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Habitat names new executive

MANATEE — Ron Turner has been named the new executive director of Manatee County Habitat for Humanity.

Turner joins Habitat as it prepares to celebrate its 15th anniversary later this year and the completion of its 100th home for a low-income family.

“We are thrilled to have Ron as part of the team,” said Mike Kennedy, chairman of the Habitat board. “Under Ron’s leadership we look forward to what the organization will be able to achieve with his experience leading nonprofit and governmental organizations.”

Working with Habitat for Humanity has been a goal of Turner’s.

“I’ve had a long interest in creating workforce housing and affordable housing,” he said. “We can change the lives of children and families who need a clean place to live. I am really excited to be part of this organization.”

Turner served as deputy chief of staff and district director for U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota. Before that, Turner was vice president for governmental issues and economic development with the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce. He also served on the city council in Arcadia, where he was vice mayor as well as supervisor of elections for DeSoto County.

Helping people, Turner says, is his passion. And after two DUI charges last year and leaving Buchanan’s staff, Turner said he knows how precious a second chance can be.

“I sought treatment and counseling and dealt with the issue,” he said. “I did what I needed to do.”

Kennedy said he was impressed with how forthright Turner was in talking about his past. “He’s the right person for the job, and everyone deserves a second chance,” he added.

Manatee Habitat is completing the final homes at Washington Park and a 12-home subdivision in Palmetto, and plans to build at Cortez Landings, a community of more than 50 homes in Bradenton.

But the agency needs to do more, given trying economic times, Turner said: “Obviously there is a great need right now.”

Participating families must contribute 300 to 500 hours of sweat equity in building a habitat home. They also must complete a course to prepare them for home ownership.

In return, Habitat families receive a zero-percent mortgage.

Volunteers work alongside potential homeowners.

“On a job site we typically have between 75 to 100 volunteers at any given time,” Turner said.

But Habitat needs more help. Turner is committed to finding more sponsors to help pay for Habitat homes as well as more volunteers to help build them.

“We also need more applicants,” he said. “We need to know about families that might have need for a home.”

Habitat is also looking for donations for its Restore project, a thrift store of donated household goods. Proceeds from the Restore go toward building more homes.

To make a donation or provide a sponsorship, call 748-9100 or visit www.manateehabitat.org.

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