Habitat for Humanity: Opening the door to new possibilities

Learn how Raymond James partnered with Habitat for Humanity to open doors – both literally and figuratively – for one deserving family. 

Raymond James associates with the Graham family in front of their new home

When Brenda Graham, a certified medical assistant and mother of four, learned she was officially on her way to becoming a homeowner through Habitat for Humanity, she was immediately able to picture a new and better future for her family.

“I imagine our lives and future will be so much better now that we have our own home, and I will be able to give something so sentimental to my children,” Brenda said.

Habitat for Humanity and Raymond James

For more than 20 years, Raymond James has partnered with Habitat for Humanity chapters across the country, and has sponsored 11 full home builds for Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas & West Pasco Counties. Habitat for Humanity empowers individuals and families to build and buy their own homes with the help of people in the community. Homes are sold at no profit and no interest to households who do not qualify for a traditional mortgage. The program prepares homeowner partners with education courses on topics like budgeting and home maintenance.

“No words can explain the feeling I had when we were accepted into the program,” Brenda said. “It was a long road to get to this point, but we are a strong family and God doesn’t give you more than you can handle!”

Raymond James Supervision associates pose in front of the newly painted house.

The home build

Raymond James volunteers, Habitat crew members, and the Graham family spent months building a forever home for Brenda and her four children – who had previously been living in a home with little insulation and a severe mold problem.

This year, Habitat for Humanity invited associate volunteers to participate in the outdoor, COVID-safe portions of the home’s construction: Over the course of several weeks, nearly 30 volunteers spent 180+ hours priming, painting, installing hurricane shutters, sodding and landscaping. Habitat crew members constructed all indoor aspects of the home.

A Raymond James associate helps with landscaping.

In addition to the firm’s efforts, Raymond James Bank has supported Habitat for Humanity since 2010 – to date, the Bank has purchased 299 loans for approximately $49.5 million. Raymond James Bank CFO Ken Ginel, a Habitat board member, volunteered on the exterior paint portion of this year’s firm build.

“Volunteering is far and away the most rewarding part of my involvement,” Ken said. “I love being able to put in that sweat equity right alongside the homeowners.”

The dedication ceremony

On May 21, 2021, after completing 20 homebuyer education courses and hundreds of hours of sweat equity, Brenda received the keys to her new home. She and her family gathered with Raymond James associates, Habitat staff and community members to commemorate the moment.

Chris presenting the hammer.

Raymond James Head of Supervision Chris Majeski, a dedicated Habitat supporter and volunteer, conducted the ceremonial presentation of the hammer.

“This year, volunteering looked a little bit different,” Chris said. “But I’m so grateful that so many people stepped up and showed up to help. And I’m grateful, most of all, for you, [Brenda] – for your sacrifices for and investments in your family and everything you’ve done that led up to today.”

Following the presentation of the hammer, Ken presented Brenda the keys.

Ken presenting the keys.

“For more than five decades, Raymond James has been dedicated to giving back to the communities in which we live and work,” Ken said. “And I hope that every time you use this key to open the door, you remember we are rooting for you every step of the way – not just today, but always.”

“It’s been an incredible journey. If I had to do it all over again, I would,” Brenda said. “For me and my family, it’s going to be a life changer.”

A long-term partnership

Raymond James is proud to partner with Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas & West Pasco Counties, which has built more than 680 homes for deserving families. Learn more about our other recent firm-sponsored home builds.

The Trauger family

In 2020, Raymond James celebrated our 10th Habitat home sponsorship benefitting Priscilla Trauger and her two daughters. After completing more than 350 hours of sweat equity on their house and others, Priscilla and her daughters moved into a community with 15 other Habitat for Humanity homeowners. “My daughters are my life. What I look forward to the most is spending time with them. We’ve learned so much from this new experience,” Priscilla said.

The Mickelson family

87 associates volunteered nearly 600 hours on the Mickelson family’s home in 2019. Katherine Mickelson and her daughter were living in a small one bedroom apartment when they were accepted into the homeownership program. “I am most looking forward to watching Camila decorate her room and invite her friends over to play,” Katherine said. “I know that one day she will be the owner of our house and she won’t have to go through the difficulties I did to get here”.

The Umberger family

Over seven weeks in 2018, more than 200 volunteers put in nearly 1,500 hours for the Umberger family, carrying out tasks like laying foundation, building walls, installing cabinets and more. “It’s a safe place to call home,” said Marissa Umberger, single mother of three. “And being a volunteer for the Habitat program puts you in a position to change lives.” Watch the video below to learn more about the Umberger family and our 2018 build.

Raymond James Cares

Together, we make a difference to build, strengthen and grow our communities. To learn more about the firm’s corporate philanthropy, click here.

To see how associates give back all year long, follow Raymond James on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn and Instagram.