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By Chevon T. Baccus APR
Executive Editor 

65 Volunteers Help Restore Parsonage for Homeless College Student Housing

Rotarians Come Together with Other Community Volunteers


Last updated 10/2/2019 at 12:15pm

Chevon Baccus

Rotary on the Ridge Vice President Trey Heath

More than 65 volunteers gathered Saturday, Sept. 28 to help renovate a church parsonage to provide a home for homeless students attending Polk State College. A majority of the volunteers were from seven Polk County Rotary Clubs including Rotary on the Ridge, a regional service club that meets in Lake Wales.

The home at 122 Ave Q N.W. in Winter Haven is being leased to the nonprofit Heart 4 Winter Haven by the Living Word of Faith Assembly.

Polk State College will identify students who are living in their cars or have unstable housing, including some who move around and sleep on couches at the homes of friends or relatives, according to Brad Beatty, managing partner at Heart 4 Winter Haven. The first Scholarship House will become home to up to up to eight male college students and a couple who will serve as "house parents."

During the project's first work day, volunteers tore out old cabinets, installed new fascia and painted inside and out. In addition to the Rotarians, volunteers included about 20 students from the Interact Club at Polk State's Collegiate High School in Lakeland plus Eckerd Connects Project Bridge.

Heart 4 Winter Haven Managing Director Brad Beatty said he was pleased with the outpouring of volunteers, financial and in-kind support for the project. He said while the group hopes to find a donor for a central heat and air conditioning system, much of the project's estimated $46,000 costs have been covered. Badcock Home Furniture and More is donating $5,000 to furnish the home. Additional funds or donations will be needed for household items.

Lowe's of Winter Haven donated the paint and will do the installation of the snap-in vinyl flooring, which has been provided at the store's cost along with the fascia some of the other project materials needed. Heart 4 Winter Haven will work with 1st Priority Staffing of Lakeland to help find jobs for the students so they can contribute toward the household expenses.

"So many people from Rotary and Heart 4 Winter Haven have been working determinedly to move this awesome project forward," said Herb Gillis, president of Rotary on the Ridge, who is helping Beatty coordinate the project. "We have incredible support from so many local businesses and the City of Winter Haven."

High View Tree Service of Lakeland trimmed the surrounding trees and removed a stump from the front lawn today.

Jill and Kevin Kitto of Kitto Sheds in Dundee arranged for repair of drywall on walls and ceiling and are working to obtain other renovation materials. Kitto is a member of the Rotary Club of Winter Haven. Other in-kind donors include: Brock Industrial Electric, Gator Industries of Central Florida, Hartley Farms, MAC Plumbing, D.O.C. Electric, Paradise Lawn Care of Central Florida, High View Tree Service, Doors 2 Change and the Winter Haven Police Department.

Cash donations also are appreciated. The Rotary District 6890 Foundation has pledged $3,000 toward the project and Assistant Governor Linda Johnson, on behalf of Group 7 clubs, underwrote the $500 cost of a new water heater.

Once renovations are complete, the clubs will work to furnish the home. Polk furniture stores are being approached with requests to sponsor the furnishings for one room. Volunteers then will be providing linens, kitchen items and home décor.

Chevon Baccus

Rotary on the Ridge President-elect Christina Richards and co-founder Terri Miller

In addition to Rotary on the Ridge, clubs represented at the work day included Rotary Club of Winter Haven, Rotary Club of Auburndale, Rotary Club of Lakeland, Lakeland Christina Rotary Club, Rotary Club of Lakeland South and Rotary Club of Lakeland North.

Tax-deductible donations designated for Scholarship Housing may be sent to Heart 4 Winter Haven, 228 Ave. C S.W., Winter Haven, FL 33880 or Rotary on the Ridge Foundation, 1013 Campbell Ave., Lake Wales, FL 33853. After renovations are complete, the sponsors will need additional support to fully furnish the house so students can start living there before the next college term in January.

For more information, contact Beatty at 863-291-6270.

Author Bio

Chevon T. Baccus APR, Contributing Writer

After working as a newspaper reporter and editor for eight years, Chevon moved on to a long career in public relations, marketing and business development. After 2 1/2 years as founding publisher of she's happy to still be an occasional contributor.

Email: [email protected]
Phone: 8636511065


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