A vision three-plus years in the works for Habitat for Humanity of Citrus County is now becoming a reality.
Habitat for Humanity at Citrus Springs is now underway, as the first two homes in the development are under construction, with three more homes to follow closely behind.
To mark the occasion, Habitat officials, board members and partner families came together Saturday, June 18, to mark the nonprofit agency’s most aggressive undertaking with a pair of Wall Blessings for its Habitat for Humanity at Citrus Springs’ development.
This project was conceived and placed under contract 37 months ago, George Rusaw president and CEO for Habitat for Humanity of Citrus County, told those who assembled for the special occasion. Since then, Habitat has undergone all of the processes, including site work construction. The first 100 lots are ready for homes, with five permits issued.
“It’s a special day, not just for the families, but for all of us who participate in the process,” said George Rusaw as the Conners and Gilmers – both Partner Families – were recognized. “These two represent the first two families of our Citrus Springs’ development.”
Dena Conner writes a note on a window ledge Saturday, June 18,
in her soon-to-be newly built home at Habitat for Humanity’s Citrus
Conner has been consistent throughout her time in the program, said Family Services Director Christine Erick.
“She’s done everything she’s need do, she’s worked really hard in the ReStores,” Erick said.
Patrick Gilmer and his son, Ryan, have been a great, great help both at construction sites and in the ReStores, Erick said, noting Patrick Gilmer is a U.S. veteran.
There’s much to be thankful for, with all of the help from many folks to include the state legislature as of late, said Rusaw, alluding to a $2.5 million allocation in the 2022 fiscal year state budget approved by Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Those funds will help offset the costs of infrastructure improvements Habitat spent preparing the development. The improvements include sewer, water, storm drainage, streets, which was paid for by Habitat, Rusaw said.
George Rusaw, executive director and CEO for Habitat for
Humanity in Citrus County, addresses Habitat board members, staff,
partner families and other civic leaders Saturday, June 18, at its
Citrus Springs location.
Contributors all make it happen, Rusaw said.
“With the generosity of the community, the help of sales of surplus lands to Deltona and now the state of Florida, this development will be debt free,” Rusaw said. “That’s very important particularly in this unsettling times financially. We are very thankful for that and we must acknowledge it every chance we get. We couldn’t do it otherwise.”
Habitat was started in the early 1970s in Americus, Georgia, Rusaw said. “It’s right and proper to pledge allegiance to our country, who has enabled us to do this unique housing ministry,” he said after the pledge of allegiance.
Father Sojan Punakkattu from St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Citrus Springs offered prayer for not only Habitat for Humanity’s efforts in the community but for those families in the program and those to come.
Father Sojan Punakkattu from St. Elizabeth Ann Seton prays
Saturday, June 18, for Habitat for Humanity’s efforts in the
community but for those families in the program and those to come.
“This is not a simple thing, this is a great work,” he said.
“This is not a simple thing, this is a great work,” he said. “What we all need is the blessing of God and his guidance, and when we have the guidance of God, His blessing, there is nothing that is not impossible. Everything is possible for us with the help of God and the grace of God.
“As we are blessing this project, we all together in a special way, ask God’s blessing, guidance and His wisdom to lead us and guide us until the end of this project and completion of this project.”
After Father Punakkattu spread holy water throughout each of the houses, those on hand were encouraged to write a message of encouragement on the wood frames for each future homeowner.
Samuel Simonson, who along with his wife, Megan, and two daughters ages 10 and 8, are a Partner Family and will be one of the first five families to occupy a home in Citrus Springs.
RIGHT: Power tools sit atop lumber as Habitat
construction crews and volunteers work Saturday to complete the
exterior frame of one of two houses in Citrus Springs.
“(We are) very blessed to be in this program,” he said, noting he and his wife have lived in apartment for the past eight years. “It’s amazing, what we’re doing out here for these families. This is life changing, not only for them, but for us. We couldn’t be more grateful.”
Habitat plans to build approximately 193 homes over the next 10 to 15 years.
For information about Habitat for Humanity or Habitat at Citrus Springs, visit www.habitatcc.org or call 352-563-2744.