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Manatee County Habitat for Humanity and Lowe's team up for 10th Annual National Women Build Week

Brittany Holley future Habitat Homeowner with Police Chief Melanie Bevan and Dr

Bradenton, FL (April 19, 2017) – Manatee County Habitat for Humanity and Brittany Holley, the future Habitat homeowner will work alongside Lowe’s volunteers and all-female construction crews for Habitat for Humanity’s 10th annual National Women Build Week, May 6-14. Habitat’s National Women Build Week invites women to help make a difference and devote at least one day to help build decent and affordable housing in their local communities.

More than 17,000 women, including Lowe’s Heroes volunteers, are expected to volunteer at construction sites across the country as part of Habitat’s 2017 National Women Build Week.

Chief Melanie Bevan of the Bradenton Police Department and Dr. Carol Probstfeld, President of State College of Florida will be working on the house with Brittany on Thursday, May 11th. “We are pleased to have these two remarkable women supporting our Women Build 2017 and coming out to help build,” said Diana Shoemaker, Manatee Habitat Executive Director.

In Bradenton volunteers will work to install the ICF (Insulated Concrete Form) Block walls of the exterior of the house. This is the third time Manatee Habitat has held a Women Build and the first time in the City of Bradenton. Several women leaders in the community have plans to come out during this week including the Superintendent of Manatee County Schools, Diana Greene and the first female Clerk of the Court, Angel Colonneso. Kathy Shjarback, Habitat’s Women Build Team Leader has worked on the two previous Women Builds and looks forward to this one. “We have a lot of fun and everyone can learn something new and help build a house that will be sustainable for Brittany’s family,” Kathy said.

Lowe’s helped launch National Women Build Week in 2008 to empower women to advocate for affordable housing and spotlight the homeownership challenges faced by many. Each year, Lowe’s provides the support of their employee volunteers, Lowe’s Heroes, and conducts how-to clinics at stores to teach volunteers construction skills so they can feel equipped to take part in the builds. Lowe’s Heroes will be among more than twenty volunteers joining to help build decent, affordable housing in the Bradenton as part of National Women “Through our partnership with Habitat and support of National Women Build Week, Lowe’s empowers women to get involved in their communities, learn construction skills and make a meaningful impact,” said James Frison, Lowe’s director of community relations. “We’re grateful to all the women in Manatee County who will volunteer this week to help build and repair decent and affordable housing.” Lowe’s donated nearly $2 million to this year’s National Women Build Week, including a $5,000 store gift card to Manatee County Habitat for Humanity. Since 2003, Lowe’s has committed more than $63 million to Habitat’s mission and helped more than 6,500 families improve their living conditions.

Habitat’s first Women Build event was held in 1998. Since then, all-women construction crews have helped build more than 2,500 homes in partnership with families.

For more information on Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build program and to learn about Women Build events in communities across the U.S. year-round, visit

Lowes LogoAbout Manatee County Habitat for Humanity
Manatee County Habitat for Humanity is a non-profit, ecumenical, volunteer-based organization with the mission to develop resources, educate and mobilize people to work alongside families in need, rehabilitating existing homes and building sustainable, affordable homes, thereby improving the quality of life in Manatee County. For more information about Manatee Habitat visit

About Habitat for Humanity International
Driven by the vision that everyone needs a decent place to live, Habitat for Humanity began in 1976 as a grassroots effort on a community farm in southern Georgia. The Christian housing organization has since grown to become a leading global nonprofit working in nearly 1,400 communities throughout the U.S. and in more than 70 countries. Families and individuals in need of a hand up partner with Habitat for Humanity to build or improve a place they can call home. Habitat homeowners help build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage. Through financial support, volunteering or adding a voice to support affordable housing, everyone can help families achieve the strength, stability and self-reliance they need to build better lives for themselves. Through shelter, we empower. To learn more, visit

About Lowe’s in the Community
Lowe’s, a FORTUNE® 50 home improvement company, has a 60-year legacy of supporting the communities it serves through programs that focus on K-12 public education and community improvement projects. In the past decade, Lowe’s and the Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation together have contributed nearly $300 million to these efforts, and for more than two decades Lowe’s Heroes volunteers have donated their time to make our communities better places to live. For the latest news, visit or follow @LowesMedia on Twitter.









