Habitat seeks event sponsors for clay target shoot fundraiser

With the affordable housing crisis plaguing not only the nation, but Citrus County, especially many of our residents who work in health care, childcare, educators, first responders and many other roles critical to Citrus County citizens and businesses, Habitat for Humanity of Citrus County is there to offer these hard working and responsible employees a hand up toward safe, stable housing and the American dream: home ownership.

Critical to our success to building affordable housing and the dire need for workforce housing to income-qualified families in Citrus County is the support of businesses and residents in our community.

That is why we are excited to announce plans for the inaugural Habitat HabiBlast clay target shooting tournament, which is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 9, at Tampa Bay Sporting Clays, one of the region’s premiere facilities for target shooting.

In addition to a fun-filled, friendly shooting competition, there will be awards for tournament winners, a barbecue lunch and silent auction prizes.

However, to host an event such as Habitat HabiBlast, we need your generous support as an event sponsor.

It is our hope that your business will join us for an event we are sure will be a blast! For information about sponsorship levels, contact Jeff Bryan, Marketing & Communications Director, at 352-563-2744 or email [email protected].

Every donation helps build a brighter future

George Rusaw
George Rusaw

George Rusaw

Since it first began operating in 1993, Habitat for Humanity of Citrus County has built or rehabilitated more than 240 homes, thereby providing safe, affordable housing for more than 600 individuals and families in Citrus County.

Those individuals and families include health-care workers, skilled trades employees, educators and support staff, single parents, grandparents raising grandchildren, first responders and service industry employees to name a few.

There are many different facets that have gone into making Habitat for Humanity of Citrus County a success over the past 30 years:

  • Those who have a heart for helping others.
  • The thousands of volunteers, who have come through the doors over the years, to help lend their time and talents at our ReStores and the building of homes.
  • The partner families, who buy into the values of the program as they seek safe, affordable housing for their families.
  • The businesses, organizations and individuals who contribute housewarming gifts.
  • Our Contractor’s Club members.
  • Private donors.
  • The corporate businesses that sponsor house builds or help to finance our education classes for our future homeowners through community grants.
  • Our partnership with Citrus County Housing Services and the Affordable Housing Advisory Committee.
  • The Crystal River and Inverness ReStores who are our largest house sponsors.

The ReStores provide financial support to Habitat for Humanity. Our first ReStore opened in 2003, the second opened in 2010. By shopping, donating, or volunteering at the Restore, you help local families build better futures.

The ReStores offer excellent bargains and one-of-a-kind treasures to shoppers while supporting Habitat’s mission of bringing people together to build homes, communities, and hope. By making a donation of household items, you’re helping keep usable goods out of landfills!

One critical aspect of our ReStores’ success has been community partnerships with the area’s homebuilders, remodeling companies, commercial contractors as well as suppliers in flooring, windows, cabinets and other various home remodeling materials.

We’re continuing to ask our partners in the construction industry – commercial and residential – and home improvement stores to consider donating unused materials or discontinued items to our Crystal River or Inverness ReStores.

If you have unused materials or discontinued items, we will come and pick those items up. All you need to do is call our Crystal River ReStore at 352-564-2300 and we will send a truck with a crew to save you time.

Thank you for your support over the past 30 years and for your continued support for the next 30 years.

Let’s Build!

George Rusaw is the CEO/President of Habitat for Humanity of Citrus County.

New Habitat homeowner gives thanks

Lindsay Clark, our newest Habitat for Humanity of Citrus County homeowner, is a single mother of three and a teacher with the Citrus County School District. But it was through her journey as a partner family that gave her a sense of commun

The Clark family.

ity. Clark had many thank on her way to becoming the newest family partner to move into our community, Habitat at Citrus Springs, a 176-home development.

Listen to her story at https://youtu.be/dVDHTpCQODk?si=SbezWSKbQYhg4eRZ.

For information about our homeownership program, visit www.habitatcc.org/programs.

Habitat dedicates three new homes for family partners

CRYSTAL RIVER – On Thursday, May 30, Habitat for Humanity of Citrus County (HFHCC) celebrated six house dedications at its Habitat at Citrus Springs development, aimed at providing affordable housing to income-qualified families. The six house dedications have brought the number of homes completed to 16 for HFHCC’s fiscal year, which runs from July 1, 2023, to June 30, 2024. HFHCC is on pace to complete 21 new home builds this year, the most in a single fiscal year since operations began in 1993. Join HFHCC in welcoming these new families to homeownership.

For information about our homeownership program or to learn how to apply, visit www.habitatcc.org/programs.

Habitat, Publix celebrate newest homeowner at house dedication

CRYSTAL RIVER —Haliann Fanizza and her daughter knew Thursday would be a special day as they received their keys to their Habitat for Humanity of Citrus County (HFHCC) house.

Publix Super Markets Charities (PSMC) and Publix Super Markets made the special day sweeter when representatives from Publix Super Markets Store No. 1616 Rainbow Square Shopping Center presented a $45,000 check for a partial house sponsorship, which helped fund the Fanizza family’s new home.

In January, HFHCC was one of 125 Habitat for Humanity affiliates throughout the Southeast chosen as a recipient of grant funding to support nonprofit housing initiatives from Publix Super Markets Charities (PSMC).

“I am thankful to Publix Super Markets and Publix Super Markets Charities for being proactive in the community and helping people like myself get homes,” Fanizza said. “They’re a great supermarket and it’s awesome to see their support throughout the community and their partnership with HFHCC.”

Public Super Market Store No. 1616 employees Josh Williamson, Chris Valerioti and Brittany Swain were on hand for Habitat’s newest homeowner, Haliann Fanizza and her daughter’s, house dedication Thursday, May 30.

PSMC has been a long-time, steadfast supporter of HFHCC, often providing grants for partial home builds.

“We are grateful for the continued support of Publix Super Markets Charities and Publix,” said George Rusaw, HFHCC president/CEO. “From grant funding to volunteerism, they’ve played an important role for our organization within the Citrus community. Their generosity enables us to continue our mission and provide solid foundations for families through homeownership.”

“Publix Super Markets Charities is proud to continue the legacy of George Jenkins by supporting Habitat for Humanity affiliates and other nonprofits focused on helping people achieve home ownership,” said PSMC Executive Director Kelly Williams-Puccio. “The funds received by HFHCC will help give families a place to call home, providing them with stability and strengthening the Citrus County community.”

HFHCC is a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian housing ministry that seeks to put God’s love into action by bringing people together to build homes, neighborhoods and hope. We work to eliminate substandard housing for people of all backgrounds, races and religions by providing simple, decent, affordable housing to those who have a need, ability to pay and willingness to partner. For more information, visit www.habitatcc.org or call


Team Rubicon joins forces with Habitat for Community Build Day

Team Rubicon, a veteran-led humanitarian organization, has grown accustomed to rebuilding communities before, during, and after disasters and crises. But recently, the organization had an opportunity to help build a community as 10 of its team members from across central Florida partnered with Habitat for Humanity of Citrus County (HFHCC) for a Community Build Day.

Team Rubicon’s 10-member team paired up with HFHCC core volunteers and partner families to work on four future Habitat homes, helping with vinyl siding, preparation work for flooring installation in three homes and several other tasks at its Habitat at Citrus Springs affordable housing development.

“The teamwork between the two organizations was incredible,” said Dale Lange of Team Rubicon. “We were treated just like one of the Habitat for Humanity team. This is clearly the beginning of a great relationship in Citrus County.”

Habitat for Humanity is a great organization and has much in common with Team Rubicon, said Team Rubicon’s Grant Covington, who helped organize the Community Build Day between Team Rubicon and HFHCC.

“Our volunteers selflessly work to improve the lives of our most vulnerable citizens at no cost to them,” Covington said. “We love to work hard, get dirty, and be part of something bigger than our individual selves – or in this case, our organizations. There is no greater feeling than knowing we made a difference in the lives of other people. “

Added Justin Leech, COO for Habitat for Humanity of Citrus County: “It was a pleasure to have a veteran-led organization of construction professionals to partner with us in our mission to build affordable houses. We are honored to have them as our new partners in the community and we look forward to the next Community Build Day with Team Rubicon.”

If your organization, civic group, church or business would like to schedule a Community Build Day, call Jeff Bryan, Marketing & Communications Manager, at 352-563-2744 or email [email protected].

ABC Fine Wine crew members lift spirits of Habitat partner families in Citrus Community Build Day

A dozen crew members from ABC Fine Wine & Spirits throughout central Florida came together Thursday, May 2, to lift a helping hand and the spirits of partner families with Habitat for Humanity of Citrus County (HFHCC).

Working alongside partner families, core volunteers and HFHCC construction employees, the employees from ABC Fine Wine & Spirits joined forces to work on a pair of future Habitat homes at HFHCC’s Citrus Springs development to participate in a Community Build Day.

The dozen employees from ABC Fine Wine & Spirits contributed 58 hours of work, equating to a little more than seven days of work toward completion of two HFHCC homes.

