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Alachua Habitat For Humanity
The Habitat View
Dear Reader, 

Welcome to The Habitat View. The Habitat View is a bi-monthly newsletter to keep you updated on upcoming projects,events and interesting stories.

In this issue, we have stories on the Signature Event "There's No Place Like Home," Phil and Barbara Emmer, Women Build's Groundbreaking Event, UF Habitat's ABWK Project, a Staff Profile, a Board Member Profile and a Volunteer Profile.

Kayla Ellsworth, Michelle Jackson, Mahiza Moore & Candice Wynter

Editors of The Habitat View

 There's No Place Like Home

In This Issue
There's No Place Like Home
Phil and Barbara Emmer
Women Build Groundbreaking Event
UF Habitat Gives Back to Former UF Employee
Staff Profile: Jill Carter
Board Member Profile: Karen Cole-Smith
Volunteer Kickstarts New Literacy Program
There's no place 
like home...
Join us!
 Dinner, Silent Auction 
and Entertainment 

Friday, Nov. 14 
6 - 11 p.m.
All monies raised continue to support the Habitat mission of bringing people together to build homes, communities and hope.

Tickets and Sponsorships Available

There's No Place Like Home

 Event Sponsors

  • Duke Insurance Agency
  • Community Bank & Trust of Florida
  • Florida Credit Union
  • Florida Citizens Bank
  • James Moore and Co.
  • Suskin Realty
  • Ray French Air Conditioning
  • Kattell and Company, PL
  • BBI Construction
  • TD Bank
  • Rudy's Flooring Specialists
  • Regency Windsor Management, Inc.
  • Jay and Sandi St. Pierre
  • Campus USA Credit Union
  • Gainesville Regional Utilities
  • Dr. and Mrs. John Woeste
  • Crime Prevention Security Systems
  • Willis Insurance
  • Document Technologies of NCFL
  • The Flanagan Companies
  • Baseline Builders
  • Solar Impact, Inc.
  • SunState Federal Credit Union
  • Capital City Bank
  • Leveda and Ause Brown
  • Causseaux, Hewett & Walpole, Inc.
  • Jan LeDuc
  • Dharma Foundation
  • Columbia Forest Products
  • Matchmaker Realty
  • Gator Country Pest Control
  • Wells Fargo Bank
  • TGE - The Grand Event
  • Burkhardt Sales and Service
  • Bertie Heating & Air Conditioning
  • Griffis Custom Construction, LLC
  • Joan and Tom Rothrock
  • AmeriNational Community Services, Inc . 


Event Sponsor Profile

 Florida Credit Union is celebrating 60 years serving members in North Central Florida. From humble beginnings as a credit union founded by educators, to now serving 26 counties and more than 61,500 members, FCU has never forgotten that members are the reason for their success.


FCU is happy to continue our partnership with Alachua Habitat for Humanity. Just as FCU's initiative is to help build financial stability within our membership, Alachua Habitat for Humanity's initiative is to provide stability and a comfortable place to live for the residents of Alachua County.      

UF Campaign for Charities 
If you are University of Florida faculty or staff, please consider designating a portion of your paycheck to Alachua Habitat for Humanity through the UF Campaign for Charities - it's an easy and painless way to help your community!


Simply go to and click the "pledge now" link, OR
Go to myUFL secure sign on, My Self Service and the "UFCC SIGN ON", which will direct you to the UFCC pledging site.
Donate Now!
Click to donate
Text to donate:
Text "HOME" to 72881

Habitat for Humanity's A Brush with Kindness (ABWK) has a goal to serve low-income homeowners who struggle to maintain the exterior of their homes.  The work is done by volunteers who use donated materials whenever possible. 
ABWK is aimed at providing services such as painting, landscaping, weatherization and minor repair service.
Applications are currently being taken for residents in the Greater Duval community to have their homes painted. 
For more information, please contact Kristine Johnson
Phone: 352-378-4663


Come support the University of Florida chapter of Habitat for Humanity at the annual 5K race! It will be held at Westside Park on Sunday, October 26th. Registration begins at 7:30 a.m. and the race starts at 8:30 a.m. 

Race-day registration is $20 and begins at 7:30am. Race t-shirts and Habitat for Humanity braclets will also be for sale on race day.

Pollo Tropical and Bagel Bakery will be providing a delicious post-race meal for all participants.

Visit UF Habitat for Humanity on Facebook



When you shop at AmazonSmile, Amazon donates 0.5% of the purchase price to Alachua Habitat for Humanity, Inc. 


Bookmark the link: and support us every time you shop!  

Be sure to check out our website by clicking the link below:

Alachua Habitat for Humanity

New Hours at the ReStore!

