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.
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.
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.