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Volunteers needed to finish Habitat homes

May 22, 2013
By MEL TOADVINE ( , Lehigh Acres Citizen

Two homes are nearing completion in Lehigh Acres by Lee County's Habitat for Humanity and volunteers who know how to use a hammer and screwdriver, are encouraged to contact Habitat to volunteer some time to finish the homes, whose occupants have already by selected and approved to move in.

Also the new residents are putting in their "sweat equity" in the building of their homes and often other homes for people who qualify to buy a reasonable, attractive home in Lehigh with zero interest rates.

The homes are at 3104 40th St. South and 3106 40th St. South. Lee County Habitat's Suzie Ellis was in Lehigh recently letting people know that if they qualify for a home and are able to help build it and pay the mortgage payments, they should contact Habitat's Paul Schenz at 239-652-1864. You can also email her at: paulas@habitat4

Article Photos

Suzie Ellis

Ellis said you don't have to be a professional builder or carpenter and if you can hold a hammer, and are interested in helping others, you are more than likely a good candidate as a volunteer to help finish building the homes, and even others in Lee County.

Millard Fuller was the founder of Habitat for Humanity and included the program overseas. Former President Jimmy Carter lent his support and became recognized by many as the person who started the program.

Fuller passed away in 2009 at 74. In 1996, President Bill Clinton award Fuller the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor, calling Habitat " the most successful continuously community service project in the history of the United States."

"I see life as both a gift and a responsibility. My responsibility is to use what God has given me to help his people in need," said Millard Fuller during his lifetime.

From humble beginnings in Alabama, Fuller rose to become a self-made millionaire. A graduate of Auburn University in Alabama,and the University of Alabama Law School at Tuscaloosa, he and a friend began a marketing firm while still in school. Fuller's business expertise and entrepreneurial drive made him a millionaire at 29.

Carter joined Fuller and helped spread the publicity of the program. The former president spent many sweat hours in different communities helping Habitat For Humanity.

Locally, Ellis said those selected take classes on financial responsibility, handle checking accounts, cash and taking care of utility bills.

Many worked at the two homes on Mother's Day. Those who want a house also have to come up with $1,200, in addition to build time.

"You should see the smiles of folks who move into their home. The pride is wonderful to see and a lot of those folks are very emotional to know they are now buying a home," Ellis said.

Habitat plans on building 50 homes this year and they depend on volunteers to make it all possible

"All our applicants need is the ability to pay small mortgage payments and be willing to help build their homes. If there are those who may be late in payments, we help them with counseling," Ellis said.

"And unfortunately, they can't keep up the payments, we have to reclaim the homes," she said. "But that is not a trend with those who are often paying for their first home."

The Lehigh homes must be finished by June 15 and go to closing.

"We need volunteers who are willing to give us a hand in helping to build these two homes for two very deserving families," she said.

Several homes and Ellis didn't have an exact count, have been build all over Lehigh. The homes are stylist and are of three bedrooms for the most part. Occupants are encouraged to beautify the exterior of their new homes.

Ellis said the county Habitat For Humanity group had worked on rehabilitating foreclosed homes for two years but discovered it was economically better to build the house, rather than have to put $100,000 or more into an older home that needs drastic help.

"If you know someone who can benefit from the Habitat For Humanity program, spread the word and tell them to get in touch with us so we can give them information.

"If you can hit a nail, call us and come out to our two homes in Lehigh and help us finished them," she said. "Call 239-652-1864 and our construction supervisors will guide you every step of the way."

Through the use of volunteer labor and donations of money and materials, home are sold to low-income families with an interest-free mortgage and monthly payments set at less than 30 percent of the homeowner's income, making homeownership an affordable reality, Ellis said.



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