Habitat for Humanity

Machelle Manor of Wells Fargo presents new Habitat homeowner Joyce Bair with her keys on Sept. 30 in New Port Richey, as Mike Sutton, chief executive of Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas and West Pasco Counties, looks on.

NEW PORT RICHEY — Habitat for Humanity is forever changing the lives of individuals and families by giving them a chance to participate in their own home build.

In support of Habitat’s mission to bring people together through building homes, Wells Fargo donated $7.75 million to Habitat for Humanity International. Local chapters, such as Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas and West Pasco Counties received $45,000 and will use it to build three homes in Pinellas Park, St. Petersburg, and New Port Richey.

“Moving forward, knowing that there will be year after year support from such a huge organization is great,” said Haley Wilber, marketing manager for Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas and West Pasco. “Wells Fargo is very involved with the build, they bring out volunteers, and people from the organization come out to the home dedications and connect with the homeowners, which is such a great opportunity.”

Just last month, Habitat homeowner Joyce Bair received the keys to her domain in New Port Richey in celebration with Wells Fargo. As part of Habitat’s program to move into a home, Bair had to put in 350 sweat equity hours and attend homebuyer educational classes.

Bair moved into a two-bedroom home and expects to have family visit her often. The occasion marked a joyous moment for Bair, who with the security of a home, can let go of her fear of one day ending up living out of her car.

In addition to her house keys, Bair was presented with a hammer from Habitat, a symbol to remind her of the work she went through to get her house. She was also presented with a Bible, signed by well-wishers involved with the nonprofit. U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis sent a representative to offer a folded American flag as a gift for the work she put into her new home.

“It was very emotional. Joyce Bair worked so hard and you can tell by her face she was so excited,” Wilber said.

Bair spoke to the welcoming party at her home dedication, teary-eyed but full of joy. “I would not be where I am today without my family,” she said. “I was brought up to believe that you put your trust, your hope, and your problems in God’s hands. You do that, but you still need to do your part, so God will present the door, but you have to walk through it. Thanks to everyone here, the door that I’m walking through is the door to my own forever home.”

Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas and West Pasco Counties aims to increase home builds each year. This year, Wilber said, the nonprofit aims to build 65 homes and next year, 70 homes. Support from organizations such as Wells Fargo means more people can find security in owning their own home, interest free, as well as spreading hope as volunteers come help make dreams possible.