One of the best parts about changing careers and industries for me, has been getting to know business men and women across the Bay. My employer, Nationwide Title Clearing, Inc, (NTC) is in Palm Harbor, I live in Tampa, so I am a schlepper, bravely navigating the highways and byways between the two each morning and afternoon. You might think the time spent behind the wheel is a negative, it's not, I am enjoying meeting new faces and making new friends on the Pinellas side of the Bay. And the pluses of working for NTC far outweigh the daily commute!

The favorite aspect of my job as a Marketing and PR executive is finding causes which align with the core values of my employer and the process, I enjoy being involved with great causes.  One example is Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas County.  They welcomed me with open arms, I love the housing aspect of Habitat, it ties in perfectly with the work we do at NTC protecting U.S.home ownership nationwide.

For the record, NTC is NOT a title company. We are the leading post-closing services provider for the nation's largest servicers, lenders and investors. We research, process, audit and record residential mortgage documents and work with 3600+ County jurisdictions in the United States. We are a busy place with 25 years under our belt and over 500 employees. (People ask how I like working for a "title company." So I figure an explanation is warranted.)

I spent several months getting to know Habitat Pinellas last year by joining their Hammer and Heels committee for business women, and participating as a Marketing Advisory Council volunteer.

When I was heading to their gala at The Vinoy Renaissance - St. Petersburg, I wasn't sure what to expect.  First the hotel is GORGEOUS! I was blown away, every place I looked there was something beautiful to see. The evening was fun, we met Pinellas County political leaders and Monte Kiffin, former Defensive Coordinator for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during their Super Bowl XXXVII win.

(My husband Chris and me)

This year's "Great Gardens" gala featured thematic dining environments created by 13 local designers. The VIP dining rooms at BLUEPRINT were highly sought after, each providing a unique dining experience for event sponsors and their guests. 

(Heidi Kiffin, home decor designer and owner of Mise en Chic and her proud father, Monte Kiffin.)

An exclusive one-of-a-kind auction featured works of art created by 30 local artists upcycling gently-used furniture provided by Habitat for Humanity's ReStore.

P. Allen Smith television host, author, designer, gardener and lifestyle expert was the honorary chair and Cyndi Edwards and Jerry Penacoli were this year's emcees, it was a treat to see Cyndi again.

(Lifestyle Expert and Honorary Chair P. Allen Smith, Habitat International CEO Colleen Ridenour and her husband Brian, US Rep. David Jolly and Habitat Pinellas CEO Mike Sutton.)

According to Robin Macar, PR and Communications for Habitat Pinellas, this year's sold out gala not only raised nearly $180,000 (well above their goal of $150K), the charity will be able to fund three new homes for qualified families. 

"The proceeds from our fundraising events go into our affordable home building program for local limited income families," Macar said.

With 20 board members and nine months of planning for the BLUEPRINT Gala, the event was an incredible success for the organization.
According to Macar, Habitat Pinellas is scheduled to build 45 homes this fiscal year.

Noting the misunderstanding that Habitat Pinellas gives homes away Macar explained, "Our homeowners work hard for their homes fulfilling the requirements of the Habitat program, which includes contributing to 250-350 sweat equity hours on the build sites and completing 18 homeowner classes. Once they fulfill their requirements and the home is built, they are able to purchase a zero-interest mortgage through us. Our affordable home ownership program helps set them on a path to a bright more stable future, one that strengthens them and enables them to be more self-reliant," 

If you want to become involved with Habitat Pinellas, or see if you qualify for a home, please visit their website: