The elected and the willing

Leaders help demolish someone’s future forever home

Wesley LeBlanc
Posted 5/2/18

MIDDLEBURG – Area civic, elected, business and volunteer leaders joined Clay County Habitat for Humanity last weekend to demolish a home in the nonprofit’s Fourth Annual Leaders Build …

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The elected and the willing

Leaders help demolish someone’s future forever home

Posted

MIDDLEBURG – Area civic, elected, business and volunteer leaders joined Clay County Habitat for Humanity last weekend to demolish a home in the nonprofit’s Fourth Annual Leaders Build event.

Although the site at 1769 Treeland Ave. is not ready to begin a full-blown construction project yet, Executive Director Carolyn Edwards said the nonprofit is standing ready thanks to the efforts of April 28.

“We don’t quite have a family picked out yet but we will and when we do, they’ll help us build their new home here, right where this house currently stands,” Edwards said.

Volunteers hailed from the U.S. Navy, Clay County Sheriff’s Office, Board of County Commissioners, Clerk of Court and School Board. From the private sector came volunteers from

VyStar Credit Union and Wells Fargo.

According to Habitat’s Volunteer Director Kim Voigt, the Leaders Build event brings together board members and community leaders to work collaboratively on a project that serves a community family in need. This year, more than 60 people showed up to help flatten this abandoned house.

Before grabbing a sledgehammer and taking it to windows, doors, cabinets and more, Sheriff Darryl Daniels cited legacy as a driving force for work of organizations such as Habitat for Humanity.

“You often times wonder if what you really do matters and this is one of those things that you can reflect back upon when you get older, that later generations can hear about,” said Daniels, surrounded by CCSO officers there to volunteer as well. “These are the things that matter in life and to be able to give back tangibly to the community, that really has value. You’re adding value to somebody’s life and to the community and that doesn’t get forgotten.”

Habitat and School Board member Janice Kerekes, while not joined by other school board members, said she was excited about the turnout.

“Thank you so much for joining us today,” Kerekes said, speaking as vice president of Habitat. “I know it’s early on a Saturday but I’m so happy about how many of you showed up for this cause today.

“We all know how important it is for our children to have a safe place to live. The kid or kids who will call this future house home will have a safe place to lay their head to rest. They’re going to get a good night’s rest, they’ll do better because of it and grow into an important part of [Clay County].”

After a safety message, County Commissioner Mike Cella quickly made his way to the house’s front and, with the help of other leaders and volunteers, dismantled its front porch. For him, the Leaders Build is about helping those in need, which above all else, is most important in a community like Clay County.

“I think it’s so important to get out and help those in need and those less fortunate in our community,” Cella said. “To be able to be a small part in this army of volunteers is such an honor.”

Cella touched on the county’s blight ordinance and its relation to the Leaders Build event. According to Cella, this ordinance allows the BCC to figure out ways to take homes like the one being demolished during this year’s Leaders Build event – homes that are vacant and abandoned – and turn them into homes for people in need.

He said this ordinance also helps taxpayers by putting these homes back on to the tax rolls. In this instance, though, the property was one of Habitat for Humanity’s many properties in Middleburg that will one day become someone’s home.

Leaders Build marked the first-time Laurel New rolled up her sleeves for Habitat. She said she couldn’t have been more excited.

“[Habitat for Humanity Board of Directors President Lori Wagner] told me about this and said I should come out,” New said. “I did and it’s awesome and I’ll absolutely be doing more. It’s so great to see everyone put aside their normal duties to come together to help someone like this.”

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