Lois Shell, center, poses with some of the Habitat volunteers who moved her back into her repaired home: Dom Yascavage, Wayne Albert, Suzy Neugent, George Neugent, Lois (with her basket), Pam Yascavage, Jill Bell, Jess D’Ascanio, Meghan Richardson, David May and Tim Wonderlin. CONTRIBUTED

By Christine Todd-Young

On April 2, Monroe County Commissioner George Neugent called Habitat for Humanity of the Middle Keys asking if there was any assistance available to help put Lois’ home back together.

Hurricane Irma displaced Lois Shell from her home of 40 years. Her home was just an empty shell; she felt hopeless. Habitat staff explained to Commissioner Neugent that its newly named #HabitatHammersBack Critical Home Repair program was created specifically for individuals and families like Lois. This program started in January 2018 with the sole purpose of assisting primary homeowners in the Middle Keys with hurricane repairs.

On July 20, Habitat Middle Keys performed its “Welcome Back Home” blessing — a small, but memorable event in which the homeowner is presented a gift basket filled with multiple items specific to a lifetime of health, love and happiness of each home and homeowner. Habitat completed this project with amazing volunteers from start to finish using a total of 76 people who logged a whopping 731.5 volunteer hours.

Since January, Habitat has completed 22 home hurricane repairs and served 51 more families with the replacement of damaged appliances donated by Samsung and Carrier. In total, Habitat has had the pleasure of working with 677 volunteers who completed an amazing 3,677 hours. We will continue this wonderful program as long as it is needed. We currently have 18 homes we are still working on.

If you, or someone you know, may need help with hurricane repairs contact Habitat for Humanity of the Middle Keys at 305-743-9828 or email [email protected]. If you have interest in volunteering with Habitat please email [email protected].

Christine Todd-Young is executive director of Habitat for Humanity of the Middle Keys.

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