See how hard work and your support can change lives.
See how hard work and your support can change lives.
Since moving to the United States from Haiti in 2003, Marie, mother of three, has always dreamed of home ownership. In fact, she first applied to a Habitat for Humanity homeowner program when she lived in West Palm Beach in 2012, but didn’t qualify. For her, having a home is all about the level of respect that it’ll afford her. Not only will she cherish having something that is her own, but she also believes that being a homeowner is something that others will respect her for.
A recurring mold problem, a hole in the ceiling of the shower, and regular roach infestations are just a few of the unresolved maintenance issues that Marie, her two daughters, and her brother have at their current apartment. As a family, they are tired of constantly having to rely on maintenance, who neglect to make critical repairs in a timely manner. Plus, they have to deal with their neighbors who play loud music and smoke in the facilities.
When they have their Habitat home, their affordable mortgage will enable Marie and her brother, Jean, to save more money and have the self-reliance to make their own home repairs. Plus, they will live in a safe neighborhood where they won’t have to worry about noise or the smell of smoke.
Marie’s daughter, Edwin, is 17 years old and is looking forward to her family finally having space and privacy. She is eager to decorate her and her sister Shania’s bedroom, but most of all she’s excited to see her mother happy and achieving her lifelong dream. 12-year-old Shania is a huge Tampa Bay Lightning hockey fan and has a close bond with her eldest sibling, Junior, a freshman studying business at USF.
Outside of working in merchandising at Bealls Inc., Marie enjoys singing in her church choir and gardening. With just a small outdoor space, she grows her plants in buckets on their apartment patio. But once they move into their home, Marie will be able to indulge more in her hobby. She plans to plant flowers and aloe vera in front of their house.
Now that she is so close to her dream of homeownership, Marie’s next aspiration is to someday retire on her own terms since she will soon feel fulfilled knowing that she left something to pass down to her children. “When I die, I’ll be happy to know that I left a house for my children. Even if they get married and decide to move out, I’ll feel accomplished that I gave them a home,” she said.
LaShawn’te, a mother of four, has worked in early childhood education for 25 years. Her passion for working with children began in college when she started babysitting for other students on her campus. In addition to her full-time job, she is pursuing her bachelor’s degree in early childhood education. She then plans to earn a master’s degree in educational leadership which will give her the tools she needs to become an educational consultant.
Originally from Alabama, LaShawn’te lived in Germany and Georgia before finally deciding to set her roots down in Manatee County in 2019. Currently, she lives with three of her children, Victoria, Isaac Amir, and Isabella in a rental home. While she enjoys her house, she can no longer afford to keep leasing it out. Her rent has increased every year since they moved in.
“The rent is astronomical,” said LaShawn’te. “I’m paying for something that is never going to be mine”
Having a home has been on LaShawn’te’s list of goals that she created when she moved to Manatee County. She first reached out to Manatee Habitat in 2020, and in 2021, she got approved for the homeownership program. “That was a wonderful day for me because it meant that I would be working toward something that would be my own and that I could give to my children to legacy build,” said LaShawn’te.
LaShawn’te, Victoria, Isaac Amir, and Isabella will move into their 3-bedroom 2-bathroom home in our Palmetto Triangle community in the Summer of 2023.
Special needs teacher, Johntrice, her 8-year-old daughter, Promise, and her 2-year-old son, Rylain, will be moving into a Rehabbed Habitat home in early 2023!
Since leaving her childhood home, Johntrice has moved every one or two years due to sub-standard housing conditions. “I’ve been hopping from one place to another in hopes that I’ll find somewhere that feels like home to me and my kids,” she said.
While pregnant with Rylain, she was forced to move out of their rental home; a termite infestation was causing the floor to cave in, making it too dangerous to live there. Then, shortly after settling into her current apartment, she discovered mold in the bathroom and Promise’s bedroom. Despite Johntrice’s requests, her landlords have been unresponsive to the infestation so Promise shares a bedroom with her brother.
For Johntrice and her children, a Habitat home will bring peace and safety. Having a yard will give Rylain and Promise a safe place to play. Right now, they ride their bikes inside to avoid the speeding dirt bikes and cars in their neighborhood. Plus, without the mold hazard, Promise will be able to decorate and enjoy her own bedroom again.
“Being able to walk into a home and see the expression on my kid’s faces will be breathtaking,” said Johntrice. “Knowing that this is a place we can call home for the long run will put me and my kids at ease.”
On the first of July, 2022, Habitat homeowner Renee dropped into Manatee Habitat’s offices for a momentous occasion: to pick up her Satisfaction of Mortgage documents.
Like so many Habitat homeowners, Renee’s purchase of a house with a zero-percent interest rate has changed her life immeasurably. Not only does she now own her home free and clear, but with that bill settled, she will now have the funds to pursue a lifelong dream: returning to school to get her nursing degree.
