Habitat for Humanity is maximizing its impact

Gloucester County’s chapter of Habitat for Humanity takes the phrase “building from the ground up,” to heart.

In the literal sense, Habitat for Humanity builds affordable housing for low to moderate income partner families. Once selected, the families have a mandatory 350 hours of equity time where they assist in building the house and go to financial education classes before buying the house from Habitat for Humanity at cost with a zero percent mortgage.

In addition to building housing, Habitat for Humanity began building ADA compliant access ramps for disabled residents of Gloucester County. They have built approximately 25 ramps since starting in 2016.

“We’re trying to help everyone that we can,” executive director Tony Isabella said.

On Oct. 18, Habitat for Humanity was scheduled to host their 44th “habitation,” which is a housing ceremony where the home is dedicated to the family and the community comes together to welcome the new family to the neighborhood.

“The good thing about this is since 2012 we’ve built 18 homes and 23 ramps. What I’m saying is as we get bigger and better at what we do, we’re actually moving forward in our capacity to build and help people,” Isabella said.

What makes Habitat run at peak performance is their volunteer base. By not having to pay a construction crew, it keeps the cost of the house low for home buyers, thus allowing the nonprofit to help as many people as possible. According to gc-habitat.org, construction sites are open for volunteers on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon. Interested volunteers can sign up on the website to donate their services.

While the website explicitly says no level of experience is required to volunteer on a construction site, for those who would rather donate money or goods that option is available in Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore. ReStore is a thrift store located in Pitman, which has new and used appliances, furniture, building materials, home decor and more. The store is open Tuesday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Volunteers to work in the store can sign up online at gc-habitat.org.

Donations to the ReStore are always accepted, too. If you or someone you know has a couch, blender, tools or anything that fits the above description, call ReStore at (856) 256-2004.

Isabella raved about the importance of ReStore to Habitat’s mission.

“All the money generated from ReStore goes directly to paying all of our administrative expenses,” he said.

In a nutshell, this means any money donated will 100 percent go toward building houses and ramps, the nonprofit’s mission.

“When a donor donates money to us, I can assure them every dollar of the donation is going directly to our mission. If someone gives me $100, it goes directly to buying wood, nails, whatever is needed to build a house,” Isabella added. “That in and of itself is a huge thing. Money donated doesn’t pay my salary, the light bills, the insurance, it goes to the mission. (ReStore) is important and will continue to be.”

For Habitat, building from the ground up means soliciting money through fundraisers such as their annual golf outing in June, selling goods at an extremely discounted price at the ReStore and having a strong volunteer base to help them build houses and ramps. These fundraisers help accomplish their goal of helping as many people as possible. This is evident by their ability to build 18 houses and 23 ramps in the past seven years; their current model maximizes their potential to do so.

For more information about Habitat for Humanity or to volunteer, visit their website gc-habitat.org.