PINELLAS COUNTY, fla. - Blitz Build 2013 was in full swing Friday afternoon as 500 volunteers work to put up two Habitat for Humanity homes in just seven days. To put that into perspective, it usually takes 20 volunteers about eight weeks to put up one home.
The Blitz Build has become a tradition for the Pinellas County Habitat for Humanity. This one happening in the Stevens Creek subdivision in Clearwater located just off North Betty Lane.
"In this particular development, we are going to be building a total of 51 homes," says Roberts Reeves, Vice President of Programs for Pinellas County Habitat.
One of the two being built as a part of the Blitz Build is Tammy Carriger's. As Carriger helps the Habitat volunteers put together the framework of her new house and her new life, she does nothing but laugh and smile. Her smile hiding her year's of struggle.
Tammy is a single mom who was once homeless with her now five-year-old daughter. The two have been lucky enough to stay with family in the Bay Area until Carriger could get back on her feet. She says that's where Habitat came in, providing her small family a new beginning.
"I'm 50-years-old," Carriger says with a smile. "I never thought I would own a home. I thought I was just going to be living with my family for the rest of my life."
She must put in 125 hours of labor alongside the volunteers to earn their new place. It's a task Carriger gladly accepts, knowing her reward will come in just a few days as she will be getting the keys to open her new front door.
"It's a feeling that you sometimes just cant describe because you are overwhelmed," Carriger says as she tears up. "You're looking at the people blessing you and that just doesn't come that often.
Melissa McComish knows exactly how Carriger feels, as she and her six-year-old daughter will be moving into the other house being built during the Blitz Build. McCormish, also a single mom, has been living in a 700 square foot space and she says its just getting too small for her and her growing daughter. But with a house comes responsibility Melissa says Habitat helps with.
"I have done approximately 14 classes with Habitat," says McCormish. "They teach you everything you need to know! They teach you about your credit and how to rebuild it. All of the aspects of home ownership i have learned through Habitat. For me and my daughter, that has been a blessing."
That blessing made possible through the hundreds of volunteers like Mary Miller. She has been a Habitat volunteer for 15 years and drove all the way from Pennsylvania just to take part in the Blitz Build. For her, meeting the families who she is helping is part of the thrill.
"It's very inspirational to me to see homeowners be so excited about getting a new home," says Miller. "There such an excitement to them."
Miller says while she helps build a new life for others, they help to keep hers in perspective.
"The stories I've heard from people and the way their lives are different from my life, its made me a very different person," says Miller.
Since its inception in 1985, Pinellas County Habitat has put up 260 homes in the area. That equates to 669 children, like Corriger's and McCormish's, having a safe place to stay thanks to the programs efforts.
This year's Blitz Build volunteer spaces are full, but if you would like more information on the Pinellas County Habitat for Humanity and its initiatives, you can visit their website at www.phfh.org/ .