This Earth Day, Manatee County Habitat for Humanity looks to encourage more ‘green’ homes

BY CLAIRE ARONSON / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


MANATEE - Cheryl Roth, a Manatee County Habitat for Humanity homeowner, describes living in a sustainable home as heaven.

Since July 2012, Roth, 56, and Terrill Symons, 69, have called the Hope Landing neighborhood in Ellenton home. Their house, which has solar panels on the roof as well as solar hot water, was the first residential home in Manatee County to receive the United States Green Build Council’s LEED Platinum certification.

“You are not house poor,” Roth said on a recent afternoon. “You are not spending all your money on your home. It’s energy efficient. It’s cost efficient. It doesn’t make you go crazy. There are a lot less things to worry about.”

Roth and Symons’ experience living in one of Habitat’s 25 sustainable homes in Manatee is something the nonprofit wants to highlight this Earth Day, April 22. For these families, expenses such as electricity are lower thanks to the sustainable homes.

“These people don’t have disposable income to put aside for maintenance of home,” said Bruce Winter, Manatee County Habitat for Humanity director of construction. “If we can do it for a low-income family, why isn’t it being done for everyone?”

While the extra materials to build a sustainable home may be a little more costly, the savings on electricity alone is $48 per month, according to Winter.

“We invite everyone in the community to come do it,” he said.

Sustainable, or “green,” building is constructing homes that are “efficient and durable, that use less resources, are healthy to live in and are affordable,” Habitat for Humanity materials state.

“The benefits of green homes for Habitat homeowners are many, and include saving money on utilities, hurricane protection and improve air quality,” the materials state.

Prior to living in their Habitat home, Roth and Symons were living in a trailer park in Palmetto where the electricity bill was $110 a month. Now, the monthly electricity bill averages $30.

“It’s just a gift from God,” Roth said. “I’m not real religious, but you saw God opened up doors to get in here.”

Symons regularly logs onto his laptop to check how efficiently the solar panels are working. Being green is not something new for him, as 30 years ago he put a solar panel on a school bus in California.

“I’ve been interested in this my whole life,” he said. “I’m into it. I believe in it. I vote for it.”

Manatee County Habitat for Humanity executive director Diana Shoemaker said she thinks they have a successful model for building affordable homes.

“It’s going to help our homeowner, but it’s going to help county with longevity of houses,” she said. “I think it is really about the outcome. This is an outcome that changes quality of life for community. We are hoping we are creating a model that really sustains itself in the community. We are getting good feedback on what we are doing.”

Claire Aronson: 941-745-7024, @Claire_Aronson

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Manatee County Habitat's Revitalization Effort in Washington Park Earns Public Service Award from Keep Manatee Beautiful

Manatee County Habitat for Humanity received an award from Keep Manatee Beautiful for its revitalization work with the residents of Washington Park in Bradenton. The award recognized Manatee Habitat for its partnership with the resident group “Neighbors Helping Neighbors” during the MLK Service Day in 2016.
“We are happy to receive this recognition of our partnership with Washington Park residents from Keep Manatee Beautiful.  It is a tribute to the importance of joining together and having pride in your community,” said Diana Shoemaker, Executive Director for Manatee County Habitat for Humanity.

2Ingrid McClelland KMB and Diana Shoemaker Manatee County Habitat for Humanity with 2016 KMB Award
Ingrid McClelland and Diana Shoemaker with 2016 KMB Award

Habitat for Humanity is known for building affordable, sustainable houses for families in need but it has also expanded its mission to include Neighborhood Revitalization. “Broadening our mission to include working with communities to determine with the residents what is most important to them is the basis for Neighborhood Revitalization,” said Diana Shoemaker. “We have built relationships with the residents of Washington Park by working together in this community over the last three years and we look forward to continuing to work together.”

