Bruce Goss, an engineer in the electric distribution industry, began volunteering with Habitat in April 2019. “I had never built houses, or been around construction, until I started volunteering with Habitat.”

Bruce decided to volunteer with Habitat because he wanted to give back to the community. “I wanted do something good for others, and at the same time learn a few things about how houses are built from the ground up.”

When asked what Bruce likes most about his volunteer experience with Habitat, he explained that he loves interacting with homeowner candidates and seeing their hard work and determination pay off. “A lot of these folks have gone through more than a few trials, and to see someone lifting themselves up to gain a better life is very inspiring.”

Bruce’s favorite day on the build site is when the landscaping is completed. “It may not be everyone's favorite day, but for me the day that I helped with landscaping was one of the best. There is something special about showing up to a house that has no grass on the lawn, and then watching as a few pallets of grass transforms a house into a home, at least from the outside.”

To learn more about volunteering with Habitat, please click here.

Our donor spotlight shines on Thrivent Financial, an organization that connects faith with finances. Based in Minneapolis, the organization supports Habitat for Humanity throughout the United States.

Habitat is proud to expand upon a long standing extensive partnership with Thrivent. Habitat Pinellas & West Pasco Counties was awarded a $5,000 community impact grant for a neighborhood revitalization event that will take place in Pinellas Park on September 7th, 2019. This Building on Faith event brings churches and members of Thrivent together to raise awareness of the need of affordable housing, address housing needs and provide an engaging volunteer experience. Approximately 100 volunteers will be refreshing 6-8 homes with landscaping and paint, using the grant money to cover the costs. This project would not happen without this support. Their motto is "LIVE GENEROUSLY" and Habitat is grateful for their generosity.

To learn more about the upcoming revitalization event, please click here.

Meet Gerald Rice, our 2019 Veterans Build homeowner! Gerald served in the United States Army from 1974 to 1978. Rice volunteered for the Army when he was 18 years old. He was stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina and served in the 1-17 Air Cavalry Airborne, the reconnaissance unit for the 82nd Airborne.

After he served in the Army, Gerald worked as a sheet metal worker in Tampa and as a truck driver until he retired in 2010. Unfortunately, in 2012 he was in a major accident that resulted in a broken disk in his neck and a traumatic brain injury.

Gerald has been living in a dilapidated mobile home that he rents. His income is fixed but the living costs continue to rise. When Gerald was accepted into the Habitat program he was filled with hope and optimism. “It gave me great encouragement and excitement for my future. I will have better living conditions with more security and safety.”

He enjoys his time earning sweat equity hours. “I’m disabled but it doesn’t mean I can’t work. You have to stay busy and keep the muscles moving. I loved the work and exercise.” 

Gerald often cares for his grandson, Devon, while his daughter, Jessica, is at work. He looks forward to hosting them for cookouts at his new home. “My house will be a place of peace where I worship God and a place where my daughter and grandson can visit me. I hope to make my yard nice with a cookout area and a little fence.” Gerald is thankful to everyone who has helped make his dream of homeownership a reality.

To learn more about the Veterans Build, please click here.

The Smart Family keeps their home filled with lots of laughter, love and fun. “When things are negative, we make sure to make the best of it. I teach my boys that a positive mind and attitude will give you a positive outcome. I want to raise my sons up with love. After all, God is love.”

Nashawnbe has worked at Baycare Health Systems for the past seven years and was recently promoted to the Lab Support Staff Coordinator. 

“I feel like my future will be better with a Habitat home because I will own something that will one day build equity. This experience will create a vision for my boys of what can come from hard work and dedication. I am mostly looking forward to more space! I can’t wait to have a dining room table to eat family dinners at and to decorate my home how I want it.”

In their new forever home, Karmello and Kendric will each have their own rooms to grow up in. They will have more space to read, dance and play at their new home and a yard to safely run in.

Nashawnbe’s advice to anyone thinking about applying for the Habitat program is, “Hard work does not go unnoticed. Be the best you can be and everything will fall into place according to God’s plan.”

Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas and West Pasco's giving circle known as “Hunks with Hammers” is a group of 50 men that support Habitat’s mission of affordable housing. “Hunks with Hammers” was started by a Habitat supporter, Marc Banning of Banning Lumber and Millwork. Mr. Banning wanted a men’s group similar to the Habitat women’s giving circle “Hammers and Heels” also spear headed by donor and previous board member, Judy Mitchell.

This group of dedicated donors and volunteers has been active for almost two years. The first home is now under construction in St. Petersburg. The homeowner candidate is a single father of five. There are ten sponsors on this special build and many of them are companies owned by the members of the group. The men meet at local establishments around Pinellas County for strategy and socializing. The group is committed to building a second home next year but needs your support. To get more information please contact Jack Shanks at Jack is happy to answer your questions and sign you up as a member.

The Habitat Home Repair Program is designed to offer Pinellas County homeowners home repairs in four essential repair categories: “Aging in Place” Modifications (ramps or accessibility upgrades designed to accommodate physical mobility limitations), Critical Home Repairs (roof replacement, plumbing, electric, structural repairs) Energy Efficiency Upgrades (insulation, HVAC) and Exterior Enhancements (paint, landscaping). Eligible homeowners will be provided a zero-percent interest loan to cover the cost of repairs, while the loan payment will be tailored to ensure affordability. 

With help from Habitat and a grant provided by Senior Citizen Services of Pinellas County, The Lorento Family was able to drastically improve their living situation after a series of tragic medical events. Read their home repair story below as told by Jaci Lorento:

"In January 2017, our lives drastically changed. My husband of 30 years had complications from gallbladder surgery and suffered a massive stroke. He spent 38 days in the intensive care and 30 days in sub acute rehab. They said that he was going to need to go to a nursing home and I said 'no'.

We brought him home in March 2017 and our family rallied together. You see, my husband and I had been through his cancer 30 years before and I knew that we were in line for a miracle but it would take God’s timing. Prior to the stroke, my husband was very fastidious about his appearance. He showered, shaved everyday and he was always matched from his clothes down to his sneakers! This recuperation has been long and tedious but the one thing that bothered him the most was a bed bath. Try as we could, we could not get his electric wheelchair through the bathroom doors to gain shower access. He did not have enough standing ability to hold on to anything to shimmy into the shower/water closet area in our master bedroom.

We had three estimates on what to do for a handicap accessible bathroom which were in the $40,000 range. We just didn’t have it. We didn’t have hardly anything because not only did he lose his business because of the stroke but he couldn’t even get disability. We were stuck.

I believe I had a divine revelation and I reached out to Habitat for Humanity. I asked if there was any way they could help us. Sean, Pattye and others were so wonderful. They tried different avenues and were willing to ‘think outside the box’. They were able to get a company that specialized in ceiling track lift systems for the disabled to install a system that could lift my husband out of his wheelchair, safely navigate him through the water closet door and into our shower. What a blessing! Now, my husband gets a nice hot shower every day and his morale has improved so much. Not only that but his skin condition and even his muscle spasms have improved. We will be forever grateful to Habitat for Humanity for assisting us in one of our darkest hours. They helped my husband smile again.

Thanks so much!

Chris, Jaci and the Lorento Family ~May 2019


To learn more about our Home Repair Program, please click here.




On Monday, June 3rd, 2019, representatives from Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas and West Pasco Counties, sponsors and elected officials will come together to celebrate the groundbreaking of a 75-lot affordable housing project in Pinellas Park. The project is the local affiliate’s largest development to date, and will provide 75 families the opportunity to thrive in safe and affordable homes.

Last June, Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas and West Pasco Counties acquired 7.3 acres located at the northeast corner of 68th Street and 62nd Avenue North in Pinellas Park for $2.1 million.

