Habitat for Humanity building a home for single-mother Valencia student


Yolanda Marks / Valencia Voice

Dianna Romaguera (left), Ashley Cisneros pose with new homeowner Sherall Leo.

With the high level of poverty on the rise, many people are struggling to keep a job, let alone a roof over their heads. Luckily, there are companies like Chatter Buzz Media and organizations like Habitat for Humanity of Greater Orlando, that come together to build homes and help families in need within the community.

“It’s not a hand out, it’s a hand up,” says development officer Patrice Phillips, when speaking at the Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build charity event dinner, hosted and sponsored by the Chatter Buzz chicks team.

Hard work and learning skills to keep and maintain a home is a huge part of being a Habitat homeowner.

“They come out, they volunteer, and do what we call sweat equity,” said Phillips, about the requirements of being a Habitat homeowner. Volunteers have to work and do anywhere from 300 to 500 hours, “that’s their down payment for the home.

“All homeowners have to partner with us, and what that means is they have to attend 20 classes. Part of that class is how to maintain their credit, how to stay away from predatory lending, how to be a good homeowner. They have to have all of this done, to become a Habitat homeowner.”

Dianna Romaguera, director of integrated marketing at Chatter Buzz Media says that “events like this are really important in the community, they bring people together for a greater good and what’s a better way than to raise money and help somebody in your own backyard.”

“I think having a home is such a fundamental need for you to feel comfortable, safe, and secure and provide for a family, and to me that hits home,” added Romaguera.

This year is Orlando’s fifth annual “Women Build” event with Habitat for Humanity, which brings together women from all walks of life to dedicate their time and hard work fundraising and building for Habitat for Humanity.

The Women Build project is currently running until May 10, the day before Mother’s Day, and is dedicated to a Habitat homeowner by the name of Sherall Leo. Leo, single mother of four children and Valencia College student, has completed all her requirements and work to become a Habitat homeowner.

“I’m really, really, excited. You know, owning my own home and having three bedrooms,” said Leo. “I’m excited I’m meeting so many beautiful women and men from different backgrounds.”

Leo states that this has been a great experience, and while she has thought about calling it quits multiple times due to situations getting hard on her  — trying to manage being a single mother, working full-time, and a school load of four classes — the program has been very supportive and professional by encouraging her to have faith and stick with the program.

“I didn’t expect all of this; I didn’t expect a brand new home built from the ground up, and to meet all these beautiful women and men donating and giving their support and time.  It’s so exciting and I’m so humble to be part of the experience,” added Leo.

To learn more about Habitat for Humanity and Charter Buzz Media, please visit their official websites.

(Taken from April 16, 2014 issue)