PATERSON, NJ- The strength and leadership of women was on full display Friday as more than 50, led by New Jersey First Lady Tammy Murphy, helped rebuild a home that, thanks to Paterson Habitat for Humanity, will provide another local family with the opportunity to become homeowners.
The “Mother’s Day Build,” co-hosted by Paterson Habitat for Humanity and Lowe’s Heroes, marked the 11th Annual National Women Build Week, part of a week-long event that has been held since 2008 to empower women in advocating for affordable housing and spotlighting home ownership challenges. In total more than 17,000 women were expected to volunteer on more than 300 Habitat construction sites across the US.
Speaking of her previous experience volunteering on a Habitat for Humanity worksite alongside her husband, Governor Phil Murphy, the First Lady, joined Senator Nelly Pou (D-35), Mayor Jane Williams-Warren, Council President Ruby Cotton, 5th Ward Councilman Luis Velez, Paterson Habitat Executive Director Barbara Dunn, and Paterson’s Lowe’s Store Manager Michael Bergamo, said that “it was an experience that humbled the both of us and something I am proud to have helped have a hand in.”
“It’s like I’m always telling my kids, making a difference in the lives of others really makes a difference in your own life.”
“Where I am living right now is not suitable for anyone to live, and the landlord is constantly ignoring the citations he keeps receiving,” Kimberly Mottley told those assembled. “This is going to be really great for me and my children,” Mottley continued.
The home under construction, located at 84 Godwin Avenue, will be owned by Mottley and occupied by she and her children. In order to qualify for the home ownership program Mottley had to go through a rigorous process which included showing a need for housing and applying for a Habitat mortgage. The soon-to-be homeowner, like more than 300 others that have gone through the program locally, has also volunteered 400 hours of her own service, including more than 100 hours of education and financial training.
Saying that their goal is transform a 12-block radius of the city, Dunn recalled starting in Paterson’s 1st Ward and expanding into the 4th Ward. “we have helped over 300 families in 30 years,” Dunn said offering special praise to Cotton who she said is “out here every day in the trenches.”
“She’s just a phone call away, we know Ruby will be there.”
“I have worked with Habitat for Humanity since around 2012 and have always loved working with the program. It helps current residents with new ownership and program training and helps them to become proud new homeowners,” Cotton told TAPinto Paterson.
Saying that Paterson Habitat has recently partnered with Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED), a multi-disciplinary approach to deterring crime by adopting various construction and landscaping standards that, among other things, focuses on putting more attention to activity in the streets, Cotton continued that not only do these projects “bring a sense of pride to the neighborhood,” they also, through the CPTED standards such as including front porches, “help the owners see what’s going on in the neighborhood, so everyone looks out for each other.”
The Godwin Ave. home is located in the city’s 4th Ward, a neighborhood too often known for its high crime rate.
Though it was her first time participating in a Habitat home building project, Warren, with 40 years of experience helping to lead Paterson as city clerk, is certainly familiar with the impact they have made in the city and beyond. “I’ve seen its work all over the country, Habitat for Humanity has done so much to make a difference. You can see how the neighborhoods start to change when people see others taking pride in it,” a result, she indicated, of the increased home ownership that exists at the core of Habitat’s mission.
Through the construction project Paterson Habitat, and the volunteers gathered on Friday, were, according to Senator Pou, “building a life for a family in this house.” A Habitat volunteer for nearly 20 years, and also a member of the organization’s Advisory Board, Pou, who also serves as Paterson’s business administrator, said that the organization “transforms live” and neighborhoods, “one block at a time.”