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‘It’s gratifying to help people’

Representatives from Habitat for Humanity speak on their organization

“Building communities, one home at a time,” Gloucester County Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Tony Isabella said describing his organization.

Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit organization that works to build homes for those in need. A living, breathing testimony of this is Ketty Christian, events and fundraising director at Gloucester County’s Habitat.

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“It means the world,” Christian said about being involved with Habitat. “It helped my husband and I acquire the dream of home ownership.”

Christian went to Rowan University for her undergraduate degree, and the following year earned her master’s degree. Like many college graduates, she found she was either overqualified for jobs because of her degree or underqualified due to a lack of work experience. Because of this, she found it hard to become a homeowner. That’s where Habitat stepped in and helped her. Christian, along with her husband and six children, are a partner family with Habitat for Humanity, which means Habitat gave them the opportunity to earn a home and purchase it.

“Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit organization that helps low- to moderate-income families become homeowners,” Christian said. “All partner families have a mortgage that they pay like any mortgage. The difference is that it’s interest-free. It’s affordable for those who otherwise couldn’t afford the home.”

Isabella became involved with Habitat for Humanity in 2007. He started as a board member, then became treasurer. After that, he was elected board president and worked his way to become the executive director. As someone who’s been involved for 11 years, he truly loves what he does.

“It’s gratifying to help people that can’t generally help themselves with the dream of home ownership,” he said. “We expanded our impact by doing handicapped ramps.”

Isabella said they just finished a ramp in Washington Township and are scheduled to do another one at the American Legion Hall in Mullica Hill in September.

Productivity, in terms of building, has increased steadily since fiscal year 2016. In 2016, Habitat built two homes and five ramps. In 2017, it built three homes and eight ramps. Last fiscal year, 2018, it built four homes and seven ramps. When asked about his goals for fiscal year 2019, Isabella said they’re aiming for at least four homes and seven ramps.

Per Habitat for Humanity’s impact sheet, a description of what they accomplished last year, Habitat has had 150 volunteers put in 13,500 hours of time and energy last year. Future homeowner families dedicated 350 hours of sweat equity. Donations to the ReStore kept 75 tons of recyclable materials out of landfills.

ReStore is a concept where people donate to Habitat and they refurbish or repurpose donated things and sell them in their store. The proceeds go directly to their affiliate. Proceeds are used for things like nails, wood and siding.

For people looking to get involved, Habitat for Humanity is always looking for volunteers and donations. If you are looking to donate items, you can contact Habitat for Humanity at (856) 256–2004 and arrange for a pick-up if need be.

For volunteer opportunities with building, visit gc-habitat.org, and click on the tab for volunteering.

Anthony is a graduate of Rowan University and a proud freelance contributor for 08108 magazine. He has past bylines in The Sun Newspapers and the Burlington County Times.

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