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Mike and Mary Schwartz

When deciding where to devote his time after retiring, Mike Schwartz sought out an organization that checked all his boxes – fiscally responsible, hands-on, and provides quality-of-life assistance to vulnerable populations.

For Mike, Habitat for Humanity’s mission is directly aligned with his interest in people.

In 2003, Mike and his wife Mary purchased their home on Orchid Island. Before moving to Florida, Mike was equally engaged in his community, owning and operating radio stations from the 1960s through the late 1990s. In addition to his professional career, he led a philanthropic one. Mike helped build the very first Habitat home in Providence, Rhode Island. This experience furthered his passion for Habitat.

Shortly after relocating to the area, Indian River Habitat’s then President, Andy Bowler, contacted him about getting involved locally. Andy connected Mike with Brad Burnham, one of the founding partners of The Moorings Yacht & Golf Club’s community-led effort to support Habitat. Brad mentored Mike and helped him establish a Habitat partnership within Orchid Island.

“The single most important thing for someone to have is a home,” Mike said.

This sentiment alone fueled his desire to get involved in a big way, inspiring his prominent presence in leadership and volunteer efforts every Thursday before passing his hammer to a younger generation of Orchid Residents.  

Mike looks at his 13-year tenure and those currently serving with admiration for what’s been accomplished. Since its founding, the Orchid Island community has financially sponsored and worked on 28 Habitat homes. These homes comprise Fellsmere’s Grace Meadows community.

“You aren’t just handing a family a key to a new home. You’re handing them the key to a new life.”

Though Mike has stepped down officially, the mission of Habitat has never left his heart. He is just as invested in Habitat families now as he was when volunteering. He credits the success of Orchid Island’s partnership with Habitat to those who worked alongside him, those currently serving, and those who will step up when it’s time.

“Fresh eyes and fresh ideas are important. It’s how we continue to move the needle forward and see success.”