MANCHESTER – Normally, Northern Habitat for Humanity calls on their volunteer and support sponsors to build a new home for a family in need but they recently had a unique experience thanks to a family who donated a modular home.
The house was recently transported from Normandy Beach to the township. “The time has finally arrived for our modular home move. The modular home is prepped, the foundation is ready and the weather is looking ideal,” Northern Ocean Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Kristine Novakowski said.
Novakowski told The Manchester Times that the transport headed from Route 35 to Route 37 West to Route 70 West out to Route 539.
“The home was in transit from around noon to 2 p.m. on November 14. The organization’s staff viewed the transport from the ReStore parking lot. A police escort was arranged for the home from its site at 105 Third Avenue Normandy Beach to 1709 Route 539 in the Whiting section of Manchester,” she said.
This marked the 22nd home provided by Northern Habitat for Humanity in Ocean County. On July 12 a dedication ceremony was held for the 21st home which was also located in Manchester. That family is happily living in a home on Ridgeway Road.
The latest recipient family consists of Diana Pita-Hernandez, a single mom with 6-year-old twin daughters, Arianna and Adrianna. They will move in during the first quarter of 2023. The house still needs utilities installed and siding needs to be restored to the back of the home as it had to be stripped for the move. Weather proved a factor because the lot in Whiting was too muddy when it arrived.
American Disabilities Act (ADA) modifications will be added as both daughters have spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy. Therefore, the agency is installing ramps for the front and back entrances.
ADA modifications to bathrooms, a shed to store equipment in, and a therapy room are also required. Organization representative Laura Wagner Paolillo said, “we are still looking for home sponsors to help us with these costs.”
She noted that the plot of land in Whiting was generously donated by the Gorcey family.
“The act of giving to someone in need gives me great joy,” Elizabeth Gorcey said. “We are in a time on this planet where kind acts are necessary. We need to re-learn that helping our fellow neighbors is essential.”
“We are so thankful for the family that has donated this modular home making homeownership a dream come true for Diana and her daughters,” Novakowski said. “We are grateful for having such wonderful supporters to help provide safe, healthy homes in Ocean County.”
“This home will be more than a roof over our heads. Our home will be a place where my unique children with unique abilities can thrive. It’s been a dream of mine to have a therapy room. This will be a place where my children can have friends come over, and children of all abilities can play together,” Hernandez said. “My daughters and I have found the biggest family with Habitat. Thank you for welcoming us with so much love and taking our hands in a time of need.”
Motion City Media, a real estate and architecture photography and marketing company, donated their services to Northern Ocean Habitat by time lapsing the process and having a drone follow the house on its route.
As to the many people and sponsors/volunteers involved in this latest effort, Paolillo said, “so far, it’s the Wells Fargo; Grenville Hotel and Restaurant; NJNG; Gorcey family; Carl’s Fencing, Decking, and Home Improvements; TD Bank; Air Duct Cleaning Solutions (Toms River); Motion City Media and Crossroads Realty.”
Providing a “hand up” and not a “handout” through these programs, homeowners put in “sweat equity” by volunteering. The organization also partners with area firms and institutions such as the Ocean County Vocational School to build homes and to gather materials for the structures.
“We work with a standard home design that we modify as needed for the size lot we are building on. We rely on land donations for building affordable homes as the cost of land has become prohibitive to purchase. Once we secure the land, we start our application process to select a partner family for the home,” Novakowski said.
She further explained that applicants who meet the criteria – need housing, meet income qualifications, and agree to partner with Habitat – are then put into a lottery selection. “As part of the partnership, the family agrees to 300 hours of sweat equity in helping to build their home.”
There is still an opportunity to support Hernandez’s home build project and all the modifications her family needs. To learn more about home partner opportunities, visit: northernoceanhabitat.org/sponsorship/
Currently, Northern Ocean Habitat completed more than 300 low-to-moderate income home repair projects in addition to building 21 homes throughout the area.
Northern Ocean Habitat is also seeking its next two partner families for two more home builds in 2023. The application is currently open and due by January 4, 2023, by 4 p.m. To learn more, visit: northernoceanhabitat.org/programs/homeownership/?tab=application