The Realtors Association of Greater Fort Myers and the Beach, which includes many members from North Fort Myers and Cape Coral, is now looking for support for the Realtors Build, a refurbishment of a home for Habitat for Humanity.
"We have over 4,000 Realtors that belong to the association," said Marion Briggs, president of the Realtors Association of Greater Fort Myers and the Beach and owner of Sun Country Realty. "We have Members in North Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Fort Myers and Sanibel, all over the greater Fort Myers area."
They are looking to raise, through sponsors, partnerships and donations, $50,000 to refurbish the home.
"Whenever we raise the $50,000 we will immediately start rehabbing the home," she said. "What they (Habitat) does is purchase the home, and the $50,000 is used to rehab it."
They are looking for the campaign to run about about 60 days, targeted for Sept. 1.
"We reach out to different agencies in the community, and we thought Habitat for Humanity would be a wonderful partner for us," she said. "Our Realtors have decided they wanted to work with Habitat; they recognize that an affordable, decent home improves people's lives. And Habitat will reinforce this, provided stability for families and children, a sense of dignity and pride for homeowners. This has resulted in improved health, physical safety as well as security for families when they own their own home."
Al Giaclone, honorary mayor of North Fort Myers and a Realtor at Sun County Realty, has now started talking to business leaders in the community to be sponsors and partners in the endeavor. He's not only in charge of the fund raising but in charge of the volunteers who will be working on the rehabilitation of the home.
"We are looking for donations, to sponsor this build for Habitat for Humanity," Giaclone said. "This is something we want to do to give back to the community, and there is a need for affordable housing and this is a great opportunity to put a deserving family in a safe, secure home."
"We are going to meet volunteers, individuals, representatives of their businesses, to carry out the project," said Habitat Director of Community Development Susie Ellis. "The Realtors are offering incentives for corporate sponsorships of any donations; $5,000 and more will get a link to their business on our two websites, swflrealtors.com and snoopzone.com. Our mission is a hand up instead of a hand out.
"The reason we have that slogan is that the people that come through our doors in need of affordable home ownership are asked to become partners with Habitat, she added. "They are required to do certain things before they can become homeowners, including 250 of sweat equity or volunteer time with the organization."
She said that can be a challenge for some.
"A lot of our homeowners are single parents, and they also have to be working to qualify," Ellis said.
She hopes the Realtors will be successful in their drive to help a deserving family.
"Realtors have the heart and passion for Habitat's mission, to serve low- income families because every day they see the challenges they face in getting a simple, decent place to live."
"The Realtors are working very hard to raise the funds to provide a home for a family," Ellis said. "They will also donate their time to volunteer to renovate the home."
If you are interested in being a sponsor, call 936-3537 ext. 240 or 246-9055.
Home buyer education is free through the Association. If interested, call Dorren Harring at 936-3537 ext. 240. The classes are held the third Saturday of every month. Participants learn about credit issues and how they affect credit scores, budgeting, the home buying process itself and about maintenance tips and how to save for reserves once you own the home. The program also makes you eligible for some assistance programs.
The Realtors Association of Greater Fort Myers and the Beach is at 2840 Winkler Ave. in Fort Myers, and the website is swflrealtors.com.
For more information on North Fort Myers-based Habitat for Humanity of Lee and Hendry Counties, go to habitat4humanity.org or call 652-0434.