If there is one thing we know about New Jersey, it’s that we have a strong sense of community. We saw everyone come together after hurricane Sandy and we have no problems helping a fellow Garden Stater. So, when we heard about the latest ventures from charity Habitat For Humanity, we weren’t surprised at their generosity, but our hearts were filled just a little bit more.
For starters, ConnectOne Bank, a local bank catering to the NJ/NY metro area, partnered with Habitat for Humanity of Bergen County by sending employees to volunteer their time building at Habitat Bergen’s Bergenfield construction worksite. The team of ten volunteers spent the day cutting and installing drywall inside a 1,900 square-foot-home for future homeowners, Carlos and Geovana Pimentel.
Carlos and Geovana Pimentel and their two children, ages 4 and 7, were selected from a pool of more than 75 applicants to receive the three bedroom, two and one-half bathroom home. It was a yearlong selection process that considers income, ability to partner and the need for a safe, and decent shelter. Once selected, they spend a total of 400 “sweat equity” hours to help build their home alongside volunteers. Luckily they had a lot of help.
“We are proud to continue to support Habitat for Humanity of Bergen County’s initiatives in our local community. The organization has been instrumental in eliminating poverty in New Jersey,” said ConnectOne Bank’s Chief Lending Officer, Elizabeth Magennis, in a statement. “As a community bank, serving and building our local communities is in our DNA and we’re proud to partner with an organization who aligns with these values.”
The congregation members from the First Congregational Church of River Edge devoted a Saturday of Service to the Bergenfield worksite, spending the day installing insulation and Styrofoam over the insulation on the home for the Pimentel family.
“We had members of our congregation from age 17 to 70, men and women, skilled and unskilled, working together in fellowship with the friendly and dedicated future homeowners,” said Helen Koons, Mission Committee Leader with the First Congregational Church of River Edge. “We felt like part of a larger continuum of a community of service, starting the work where the prior day’s volunteers had ended, handing our work on to the next day’s volunteers. It was a wonderful and fulfilling way to spend a Saturday.”
Women from SUEZ, a North American environmental water servicing company based in Paramus, took over the same project the following day. The dynamic team of women performed numerous tasks throughout the day, including installing denim insulation made from recycled denim, covering the home in Styrofoam house wrap, and painting exterior.
“There is no question that helping to create a decent home for a family is a significant act of giving,” said Sonja Clark, Director of Community Relations and Habitat Bergen Board Member. “But, our volunteers typically find that they receive something in return that is even more valuable: a feeling of satisfaction and a connection to other people.”