Changing Lives...One Family at a Time
At the beginning of the new year, would like to reflect on our HFHCC Affiliate’s purpose for existence here in Citrus County. We are very proud of our Habitat Affiliate having served Citrus County for over twenty four (24) years and have completed 160 homes.
In partnership with our families, potential homeowners are required to obtain five hundred (500) “sweat equity” hours, both on our construction sites and in the ReStores. They are required to work on other family homes before being able to start their own home. In addition to paying $2,000.00 in closing costs for their first mortgage, the money is held in their mortgage escrow account until closing on their first mortgage.
Our Habitat Partnership is not a “hand out” it is a “hand up” for our partner families. Our program allows the majority of our partner families to break the cycle of paying higher rental fees, while providing them an opportunity of homeownership, which will improve their family’s circumstances and their lives! By obtaining the security of a home for their family, they are fostering “peace of mind” in knowing that they are providing financial security, physical, mental and emotional well-being for their families.
In addition to their employment, many of our families have been working toward technical, as well as, two to four year college degrees in fields such as business, teaching, psychology, radiology and nursing, just to name a few!
During one particular dedication of a Habitat Home, we attempted to console a 10-year-old boy who was crying unabashedly, crouched down in the corner of his new bedroom. We told him this was a time to be happy and his answer was, “you don’t understand, these are tears of joy…this is my first bedroom!”
At another dedication, the young daughter of our partner family decided to give our Habitat President/CEO George Rusaw, a tour of her new home. She was gushing with emotion and when he asked her why she was so happy, she replied, “I will finally be able to have my friends come to my house!”
After closing on her new home, another one of our partner families made this comment, “This is the first important thing I’ve ever finished in my life!” Did she get discouraged from time to time? Was she uncertain about being able to finish? Certainly! However, she stuck to the plan and has a very nice home with a degree of “peace of mind” as a result!
Our Affiliate relies heavily on volunteers. We have volunteers who have been working our construction sites and ReStores for years now, as well as our Family Services Committee. These people believe in our mission! Most of these individuals are retired from notable careers. We truly believe that volunteering for Habitat gives our “core” volunteers a real purpose in life. The physicality and mental satisfaction of helping to change the lives of others is immeasurable! We invite anyone who would like to volunteer, and to consider assisting our Family Services Committee. We mentor our partner families and monitor their progress throughout their partnership, through the dedication of their home.
Speaking from a personal standpoint, my career before becoming the Habitat Family Services Director was a thirty eight (38) year career in banking, mortgages and the real estate industries, mostly in Citrus County. After twelve (12) years serving on our Affiliate’s Board of Directors, and closing millions of dollars in mortgages throughout my career, I can honestly say that there has been no mortgage closing more rewarding than dedicating a Habitat Home to a deserving partner family, realizing that I had a role in it!
As you ponder how you could make a difference in the lives of a family, please consider Habitat for Humanity of Citrus County. Whether you give your time as a volunteer or as a contributor toward our homes, you will make a definite difference in the lives of families through the end of our fiscal year. May you be filled with many blessings during the holiday season!