NEW PORT RICHEY — Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas and West Pasco Counties celebrated another home dedication last week in New Port Richey.
Mary White and her son, Aspen, unlocked the front door to their new home on Portola Avenue during an event on the morning of Dec. 10.
“It’s been a dream to become a homeowner,” White said during the dedication. “From the bottoms of our hearts I just want to say how grateful we are.”
White is a disabled U.S. Army veteran. Prior to connecting with Habitat for Humanity, the single mother entered into a homeless program “to better her family’s life and get back on track,” according to a Habitat press release.
“We had to leave our apartment behind, to avoid eviction on our record,” White said. “We found ourselves homeless. Eventually, (Veterans Affairs) helped us into a housing program and we couched surfed until we were able to move in.”
White has now completed her master’s degree in clinical social work and now works as at Career Source Pasco Hernando for the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.
“Going through any rough financial period takes its toll,” White said. “It has taken me years to get out of the hole we were in and to this point of qualifying for Habitat. It has been a lot of hard work to get here.”
The Dec. 10 dedication represented Habitat Pinellas and West Pasco’s third Veterans Build. It was sponsored by General Dynamics and the Gramatica Foundation and received other outside donations.
Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker Martin Gramatica spoke during the event and praised White’s military service.
“We weren’t born in this country,” Gramatica said, referring to himself and brothers Bill and Santiago also in attendance. “We were born in Argentina, so we appreciate all the freedoms and why we have this freedom. It’s because of the men and women that fight and give their lives and give up so much. For us, it’s a great honor to team up with (Habitat CEO Mike Sutton) and Habitat and be able to build more homes and do more for our veterans and we couldn’t be happier to be here.”
Gramatica SIPS International is the field-goal-kicking siblings’ organization that provides a line of Structural Insulated Panel Systems to affordable housing projects.
As an added surprise, Aspen was provided with a new bicycle and helmet from a local charity program.
Among last week’s presenters were Gen. Clark Quinn, vice director of strategy, plans and policy at the U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa; state Sen. Ed Hooper; and Tim Bagniefski, vice president of marketing and business development with General Dynamics Corp.
Prior to handing over the keys to White and Aspen, Sutton told the socially distanced crowd in attendance that the home is the first built in partnership with Feeding Tampa Bay. The nonprofit organization helped stock the home’s pantry and refrigerator to provide “a night little jump start,” Sutton said.