Starting November 1, the ReStore will be open Monday through Saturday, From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.




The ReStore will also be open the day after Thanksgiving.

Gobble, Gobble!

Building Lots Needed

As our affiliate expands the number of families served, we have an increasing need for lots on which to build homes. Traditionally, lots used by Habitat for Humanity have come in the form of donations. Over the past several years, Alachua Habitat has received real estate donations from both private and corporate donors such as:

- Kirk Reeb Associates
- Chase Bank
- Bank of America
- City of Gainesville
- City of High Springs
- The Estate of Beverly Thomas
- City of Alachua
- The Robinson Family

Do you know of any individuals, corporations or other organizations with lots they would like to donate?
If yes, contact our Executive Director, Scott Winzeler.


The Habitat View


Kayla Ellsworth


Newsletter Layout

Signature Event "There's No Place Like Home"

Michelle Jackson

Women Build Groundbreaking Event

Mahiza Moore

UF Habitat Gives Back to Former UF Employee

Board of Directors Profile, Karen Cole-Smith

Candice Wynter

Staff Profile, Jill Carter


Rebecca Moonitz, Guest Writer

Volunteer Profile, Gisele Palacios

Donate Now!
Click to donate
Text to donate:
Text "HOME" to 72881

Signature Event
"There's No Place Like Home"
November 14, 2014
Join us as we click our heels together for this special evening and celebrate the many years Phil and Barbara Emmer, of Emmer Development Corporation, have contributed to affordable housing in southeast Gainesville.

Warner Brothers celebrates the 75th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz by partnering with Habitat for Humanity to launch a year-long campaign called "There's No Place Like Home." The campaign takes it's name from Dorothy's most famous line, giving it real life meaning, and encouraging communities all around the world to pay it forward.
This year's signature event "There's No Place Like Home," will take place on November 14th at Rembert Farms in Alachua.
Individual tickets are still for sale for $75 each. You can also sign up to be a sponsor.
For more information on the various sponsorship levels and other event details, follow the yellow brick road to
Phil and Barbara Emmer

Phil and Barbara Emmer

Emmer Development

"Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country."

      -President John F. Kennedy


These words inspired Phil and Barbara Emmer...


Many people don't know of the significant contribution Phil and Barbara made to affordable housing in the early 60's. They moved from Miami to Gainesville in 1961 inspired by John F. Kennedy's call to action, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country."


What the Emmer's saw in Gainesville was a segment of the population that lacked safe, decent, and affordable housing simply because of their race and ethnicity. They decided to do something about it.


The first barrier this group faced was obtaining a credit report. At that time, there was one person in charge of authorizing the issuing of these reports who would routinely deny this part of the population. Phil went to work addressing federal officials from the predecessors of today's Department of Housing and Urban Affairs saying that unless they did something about the situation, he would contact his senators and representatives. Eventually, this barrier was broken and credit reports were issued.


The next obstacle was educating homeowners on how to build up their creditworthiness to qualify for homeownership loans. He counseled many families on how to build credit, working with them in detail on what they could do to raise their scores. To facilitate their saving for down payments, he placed envelopes around his office with each family's name written on it. Each week, families would stop by his office and drop off $5.00 which Phil would then record and place in their corresponding envelope. In this way, the families were able to save toward their down payment and eventually reach the goal necessary for obtaining a loan.  


The Emmer's built over 600 homes in Lincoln Estates in southeast Gainesville and although he went on to create much more affluent developments in his long career; he will tell you that Lincoln Estates is what he is most proud.


Homes provide stability for families, allowing them to live healthier more productive lives, obtain higher educational accomplishments and become more involved in their communities.


Thanks to the Emmer's efforts, generations of leaders, educators, lawyers, judges, health professionals, and other hard-working citizens were able to emerge from within the community who would not have otherwise had the opportunity.

Community Bank & Trust of North Florida Donates $50K Toward Women Build House #8
Alachua Habitat, Family Members, Women Build and Community Bank & Trust Employees Break Ground


It takes a village to raise a child. Building a home for a family requires the same investment from the community.

On Wednesday Oct. 15, the groundbreaking was held for the eighth Women Build house in Alachua County. This house is a collaborative effort between the Community Bank and Trust of Florida, Alachua Habitat for Humanity, Women Build and the extensive network of volunteers and employees that support these organizations.


Community Bank & Trust of Florida donated $50,000 toward the material expense of a new Alachua Habitat for Humanity home. The City of Gainesville donated the property at 1761 SE 4th Ave. and Alachua Habitat for Humanity Women Build Chapter will contribute the volunteer labor and oversight for the construction of the home for the Lisa Brooks' family in East Gainesville.


Community Bank & Trust employees will also participate as volunteers on the build site.

