Monday, December 11, 2017
News Roundup

Pinellas Habitat for Humanity volunteer gains national acclaim

ST. PETE BEACH

For two or three hours each day, you can find Dan Stowers in his office poring over housing blueprints.

At least once a week, he's out in the sun, pounding the nails at a work site.

At least once a year, he's traveling either nationally or abroad, guiding other builders as they ply their craft.

And that, mind you, is only the short list of what this 74-year-old St. Pete Beach retiree does in his free time.

Stowers has been a Habitat for Humanity volunteer for more than 20 years. His work has taken him from Hawaii to Hungary to Harlem. He's helped out with Habitat Global Village builds, led Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project construction crews around the world, and even started a Habitat chapter in Romania.

That's on top of the 25 or so homes that the civil engineer designs and helps build annually in Pinellas County.

For his dedication, Stowers recently received the Clive Rainey Award, given annually in the name of Habitat's first volunteer to up to four American volunteers whose accomplishments have significantly advanced the organization's mission.

He was chosen from among nominations by Habitat's more than 1,500 affiliate chapters.

"You can pay people and not get near the service that he provides as a professional engineer for Habitat," said Ron Spoor, chief operating officer for Habitat Pinellas.

"In fact, when calculating the monetary value of Dan's in-kind donation, Dan is the largest individual donor in the affiliate's history," Spoor said. "Through his donation of time and resources to Habitat, Dan has enabled the affiliate to increase its production and serve many additional families."

Stowers' history with Habitat began in Columbus, Ohio. In the fall of 1991, Stowers had just retired after 25 years designing bridges, roads, marinas and other state park infrastructure for Ohio's Department of Natural Resources.

His church called on members to help drive vans for Habitat's 15th anniversary. Stowers quickly realized that the group united two of his loves: home improvement projects and travel.

"He was always a very good home handyman," said his wife, Carolyn, 72. "That's why it was a good natural progression for retirement — because he already knew how to use the right end of a hammer."

When the couple moved to Florida a few months later, Stowers immediately looked up Habitat Pinellas. He filled his days traveling to work sites and organizing Habitat work days with fellow Pass-a-Grille Beach Community Church members, who sponsored a house.

That dedication and enthusiasm for Habitat's mission was why Habitat tapped Stowers about 12 years ago to replace its former architect.

That has meant countless hours on his home computer laying out new Habitat homes, pulling permits, attending night government meetings to speak with neighbors or elected leaders, and scaling roofs alongside other volunteers who are working to bring his designs to life.

Some of the designs are tricky. Honoring Habitat's desire that each house be unique has turned Stowers into something of a magician at modifying layouts to fit odd lot shapes and sizes, while also making the homes energy- and water-efficient to lower insurance and utility rates and still incorporating details the family needs or desires.

"If you were to put me on the spot, I couldn't think of a time he's ever complained, and I've put him up to some tough tasks," Spoor said. "There's lots of people with skills, but Dan's spirit, to me, really sets him apart. He has such a spirit of humility and hard work and he just works so well with other people. His spirit really, I think, sets the example of the kind of spirit we want to exemplify at Habitat."

Stowers shrugs his shoulders when asked whether he feels deserving of the Rainey award. He prefers to talk about the volunteers he's met, what he's learned from the different cultures he's encountered on overseas trips, and the dedicated Habitat homeowners — many of them working-class people who simply want a safe place to raise their children.

"That's what keeps me going," Stowers said. "Seeing people get a house they more than likely would not be able to get."

Keyonna Summers can be reached at (727) 445-4153 or [email protected]

 
Comments
Lions-Buccaneers Turning Point, Week 14: A coach's future hangs in the balance

Lions-Buccaneers Turning Point, Week 14: A coach's future hangs in the balance

TAMPA — The season started in August with “Hard Knocks,” packed bleachers at training camp and cheers for coach Dirk Koetter.It ended Sunday with a 24-21 loss to the Lions, a lot of empty seats and chants of “We want Gruden ba...
Updated: 5 hours ago
HomeTeam Hot Shot winners: Emily Joseph and Devin Cosser

HomeTeam Hot Shot winners: Emily Joseph and Devin Cosser

HomeTeam Hot ShotsEmily Joseph, NortheastJoseph, a senior, has been a deadly shooter since her sophomore year. But this season she has added to her game. "She’s gotten physically stronger and has gained confidence," coach Will White said. "She used t...
Updated: 10 minutes ago
Outback Steakhouse co-founder Chris Sullivan steps off Bloomin’ Brands’ board

Outback Steakhouse co-founder Chris Sullivan steps off Bloomin’ Brands’ board

Chris Sullivan, co-founder of Outback Steakhouse, resigned from the board of the restaurant chain’s parent company last Wednesday, according to a Monday filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The document, filed by Tampa-based Bloomin’ B...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Pets rescued from fire at Tampa apartment complex (with video)

TAMPA — Firefighters rescued a cat and a dog from a blaze Monday that severely damaged an eight-unit apartment building in the Lowry Park area of Tampa.The fire started about 3:30 p.m. inside a two-story building at the Brookshire Townhomes, at 1910 ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Tree trimmer shocked by power line in Clearwater, authorities say

Tree trimmer shocked by power line in Clearwater, authorities say

CLEARWATER — A 38-year-old tree trimmer is in critical condition after he was shocked by a power line Monday, according to Clearwater Fire & Rescue.Ernest Harlen, of Largo, was on a ladder cutting trees with a pole saw when he was shocked just before...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Could report of rift relate to Jameis Winston’s damaged brand?

Could report of rift relate to Jameis Winston’s damaged brand?

TAMPA — What we have at One Buc Place is a game of Clue. The whodunit in this case is the person(s) who put out the information that quarterback Jameis Winston’s relationship with coach Dirk Koetter is on cracked ice.Was it Winston in the weight room...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Updated: 2 hours ago
Police make arrest in South Tampa home invasion of 77-year-old

Police make arrest in South Tampa home invasion of 77-year-old

TAMPA — Police have arrested a teenager in connection with an armed home invasion around the Hyde Park area.Leo W. Butler, 19, was arrested Friday and faces a charge of robbery of less than $300. He is being held on a $15,000 bond.According to Tampa ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Trump wants to send astronauts back to the moon then on to Mars

Trump wants to send astronauts back to the moon then on to Mars

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump wants to send astronauts back to the moon — and on to Mars. Trump signed a policy directive Monday instructing the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to "refocus America’s space program on human explorat...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority plays beat the clock on GOP tax bill

Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority plays beat the clock on GOP tax bill

TAMPA — With the Republican tax bill poised to eliminate the opportunity, the Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority on Monday said it had refinanced a big chunk of its debt to save money in the future.The authority borrowed $152 million from the bo...
Updated: 2 hours ago