FineMark's Habitat for Humanity Home
Homes Sponsored by Local Businesses, Churches and Philanthropists
Flag Day 2013 will be a very special day for four Habitat for Humanity of Lee and Hendry Counties partner families, as they receive an American flag, a Habitat traditional gift for all new homeowners, and the keys to their own homes. On Friday, June 14, four new homes built with donated dollars and volunteer labor provided by FineMark National Bank & Trust, Office Furniture and Design Concepts, Gerry and Sharon Trantina, Zion Lutheran Church and Faith United Methodist Church, will be dedicated and turned over to the families. The homes are located side-by-side: two in Renaissance at Rosemary Park in Bonita Springs and two on Canal Street in Harlem Heights.
Wade Massengale and Jillian Griffith have been working on one of the Canal Street homes – soon, they will be living there with their two children. They are excited to be moving into a well-built home, looking forward to “an air conditioner that works, linen closets, the space for a garden, being able to build a fort for the children to play in and, most importantly, something to call home,” according to the couple. They graciously welcomed Habitat volunteers to their “home” and provided tours as soon as the foundation slab was poured.
Chimene Joram will be living next door on Canal Street. The single mother of six is looking forward to having more room for her family. The responsibility of homeownership has added immensely to her sense of self-worth; she is “very proud” of her accomplishment.
Habitat supporters Gerry and Sharon Trantina partnered with Zion Lutheran Church to sponsor one of the Canal Street homes, with members of the church among the volunteers who raised the walls in one day and completed the construction of the home. The second Canal Street home was sponsored by Faith United Methodist Church, whose members participated in the home’s construction, as well.
Michael Weber of Zion Lutheran Church expressed the philosophy that motivates many faith-based donor and volunteer efforts saying, “We are called to live in community. Affordable housing builds community. I have been blessed to be a part of this Habitat build in Harlem Heights.”
FineMark National Bank & Trust sponsored one of the Bonita Springs homes and completed the wall-raising in one day. In the weeks that followed more than 50 employees contributed volunteer labor to build the house. They worked alongside homeowner Marcos Lucas, who put in far more than the required 250 hours of “sweat equity.” He will soon be moving his family, which includes his parents, into the home.
“We are very pleased to be in a position to help a family with homeownership. It falls in line with our vision to make a positive impact on the individuals, families and the communities we serve,” said FineMark Bank President and CEO Joe Catti. “Habitat for Humanity is a tremendous organization and fulfills a vital need by assisting deserving families with owning their own homes.”
Employees of Office Furniture and Design Concepts raised the walls on a similar home next door, sponsored by their company. Rolando Garza, a single father of three, will receive the keys from OFDC Principal Joe Gammons.
“We were very happy to work with Habitat this year, doing our part to provide decent, affordable homes to people in need, so they may build better lives for their families,” said Gammons, who is also a Habitat board member. “We have been deeply rooted in the Southwest Florida community since 1973, contributing to over 100 charities. What I am most proud of is the fact that company employees are personally engaged in their community, donating their time and expertise to countless organizations and causes.”
Through the use of volunteer labor and donations of money and materials, Habitat homes are sold to the homeowners with an interest-free mortgage and monthly payments set at less than 30% of the homeowner’s income, making homeownership an affordable reality. Habitat homeowners must qualify financially for the program; save $1,200 toward their closing costs; attend a series of educational classes focusing on homeownership, budgeting and home maintenance; and complete 250 hours of “sweat equity” by volunteering at Habitat.
“We are very fortunate in Southwest Florida to have the ongoing support of individual donors, businesses, civic organizations, churches and volunteers. On behalf of Habitat, I would like to thank each of the people involved. The need for decent, affordable housing in our area has never been greater. I have been especially inspired to see the life-changing effect that home ownership can bring to a family. The children, in particular, really seem to blossom with the stability of a decent home to live in. I have personally seen it many times, in the smiles on their faces and in their accomplishments as they mature,” said Donny Andrews, chairman of the board.
For more information on home sponsorship or to volunteer, call (239) 652-0434 or visit www.habitat4humanity.org.