Q&A with Habitat for Humanity of South Palm Beach County staff member Maria Flores, Senior Construction Superintendent.
What does Habitat for Humanity SPBC mean to you; why do you love it?
Habitat means a lot to me because like many of the future homeownership applicants, I grew up in a low-income household where everything was very limited. This made me realize how important it is to have a safe place to live in which to spend time with the ones you love. At the end of the day, that’s what matters the most in life.
I also love being part of the Habitat organization because I get to work alongside of families in their journey to homeownership. Knowing that I can help make a change in the lives of these future homeowners, means so much to me.
What are your job title and responsibilities?
I am the Senior Construction Superintendent at Habitat and my job is to oversee all on-site construction operations. This includes:
How long have you been working for Habitat?
I have been working at Habitat since January 2016. During college, after I had completed all my required coursework, it was time for me to apply for an internship with a construction company. I decided to join Habitat. I completed more than 500 on-site construction hours as a full-time intern while working simultaneously on my final thesis about Habitat. Afterward, I returned home (Honduras) and presented my thesis work in front of a board of engineers prior to my graduation from college. I then returned to the USA and received a job offer from Habitat. I have been a happy full-time employee here ever since.
How long did you volunteer before employment?
I volunteered with Habitat for a full year (2015). I also volunteered with Habitat for Humanity Honduras between 2013 and 2014.
Why did you volunteer, and what made you choose Habitat?
I always wanted to help others as much as I could. While in college, a professor invited the class to go volunteer at a project with Habitat for Humanity Honduras. I instantly fell in love with the mission. It was so beautiful to see how grateful and motivated the families were, even though they didn’t have much. They always had a great attitude and the willingness to work hard with smiles on their faces, because they knew that Habitat Honduras was the beginning of a better life, not only for them but for their future generations to come.
What is your favorite memory of volunteering and working with Habitat?
My favorite memory of volunteering with Habitat is working along with Helen Bass, a long-time construction volunteer. I was so scared of using a nail gun on my first day and she not only taught me how to use it properly but made it a fun experience. I have also learned so much from amazing staff and crew leaders over the years and I'm very thankful and happy to be part of this team.
What does it mean to you and how does it feel to be a leading woman in construction?
Usually, when you think of a construction site you picture a group of men wearing hard hats and tool belts. But in today’s world, the construction field has become more evenly divided between men and women. Being a woman in construction means so much to me because it challenges me to be better every day, to go above and beyond, and to prove that as a woman, we can in fact do anything we put our minds and efforts to.
It is a never-ending learning experience and I love every part of the process.
5/2/2022 0 Comments
After retiring to Florida and with time to devote to volunteering in the community, Micki was attracted to Habitat for Humanity by its reputation for helping people. She saw the opportunity to participate in local projects that actually come to fruition.
Micki volunteers in the Habitat SPBC office, answering the phone and doing any job that arises. She enjoys participating in special events, including at neighborhood re-habs!
"My favorite memories of volunteering at Habitat are the Women Builds,” says Micki. “The day the current house is completed and the family is handed their key is so wonderful! I have witnessed the celebration and ceremony several times, and the joy is overwhelming!”
A proud grandmother to a 16 and a 20-year-old grandson, Micki is a valued member of the Habitat family. In addition to volunteering at Habitat, Micki enjoys swimming.
Join Micki: Volunteer at Habitat SPBC!
When you volunteer with South Palm Beach County #HabitatforHumanity, you can become part of the change you want to see in your community. Get Involved! and learn about our volunteer opportunities.
3/31/2022 0 Comments
The Organizations Are Exploring a Merger to Better Serve Their Communities
The boards of directors of Habitat for Humanity of South Palm Beach County and Habitat for Humanity of Palm Beach County, both affiliates of Habitat for Humanity International, announced they have signed a Letter of Intent to explore the creation of a combined affiliate to address affordable housing in greater Palm Beach County. The creation of the combined affiliate would be a significant initial step in bringing together the operations of each existing affiliate to address the significant affordable housing crisis in Palm Beach County.
The newly created Habitat for Humanity of Greater Palm Beach County will bring people together to build homes, communities and hope. The combined affiliate will be founded on the belief that everyone everywhere should have a safe, decent and affordable place to call home. The affiliate organizations both partner with low-income families to build affordable homes. Each Habitat partner family is required to invest hundreds of sweat equity hours of their own labor to be eligible to purchase their home with a 30-year, no interest loan.
