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Mermaids dive in to Habitat's Women Build 2017

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Around Town

Opinion

By Suzanne Kidd

What do 50 dynamic, super busy Apopka women from wildly different backgrounds have in common this spring? Each one is pooling her efforts, skills, networks, and muscle to help build an affordable home for a hard-working local family. By joining Habitat for Humanity's "Women Build 2017", these ladies have committed to raise the money, then raise the walls, for one of the 58 new Habitat homes breaking ground in Apopka next month. Tapping into their personal and business networks, these fabulous fifty, working in creatively-named teams, have inspired over 300 donors to share their passion to make a profound difference for struggling families in our community. Together, Teams "Mermaids", "Waste Management", "Women of Worth (W.O.W.)", "Finrock", "Ryder Women's Leadership Forum Team", "Lovely Women at Work", "Wells Fargo", "Virtuous Women", and "Apopka Feisty Gems" have, in less than two months, raised over $40,000! That's more than 30% of the total $125,000 goal set by Habitat Seminole-Apopka for this year's Women Build. And they're not done yet.

Each team is still actively fundraising both through their personal and Team "First Giving" fundraising pages and through Team-sponsored fundraising events of their choosing. For example, Team Mermaids will host a "FUNdraiser" at Beef 'O' Brady's in Apopka (1410 Rock Springs Rd.) on Thursday, May 4th. As a reliable supporter of community events, Beef 'O' Brady's is generously donating 10% of all sales, both in-restaurant and takeout, from 4pm to close. Additionally, attendees will have the opportunity to raise even more donations by participating in a "Chinese Raffle", a Silent Auction and a chance to "Split-the-Pot". Fabulous prizes are at stake!

So, you may ask, what motivated these special women, already busy with career, family, and community service, to take on yet another commitment? Without hesitation, they enthusiastically embraced Habitat's mission: the belief that everyone deserves a decent place to live. That a home is a stabilizing force for a family. That a home forges a legacy of economic security and opportunity. That home ownership is empowering.

And statistics bear this out. Before partnering with Habitat, getting their finances in order, and putting in hundreds of hours of sweat equity, 55% of eventual Habitat homeowners were on public assistance. But once they become Habitat homeowners, these families are able to pay an affordable mortgage and regular property taxes. Their children vastly improve in school success with a nearly 70% rise in grades and studying, making college a more realistic possibility. Most importantly, virtually 90% of Habitat homeowners finally feel positive about the future for themselves and their families! Considering the tremendous obstacles these families have to overcome to become homeowners, that outcome alone makes Women Build supremely rewarding and worthwhile.

For most of Apopka's Women Builders, supporting Habitat financially is a years long labor of love. But actually helping construct one of the homes remained elusive, until now. Thanks to Habitat's Juniper Bend and Arbor Bend communities at 13th Street and S Washington Avenue, Apopka's fifty can now partner with like-minded women they might otherwise never have met. Building connections, working alongside other women on an actual construction site, and making Apopka stronger, one family at a time, are major motivators for these generous women. But, above all, is the heartwarming realization that, through the women Build effort, another Apopka family will be lifted up and freed from the crushing worry of no safe, decent, affordable housing for their family.

There's still time for you to support this terrific work. If you know one of the fabulous fifty personally, contribute to their dedicated "First Giving" page. If not, you can share in the build cost by going to https://www.firstgiving.com/41643/women-build-2017 . Every tax-deductible donation is critical no matter the size. To paraphrase a famous quote, "If you think your (donation is) too small to make a difference, you have never been in bed with a mosquito"!

Suzanne Kidd is a former 30-year public school educator and design professional. During her sixteen years as an Apopka resident, she has been an active participant in her homeowners' association and Apopka civic affairs, attending City Council and Planning Commission meetings and serving on several City committees, most recently chairing the City's Visioning Steering Committee. She is currently involved with Habitat for Humanity in bringing affordable housing to Apopka.

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