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Raise the roof: Volunteers needed to build Habitat home

October 30, 2013
By MEL TOADVINE ( , Lehigh Acres Citizen

If you would like to help build a house for someone through the Habitat for Humanity program in Lehigh Acres, your services are needed and appreciated. Cheryl Garn, who is vice president of Community Outreach with Habitat for Humanity of Lee and Hendry counties, issued an invitation to volunteers who would like to put up the inner walls and help to put the roof on a house in southwest Lehigh Acres and work to finish the house.

Construction on the home began on Oct. 19 with nearly 20 volunteers who are employees of The Home Tech Co. in Fort Myers. Others were invited to join them.

It is the 17th home that the area air conditioning and major appliances service and sales company has sponsored over the years, with contributions in excess of a half million dollars.

Article Photos

Home-Tech employees carry walls onto the slab as the company builds a Habitat home.

"We are in the business of repairing and replacing air conditioning systems and major home appliances in homes from Sarasota County to Collier County essentially we are helping people to operate their homes more smoothly, so our partnership with Habitat for Humanity to provide homes for members of our community is a natural extension of what we do," said Steve Marino, president of the employee-owned company.

"All you need is the desire to help us," Garn said. "We provide the tools, the gloves and the hard hats. If you can bang a nail, you can help Habitat finish one of its newest homes in Lee County. She said there are others going up all over the county but the one in Lehigh is being specifically sponsored by Home Tech.

To date, Habitat for Humanity has built 1,277 homes for those who are limited in their income to build a home. Those who apply for help from Habitat for Humanity must also help build their own homes. Oftentimes family members are on hand to help out.

She said Habitat homes are built through the use of volunteer labor and donations of money and materials. The homes are then sold to the homeowners with an interest-free mortgage and monthly payments that the buyers can afford.

Habitat homeowners must qualify financially for the program; save $1,200 toward their closing costs; attend classes focusing on homeownership, budgeting and home maintenance, and complete 250 hours of "sweat equity" by volunteering at Habitat.

Garn said that by last week, habitat has closed on 1,276 homes and held at least two mortgage burnings.

Habitat charges zero interest for the homes they build and they are attractive, some large and some small, and are located throughout the county.

While she may handle publicity and help to solicit volunteers, Garn was seen at the Lehigh site with tools in hand.

She said the walls were pre-built in Habitat's own warehouse by volunteers, so the actual wall raising goes very quickly as it did on Saturday, Oct. 19.

"For insurance purposes, we need all volunteers to register with us and complete required paperwork. Folks in Lehigh who want to help can call us at 239-652-1684 to register and get more information and the address of the site and when they will be able to be there to help out.

"The people really have a good time working together. There is a certain friendship that comes about with the same volunteers coming back, not only on Saturdays, but during the week," Garn said.

Work usually begins at 8 a.m. and Saturdays are often the days you see more volunteers on hand," she said.

She said trusses for the Lehigh house were put up this past weekend and now we need a lot of volunteers to help us finish the house. It usually takes between three to four months to complete a home, depending on the number of volunteers," Garn said.

"Then when it is finished, we have a dedication ceremony for the family and the house is turned over to them," she said.

Payments are made to Habitat for Humanity, which holds the mortgages following closing. After people move into their "own homes," many, if not most, work to make their homes attractive with landscaping.



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