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Amelia Islander

A Home of One's Own

Jul 10, 2019 04:54PM ● By Tom Barrett
Life takes various twists and turns for all of us, and sometimes we end up in a season we never anticipated. Such was the case for a local mom, Renda Cardenas, who comes from a supportive family, is well-educated, and shared a successful business with her husband until things fell apart. Suddenly Renda found herself and her five-year-old back at square one and without a proper home.
“A co-worker suggested I call Habitat for Humanity,” she shares. “It was the best call I ever made. Ironically, it was two days before Hurricane Irma, and within two days after, I received a phone call that they wanted to help me have a home!”
“Nassau Habitat for Humanity is a local volunteer organization affiliated with Habitat for Humanity International, a Christian-inspired ministry whose mission is to build decent, affordable housing in the United States and around the world,” explains office manager Debby Ruble. “Since 1993, with the help of volunteers, we build one to two homes a year, raise funds, select the families (without regard to religion, race, ethnicity, family status, or disability), obtain the building sites and house plans, and then supervise volunteers, construction, and administer the mortgages. The finished home is sold at cost to the new owner, who is responsible for making 0% interest payments over 20 to 25 years.”
“This was the best experience of my life,” says Renda. “I built relationships with the volunteers, who serve from the heart. We prayed together each day before starting work, and they still look out for me even a year after I’ve moved in. I call them my second-family,” she smiles.
Renda was also quick to point out the amazing quality of her home, which she watched take shape from foundation to furniture, and which she is confident it will withstand the next hurricane! Additionally, Nassau Habitat works with its customers to teach them about home and lawn maintenance and stays in touch to support future needs, like siding replacement or screen repairs.
Habitat for Humanity’s motto is “A hand up, not a hand out,” and in that spirit, new owners are required to contribute 300 sweat hours to their new house. The first 100 must be hands-on involvement with the volunteers, and the next 200 can be shared with friends and family members. “Habitat has been a true blessing for my family. They made something that seemed impossible a reality,” says Tara McNeal, who moved into her home this year. “I worked side-by-side with volunteers building my home over the last several months, and I could not be more pleased.”
In addition to the great work Nassau Habitat for Humanity is doing for families in our community, they have also been building relationship with other not-for-profits. “It’s really neat that others are reaching out to see if our talented volunteers can help with their needs,” says Debby. In the past year, Nassau Habitat has constructed a breakroom at New to You, the Barnabas resale store, volunteered at local churches, and even partnered with the local Boy Scouts.
“They helped me with so much more than my home,” reflects Stacy Krausnyder, another homeowner helped by Nassau Habitat for Humanity. “I learned that I can accomplish things! I can overcome my past, and people can trust me. Today, I give back by volunteering and by sending new homeowners their way. So far, three of my friends have seen that they can find the same confidence that Nassau Habitat for Humanity has helped me realize.”
Monetary donations and volunteer labor finance all the work for Nassau Habitat. If you are interested in joining their good work (2019 projects kick off in late summer) or are candidate for a home, visit or call (904) 277-0600.