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A Neighbor to Know

Habitat for Humanity’s Emily Shaw 

Emily Shaw is thankful for the nonprofit work she does and the life experiences that shaped her vision. Emily first came to Habitat for Humanity South Sarasota County simply looking to lend a hand.

“A good friend introduced me to Habitat here,” says Emily, originally from Maryland and mother to two adult sons, the recently-married Zachary, 28, and Taylor, 26. “I took part in Women Build Week and helped put up drywall for a new Habitat house.”

With a desire to do more for our community, her outgoing personality and past work experience led to a position with Habitat three years ago as community outreach coordinator, a position for which Emily—known around town for her friendliness, network building skills and upbeat public speaking on behalf of Habitat—is perfectly suited. 

“I love being at Habitat,” Emily says. “I’m so proud of the work we do and the difference we make in the lives of our families. Owning a home dramatically improves a family’s overall chances for success. It leads to so much more stability and independence, no longer having to move from rental to rental year after year. There’s a special pride that comes with homeownership. Children do better in school, and many go on to college.”  

Organizing and leading more than 600 Habitat volunteers, Emily now runs the Women Build Week where she got her start. She’s also always reaching out to community groups and churches, helping gather support. After all, Emily’s passion for Habitat’s work comes from an important personal experience. 

“There was a time when I struggled myself as a single mother,” Emily says. “That time taught me what these young moms are going through. In an expensive housing market like ours, finding stability can be such a challenge. My favorite part of the work is the day of the dedication when we hand over the keys.”

“Emily’s sons call her almost every day,” says Habitat’s development coordinator and Emily’s friend, Christina McCauley. “That really tells you who she is. Her son, Taylor, flew down here once and just surprised her.” 

“Taylor was in the Marines, and I really wanted him to come home for Christmas,” Emily says. “He said he couldn’t, and then there he was. He popped right out of the bushes.”

Name: Emily Shaw

Organization: Habitat for Humanity South Sarasota County

Emily is Habitat for Humanity South Sarasota County’s community outreach/volunteer coordinator. She manages more than 600 volunteers and makes many public speaking appearances in the region on behalf of Habitat and its mission.

What does Habitat for Humanity do?

Since 1992, the nonprofit, Habitat for Humanity South Sarasota County, has built 143 single-family houses in our region for families who qualify for the program and is currently building eight homes per year, with plans to steadily increase over the next several years. The Habitat Family Selection committee evaluates applicants based on need, ability to make mortgage payments, willingness to participate and other criteria. Once accepted into the Habitat program, applicants give 300 hours of labor, attend Habitat homeowner courses, meet income guidelines and are required to save $2,400 for their down payment and closing costs. 

Habitat for Humanity always needs financial donations to pursue its housing mission. Another way that Habitat raises money is through its ReStore (1400 Ogden Road, Venice | 941.493.0529), which sells second-hand furniture and household items. ReStore is always seeking donations of gently used furniture and offers free pick-ups.

Volunteers of all skill levels are needed to run the ReStore and to build the Habitat homes. According to Habitat’s development coordinator, Christina McCauley, “Habitat takes pride in our homes, is energy efficient and has won numerous awards.”

Special events include the annual Habitat for Humanity's Women Build Week, usually held the last week of October. This fundraising event is to empower women to help families build strength, stability and independence. Participants are asked to each raise $125. An annual Faith Build brings together local congregations in Habitat’s faith ministry to build a home, and on Jan. 10 next year, Habitat South Sarasota County holds its "A Night at the Speakeasy" fundraiser at 6:30 p.m. at the Plantation Golf and Country Club (500 Rockley Blvd., Venice).

Habitat for Humanity South Sarasota County

280 Alligator Drive, Venice

941.493.6606

HabitatSouthSarasota.org

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