1. News

Pinellas Habitat for Humanity volunteer gains national acclaim

Dan Stowers works on the roof of a Habitat home. Stowers also has been the architect of the homes built by Habitat in Pinellas for the past 12 years.
Published Apr. 9, 2013


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


  1. St. Petersburg police said they arrested Jesse Millis-Dwyer after Homeland Security detected him uploading a sexually explicit photo of a 12-year-old girl to a Russian photo-sharing site. St. Pete
    Police said he uploaded photo to Russian picture-sharing site
  2. This photo taken from video provided by WEAR-TV shows emergency responders near the Naval Air Base Station in Pensacola, Fla., Friday, Dec. 6, 2019.  The US Navy is confirming that an active shooter and one other person are dead after gunfire at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola. Area hospital representatives tell The Associated Press that at least 11 people were hospitalized. The base remains locked down amid a huge law enforcement response.   (WEAR-TV via AP) AP
    Family members on Saturday identified one of the victims as a 23-year-old recent graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy who alerted first responders to where the shooter was even after he had been shot...
  3. Lawanda Ravoira, DPA, president & CEO, Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center, said girls are subject to an alarming rate of violence and bullying and are not getting the help they need from counseling and other social services. CHRISTOPHER O'DONNELL  |  Times
    Leader of Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center comes to Tampa to warn of “unchecked crisis” of violence and victimization of middle and high school girls.
  4. This rendering shows Scientology's proposed L. Ron Hubbard Hall, a 3,600-seat auditorium with an all-glass facade at the corner of Garden Avenue and Court Street in downtown Clearwater. [Courtesy City of Clearwater]
    Plans for L. Ron Hubbard Hall go back 26 years. If constructed, it would have more seats than Clearwater’s Ruth Eckerd Hall.
  5. Classic Reflections Carriages is offering carriage rides starting at 6 p.m. Dec. 19-21 throughout downtown Brooksville. Reservations are made in person on each event date, starting at 4 p.m., in front of the historic courthouse. Brooksville Main Street
    Holiday events in Pasco and Hernando counties
  6. A huge number of homes owned by Baby Boomers will sell in the next 20 years. How will the trend affect the Florida housing market? CAMERON GILLIE  |  NAPLES DAILY NEWS
    The enormous generation born between 1946 and 1964 owns about 40 percent of the homes across the country.
  7. A Brinks security guard was shot during a robbery attempt at a GTE Financial credit union in Brandon Friday morning. TONY MARRERO  |  Times
    Deputies thought they had the suspect pinned down at the Bridgeport Apartments, but he fled.
  8. Check for the latest breaking news and updates. Tampa Bay Times
    The motorcycle was headed south on Dale Mabry, while the northbound bus was making a turn.
  9. Police are seen outside a home at 5342 22nd Ave. N Friday in St. Petersburg. Stanley Jones, inset, is accused of stabbing two women at 22nd Avenue North and 53rd Street. One woman died from her injuries and the other was hospitalized. [URSO, CHRIS | Tampa Bay Times] CHRIS URSO | Times; St. Petersburg Police Department
    Police arrested Stanley Jones just after the stabbing Friday on 22nd Avenue N.
  10. President Donald Trump speaks during a small business roundtable in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Friday, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci) EVAN VUCCI  |  AP
    It’s another sign Donald Trump has accepted that he is likely to be impeached by the House.