Habitat for Humanity’s vision is a world where everyone has a decent place to live. The two Habitat affiliates share the same mission and vision, but currently serve different parts of Palm Beach County, Florida:
“Together, we can help build more affordable homes for the families of Palm Beach County. Our mission is to build strength, stability and self-reliance through shelter to our local communities. We are happy to have full board approval as we explore an agreement that best serves both of our local communities, our missions and our organizations.”
- Brittney Kocaj, Board Chair, Habitat for Humanity of South Palm Beach County
The next step in the process is to discuss how the two nonprofit organizations could combine, bringing the resources of each affiliate together to better serve Greater Palm Beach County.
“We are confident that the synergies between our organizations will allow us to better serve our partner families and increase access to affordable, safe housing. Like Habitat for Humanity of South Palm Beach County, we serve our local community through our mission to build homes, community and hope.”
- Michael DeBock, Board Chair, Habitat for Humanity of Palm Beach County
About Habitat for Humanity of South Palm Beach County
Habitat for Humanity of South Palm Beach County (HFHSPBC) is a 501(c)(3) organization and an affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International. The nonprofit was founded in 1991 and serves low-income families, veterans and seniors in the cities of Boynton Beach, Delray Beach and Boca Raton, Florida.
About Habitat for Humanity of Palm Beach County
Habitat for Humanity of Palm Beach County is a 501(c)(3) organization and an affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International. The nonprofit was founded in 1986 and serves low-income families, veterans and seniors in the cities of Lake Worth, Greenacres, Jupiter, Pahokee, Riviera Beach, Westgate and West Palm Beach.
Tragedy Led to 22 Years of Volunteering to Help People Become Homeowners.
A personal tragedy led Ann and Charlie Fix to decades of volunteer services in support of members of their community who are without homes. A fire destroyed their home many years ago and as they stood on the street and watched their house and all their possessions burn to the ground, they understood what it means to be homeless. That night led to their commitment to helping others own a home and to teach new homeowners how to take care of their homes.
Married 57 years, Charlie has this advice for young couples: "Buy a house. The quicker you can get into a house, the better off you’ll be."
Ann adds, "Save for your retirement so you can retire young, and enjoy life together."
Ann and Charlie’s 1st home in Pompano cost $18,000; Charlie was a police officer and Ann a banker. Since grade school, Ann was interested in home construction, and Charlie has always been handy around the house and making repairs to their home - although Ann now tells Charlie he’s too old to be climbing on roofs!
Teaching New Homeowners
Charlie and Ann take pride in teaching new Habitat homeowners what they need to know to maintain a home, and then watching them take care of their own home. At no cost, Charlie is proud to teach new homeowners how to shut off the water line if there’s a leak and other basic home repairs.
Be Like Ann and Charlie!
By volunteering with the South Palm Beach County #HabitatforHumanity, you can be a part of the change you want to see in your community. Get Involved! and learn about our volunteer opportunities near you.
Providing a Hand Up and Not a Handout
Habitat for Humanity of South Palm Beach County staff member Russell Sykes started as a volunteer and is now our Senior Construction Manager. Here, in his own words, is Russell’s Habitat story.
“A good friend of mine recommended Habitat for Humanity to me to do volunteer work. At the time, I was just looking for something to do to fill some of my days since retirement. Truthfully, I didn’t know much about Habitat other than that Jimmy Carter had founded it. Of course, I later learned that that was incorrect."
I have also always believed in the concept of a “hand up and not a handout”. I have always said that I will go halfway down the road to meet or help any person, but that they must come halfway up that road; and then, we can come up that road together. Similar concepts, thoughts and beliefs. That’s why I am here at Habitat.
I love the fact that Habitat homeowners help build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage. I also love the idea of improving neighborhoods, one house at a time, whether through new construction or through existing home revitalization.
Working At Habitat
My current position at Habitat is Senior Construction Manager. I am responsible for construction permits, house inspections, subcontractor management, building material ordering and new construction closeout. I have held this position since September 2018. Before that, I volunteered at the Delray Beach Habitat ReStore from April 2016 to December 2016 and volunteered at the Habitat administrative office in Delray from April 2017 through September 2018.