After 35 years working in Food Services at HCA Blake Hospital, tending to patients by ensuring they received nutritious meals, Renee now looks forward to learning how to provide medical care, along with (we suspect) a generous helping of TLC.
Janira and Wilfredo have been on a real estate roller coaster for the past few years. They thought they were settled into a good rental home only to receive 30 days’ notice due to a foreclosure—they had been faithfully paying rent only to discover the owner had not kept up with the mortgage. Desperate not to become homeless, they managed to find an apartment for their family of four, only to be notified this spring of a huge rent increase.
Today, they’re among the first families that will move into Manatee Habitat’s new sixteen-home development, Poling Gardens. We’ll break ground on our new community in late 2022 and look forward to welcoming them to a new three-bedroom, two-bath home. Habitat’s interest-free mortgage will have them building equity right away, and the uncertainty of having to move unexpectedly will be a thing of the past.
The couple both fit the definition of hometown heroes—people who serve our community including law enforcement officers, firefighters, educators, healthcare professionals, childcare employees, and active military or veterans. Wilfredo spends his workdays building fire trucks at the world’s largest manufacturer of firefighting equipment, Pierce Manufacturing, and Janira is employed by Manatee County Schools. Two smart, adorable kids, Jadiel and Alondra, round out this fabulous Habitat family.
Manatee Habitat is happy to introduce you to our newest family entering the Home Buyer Program, The Padro Family. Carmen, Melquisedec 15, Nayely 13, and Elijah 7 who all love family movie nights, fishing, hiking, and DIY projects.
Carmen is originally from Illinois but has lived in Florida since 2001. Her family is spread across the country with a sister in Texas, one in Wisconsin, a brother still in Illinois, but luckily her mom is right here in Bradenton!
Carmen is very familiar with Habitat for Humanity and started looking into joining the Home Buyer Program eight years ago. Now that she meets the program requirements, she can’t wait to get started volunteering for her sweat equity hours because she wants to participate in building homes made out of love and kindness.
Providing her children with housing stability and safe living conditions while investing in her own home is a longtime dream for Carmen. Providing her children with a solid foundation means everything to her! She is also most excited to see her children’s faces when they get the opportunity to see their new home for the first time!
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Mark met Belkin through mutual friends in 2018 and were able to communicate through Google translate on their phones. They fell in love and got married in September 2019 and they are teaching each other their native languages.
They learned about Habitat for Humanity from Belkin’s aunt who is a HFH Homeowner. They have a son (Angel) who is the light of their lives. Mark works for Callahan Tires for a year – and previously worked at Lanning Tire Sales for 8 years.
He is a certified High Performance technician but there are few jobs working on high performance cars in Bradenton. They hope to start their own business at some point. Mark would like to go back to school to get his degree in business management.
Belkin was an attorney where she lived in Honduras. She came to the US to be closer to her family. Having a Habitat home means a better life for Mark and Belkin and their family that includes more stability. They are currently staying with family. He believes working with Habitat volunteers will be an excellent learning experience and he values the efforts made by the Habitat volunteers. He plans on continuing to volunteer even after he becomes a homeowner.
The Sittig family is Jasmine, her daughter Ari’yanna and son Ja’sai. Jasmine has worked in the medical field as a admission coordinator for Operation Par and also as a Unit Clerk for Centerstone helping substance abuse patients. She very much enjoys helping people and working with the medical community and is actually planning on completing her education in the field of nursing. Having the stability of a Habitat home, she believes will facilitate this goal.
Her hobbies include cooking and she has recently begun working in furniture restoration by watching DIY videos on YouTube. She loves cooking with the kids and having a movie night once a week. They are looking forward to having a yard they can play in. Ayi’anna is excited and
looking forward to having her own room.
Jasmine is an only child and was born in Manatee County and has lived here all of her life. She would be the first homeowner in her family. She is excited about the prospect of helping to build her home and maybe someone else’s-that’s just the helper in her nature. .
Celeste McDuffie was one of our first families to own a home in our Hope Landing community and shared with us how becoming a homeowner has changed her life. A single mother of two, Celeste made the important decision to become a homeowner when she brought her two daughters, Julissa and Yari, out to the build site to take a look. “Do we get to play outside mom? Do we get to stay here?” they asked. Celeste knew then that partnering with Habitat was the right move for her and her family’s future. “I didn’t have a lot of stability growing up, so to know that I didn’t have to move again, that this was going to be my kid’s forever home – that mattered to me”.
