Sergio and Elizabeth’s home was proudly sponsored by the Habitat ReStores of Lee and Hendry Counties.
How turning donations into homes spreads the Hawaiian spirit.
For Hawaiian native Elizabeth, her journey to affordable homeownership with Habitat for Humanity of Lee and Hendry Counties was all about love. Which means it was all about “aloha.”
“I was raised with the spirit of aloha,” explained Elizabeth. “So everywhere I go, I do try to leave an impact on someone.”
The traditional Hawaiian greeting has a lot of meanings that go deeper than just “hello” and “goodbye.” Including, said Elizabeth, love and happiness.
When she and her husband, Sergio, decided to partner with Habitat and purchase their affordable home, they also decided to embrace the aloha spirit. They gave themselves up entirely to the process. They used their vacation hours to take time off work in order to put in all the sweat equity required in just one month. At the work sites, they showed aloha and respect—and felt the love in return.
“They’re [Habitat volunteers and staff] giving to people—that’s love,” she shared.
Another way Habitat shows “aloha” to its families is through giving directly back to the program. Last year, profits from the four Habitat ReStores throughout Lee County were enough to fully fund and build nine homes, like Sergio and Elizabeth’s.
“I was really, really shocked,” Elizabeth recalled after learning the ReStore had sponsored her home.
It was not a shock to North Fort Myers ReStore Manager Brandon Eiland. In fact, raising money to fund Habitat’s mission of building decent and affordable homes is the ReStore’s mission.
“I think it’s a great thing when there’s that direct correlation between what we do as a retailer and how that directly impacts our mission in building homes for our partner families,” said Brandon. “I think it’s huge. it really puts into perspective what we do, as well as it gives us that extra motivation.”
Just like Elizabeth, other future homeowners get the opportunity to put in their sweat equity by volunteering at the ReStore. Something Brandon says is truly special.
“We get to know who they are; they get to see the effort that we put into what we’re doing, and it really gives the staff the opportunity to build relationships with folks who are [purchasing] homes,” explained Brandon. “It makes it real.”
What made it even more real and impactful for Elizabeth was to see the support from Habitat employees, ReStore staff, volunteers, and other future homeowners daily. The relationships she built through “aloha” as she worked shoulder-to-shoulder alongside those who were once strangers have blossomed to new friendships she cherishes and relies on.
“I’m forever grateful for Habitat for giving us this opportunity to show our children what a home is, what a home built on aloha is,” she shared. “This house is built with a foundation of love. From the beginning, from the time that they even went to get permits… it started from there.”
Elizabeth, Sergio, and their three children continue to spread their “aloha” spirit, even if it’s just with a simple wave or kind smile. They feel blessed by their experience and know that their faith, determination, and drive helped them to achieve their dream of owning their own home. That, along with the faith, determination, and drive of all those who believe strongly in the Habitat mission to put God’s love into action by bringing people together to build homes, communities, and hope. After all, Habitat is “aloha.”
Help Habitat ReStores turn donations into homes.
Each year, profits from the ReStore help Habitat build multiple homes, like the one for Sergio and Elizabeth. Interested in donating your new and gently used items to the ReStore? Drop it off at one of our four ReStore locations, schedule a donation pickup online or call 239-652-0388.