Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

New Habitat Fundraiser Builds Home

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

New Habitat Fundraiser Builds Home

Article excerpt

Community Foundation's 36-Hour Giving Challenge brings in enough to make a new household possible

WHEN JENNIFER MELANCON split with her ex-husband more than two years ago, the single mother did not know where to turn.

Melancon had a steady income from her job at an oncology practice in Venice, but she lacked the financial cushion to pay the first month's rent, last month's rent and security deposit that most landlords require from tenants.

For help, she stayed at Our Mother's House -- a nonprofit that shelters single mothers in Venice -- while saving for a place of her own. The wait paid off.

Volunteer crews have begun work on a new, three-bedroom home that Melancon will buy at cost, thanks to a no-interest loan from Habitat for Humanity of Sarasota Inc.

She hopes to move in with her 2-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter by August.

"I have always wanted to own a house," said Melancon, 27. "I have pretty much rented my entire life -- since I was 18. Now, I can finally have a place to call home for my kids."

Melancon's story is a fairly typical one for the scores of people Habitat has helped guide to homeownership.

But for the counselors at the Sarasota nonprofit, her new home on Wolverine Street will be anything but typical.

That's because the money needed to build the house was donated entirely through the Community Foundation of Sarasota's 36-Hour Giving Challenge last spring.

Habitat was among 285 Southwest Florida nonprofits that participated in the online philanthropy marathon, which raised more than $2.78 million.

From Minnesota to Florida, 114 unique donors gave to Habitat -- through gifts that ranged from $25 to $14,000 -- during the 36-hour fundraiser. Those allocations were bolstered by an anonymous donor, who matched every dollar Habitat was able to raise during the event.

All told, the nonprofit received about $100,000 in donations -- enough to cover the materials, permitting and all other expenses needed to build one of its homes.

The lot at 3857 Wolverine St., along with a dilapidated house that's since been razed on the property, was donated by Bank of America.

"It's a really big roll-out, where nonprofits sort of have their own specific campaign," said Renee Snyder, executive director for Habitat Sarasota. …

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