During my time volunteering at the ReStore, I enjoyed the employees and other volunteers who were very dedicated to their work. While at the ReStore, I truly enjoyed the repeat customers, who came two to three times a week making purchases. We came to know each other’s names, talked about our families and always laughed about what items we had received and what they were shopping for today. They made the day go fast for me.
Given the challenging environments from which I came, Habitat has been an enlightenment for me and a way to give back to the community. Habitat is very important to me and my life.
Make a Difference in Our Community
Do you want to join Russell in making a difference in our community? Get Involved in SPBC Habitat for Humanity volunteer opportunities!
Volunteer Beacon of Light sheds light on our amazing Habitat for Humanity of South Palm Beach County volunteers whose dedication and commitment make a difference in our community. Our team of volunteers, staff and board leadership at Habitat for Humanity of South Palm Beach County are dedicated to building homes, community and hope.
In 1997, 5 year old Tevin and his mother Robin purchased a Habitat Home. Today, 29 year old Tevin is a Habitat for Humanity South Palm Beach County volunteer. Tevin became a volunteer so that other children can grow up in a safe, stable home like he did.
“Living in a Habitat Home, I felt safe.”
Tevin has treasured memories of growing up and making friends who remain good friends today. Growing up in his Habitat Home, Tevin remembers winning the state championship as a tuba player in the marching band and fun times making music videos with friends.
Tevin has been volunteering for Habitat for several years, and plans to continue volunteering in the future. He takes pride in giving back to his community and helping out the next person who needs help.
“Volunteering is like giving your time to your best friend when asked for help to fix something or help setup or plan something. I know you would do it with out any exception.”
By helping others, Tevin gets back as much as he gives. Meeting extraordinary people, staff and volunteers and building new relationships is an important part of the volunteer experience. He takes pride in new skills learned on Habitat builds that he has used to make repairs in his own home. Tevin has a special love for helping organize and plan Habitat events.
Paying It Forward
Tevin’s Habitat experience has come full circle. At 5 years old, Habitat made Tevin feel safe and changed his life forever. Today, he is paying it forward by building safe homes in his community.
You can help Tevin make other children feel safe. Get Involved in our volunteer opportunities!
Volunteering Leads to A Career in Nonprofit Management.
Our monthly Employee Spotlight will focus on a Habitat for Humanity SPBC employee who is making a difference in our community. Our Habitat for Humanity of South Palm Beach County team is dedicated to building homes, community, and hope.
Brittany Parish became Habitat for Humanity SPBC’s Volunteer and Special Events Coordinator in May 2021. But Brittany’s relationship with Habitat goes back to 2017 when at age 20 she ‘made the leap of faith’ and started volunteering with HFHSPBC - and instantly fell in love. Brittany moved out of the area in 2019, but when she moved back to Boynton Beach, she found a new career at Habitat for Humanity.
Brittany’s experience as a Habitat volunteer provides her with an understanding of the questions prospective volunteers often have about their skills and whether they have what’s needed on the build sites:
“I was as always intrigued by Habitat for Humanity but was too nervous to try to build a home. On the first day on the job site, we did drywall, and one of the staff members, Maria Flores (who has grown to our current Construction Superintendent), taught me how to measure, cut and screw it in. Drywall instantly became my favorite thing to do. Roofing is my second. Always sighed on painting days, only because I wore more paint than the wall did.”
God’s Love In Action
Brittany feels beyond blessed to have the opportunity to work for the nonprofit that means so much to her. Habitat for Humanity’s mission statement, “seeking to put God’s love into action,” really hits home because that is the exact reason why she wanted to join as a volunteer in the first place. Today, Brittany feels God has given her the opportunity to put God’s love into action every day.
Although she’s only worked for Habitat for a few months, Brittany already has some memorable experiences:
“I feel very strongly about the extreme need for affordable housing, especially in Palm Beach County, and am excited to be working with such an amazing team that works tirelessly to fix this crisis. I love that we get to help so many amazing Habitat families, but I can’t wait to see the day that the need for affordable housing is so much less.”
A New Career Path
Though she originally came to Habitat of Humanity of SPBC as a volunteer, the skillset and insights Brittany learned on the home build sites helped her develop volunteer and event management skills. As a result, she plans to pursue a degree in nonprofit management to continue her career.
“HFHSPBC might be my career, but I have gained an amazing family along the way. Every person on our team is beyond incredible and deserves so much greatness.”
Do you want to join Brittany in making a difference in our community? Check out our volunteer opportunities and job opportunities.!