“Habitat for Humanity has been blessed over the years by tremendous community support,” says Mike Sutton, President and CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas and West Pasco Counties. “By working with Pinellas County and the City of Pinellas Park, the opportunity for homeownership will be realized by 75 local families in the next 2 years. We are proud to launch our largest development to date.”

Habitat will initially build 51 new affordable, energy efficient homes, with the first 15 homes starting within the coming weeks. The 7.3 acres also contains a number of residents living in mobile homes, but rather than displacing the homeowners, Habitat is providing them an opportunity to access the Habitat program or continue living on the property until they decide to move. Additional project goals include the construction of a new road as well as infrastructure improvements to the alleys between homes.

This neighborhood will offer 75 local families and individuals the opportunity to improve the paths of their family for generations to come. Candidates must demonstrate need for adequate shelter; have the ability to pay back a zero-interest loan and be willing to partner with Habitat to invest 350 to 450 sweat equity hours.

Wafaa and Alfrid are the proud parents of two sons, Mark and George. The family of four is very close, and enjoys spending time together. 

Mark is a student at the University of South Florida, and his younger brother is going to school at Clearwater High. The boys love playing soccer, going to school and being active. Wafaa and Alfrid work hard to provide for their family, and after being turned down for a home loan, they decided they needed a new path to build their family a better life.

The Bissada-Guirguis family currently lives in an expensive apartment that is too small, with the two boys sharing a room. Wafaa explains that their rent is almost half of their income, and month after month they have a difficult time trying to prioritize between bills and family needs.

After being accepted into the Habitat program, the family felt relief. “I was crying. I couldn’t believe it,” explained Wafaa. “I am very thankful to Habitat and our sponsor, Frenchy's Restaurants”.

She imagines their life will be very different once in their Habitat home. She looks forward to peace among the boys and making new memories together in their Habitat home. “Our kids will have their own rooms and we will own our own home”.

Habitat Home Sponsored by:

Join the Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce for their 2nd Habitat Home Build!

Karen Filer has worked as a Certified Nursing Assistant for the last 18 years. Despite her hard work, she has found herself moving from place to place due to rising rental costs. With your help, Karen will finally have a place she can call her forever home.

Do you want to build Strength, Stability and Self-Reliance for Karen Filer?

Your $500 donation will include:

  • Logo placement on all project marketing
  • Mention in Habitat's monthly newsletter and website
  • Up to 3 volunteer days for your team on the construction site
  • A commemorative gift for you to display at the end of the project
  • An invitation for you and your team to the dedication ceremony

Contact Stacey Efaw, VP of Development at for more details.

Thank you to our current sponsors:

On Saturday, April 13th, nearly 500 attendees stepped outside the ordinary and into the enchanted world of Le Livre presented by Crown Automotive Group. Together, we were able to raise over $400,000 in support of Habitat’s mission to build homes, communities and hope.

Our VIP room designers recreated scenes from literary classics including Memoirs of a Geisha, The Color Purple and Where the Wild Things Are, and guests heard from the talented Jennifer Real and her band. The following design teams took top honors at the event for their creativity and design: MMD Events was awarded the Best of Blueprint honor for their Memoirs of a Geisha design, Extravaganza Productions was recognized for The Best Use of Theme for King Tut’s Curse, Cheers! Events was the Architect’s Choice recipient for Where the Wild Things Are and Udream Events received an Honorable Mention for their tribute to Randy Wayne White’s “Doc Ford” series of novels.

Tony Griffith, an award winning Clearwater Personal Injury Lawyer, was awarded the Silver Nail Award. Tony’s involvement with Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas and West Pasco spans over 30 years with involvement in many capacities, from volunteer to Treasurer and President of the Board. Copperhead Charities, Inc. was awarded the Corporate Impact Legacy Award. The organization has supported charities through professional golf dating back to 1977, with funds generated exceeding $41 million.

We will begin construction on the five new homes supported by Blueprint Gala in the upcoming months. Stay tuned for details on these future homeowners throughout their remaining journey through our program.

To view photos from the event, click here.