“The mission of ABC Fine Wine & Spirits is to make everyday celebrations better in every community we serve and that includes getting out of our stores and offices to volunteer and give back,” said Sean Kelly, executive vice president of ABC Fine Wine & Spirits. “We’ve challenged our team members to find ways to lift people up in our communities and it’s a privilege to partner Habitat for Humanity and join them in building a home for a family.”

It’s partnerships such as this with civic organizations and businesses that make the pathway to home ownership come one step closer to reality, said Justin Leech, Chief Operating Officer with HFHCC.

“The ABC Fine Wine & Spirits team did a tremendous job helping to build Habitat homes and we thank them for being our partner and supporting our mission to provide attainable housing in Citrus County,” Leech said.

If your organization, civic group, church or business would like to schedule a Community Build Day, call Jeff Bryan, Marketing & Communications Manager, at 352-563-2744 or email [email protected].

Citrus County Rotary Clubs help provide additional hand up, participate in Community Build Day

If you are building it, they will come.
Citrus County Rotarians showed up in force Saturday, April 13, at Habitat for Humanity of Citrus County’s (HFHCC) Citrus Springs development to participate in a Community Build Day.
“Personally, this was on my wish list to do a six-club project and HFHCC was a perfect fit,” said Lace Blue-McLean, assistant governor for the six Rotary Clubs in Citrus County who organized Saturday’s Community Build Day. Her own club, the Rotary Club of Inverness, has been a long-standing partner with HFHCC by donating garden houses, sprinklers and water nozzles for new homeowners for more than 15 years.
On Saturday, more than two dozen Rotarians worked alongside future HFHCC partner families and volunteers, contributing 96 hours of work, equating to two-plus weeks of work toward completion of several HFHCC homes.
“I am really excited today to have this number of Rotarians to help families toward building their homes,” said Lace Blue-McLean, assistant governor for the six Rotary Clubs in Citrus County who organized Saturday’s Community Build Day. “It’s exciting to know we are helping (Partner Families) achieve their goal of home ownership. It was great to work side-by-side with Partner Families, learning about their journeys through Habitat and its homeownership program.”
This isn’t the first time Citrus County Rotarians have teamed up with HFHCC, but it’s the first one in the post-COVID era, said Blue-McLean, who sought to bring the two organizations and its members together again to help families seeking a hand-up, not a hand out.
“We envision this to be an ongoing project between the six Rotary clubs as HFHCC expands its Citrus Springs development,” said Blue-McLean, noting five of the six Citrus County Rotary Clubs were represented Saturday. “This is a great way for Rotarians to give back to the community. Period. It’s service above self, it’s community service. HFHCC’s mission to help families obtain safe, affordable housing lines up with several of our areas of focus.”
HFHCC is so grateful that Rotarians from different clubs across Citrus County were able to come together to benefit HFHCC in building Habitat homes, said Justin Leech, HFHCC Chief Operating Officer.
“Their efforts made a significant difference in advancing the construction of our houses, which will result in our partner families being able to move into their homes sooner than anticipated and begin the next phase of their lives as homeowners with safe, decent, and affordable housing,” Leech said. ““On behalf of HFHCC, I’d like to thank our Rotarians for all of their efforts and support that they have given us both this weekend and over the years.”
If your organization, civic group, church or business would like to schedule a Community Build Day, call Jeff Bryan, communications manager, at 352-563-2744 or email [email protected].

WTC police academy students trade in studies, training for Community Build Day with Habitat Citrus County

Under sunny skies and cool temperatures Saturday, April 6, five students from Withlacoochee Technical College’s Public Safety Training Center put their studies and training aside for hammers and other tools for a Community Build Day for Habitat for Humanity of Citrus County (HFHCC) at its Habitat at Citrus Springs development.

From helping grade lots, to scraping floors to prep them for tile work to installing vinyl siding, the students led by David Vincent, public safety training ce

Denise Barber, administrative secretary for Withlacoochee Technical College’s Public Safety Training Center, helps put up siding Saturday, April 6, under the watchful eye of core volunteer Dave Powell, whose reflection can be seen in the window. Five students, along with Barber and Chief David Vincent, from Withlacoochee Technical College’s Public Safety Training Center put their studies and training for hammers and other tools for a Community Build Day for Habitat for Humanity of Citrus County (HFHCC) at its Habitat at Citrus Springs development.

nter director, and Denise Barber, administrative secretary, worked side-by-side with future Habitat homeowners and core volunteers for a glimpse into the work partner families put in toward achieving their dream of homeownership.

“We at HFHCC are honored to have our future law enforcement officers and first responders out at our jobsite to assist us in building homes for our partner families,” said Justin Leech, HFHCC Chief Operating Officer. “We know that they are undergoing intensive training and studies, and it speaks volumes about them as future community leaders to take time to put in the hard work to help us achieve our mission of providing attainable housing in our community.”

