How to successfully recreate programs during COVID 19 Crisis.

Like everyone, Manatee County Habitat for Humanity needed to quickly find new ways to keep communication open with all its partners and supporters! Think outside the box, pivot, and change lanes, were phrases we suddenly found ourselves using when trying to figure out how to maneuver through the new COVID normal. So many changes needed to be made so quickly I think we all found ourselves feeling a little like surfing without a fin.


Our home dedications are usually hands on; meaning everyone places their hands on the new home while prayers and blessings are said. But, as you can imagine, with COVID social distancing regulations to follow, that just was not possible! Sheryl Boddy, our Director of Family Services, came up with an ingenious way for everyone to be attached to the home and still maintain safe distancing!

While our faith partners were giving well wishes to our new homeowners, everyone was given a ribbon to hold that was attached to the front door of the home. Not only were all the attendees attached to the home, it was quite beautiful to see the colorful ribbons streaming outward from the front door!


Without our volunteers, Manatee Habitat could not function and help as many people as we do.   Thanking our volunteers is, to us, extremely important and usually we all get together for a BBQ Picnic Dinner at the beach or a wonderful, catered Continental Cuisine Dinner filled with lots of great friends, awards, laughs and good food! We went way out of everyone’s comfort zones to solve this dilemma! Learning as we went, we organized both a zoom get together and prerecorded videos.

It was great fun getting Diana Shoemaker, our President/CEO in front of the camera to introduce the event. She is such a good sport, and her new nick name is “One Take Diana”! Roger Arnholt, Manatee Habitat’s Chairman of the Board was out of town but he enlisted family to shoot a fantastic phone video! Bruce Winter, Director of Construction, jumped right in, with loads to say about the amazing volunteers he knows so well. Not only does he build green, energy efficient homes, he’s completely at ease in front of the camera! Barb Slater, Volunteer Program Coordinator, introduced the Presidential Service Awards. Barb knows every one of our volunteers and you can tell by the smile in her voice, she adores them all! Who knew our employees, volunteers and board members had such undiscovered talents? The Volunteer Appreciation Event Video can be seen at right here in an earlier blog post.


Manatee Habitat has been fortunate to have been part of this community for over 26 years. We never would have reached this milestone without support from the many amazing businesses in this area.  Even before COVID we had been looking for a way to give back to the businesses that have supported us, both financial and through volunteerism, for so many years!  After working through the learning curve of cell phone video editing for the Volunteer Appreciation Event we thought let’s keep going! So, with Cell Phone in hand, we are highlighting local businesses that are and have been partnering with us. We are calling them our Business Champions because they are!


Manatee Habitat will continue to connect with local citizens and businesses through unique online events.  From Afternoon Tea to Corporate Trivia, and even Online Auctions, Manatee County can look forward to the organization’s continuing commitment to safe affordable housing for everyone!