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.