Recent News

Featured Habitat Volunteer for May: Liam Cunningham

liam cunninghamManatee Habitat’s Volunteer Spotlight for the month of May is Liam Cunningham. Liam is an 18-year-old young man who took a year off after high school graduation to save some money and as he explains, “get a feel for the world and what I want to do in life.”

Liam’s parents require that all their children spend one year giving back to the community by performing some type of volunteer service. His parents have instilled in their children the value of developing life experience and the philosophy that “money isn’t everything.” Liam believes that there is honor and reward in giving to others and expects nothing in return. He has had the opportunity to see the lives of those he touched and to appreciate the value of a warm smile and a sincere thank you. Liam states that this fulfillment at the end of the day is more valuable than worldly success.

While Manatee Habitat congratulates Liam on his acceptance to Christendom College in Virginia, we will sorely miss his dedicated work ethic, cheerful demeanor, and engaging personality.

Volunteer of the Month: March 2016

joyce kouba volunteer of the monthManatee Habitat would not be able to accomplish our vision and mission without the assistance of our most precious asset-our volunteers.

Our Volunteer of the Month is Joyce Kouba.  Joyce and her husband began volunteering with Habitat for Humanity in 2000. Joyce realized the value of the Habitat ReStores and was instrumental in opening the ReStore on Hardin. ReStores are home improvement stores and donation centers that sell new and gently used furniture, appliances, home accessories, building materials and more to the public. If you visit the ReStore on Hardin, Joyce can be found three days per week measuring draperies and other linens, painstakingly preparing them for resale. Proceeds from the Habitat Restores help cover administrative expenses so that all donor dollars can go to building Habitat homes.

When asked why she spends her time volunteering with Manatee Habitat, Joyce said, “When you build homes and give children a stable environment, they blossom. Habitat makes a very large impact on children. The kids do better in school, have increased self-confidence and become happy and productive people.” 

Joyce and her husband like to travel to national parks where they hike and take photographs. She also enjoys sewing in her free time. Joyce has been secretary of the Siesta Key Association for many years and has received the Lifetime Achievement Award and numerous other volunteer awards from Manatee Habitat.

If you would like more information on how you can impact your community through volunteering with Manatee Habitat, please contact our volunteer coordinator, Stephanie Hansum at (941) 748-9100 Ext 110 or at   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Housing, street improvements among funding priorities for Manatee County community development block grants

0301 brloc grant1Via Bradenton Herald - With the help of community development block grants, Manatee County Habitat for Humanity has been able to provide affordable homes to more residents.

The nonprofit, which is currently receiving CDBG money from Bradenton to purchase a few lots in the city, is hoping to receive more grant money next year to get even more residents into homes, said Diana Shoemaker, the organization's executive director.

"We are continuing to look for funding opportunities in the area of affordable housing, community development and economic development," she said.

Manatee County Habitat for Humanity was one of several nonprofits at Manatee County and Bradenton's CDBG workshop Monday. CDBG funds can be used toward infrastructure, homeowner rehabilitation, public facilities improvements and public service projects, according to grant information.

County and city officials explained the application process, including reporting requirements, reimbursement procedures and agency responsibilities.

For the 2016-17 fiscal year, Manatee County has been allocated an estimated $2.23 million from the Department of Housing and Urban Development for the three funds: HOME Investment Partnership, CDBG and Emergency Solutions Grant funds. Applications are due 5 p.m. March 14.

Bradenton is expected to received approximately $385,000 in CDBG funds and city grant applications are due March 28.

"We try to do a very large public outreach," said Bill O'Shea, project manager in the community development division of the county's neighborhood services department. "It's supposed to be what the people want. Each year we have to do an action plan and that's why you are here today."

As Manatee County is in the final year of the five-year consolidated plan, this year's funding priorities are those in the plan that have either not been addressed at all or ones that need more money to be allocated, O'Shea said. The county's funding priorities include public facilities, employment/job training, housing assistance and street improvements. Bradenton's funding priorities are affordable housing, homeless needs and economic development.

"We have to make sure we get the money out," said Denise Thomas, the county's housing and community development coordinator. "The whole purpose of being here is to provide a service. You got to know what you are going to do and be able to do it."

The projects are selected based on citizen input. Residents can share their opinion about what should be included in the 2016-17 annual action plan Thursday from 1-3 p.m. at South Manatee Library, 6081 26th St. W., Bradenton, and March 10 from 6-7 p.m. at Tillman Elementary School, 1415 29th St. E., Palmetto.

For more information, call 941-749-3029.

Claire Aronson, Manatee County reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7024. Follow her on Twitter@Claire_Aronson.

Manatee Habitat's Thrivent Builds Home Dedicated

Thrivent Builds Homeowner Wilna RemilusIn February, Manatee Habitat's Thrivent Builds home in Palmetto was dedicated. Wilna Remilus, the new homeowner, is a second generation Habitat homeowner. Her mother, Francois, lives in Village of the Palms. Wilna is thrilled to be a homeowner in order to provide a safe, affordable home for herself and her 10 year old daughter, Lara. Wilna is no stranger to what it takes to qualify and become a Habitat homeowner. She was very involved in the construction of her mother's home and is ready to take on the task of building her own home. Wilna's mother will be available to return the favor by helping to build her daughter's home.

Manatee Habitat was awarded $57,500 from Thrivent Financial to support the Thrivent Builds with Habitat for Humanity program, an on-going multi-year, multi-million dollar partnership between Habitat for Humanity International and Thrivent Financial, which helps create safe, decent, affordable housing across the globe.

“It is inspiring to work alongside Habitat families, Thrivent members and others to build and repair homes,” said Tom Reagin, a financial representative with Thrivent Financial, “Sharing our time and talents helps us live generously and strengthen our community.” Thrivent Financial is committing $12 million nationally to the 2015 partnership, which will be used to serve families and mobilize volunteers through three programs: Thrivent Builds Homes, Thrivent Builds Worldwide and Thrivent Builds Repairs.

Read more about the Thrivent Builds program here.

Manatee's Habitat for Humanity to help revitalize Washington Park

"We've worked with the residents, existing homeowners to help with the exterior portions of the home," said Diana Shoemaker, Habitat's Executive Director.

The funding comes from the Community Redevelopment Agency and input from on resident in particular.

"We are joining hands together," said May Lizzie Jennings. She's lived here her entire life and started the Neighbors Helping Neighbors group. Their job: keeping trash off the street, yards cleaned and trees trimmed. She's now joining forces with Habitat for Humanity, looking to revitalize the area and more.

"We are looking for business to come here, jobs [to be created.]" Shoemaker says the key to make this happen is getting to know the neighbors in the small community and eventually making a positive impact.

"What are the assets in this community, what's already working here and how do we partner with the residents to build on those?"

Read more here