Both organizations received Martin Luther King Day of Service grants in 2016 and used their grants to work together in this community.  “Neighbors Helping Neighbors” purchased lawn equipment for their yard clean-up program and Manatee Habitat identified a Washington Park resident for an exterior repair and painting project called a “Brush with Kindness.”  

Manatee Habitat and Washington Park’s “Neighbors Helping Neighbors” are planning more joint projects together to address the goals of the residents and increase participation in the neighborhood group.  For more information contact DiDi Hager at 748-9100.

New Board Members Join Manatee County Habitat for Humanity Board of Directors

Manatee County Habitat for Humanity has added four new members to its Board of Directors. The new members bring a wealth of experience and community knowledge to the organization. They are:

Jill McGarry, Marketing Director with Blalock Walters, P. A. Jill brings fifteen years experience in local non-profit and corporate marketing. She has served in marketing, community relations and communications roles with Blalock Walters, Meals on Wheels PLUS and the Bradenton Herald. Jill is a Leadership Manatee Graduate (class of 2010-11), an active member of the Manatee Chamber of Commerce Young Professional and Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance, and is Vice President of Membership of Florida Public Relations Association. She has served on the board of directors of other non-profits including the Women’s Resource Center of Manatee, Humane Society of Manatee County and Junior Leadership Manatee. Jill earned her Bachelor’s degree from DePaul University in Chicago, IL.

board members newKirsten Regal, Human Resources Specialist (retired). Kirsten’s long career at Sun Hydraulics included progressive responsibilities in Human Resources including strategic planning, benefits administration and community relations. A significant part of her career focused on organizational development by implementing a unique leadership style which resulted in case studies of Sun Hydraulics approach to horizontal management by Harvard Business School. Kirsten received a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from California State University at Hayward and an MBA at Colorado State. Previous non-profit board roles include: Sarasota/Manatee Workforce Board, Junior Achievement and MTI Advisory Board.

Timothy Polk, Urban Planning Solutions LLC, Managing Director. Tim has gained vast experience in his previous positions in Planning and Community Development in Little Rock, Arkansas, Atlanta, Georgia and for the past ten years as the Director of Planning and Community Development for the City of Bradenton until his retirement in January of 2016. He then launched his own business, Urban Planning Solutions LLC, and brings his experience gained over four decades in architecture, urban design and planning to urban and suburban projects. Tim received a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts and a Master’s of Urban Planning from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and a Master’s of Arts from Wayne State University, Detroit Michigan. Professional affiliations include American Institute of Architects, American Planning Association, Urban Land Institute, National Trust of Historic Preservation, National Association for Housing and Development Officials and Congress for New Urbanism.

William Padelford, ESQ., Garland & Padelford, Attorneys, LLC. Bill joined Mr. Garland’s firm in 2000 and currently acts as the managing partner. He concentrates on the problems that face retirees in estate planning, trust administration, elder law and general legal issues. He often speaks on estate planning and avoiding probate. Bill received his J.D. from the University Of Florida College Of Law and is a member of the Florida Bar, Manatee County Bar Association, the Masons, the Shriners and the Kiwanis Club of Bradenton. He has provided Pro Bono services to the Red Cross, Volunteer Services of Manatee County and Manatee Youth For Christ Board of Directors.

Officers of the Board of Directors were installed at the Board meeting on March 22nd: Roger Arnholt, President, Rev. Rosemary Wheeler Backer, Vice President, Barry Berman, Treasurer and Lauren Fuller, Secretary.

Manatee County Habitat for Humanity Celebrates International Women's Day And Women Build 2017

Bradenton, Florida - March 9, 2017 Manatee County Habitat for Humanity hosted a luncheon at Renaissance on 9th to celebrate International Women’s Day and encouraged those gathered to reflect on the women who have inspired them. “This day is all about unity, celebration, reflection, advocacy and action – whatever that looks like globally and at a local level,” said Diana Shoemaker, Manatee Habitat Executive Director.

