Manatee families thankful for upgrades to their homes

jtate@bradenton.comDecember 11, 2013 

PALMETTO -- Cassie Robinson and Della Jackson have lived in their homes for decades.

As the years slipped by, repairs and renovation work piled up beyond their financial ability to do anything about it. However, the Manatee County Habitat for Humanity and the Palmetto Community Redevelopment Agency stepped in and renovated more than $60,000 worth of work on the women's homes.

Their homes were dedicated and blessed Tuesday morning by a pastor during a ceremony at Robinson's house, 1803 Fifth Ave. W. The two homeowners, who live directly across the street from each other, publicly offered heartfelt thank yous to all involved.

"I'm so pleased to have everyone that came out to celebrate this day with me," Robinson said.

"It's a feeling I can't really say, but I can show it," said Jackson, who originally applied for the program to improve quality of life for her ailing her husband. "I'm overjoyed all on the inside from the work that's done for me."

She said her husband died before the work could be done.

"If Habitat had not stepped in and did the work for me, I couldn't afford to do it," Jackson said.

To qualify for the program, Palmetto residents apply through the CRA and are screened by Habitat for Humanity, said Antoinette Kilgore, CRA administrative assistant.

Work on the homes started in April and finished in September, said Ogden Clark, volunteer Habitat for Humanity coordinator.

About 15 of the 169 volunteers came to see the finished product. A dozen people put in more than 100 hours of labor, however, volunteer site leader Gary French put in a project-best 433 volunteer hours. Work on Jackson's home was valued at $23,615 and Robinson's totaled $37,618.

"We really appreciate it and we thank all of you guys," Clark said.

Both homeowners had repairs done to kitchens, bathrooms and ceilings. Jackson needed an air conditioning unit replaced, which eventually brought her energy bill down about $80. Once the crew started working on Robinson's home they discovered her roof had to be replaced.

Construction manager Bruce Winter said they want to rehab the homes and make sure they could help lower some utility bills.

"We wanted to make sure we could help them be able to afford to live in their homes," Winter said.

Mayor Shirley Groover Bryant said it's a blessing to have this kind of work done in Palmetto.

"I hope you'll have many years, both of you, in your newly refurbished homes," Bryant said.

Robinson, visibly excited and joyful for the contribution from volunteers, humbly took the moment in. She and Jackson were said by workers to be patient and of good spirit throughout the renovation.

"You know I never knew that this was going to happen, but God was in the plan and I want to thank each and everyone of you for the part that you've played," Robinson said.

"They helped me tremendously, so it's leaving me with a joyous feeling on the inside," said Jackson.

Janey Tate, city of Bradenton and Palmetto reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041. You can follow her on Twitter at Janey_Tate.

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