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Blue Wahoos Staff Helps Make Homeowner Dream With Habitat For Humanity Partnership 

Members of the Blue Wahoos staff, left to right, Emily Mann, Jessica Voigt, Shannon Hannah, Kylie Dykes, Eric Kroll, Paige Gibson and Steve Brice were part of a volunteer effort Feb. 20 with Pensacola Habitat For Humanity to help build a home for a first-time homeowner. (Pensacola Blue Wahoos)
February 21, 2024

Within a few hours of volunteer effort, members of the Blue Wahoos front office staff recently helped advance a dream of home ownership closer to fruition. In the third year of the team’s partnership with Pensacola Habitat for Humanity, a group of Blue Wahoos employees were pounding nails, placing frames,

Within a few hours of volunteer effort, members of the Blue Wahoos front office staff recently helped advance a dream of home ownership closer to fruition.

In the third year of the team’s partnership with Pensacola Habitat for Humanity, a group of Blue Wahoos employees were pounding nails, placing frames, and fastening connections to gain progress on a four-bedroom home.

It was one of three homes being built on the same street, located off Gulf Beach Highway in the Beach Haven neighborhood, being done by Habitat For Humanity.

“It was cool to know that somebody who we may go to the same grocery store with, or the kids may go to the same school, or any kind of connection like that… it was special that we were able to play a small part in them having a safe place to go home every night,” said Emily Mann, the Blue Wahoos group sales and community services manager, who helped coordinate the Blue Wahoos participation in the home build project.

“I feel like we were able to see the progress from the morning, which is not aways the case when you are building a home in real time. It was awesome to see the other houses (Pensacola Habitat For Humanity) were building on that street as well,” Mann said.

Blue Wahoos general manager Steve Brice sizes up a frame construction during the staff's home build project with Pensacola Habitat For Humanity on Feb. 20.Bill Vilona/Pensacola Blue Wahoos

The Blue Wahoos are among many businesses in the Pensacola area who arrange a day for staff members to volunteer and help the full-time staff at Pensacola Habitat for Humanity make progress on a new home.

“It’s integral to what we do,” said Ben Boynton, Communications Associate for Pensacola Habitat for Humanity. “We could not have anywhere near the impact we have on this community without volunteer groups.

“We are pace to build around 50 homes this year. But I would guess without volunteer groups, even half that number of homes would be an extreme challenge for our organization. We depend on groups throughout Pensacola to come out and help us build the home.

"We’re able to complete so many homes every year, simply because we have groups helping us do it.”

Blue Wahoos food and beverage manager Kylie Dykes prepares to fasten an inner wall flat during the team's home build Feb. 20 with Pensacola Habitat for Humanity.Bill Vilona/Pensacola Blue Wahoos

In addition to large companies in Pensacola like Navy Federal Credit Union, Boynton said members of the Blue Angels flight team have helped. So has the crew of American Magic, which has made Pensacola its winter training center for the 37th America’s Cup yacht races in August in Barcelona, Spain.

Like most of the companies partnering with Pensacola Habitat for Humanity, the Blue Wahoos staff members had little to zero prior experience on a home construction site.

But they were able to work with team leaders from Habitat for Humanity to learn basic skills during the volunteer day. The group from the Blue Wahoos included general manager Steve Brice, food and beverage general manager Erik Kroll and events sales manager Shannon Hannah. and food and beverage manager Kylie Dykes.

During Blue Wahoos home games, members of the Pensacola Habitat for Humanity help work the four different storefront food and beverage locations at the stadium.

Blue Wahoos food and beverage general manager Eric Kroll and event sales manager Shannon Hannah get instructions from a project leader on Feb. 20 during a home build for Pensacola Habital for Humanity.Bill Vilona/Pensacola Blue Wahoos

“Each year, they have expanded on the number of games they wanted to do,” Kroll said. “They did over 30 games a year ago and it’s absolutely a big plus for us. They are people who are invested in what they want to do for the community, so it’s helping from that non profit perspective.

“Collectively, from all of our non-profit organizations, we were able to provide more than $180,000 that we were able to give back to the local non-profits in our community and (Pensacola Habitat For Humanity) are a big chunk of that.”

Part of Habitat For Humanity nationwide includes a “Women Build” program. Locally, that group will work the July 3 Blue Wahoos game working the entire storefront operations in a fundraising opportunity.

“Last year, they raised over $45,000 working at the stadium, so it is a good way for us to partner with our community and show support for them,” Mann said.

Said Boynton: “We’ve had women in our group asking when the Blue Wahoos games were starting. Our women builders love coming out to the stadium. Last year we smashed our previous fundraising record and a huge part of that came from partnership with the Blue Wahoos.”

The average turnaround time for a home build is approximately three to four months, Boynton said. The organization starts a new home project ever other Thursday.

Company volunteers are provided hard hats, protective eyewear and a hammer to keep. The Habitat for Humanity leaders have the home blueprints and provide directions in where to hammer nails in place and arrange framing.

At one point during the Blue Wahoos volunteering efforts, Kylie Dykes, a food and beverage manager, along Paige Gibson, a gameday employee in food and beverage were working on securing a plywood inner wall in one back bedroom, while Jessica Voigt, a group sales and community relations training was affixing a center room frame with help from a Habitat manager.

“It was really rewarding,” Mann said. “It all felt very selfless in the sense that everyone (who joined as volunteers) was willing to do whatever was needed and do it to the best of their ability. Everyone was working together and no one really had experience doing this before.”