For Manatee Habitat the Women Build is a great way for women to take a proactive step in serving their communities. The goal is to empower women to help a family build strength, stability and self-reliance through sustainable housing. Women Build Co-Chair Chief Melanie Bevan, of the Bradenton Police told of her willingness to join this effort because she knows the impact Habitat for Humanity has on changing lives and communities. She expressed the feeling of being part of the Habitat family after attending just a few events.    

Brittany Holley groundbreaking
Women Build Ground Breaking for Brittany Holley. (l-r) Gary Tibbetts, Assistant to Vern Buchanan, Yvonne Ingersoll, Manatee County Sheriff’s Deputy, Brittany Holley, Habitat Home Buyer, Chundra Savage (aunt), Chief Melanie Bevan, Bradenton Police, and Madeline Kates(aunt).

Brittany Holley is the home buyer who is partnering with Manatee Habitat on the Women Build. She is inspired by Chief Bevan and Yvonne Ingersoll, Manatee County Sheriff‘s Deputy who also attended the luncheon. “I am so blessed to have these ladies here for me,” Brittany said.

Brittany told how becoming a Habitat home buyer has transformed her. She shared that she did not have much family support growing up. Her mother died from complications of child birth and her father was a victim of homicide. She credits her grandmother for raising her. A single mom herself, she thought if I can just get Section 8 housing and food stamps I’ll be all right. Joining Habitat and starting her process toward home ownership changed that.

Brittany is working full-time and studying Criminal Justice at State College of Florida. “I plan on going into law enforcement and hope to be an officer living in the community I serve,” said Brittany. She reminded everyone, that Habitat home buyers are not given a house; they qualify for a zero percent mortgage after completing 300 hours of “sweat equity” alongside other Habitat partners and volunteers. Not only do applicants have to work on their own house, they complete financial literacy classes and save money to put into escrow. Another important part of the experience according to Ms. Holley is that Habitat home buyers are building and contributing as stakeholders in their community.

realtor assoc check presentation
Xena Vallone, President of the Realtor Association of Sarasota and Manatee presents a check for $5,000 for the Women Build 2017 to Diana Shoemaker, Habitat Executive Director at the International Women’s Day luncheon.

Xena Vallone, President of the Realtor Association of Sarasota and Manatee, spoke to the group and presented a check for $5,000. “We are proud to support Manatee Habitat with the 2017 Women’s Build.” said Ms. Vallone. “Not only are the homeowners blessed with a new home, but their communities are thriving thanks to the impact Habitat is making in the area.”

Many of the attendees came to get more information about participating in the Women Build. Bruce Winter, Construction Director, commented that he likes working with women volunteers because they ask questions, and take direction well. Plus they laugh a lot and really enjoy working together. The houses built by Manatee Habitat meet the highest energy standards in order to keep the home owner’s maintenance and utility costs low.

Habitat Women Build Leader Kathy Shjarback spoke about how much fun it is to build. She and her husband retired from Maryland and decided to volunteer with Manatee Habitat. “That was eleven years ago and we have worked Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays since then,” Kathy said. This will be her third Women Build and she was recognized for her volunteer leadership at the luncheon.

National Women Build Week May 6 – 14 is sponsored by Lowe’s. As a way to increase participation the Lowe’s Central Bradenton store on Cortez at 14th St. West is conducting three Saturday workshops March 11 & 25, April 8 (2-3pm) to provide knowledge and skills to help women be successful. Those wishing to participate can sign up on the Manatee Habitat Face Book page.

The Women Build is located at 2214 10th Street West in Bradenton and is on a street with other homes being built by Manatee Habitat for Humanity. Manatee Habitat is actively recruiting women to volunteer in Women Build 2017 as individuals and teams. Those interested should contact Barbara Slater, Volunteer Coordination Manager 941.748.9100 x 110 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..