Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Habitat volunteers build a new, secure future for two Clearwater women

CLEARWATER — Tammie Carriger and Melissa McComish will soon be the newest homeowners at the Stevens Creek subdivision.

But they will have had a lot of help to get there.

About 500 volunteers will work for a week to help the two women build their three-bedroom homes in the Habitat for Humanity subdivision during the Habitat Pinellas Fifth Annual Blitz Build Event, which started Friday.

Carriger, 50, and McComish, 45, have each seen their share of upheaval. They've persevered through heartbreak, job loss and extreme financial hardship, and as single parents, they've struggled with securing a safe home for their children.

As she worked Friday with the team assembling the interior framing for her three-bedroom home, Carriger pointed to a corner of the structure. "My daughter's room will be right there,'' she said.

For several years, Carriger and her daughter, 5-year-old De-angel, have shared a bedroom at her brother and sister-in-law's home.

"Since De-angel is used to sleeping so close to me, she might be coming into my bedroom when we first move in, but I know she'll do well in her room after a while. She definitely knows not to clutter,'' said Carriger, who also has an adult son, Dion, and an adult daughter, Danielle. She also had a third son, Dante, who died from heart failure in 2007.

And for McComish, whose 6-year-old daughter, Dakota, attends Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School through the Step Up for Students scholarship program, the dream of owning a home came from watching a friend go through the Habitat program in Ocala.

Before McComish could receive help from Habitat for Humanity, she had to work through a bankruptcy.

"It took me several years, but I believe now that bankruptcy is not an end, it was part of my beginning,'' said McComish, who also has an adult daughter, Amber.

Recently, McComish has found it impossible to contain her excitement.

"I am so blessed. Two days after applying to Habitat I got a call that my application was accepted. It was on June 29, 2012, my birthday,'' she said. "I'm always driving through the neighborhood when I'm going to work, and once there was a Progress Energy worker doing electrical stuff on the property. I just had to get out of the car and hug him and thank him for his help.''

It's precisely that excitement that keeps volunteers like Sue Zenk, 70, active. Zenk and her husband Darrell split their time between Dunedin and Minnesota. For the last five years they've volunteered for Habitat, traveling to places as far as Hawaii to build homes for those in need. On Friday, they were on hand for the Blitz Build kickoff at Stevens Creek off N Betty Lane.

"I love the people, and we also love learning more about construction,'' said Zenk, taking a break from her post at an electric saw. "When I was young, my father did a lot of building, but I didn't get to do too much because, you know, I was a girl.''

As the echo of hammers on plywood floated through the neighborhood Friday, McComish and Carriger took a moment to talk about the future — coffee breaks in their own kitchens, play dates between their daughters, and block parties to meet the other neighbors.

The one thing they didn't even consider talking about was saying good-bye.

"I'm here for life,'' said Carriger.

"I am rooted here,'' said McComish

"Yep, we are going to die neighbors,'' they said, falling into a collective fit of laughter.

On Feb. 17, after the two three-bedroom houses are complete, the volunteers will gather one more time. They will watch as the homes, furnished with new appliances, ceiling fans and energy-efficient central air conditioning units, are blessed by clergy. Everyone will be invited to put their hands on the homes during a prayer.

After the ceremony, Carriger and McComish will be handed the keys to their new homes.

Piper Castillo can be reached at To write a letter to the editor, go to

>>fast facts

How to help

For the Habitat Pinellas Fifth Annual Blitz Build, volunteers participating included 20 service men and women from MacDill Air Force Base, as well as employees from such corporations as First American Financial, Franklin Templeton, Frameworks of Tampa Bay, Nielsen Media Research, Power Design Inc., Publix Super Markets and the Tampa Bay Times.

If you or your organization would like to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas County, email

Habitat volunteers build a new, secure future for two Clearwater women 02/08/13 [Last modified: Friday, February 8, 2013 8:14pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays late-night bullpen shuffle: Alvarado, Pruitt down; Kolarek up


    The Rays shuffled their bullpen again after Tuesday's game, sending down struggling LHP Jose Alvarado along with RHP Austin Pruitt to Triple-A Durham, and turning next to LHP Adam Kolarek, who will make his major-league debut at age 28,

  2. Tampa Bay Times honored for top investigative story in Gerald Loeb annual business awards


    The Tampa Bay Times was a co-winner in the investigative category for one of the highest honors in business journalism.

    Tampa Bay Times current and former staff writers William R. Levesque, Nathaniel Lash and Anthony Cormier were honored in the investigative category for their coverage of "Allegiant Air" in the 60th Anniversary Gerald Loeb Awards for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism. 


  3. Pasco woman gives birth to child fathered by 11 year old, deputies say


    A Port Richey woman was arrested Tuesday, nearly three years after deputies say she gave birth to a child fathered by an 11-year-old boy.

    Marissa Mowry, 25, was arrested Tuesday on charges she sexually assaulted an 11-year-old and gave birth to his child. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  4. For good of the Rays, Tim Beckham should embrace move to second

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH — The acquisition of slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria said a lot of things, most notably that the Rays are serious about making in-season moves to bolster their chances to make the playoffs, with a reliever, or two, next on the shopping list.

    PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 27:  Tim Beckham #1 of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrates with teammates after scoring during the eighth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on June 27, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) 700011399
  5. St. Petersburg showdown: Kriseman faces Baker for first time tonight at the Rev. Louis Murphy Sr.'s church

    Local Government

    A standing-room-only crowd packed a Midtown church banquet hall Tuesday to witness the first face-off between Mayor Rick Kriseman and former mayor Rick Baker in what is a watershed mayoral contest in the city's history.

    Former Mayor Rick Baker, left, is challenging incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman, right, to become St. Petersburg mayor.