"We are excited about the opportunity to sponsor this Habitat for Humanity home here in Alachua County," said Hugh Dailey, president of Community Bank & Trust of Florida. "We have a tradition of supporting Habitat for Humanity, both with home sponsorships and volunteer hours with four previous homes in Marion County."


The home will be built for single mother Lisa Brooks and her four children. Women Build is an initiative that builds quality houses constructed by women for families in need.


"Our goal is to improve the quality of housing here," said Women Build coordinator Rachel Walters. "We want to restore neighborhoods and help them grow into cohesive communities."


Women Build coordinator Rachel Walters said one of the greatest aspects of working with Women Build is the sense of community that develops between the volunteers, coordinators and the homeowner.


"We really like to bring the homeowners into the Women Build fold," said Rachel Walters. "I think Lisa will be a great part of the Women Build community, and she seems very excited to work with us."


The sense of teamwork at Women Build contributes to its goals of helping both the homeowners and the volunteers.


"We have a twofold mission," Walters said. "One is building houses for people in need. Two is empowering women and instilling in them confidence on and off the job site."


The volunteers at Women Build are women of all ages, many of them older adults or students. Those with previous experience take the time to train and mentor women who are newer to construction. These volunteers walk away with practical lessons that they can take home with them.


"It opens their eyes to see that they don't need to feel limited by gender inequality," Walters said. "They go away feeling like they can do so much more and overcome things that are challenging - not only in construction, but also in life challenges. They can go on and impact more people."


With an extensive network of volunteers, the Women Build mission is spreading throughout the community as more women are helping out their neighbors while gaining practical skills to help themselves.


"It's all about empowering women one hammer stroke at a time," Walters said.


For more information about Women Build visit Alachua Women Build or call Rachel Walters at 352-222-0233.


If you would like to connect with volunteers and learn more about the organization, you can also visit Women Build at the Fall Arts Festival. They will be selling t-shirts, birdhouses and more.

UF Habitat Students Give Back to Former UF Employee, Lillie Mae Brooks
UF Habitat volunteers completed the 5th ABWK project at the home of a retired UF employee. UF Habitat also funded Critical Home Repairs for the home.


Generosity extends from generation to generation.


The University of Florida Habitat for Humanity chapter continued the tradition of service by giving back to retired UF employee Lillie Mae Brooks, 88, who worked as a custodian supervisor at UF for 25 years.


Every weekend UF Habitat members volunteer their time at various build sites and projects, but the Sept. 25-26 project had a more personal connection. The students spent Friday and Saturday repairing Brooks' home at 2438 NE 13th Ave, in the Greater Duval Neighborhood. After 44 years of Brooks living in her home, UF Habitat was able to assist her by installing a handicap bar for her bathroom, new closet doors, a new window and a fresh coat of paint on the outside of the house, according to Lauren Hintenlang, the vice president of building for UF Habitat for Humanity.


Hintenlang explained that providing financial support and repairing homes weekly is rewarding and tangible for the UF Habitat team.


"People [students] can actually see what their fundraising is going toward," Hintenlang said.


Brooks, extremely grateful for the repairs, smiled the whole time the Habitat crew was there. Even at age 88, while volunteers painted the doors in her room, Brooks tried to help and was extremely appreciative, Hintenlang said.


Brooks' caretaker joined the students and said the build site beginning prayer with the UF Habitat group to start the day's work. In addition, he joined in with the house painting task of the day.


Hintenlang, a Microbiology and cell science major at UF, became involved with Habitat in Spring 2013 and has volunteered every Saturday morning for the past year.


"I fell in love with the [Habitat] mission and everything that they do," Hintenlang said.


She organizes all of UF Habitat's building projects as well as assigning volunteers and volunteering herself.


"Just helping her [Brooks] and getting to know all the other volunteers was really rewarding," Hintenlang said.

Jill Carter Empowers Volunteers to Create a Better Future
Staff Profile: Volunteer Coordinator
Jill Carter, Volunteer Coordinator

Jill Carter has almost two decades of experience with Alachua Habitat for Humanity. She started volunteering her time and skills working with the Women Build Project in 1995. After retiring from an engineering company, Jill fulfilled the position of volunteer coordinator for Alachua Habitat in 2013.


Carter chose to return to work with Alachua Habitat because of the organization's mission to empower its citizens to create a better future.


"The best part about Habitat is it wants to help people help themselves," she said.


Working with Alachua Habitat, Carter said she feels as though she is helping provide society with the most basic and essential human need - housing.


"People really only need two things in their life; they have to have food and water, and they have to have a roof over their heads," she said. "My work here allows me to fulfill one of those essential needs."


