MANATEE -- After 20 years and 115 homes built for and by needy residents, Manatee County Habitat for Humanity has decided to focus some attention on U.S. military veterans.
With the help of local donations, including from a Lakewood Ranch men's club, Joe and Mary Jane Dove will soon make history as the first homeowners in the new Habitat program called, "Veteran Build," said Diana Shoemaker, executive director of Manatee County Habitat for Humanity.
"The Doves are our first vet family and we are very excited because it's an opportunity to help a group in our community that we were previously not able to help," Shoemaker said. "It allows us to expand our reach in the community."
Veteran Build is seeking community donations for new homes for veterans and critical repairs and remodeling of existing homes, Shoemaker said.
"We have already renovated a home enabling a wife to come from assisted living to visit," Shoemaker added. "She couldn't visit before because the bathroom was not designed for her wheelchair."
The Doves, like 115 previous homeowners, will pour sweat equity into their new home, which will cost about $70,000 in donations to build in Bradenton on land donated to Habitat for Humanity.
Habitat for Humanity donations come from churches, foundations, corporations and private donations, Shoemaker said.
Habitat celebrated its 20th anniversary Sunday with a community block party at Hope Landing, 1643 38th Ave. E., where five Lutheran churches joined to pay for the 114th and 115th Habitat homes, respectively, in Manatee County.
"It used to be that money for homes came from one group, but now that the cost of a home has risen from about $30,000 to $70,000 due to cost of materials, more groups are joining together," Shoemaker said.
After word got out about the new Veteran Build program, a Lakewood Ranch club
will stage a golf tournament Sept. 26 to support it.
The Lakewood Ranch Men's Group joined with Habitat for Humanity to stage the 18-hole modified scramble for 80 players followed by lunch at Legacy Golf Club, said Syd Sawyer, a Lakewood Ranch Men's Group member.
"We are one thousand percent for it," Sawyer said. "What men and women veterans do for us is beyond words."
Golf tournament proceeds will go to "whatever part of Veteran Build Habitat wants to apply it," Sawyer said, "Either the critical repairs or the new home."
The Lakewood Ranch Men's Group started off with a goal of raising $3,000 to $5,000 for Veteran Build, but "that's a moving target," said Sawyer, who indicated 40 players had signed up by Aug. 29 with 40 more to go.
The Lakewood Ranch Men's Club is comprised of about 50 active members from the Lakewood Ranch area.
The club, many of whom have been volunteers on other Habitat projects, decided to raise money specifically for a home and Shoemaker suggested the Veteran Build program, which was just getting off the ground.
"We said you might be interested in this," Shoemaker said.
Registration begins at 7 a.m. the day of the tournament with prizes for the top three teams, Sawyer said. There will also be a putting contest and longest-drive award, Sawyer added.
For information on the golf tournament, contact Sawyer at 941-748-9100, Ext. 104, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To donate to the Veteran Build program, contact Manatee County Habitat for Humanity at 941-748-9100 or email email@example.com.
The organization's address is 4105 Cortez Road W., Bradenton, FL 34210.
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or via Twitter @RichardDymond.