BERKELEY – They say you can’t go home again. But maybe they’re wrong.
Northern Ocean Habitat For Humanity welcomed a family into their first ever brand new home. They explored it all and took in every inch with wide eyes and big smiles, especially the kids, CJ and Scarlett.
Their mother, Nicole, had been inside multiple times as the house was being built. Owners put in “sweat equity” – hammering nails or painting as part of the process. Habitat partners with families who are looking for a “hand-up, not a hand-out” in owning their first home.
Nicole has the honor of having the 20th home built by Northern Ocean Habitat For Humanity. Six of these homes are in Berkeley. It’s located on Grand Central Parkway. The land was part of an estate given to Habitat.
Nicole is originally from Bayville and her kids will be going to H & M Potter Elementary School, the same school she attended when she was a kid. “It is nice to see former residents return back to Bayville,” said Mayor Carmen Amato.
“Number 20 took a long way to get here with all the challenges and with COVID. Once it got rolling, it came together so quickly,” said Northern Ocean Habitat Construction Director Bob Conway. “I can’t thank everyone involved enough. We had more help and more giving from contractors and companies than I have seen on any home before.”
“This dedication is so special to me because it’s the first new home build and dedication as executive director of Northern Ocean Habitat,” said Kristine Novakowski. “The happiness I am feeling today I imagine is how Linda and Millard Fuller must have felt when they completed their first home and handed the keys to Bo and Emma Johnson back in 1969. This happiness comes from more than building homes; it’s the community building and being a part of something great.”
Rent and other expenses are high in Ocean County, as in the rest of the state. Basic living expenses prevent people from being able to put away enough money for a house’s down payment.
While a new home provides an immediate help for a family, it serves a long-term goal as well. Children raised in a safe home are more likely to succeed. They are more likely to have the foundation to be in a better place when they start their own families, and so on. It’s because of this, that the assistance is truly generational. One family is helped now, but the impact will be felt by their grandchildren.
The next home Habitat is working on will be built next year in Manchester.
For more information and ideas on how to help, visit NOHFH.com. Shopping at the ReStore located at 1214 Route 37 East in Toms River helps raise funds for future builds.