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Island Realtors making a difference

By Staff | Oct 14, 2015

Eric Pfeifer, Cathie Lewis, Connie Davidson, Becky Mulka and Rob Lisenbee, all members of the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors donated their time last Thursday for the Habitat for Humanity Build. MEGHAN McCOY

Five members of the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors spent the morning in Fort Myers off of Majorca Palms Drive painting and laying down tile for a Habitat for Humanity Build last week.

Eric Pfeifer, who is the president of the association this year, said he wanted realtors to give back to the community, which resulted in the Habitat for Humanity build event.

“I can’t think of a better way than to help a family of need get into a house,” he said.

The message of the association, which was found on the back of their shirt’s Thursday, is “Realtors Make A Difference.”

Cathie Lewis said Thursday marked the second time the association worked as a crew for Habitat for Humanity.

“We get good support from this program,” she said.

The first Habitat for Humanity build the association participated in was held in San Carlos this past May for a single mother of four children. Pfeifer said they painted the inside and outside of the home with the family.

Savanna Melton, community outreach specialist for the Habitat for Humanity of Lee and Hendry Counties, said the Sanibel realtors are very hardworking and dedicated to the Habitat mission.

“We are thankful for the partnership of the Sanibel and Captiva Island Association of Realtors,” Melton said. “They have displayed an immense amount of passion and dedication to the Habitat mission and faithfully returned to the worksite to help build homes, communities and hope. We look forward to continuing to work with them for years to come.”

Rob Lisenbee said he decided to volunteer Thursday morning because he loves Habitat for Humanity. He said he has not been able to get out and volunteer for years, so when he heard about the opportunity at the association’s meeting last month he jumped on the opportunity.

Connie Davidson said it’s been about 15 years since she last volunteered for Habitat, which was in Harlem Heights.

“I need to do something,” she said. “It’s important. I’ve been trying to think of new things to do, besides work and being with my family.”

As she applied a new layer of paint on the wall of the duplex she said she believed she would be very happy with her decision to get involved.

“It’s pretty amazing . . . the program,” Davidson said. “When you own something and take care of it, that’s really kind of cool.”

Becky Mulka said volunteering last week was really a no brainer because as a realtor they help people get into houses.

“No matter how you look at it, that’s what this is . . . getting people into houses,” she said while looking around the duplex.

Mulka said she is a firm believer of karma, that “you have to give back, or you are not going to get” anything.

“At the end of the day, you know you made a difference,” she said.

On Feb. 23, 1980 the first Habitat for Humanity home was built in Harlem Heights. Two years later in October Habitat for Humanity of Lee County received its charter to be an affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International.

The nonprofit, ecumenical Christian housing ministry serves families that have income between 30 to 80 percent of the area’s median income. The houses are sold to a family with zero interest mortgages.

A small storage area was opened in 1993 to assist homeowners, which grew in 2010 to a thrift store occupying 26,000 square feet in North Fort Myers. In 2012, the second location was opened in Bonita Springs and on July 19, 2014 the third ReStore was opened in South Fort Myers. The net proceeds from the third store was equivalent to nine home sponsorships in 2014, the most in the organization’s history.

Fifteen years after breaking ground on the first home, Habitat for Humanity of Lee County dedicated its 100th home.

The same year, 1995, Habitat Beecher Village was purchased in Dunbar providing a neighborhood of 73 homes.

In 1999, the mission was expanded to Hendry County and in 2011 the name was changed to Habitat for Humanity of Lee and Hendry Counties, Inc.

In 2009, Habitat for Humanity of Lee County completed its 1,000 home and in 2004, Habitat rehabbed 23 homes, built 23 homes and completed seven home repairs.

Follow Meghan @IslanderMeghan on Twitter.