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Donor Spotlight: Bob & Jan Garrison

Do you know where you’ll be next Tuesday? For Indian River Habitat donor and volunteer, Bob Garrison, he takes pride in his Tuesday mornings.

Fourteen years ago, Bob and his wife, Jan, were looking to purchase seasonal property in an area that combined the charm of a small town, with the laid-back energy associated with coastal living. The Garrison’s struck gold when they discovered a small town on the Treasure Coast, ultimately making Vero Beach their home away from home. The couple purchased in Grand Harbor – a community with close ties to Indian River Habitat.

In 2011, Bob decided to retire from the Auto Import business, freeing up his schedule and opening himself up to new opportunities and experiences. “You can only play so much golf,” Bob laughed.
Habitat’s model of offering a ‘hand up vs. a handout’ particularly resonated with the Garrisons. Not only did they have a soft spot for construction, but they also had a soft spot for people. Back home in New Jersey, the Garrisons noticed that the once populated Island was slowly changing. Trades people could no longer afford to live and work on the Island, forcing them to relocate and thus changing the dynamic of their hometown.

“In many areas like Vero Beach, we have these desirable communities to live in and yet, we don’t take care of the housing for the very people who make that life possible,” Jan said.

Jan fondly recalled a memory from their earliest days with Habitat. On Home Dedication Day, a little girl grabbed Mrs. Garrison’s hand, and proudly ushered her around her family’s new home. The little girl walked into what would be her bedroom and looked around with awe and admiration. No longer did she have to resort to her closet to escape to another world. For the first time, she would have her own bedroom with adequate space to display her books and read until her heart desired.

The generational impact that housing has on the youth is a fire that ignites the couple, and the reason they continue to support Habitat both financially, and through volunteering.

“To be a part of something that is doing such a good job with working in the community – it’s an easy no brainer. Why wouldn’t we want to work with Habitat?” Bob said. “We can actually see where our money is going.”