Vincent, who has worked in law enforcement in Citrus County for the past 31 years, considers it viable for recruits to understand the importance of serving their communities beyond their normal day-to-day duties. In the police academy, there are chapters about serving the communities in which they work.

“To me, community policing is a huge part of what we do in law enforcement, but it’s more than that,” said Vincent, whose been the chief of police for the Citrus County School District since 2020 after a 27-year career with the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office. “And just changing that perception, especially with our recruits, if we start engraining that in them right from the academy level and say, ‘Hey, this is a big part of whatever community it is you serve.’ Because a lot of our recruits will go out and serve other communities other than Citrus County. But this gives them a good example of what community service really looks like.

“It’s not only benefiting the community, but it’s benefiting individual future homeowners who are out here with them as well.”

Developing relationships with citizens is key in law enforcement, Vincent said.

“I think for the future, for our profession to be successful, you must be able to get out and talk to peopl

e,” he explained. “I think that’s one thing that is missing a little bit versus 30 years ago in policing, is that ability to just stop and take those few minutes to get out and talk to people more.”

This helps break down those barriers a little bit and get out of their comfort zone, Vincent said.

“You never know, in six months from now one of those recruits could be out (in Citrus Springs) patrolling this up here or maybe even tell their field training officer, ‘I was up here building these houses,’” Vincent said.

If your organization, civic group, church or business would like to schedule a Community Build Day, call Jeff Bryan, communications manager, at 352-563-2744 or email [email protected].

HFHCC hosts HFH Macedonia affiliate officials

While the mission of Habitat for Humanity of Citrus County (HFHCC) is bring people together to build homes, neighborhoods and hope for those in Citrus County, its work extends far beyond the borders of Citrus County. 

For the past dozen years, HFHCC has partnered with Habitat for Macedonia, an international affiliate formed in 2005 in Southeastern Europe to help meet the needs of its citizens struggling with safe, affordable housing.

On Saturday, March 25, the HFHCC Board of Directors and administrative staff were honored to host Zoran Kostov, the national director for HFH Macedonia, and Dragan Malinovski, its Board chairman. HFHCC President/CEO George Rusaw provided the international visitors a tour of its Inverness ReStore as well as its Habitat at Citrus Springs development. 

Afterward, Kostov provided HFHCC’s Board of Directors, Rusaw and other administrative staff with a deep overview of HFH Macedonia’s program and the in-roads it has made over the years in its mission overseas. East Pasco and Citrus County were the first overseas trip HFH Macedonia had made post pandemic, Kostov said, noting the importance of visiting its two key financial supporters of their overseas mission.

In the past five years, HFH Macedonia has built six new multi-family apartment buildings, totaling 48 units, which house mostly young families. Each apartment is 500 square feet compared to the 200 to 300 square feet apartments they’d been living in, Kostov said. 

“That’s relatively large,” Kostov said of the living space.

Each new build or renovation focuses on providing energy efficiency, which has proven essential since their country is faced with energy insecurity because of the current conflict between Ukraine and Russia. Russia has historically been the largest provider of fuel sources, Kostov said, but because of international restrictions placed upon Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, Macedonia and other European countries have been forced to find other fuel alternatives. Residents have seen energy bills consume upward of 30% of their monthly income.

One of its best projects thus far has been the renovation of a 14-story, 112-unit apartment building. Built in 1960, HFH Macedonia rehabbed the structure in 2012. By doing so, the energy efficient measures put into place are the equivalent of one small power plant, Kostov said.

“The more we can do that,” Kostov said of establishing energy efficient measures, “the more our families can save.”

HFH Macedonia isn’t just a leader in the country for providing stable, affordable housing or energy efficiency measures. Government leaders invited HFH Macedonia to assist in writing building design and codes and national housing policy laws.

“The opportunity to see today what you’re doing is impressive,” Malinovski said. “While there’s many differences between what we’re doing, the Habitat for Humanity mission is the same: help families and people in need of decent, affordable housing.

“Your support of our efforts is unwavering and key to what we’re doing. We cannot thank you enough.”

Kostov and Malinovski had one final surprise for the HFHCC Board of Directors and especially Rusaw. In recognition of the long-time support of HFH Macedonia under Rusaw’s leadership, Malinovski informed local HFHCC officials that Rusaw had been named as an honorary board member of HFH Macedonia.

“What you are doing in Macedonia is amazing and inspirational,” Rusaw said. “We are excited to see the impact you’re having on families and your country.”