New Habitat home will mark new chapter in Bradenton family’s life

From turning over shovels of fresh dirt to hopefully soon turning a key in her very own front door, a Bradenton woman is preparing to roll up her sleeves and start helping build a roof over her head thanks to Manatee County’s chapter of Habitat for Humanity, which is preparing to celebrate 25 years of helping others.

Markisha Harris, a single mother of three, has worked on other Habitat homes and is attending classes on home ownership and financial literacy to qualify for a home of her own all while working at an assisted living facility.

“This is the biggest asset of my life. I am gaining a future that I never expected to gain,” Harris said of her soon-to-be new home.

Thursday afternoon, Harris met with several Habitat for Humanity leaders, staff and local religious organization leaders to put the first shovels in the ground at the site of her future home in Bradenton.

Harris has learned to paint walls and baseboards, things she never thought she would learn to do.

“I’m just happy to join the Habitat program and offer my help to families that’s going to receive homes after me because I’m still going to go with the program. I’m not going to stop when I get mine, and I’ve helped other people thus far so it’s just very exciting to see other people happy, too,” Harris said.

She waited more than two years for a phone call after joining the program in 2016 and being added to a wait list of more than 400 people.

Now in the program for nearly a year, Harris is ready to start work on her own home. She hopes in six months, she’ll to be able to move in with her 15-year-old daughter Kney’vonti Leland, 12-year-old son Jermaine Leland and 18-month-old son Camren Leland.

“They just are an amazing family,” said Sheryl Boddy, Manatee County Habitat for Humanity director of community programming.

This home is special for many reasons. The four walls, roof and foundation are giving Harris and her children a place to grow and thrive and it’s bringing together the local faith communities to fund and help physically support the interfaith build.

“You guys are changing not only my life, but my children’s lives forever, we are too grateful to you guys,” Harris said.

She can’t wait to put up a gate so her son can play outside, where she says he lives his best life.

Her daughter is excited for her new room in the three-bedroom, two-bathroom house to be ready and painted.

Born and raised in Bradenton, Harris said she has a great support system to help her as she learns the ins and outs of home ownership. Not to mention the three homes behind her property are also Habitat for Humanity projects.

“I’m just so happy and thrilled that she’s in our family,” Boddy said.

Even once the home is complete, Harris has little plans for resting. She said she hopes to pursue a nursing degree shortly after moving in.

Harris’s house will also be designated as the Manatee Habitat 25th Anniversary home — celebrating the local chapter’s silver anniversary later this year — the second Interfaith Home Build and the 135th house built by by Manatee County Habitat for Humanity.’

Manatee Habitat will host a celebration of 25 years of building at a free event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 9 on the Riverwalk.

Faith organizations that would like to join the Manatee Habitat Interfaith Build can call Amy Van Dell, director of development, at 9410748-9100, ext 107.

Sara Nealeigh covers what’s happening in the cities of Bradenton and Palmetto, Florida for the Bradenton Herald. She previously covered breaking news for the Herald after moving to Florida from Ohio in 2016.