Manatee Habitat Celebrates 25 Years

Manatee County Commissioner Betsy Benac addressed crowds at Bradenton Riverwalk Nov. 9 who were gathered to help celebrate Manatee County Habitat for Humanity’s 25th birthday. As she read a proclamation, the excited voices of children could be heard as they built birdhouses and learned how to use hammers and nails. When finished, she said, “We never want to quiet the sounds of children building something” to laughter and applause from the crowd.

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Highlights of the party included hearing from the people involved in Manatee Habitat’s very first home build including Susie Walters, the organization’s founding president; Dick Gross from Kiwanis Bradenton, who helped fund the first home; and the very first Manatee Habitat homebuyer Hilda Futch Reaves, whose mortgage is now paid off. Event sponsor Bank of America’s Mike McCoy, who is the current Kiwanis Bradenton president, also worked on that first home as a volunteer.

Several Habitat homeowners celebrated by shredding their mortgages, now paid in full, and the winner of the Habitat ReStore Family Room Makeover was announced. Giant Jenga and Corn Hole Toss games as well as tours of a Bradenton Fire Department truck added to the fun, and representatives from the Manatee County Neighborhood Services, City of Bradenton, Bradenton Kiwanis, Manatee Technical College, United Way Suncoast and others provided information about the services the community offers. It Works! Foundation was the presenting sponsor of the event.

To donate, volunteer, or learn more about Manatee County Habitat for Humanity, visit or call 941-748-9100.

– by Laura Coyle

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