Celeste has worked for Manatee County for the past 20 years, in addition to owning her own business as a personal assistant. When asked about how her life has changed, Celeste shared “I now have a sense of security, stability, and a forever home. People don’t think about what it takes to be a homeowner, the repairs, the maintenance, even things like mowing the grass. It was a learning experience – but an important one”. Celeste now serves on the Manatee Habitat Family Services committee, where she helps new homeowners start their journey with Manatee Habitat.
The Home Repair Program of Manatee Habitat is giving families in Bradenton a hand up to make repairs they could not afford through traditional financing channels. The Hamiltons have lived in their house since 1974. Originally from Slocum, Alabama, Nell Hamilton came to Florida and worked in banking customer service for 36 years. Now retired and a widow, she also cares for her mother who is blind. Her roof was leaking and she could not afford to replace it.
“The staff were so nice and answered all my questions and got me signed up. All the volunteers and crew were wonderful. I thank God for it every day,” said Nell. Now with a new roof, a new door and windows, she knows she has a secure home again and she is hearing how nice her house looks from her neighbors.
The Kendalls were the recipients of Manatee Habitat’s 2018 Interfaith Build home – a collaborative efforts of Manatee County’s faith organizations who raised the funds and volunteer hours to build the Kendall home. 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 envisioned and welcomed the concept of an Interfaith Build and more faith communities are encouraged to join the effort.
“What a wonderful outpouring of love we are receiving,” said Jackie Kendall with her husband Marvin and grandson Marcus. Marvin is a custodian at Suncoast Behavioral Health Center in Bradenton and Jackie is a housekeeper in private homes and a “minister outside the walls of church.” Marcus Jr. is a 10th grader at Southeast High School. The Kendall’s have three grown children. Their two daughters and son are all military veterans.
One of our newest prospective Habitat homeowners is Markisha Harris, who has lived in Florida her whole life and has strong ties to the community. She currently works as an LPN at an assisted living facility where she has worked for over 3 years.
A single mother of 3 children, Markisha dreams of furthering her education by going back to school to complete her RN Associates degree. Her
proudest accomplishment so far is to get her LPN degree. For Markisha, “Owning my own home will change my life for the better because it will become one of the biggest accomplishment for me and my family!”
One of our newest prospective homeowners is Robin Chacon Primous. At just 23 years old, Robin is a single parent to her 7-year-old foster child Janaiya. Robin has been a dental assistant for 4 years and has overcome many obstacles in her life to meet her career goals.
Robin has cared for her foster daughter, Janaiya (now 7 years old) since she was only 4 and Robin was just 21. Robin saw a child in need and bonded with Janaiya immediately, who wants to be a ballerina or teacher when she grows up. For Robin, being a foster mom has been an amazing experience, and giving Janaiya a home is something she has always wanted to do. In her own words, “This is a gift from God. That is the best way for me to explain it”.
One of our newest Habitat homeowners is Tomacita Luna and her son Danny. Tomacita is an administrative secretary at an elementary school in Manatee County and has been with the district over 25 years! Tomacita’s son Danny is a freshman in high school and is an avid player on both his school’s football and wrestling teams.
For Tomacita, “To own my own home would be a dream come true. It would be a blessing not only for me and my son but for my older children and grandchildren. My family and friends are happy that you are giving me this opportunity and who are also very willing to help build my home.”
Welcome to the Habitat family Tomacita and Danny!
The Hernandez family’s story is one of faith, love, and courage in the face of adversity. Emilio was diagnosed with Leukemia in 2014 and has battled two different forms of cancer in just five years with the support of his wife Noemi and their sons, Noah and Phoenix. “The love of my family keeps me going and I’m doing this for them,” explains Emilio.
Diagnosed with glaucoma at the age of three, Noemi has persevered through a lifelong vision impairment to support her family and works full time for the Manatee County School District. Their sons, who were diagnosed with cataracts as children, champion their parent’s resilience and determination by pursuing their own dreams in the music and technology fields. For the Hernandez family, owning their own home would be a source of pride, stability, and joy.
Fun fact: Noemi is the daughter of Tomacita Luna, who just became a Manatee Habitat Homeowner this year. That’s three generations of Habitat homeowners right here in Manatee County. Whoa!
An authorization specialist at the Bradenton Heart Center, Mariam Gonzalez raises her three children, Jassiel, Ariel, and Mariamly, to always believe in their dreams. Mariam’s oldest son Jassiel is currently in college on a partial football scholarship and is the first person in their family to attend college. Ariel lives with his dad in Pennsylvania and comes out to Florida every summer to be with his mom and siblings. Mariamly is a smart and caring young lady who wants to become a cardiologist when she grows up so she can take care of her grandfather.
For Mariam, providing a stable home for her family is a big part of her life. “I’m helping build my own home, and helping build the homes of others just like me who have always dreamed of becoming homeowners and now have the opportunity to give back. I know that I put in hard work to build my home and take even more pride in it”.