have committed to help raise the $95,000 needed to cover site preparation and construction costs and to provide 3,200 hours of volunteer service – much of it at the work site on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings starting in January.

“We look forward to supporting this effort throughout the construction and remain committed to building our relationship with Manatee Habitat and the faith community,” said John Joly, Knights of Columbus of our Lady of the Angles Catholic Church.

Early on, the Interfaith Build Steering Committee – consisting of representatives of the participating groups – identified three purposes of their project:

  • to build a single-family affordable home in Manatee County
  • to build a coalition of faith communities serving God
  • to witness their unity and their service to the local community

Several of the faith communities have been involved previously in Manatee Habitat homebuilding, but this is the first time multiple denominations and faiths have come together to take on a project from start to finish. The planners envisioned and welcomed the concept of an Interfaith Build and more faith communities are encouraged to join the effort.

You do not need to have construction skills to work on Habitat home building. Volunteers can contribute their time, talents and treasure in many different ways, from on-site labor to organizing fund-raisers to providing mid-morning snacks for the work crews. At the work site, training is provided and construction professionals are present at all times that volunteers are on the job.

Whether you have been involved with Habitat for Humanity before or not, or have construction expertise or not, if you would like to get involved in this project, please speak with your faith community leadership, or contact Amy Van Dell, at Manatee Habitat for Humanity (941) 748-9100 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..