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Habitat For Humanity & Gulf Power Host Community Summit

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  Pensacola Habitat for Humanity is hosting its 2nd Annual Community Summit this week. The event is being presented in partnership with NeighborWorks America and Gulf Power Company. It opens on Thursday, June 9 at 1 p.m. at Gulf Power headquarters downtown, 1 Energy Place.

Habitat’s Executive Director Tim Evans stopped by the WUWF studios to talk about this follow up to their inaugural Affordable Housing Summit held in 2015.

This year, organizers opted to broaden the scope of discussion and fittingly are calling this year’s event a community summit. 

 “It’s our annual opportunity to do general advocacy for the work that Pensacola Habitat does in the community,” said Evans, noting that when people think of Habitat, they generally think about affordable housing. “But, it’s always been part of Habitat’s mission that we bring people together to build homes, community and hope.” 

This year they’re focusing on the community aspects of that and the theme for the summit will focus on the development of “sustainable communities” in the local area.

“A sustainable community is one that provides a good quality of life for all of the residents,” said Evans, adding that such communities have resources that people of every income level need to enjoy a good quality of life,” Evans said. 

Such things include walkability, access to transportation, access to safe parks and recreation areas, and access to healthy food options. 

When it comes to sustainable communities Evans says there have been great strides locally, generally for those of moderate and upper income levels. 

On the other hand, he points to a good public transit system as an aspect of sustainable communities that would provide a strong quality of life benefit - not only to lower income residents – but to all people in the community. 

Tom Chabolla has years of experience transforming and advancing communities throughout the country and will reflect on those efforts as the summit’s keynote speaker. Chabolla is currently acting executive vice president and chief operating officer for NeighborWorks America.

In addition to serving as guest speaker at the summit, Chabolla will preside over a ceremony Thursday morning to recognize Pensacola Habitat for Humanity as a chartered network member of the NeighborWorks America network. 

Evans this is historic in that it’s the first Habitat affiliate to earn charter status with NeighborWorks America. 

“What it does is recognize the strength of an organization. It recognizes the work that an organization does in the community around community development and affordable housing issues,” Evans said.

The keynote speech will take place at 1 p.m. Thursday and will be followed at 2:00 by a panel discussion by local community members. 

The panel will feature Christian Wagley, Principal of Sustainable Town Concepts; Al Colby, former City Manager of the City of Pensacola; Jill Thomas Chief Marketing Officer of Inisfree Hotels; and Robin Reshard, founder of Robert Robino Productions, who will offer diverse perspectives on topics ranging from environmental protection to responsible corporate citizenship.   

Day one will wrap with a community conversation with attendees. Friday morning, beginning at 9:00, attendees will have the opportunity to participate in various local projects that are led by the panel of experts, including “greening up” project in Brownsville, tours of a community garden and the Belmont-DeVilliers area, and a community & resident leadership training session.

Evans says the event, to be held this Thursday & Friday, is open to the public and reservations can be made here: www.pensacolahabitat.org/invite.