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Rays help build home for local family

Club provides funding and labor for Habitat for Humanity project
MLB.com @wwchastain

ST. PETERSBURG -- Sunshine accompanied the smiles in south St. Petersburg on Thursday afternoon, when Rays manager Kevin Cash handed over the keys to a new home to Lakeba Wallace and her daughter.

The Rays not only provided the funding for Wallace's Habitat for Humanity home, but staff members also took ownership of the build by contributing more than 1,000 volunteer hours on the construction site.

ST. PETERSBURG -- Sunshine accompanied the smiles in south St. Petersburg on Thursday afternoon, when Rays manager Kevin Cash handed over the keys to a new home to Lakeba Wallace and her daughter.

The Rays not only provided the funding for Wallace's Habitat for Humanity home, but staff members also took ownership of the build by contributing more than 1,000 volunteer hours on the construction site.

"The House the Rays Built" sparkled with fresh paint and a newly sodded front yard.

Cash, who is preparing to head south to Port Charlotte, Fla., for his second Spring Training at the helm of the club, noted that the project is a reflection of the Rays.

"This is a tribute to the people who work for the Rays and the entire organization," Cash said.

Rays president Brian Auld and president of baseball operations Matt Silverman also participated in the dedication ceremony and key presentation, which lasted approximately 30 minutes.

The volunteer effort took place over a five-week period and involved 180 Rays staff members, including Auld and Silverman, who worked shifts raising roof trusses and finishing interior walls, respectively. For Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas County, the Rays-sponsored home marks the first time in the nonprofit's 30-year history that a corporate funding partner has also provided more than 90 percent of the manpower hours required to build its homes.

"Our mission is to energize our community through the magic of Rays baseball, and this project has been a remarkable testament to that," Auld said. "I'm proud of the efforts of our staff members, who worked alongside Lakeba and her family. We can not be any more excited to hand over the keys."

Land for the home was donated to Habitat Pinellas by Bank of America as part of a national partnership with Habitat for Humanity International, through which up to 2,000 vacant properties are donated by Bank of America. The local Bank of America property donation and Habitat Pinellas program provided an opportunity for homeownership that Wallace could afford with her modest income.

St. Petersburg deputy mayor Dr. Kanika Tomalin welcomed the Wallace family to their new home, and Vito Sheeley, outreach director for U.S. Congresswoman Kathy Castor, presented a flag that was flown over the U.S. Capitol. Bank of America Tampa Bay market president Bill Goede also participated in the ceremony.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com.

 

Tampa Bay Rays