Monday, January 24, 2022

Taking Pride In Making a Difference

The first living things on earth, single-celled micro-organisms, seem to have first appeared here almost four billion years ago, just a few hundred million years after the formation of the earth itself. It is ironic that so much of life centers around the sea, and hence the connection that Ken Bardon feels with the sea and the connection it has had with his life and his love for the water he has cherished for so many decades.

Bardon isn’t a scientist that has studied the evolution of life. Instead, both he and his wife Lil enjoy a passion for the sea. In 2015 he finished a three-year adventure that began when he pushed off from his dock on Marco Island on his 52-foot Island Packet Sloop called Moonbeam.

“This journey allowed me to realize what experienced sailors have come to understand over the years. This isn’t anything you do solo, but instead, it is done as a team effort to help you fulfill your own aspirations and dreams,” said Bardon. One such member of his team during this latest sailing adventure was Nancy DeVries, an acquaintance of the Bardon’s from Long Island where they jointly belong to a local sailing club and enjoy the call of the sea and the call to give back to those in need.

“Nancy is an especially competent sailing professional and has had numerous open water sailing experiences over the years,” commented Bardon. His crews would range from four to five experienced mariners during his around the world adventure, with Nancy being one.

During conversations on Moonbeam, Nancy had indicated to Ken that he would be a perfect fit for another challenge that he might enjoy. Residents in Collier County are especially aware of the wonderful work being done by Habitat for Humanity. Nancy would explain to Ken he might be interested in some of the volunteer opportunities with the International Habitat for Humanity group regarding some of the work she does across the globe.

Nancy herself serves as a team leader with many of the international projects done across the globe. She has found the experiences to be extremely rewarding in her years of involvement within the various aspects of the programs they work within.

Ken Bardon in Africa.

It didn’t take Ken long to see the value of making such a commitment to others who may have never had the opportunity to have a home that would provide a family with a safe and secure environment to live within. As such, three years ago, Bardon and another sailing acquaintance would be approved as volunteers for a project in Nepal, with Nancy as their Team Leader. Although it was nowhere near the water, it was the common denominator that brought those three individuals together, providing them with the opportunity to do good for others.

The last two years they have provided their services on two separate projects in Malawi, a small country north of South Africa. In all three locations they would build homes for those in need. In the fall of 2019 they will be in Jordan, in the Middle East on another home building project.

This year they would not only come to the small African nation with hammers and other tools, but they would also bring with them 500 pairs of shoes for the children to wear. For some it was the first set of footwear that they would have, a truly wonderful gift from their friends who would also work hard to put a roof over their heads and solid walls to live within and were brought together by their love of the sea.

In Collier County, the local Habitat for Humanity has a goal to build approximately one hundred single family homes. This year, the Collier Group is attempting to change their design footprint and expand their designs to a multi-family or condominium arrangement. The residents will still own their home and be responsible for the mortgage payment, upkeep and maintenance, while enjoying the ownership of their own home.

“In the four decades the Habitat has been in existence here in Collier County they have built over 2,000 homes, providing the residents with the pride of ownership that goes a long way to insuring the properties are well cared for and maintained,” said Maribel De La Rosa of Habitat for Humanity of Collier County.

Pride in ownership can be that first step which is necessary to eliciting several benefits to an individual’s belief in oneself. That first step of creating a pride in ownership will lead to a better quality of workmanship and creativity by an individual. This can start an individual down a path that can make the difference between success and failure further down the road, as one comes to believe in their self-worth.

The work being done by the Habitat for Humanity Volunteers can make the difference between a citizen and a community that believes in themselves and continues to excel as they move into the future. Women and men such as Nancy DeVries and Ken Bardon make that difference as do all the volunteers who help to build not only homes, but a sense of community and greater sense of self-worth and pride.

There are many ways which you can assist in the work being done by Habitat for Humanity by visiting their website at or stop by their offices at 11145 Tamiami Trail East in East Naples. You can also stop by their resale store next their offices or donate good usable furniture of appliances should you have some that others could benefit from.

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