Gloucester County Habitat for Humanity took time on Aug. 27 to dedicate its 49th home to a single mother and her two sons in Glassboro.
“This home from the very beginning was a collaborative effort from everyone,” said Tony Isabella, the organization’s executive director. “The borough of Glassboro donated the land to us. The county commissioners funded the project … It was a massive effort by everyone involved.”
Ayisha Watson and her boys, Makhi Watson-Woodbury and Khiry Woodbury, were living in a small, two bedroom apartment with no stove and an infestation of mice for more than two years before reading an article about Habitat for Humanity. After an initial call to the organization over 18 months ago, the family now lives comfortably in a 1,232-square-foot house with three bedrooms and a large front porch.
Through Habitat for Humanity, the family was able to buy the house at cost with zero-percent interest. The house was also deemed Energy Star certified, which keeps the family’s utility bills under $800 a year through energy conservation and efficiency.
“Basically, our mission is to provide safe and affordable housing,” Isabella explained. “The house is safe, it is Energy Star certified and it is affordable, because we don’t charge interest. This is what our mission is. Everybody deserves a safe place to live.”
According to Isabella, the homes are not free. Over the past 18 months, the Watson family has put in over 350 sweat equity hours and attended financial classes to earn the new home.
Like many other Habitat dwellings, this build was not done alone. Gloucester County Habitat for Humanity received money from the county commissioners’ HOME Affordable Housing program and the land was provided free to the organization by the borough. The home was also built with the hands of all volunteers.
Habitat for Humanity offers many opportunities for people to volunteer. Throughout the year, it hosts themed builds for people from all walks of life. Events include women builds, pride builds and corporate builds as team exercises for companies.
“A volunteer experience with Habitat for Humanity is empowering,” said Isabella. “You can have someone who doesn’t know which side of the hammer to use, and after a couple sessions, they are out there using a chop saw and hanging rafters because it gives you the knowledge.”
The organization is planning its 50th build in Gloucester County within the coming months.
Anyone interested in volunteering with Gloucester County Habitat for Humanity can visit https://gc-habitat.org/restore/.