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The Villages
Friday, May 27, 2022

Chance conversation with bank teller culminates in Habitat for Humanity project

Amanda Strickler and her two sons are especially looking forward to Christmas this year.  Construction on her new Habitat for Humanity home started Thursday morning and everyone hopes she will be celebrating Christmas in her home. The home in the Skyline subdivision of Lady Lake is the seventh Habitat Humanity Lake-Sumter home to be built in that area.

Steve Kurtz, president and CEO of Citizen’s First Bank, with Amanda Strickler and her sons Charles and Duncan and service dog Nala.
Steve Kurtz, president and CEO of Citizen’s First Bank, with Amanda Strickler and her sons Charles and Duncan and service dog Nala.

Citizen’s First Bank is the corporate sponsor for this home which includes providing many volunteer hours through its employees.  After a brief dedication ceremony, the volunteers got right to work taking advantage of the time before it gets too hot to work.

Among the volunteers for the first time are international students doing an internship. Five students housed in the Domestic Global Village in Eustis are participating on this project for two months. They attend CESI, a school in Nanterre, France. When they graduate they will be qualified to manage worksites. They have been in the States for five days. Their impression of America so far? “Everything is big. The roads are big, the cars are big, the drinks are big.”  They will work four days a week and are looking forward to spending the other three days exploring Florida.

Students from France are helping with the project.
Students from France are helping with the project.

Kent Adcock, CEO for Habitat of Lake-Sumter, began the presentation with a quote he attributed to Rick Warren, “Success is the feeling you get when you live out your values,”  he said.

Giving examples of transitions and ups and downs in his own life he added, “Having the stability of a home helps you work through the challenges of life. It gives us the path to live out our values.”

President and CEO of Citizen’s First Bank, Steve Kurtz spoke next.  “What we didn’t know when we signed on,” he began “is that the recipient of this house would be an employee of the bank. This makes this project really special.”

Volunteers put up the first wall.
Volunteers put up the first wall.

Through a chance conversation at the bank between Adcock and the teller, Strickler, the process began. It is a detailed process to be selected as a recipient for a home. As Habitat’s Director of Development Danielle Stroud explains, there is a four-prong process the applicant must meet. They need to meet the financial threshold, and have a demonstrated need. After that they must have a willingness to be actively involved in the project and participate in required educational programs.

“Not all participants go through the same educational programs,” said Stroud. “We tailor each program to fit the participant.”

As with each project, this one began with a prayer.

“We hope the family will soon share laughter and hope in their new home,” said Pastor and HFHLS Board Member Felix Ramirez.

Not every project has a corporate sponsor. Stroud noted that Villagers whether independently or in groups such as the Parrot Heads, Rotary, Amigo Sports and Dragon Boat Sisters to name a few really step up in terms of dollars and sweat equity to make those unsponsored projects happen.

“Our partnership with the community of volunteers makes it possible; we couldn’t do it without them,” she said.

For more information on the Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter program visit www.habitatls.org or call (352) 483-0434.

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