As volunteer coordinator, she organizes groups of volunteers for home builds and creates grant packages, which include checks, invoices and forms of documentation.


Carter is known around the office for her dedication and detail-oriented, organized personality. These traits among others allow her to effectively communicate with volunteers and grantors.


Outside of Habitat, Carter also volunteers at the local downtown library where she teaches computer skills to Gainesville citizens who are applying to social services on the public computers.


In her free time, Carter and her husband like to travel. Their favorite destination is the Green Turtle Cay in The Bahamas where they have been vacationing since 1989.


Carter said that the most rewarding aspect of working with Habitat for Humanity is the interactions with the families and seeing the progression to homeownership.


"You don't see many smiles when they first come in, but once they have that house and those keys, you can't get that smile off their face," she said. "And I get to see the whole thing happen. That's the best part, I think."

Board Member Profile: Karen Cole-Smith

 Karen Cole-Smith

Board Member

With a passion to give people homes and education, board member Karen Cole-Smith enjoys helping people all over Gainesville get the education and shelter they deserve.


"Home is where the heart is," Smith said. "Home is where you feel safe and have security, so I'm really pleased to be apart of a board that is actually providing something that everybody desires."


Smith is a huge advocate of the Habitat Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative (NRI) because of how consistent and visible it is throughout Gainesville. Out of all the boards she is on, Habitat always has a positive end result, whether it is a house or even just painting a house, she said.


"The NRI offers people resources and a sense of ownership and desire to improve and empower their own communities," Smith said.


As a loyal parishioner for over 30 years, Smith has volunteered her time to Mount Carmel Baptist Church as a leader of the marriage and family ministry. She coordinates various programs that help edify marriage and family. Recently, she sent all students from the church who went away to college care packages to help them feel connected to the church even while away at school.


In addition to volunteering her time to Habitat and Mount Carmel, Smith's professional career is also centered on helping the community. As executive director of community outreach at Sante Fe College, Smith focuses on connecting East Gainesville's educational needs with resources the college can provide to serve these needs.


Very close to her family, Smith has been married for 37 years to James L. Smith, with two daughters, Michelle and Brittany.


Smith's biggest influence growing up was from her mother, a school teacher for 42 years.


"She is my greatest inspiration," Smith said. "She always stressed the importance of education because she believed if you are going to pursue your dreams and be successful, you have to get an education."


Smith loves being a part of helping facilitate the provision of homes and education to the community, she said she enjoys all of her work so much that it is to a point where it doesn't feel like work to her.


"I want everybody to have a place they can call home and experience safety and security," Smith said. "I don't even see what I do on a daily basis as a job, but more of a ministry."

Volunteer Works to Kickstart New Literacy Program For Habitat Families
Volunteer Profile: Gisele Palacios

playroom-child.jpgWhen University of Florida Sophomore Gisele Palacios walked into the Alachua Habitat office, she planned on simply completing 20 hours of volunteer work for one of her classes at the University of Florida. Instead, she began pioneering a literacy program for Habitat families.


Palacios was recruited by Kristine Thompson, Alachua Habitat's family services director, to kickstart a project working with First Book, a non-profit organization that provides books for low income children. It has a marketplace of high-quality books online, with prices ranging anywhere between 50 cents to $3. Book orders can be shipped directly to Gainesville.


Although the program is still in its early stages, Palacios has already begun to browse through the book choices and go through the family housing files to determine a list of all the kids, as well as their age, gender, etc.


The only difficulty she has faced so far is making sure she is selecting the right books.


"I don't know these kids, so it is difficult for me to pick books when I don't know what they would enjoy," she said. 


She says she plans to talk with the families before she makes any purchases, so that the children will benefit as much as possible from the program.


Palacios calls the literacy program a "joint effort" between her and Thompson, as they work together to get all of the little details in order. However, Palacios has a personal connection to the program, and feels that life led her to it.


"Reading and writing has always been a love of mine," Palacio said. "As a kid I grew up reading avidly; it was a way that I could get away from everything."


Palacios said she wants to go beyond just ordering books. She has hopes of providing a small library of books for each family. Her idea is to purchase secondhand shelves for each home and fix them up, in order to provide a well-furnished and pleasant reading environment. She also plans to work with UF Habitat for Humanity, in order to raise more funds and more awareness of the program.      


Although the literacy program is just beginning, it has already exceeded expectations for Palacios.


"The fact that I get to provide and share this love [of reading] with children and ignite that in them is more than I hoped for."     

Founded in 1986, Alachua Habitat for Humanity is the local affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International, a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian housing ministry.  We seek to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness from the world and to make decent shelter a matter of conscience and action. To accomplish these goals, we invite people of all backgrounds, races and religions to build houses together in partnership with families in need.