The evening was all about giving thanks at Habitat for Humanity of Greater Newark’s Golden Hammer Awards.
The organization, which serves to build affordable housing for low-income families in Essex, Hudson and Union counties, gathered Thursday at Newark’s Priory Restaurant to thank benefactors, members and volunteers for their continued support in bringing hope to the communities that they serve.
Habitat for Humanity of Greater Newark CEO Jeffrey J. Farrell said the event was titled “Giving Thanks” to honor the dedication and commitment of the non-profit’s volunteers and partners.
“As a nonprofit, we can’t serve the community without these partners,” he said. “Without these volunteers and very important partnerships, we could not be helping these families.”
Honorees include Ballard Spahr attorney Barbara Casey; Newark community member Viola Clark; Habitat Board President Carlton Daniels; American Red Cross-NJ Manager Paul Glass; The Leaguers CEO Kevin Hill; Kingdom Builders Ministry Pastor Veronice Horne; Kearny Bank President Craig Montanaro; and Wells Fargo VP and Senior Community Development Officer Tomas Porturas.
Habitat of Greater Newark has been building homes in Newark and Essex County since 1986 and, with the help of partners and benefactors, was able to expand its reach two years ago to include both Hudson and Union counties.
The organization’s mission is community building through a variety of programs, such as its Homeownership Program, which provides homes for low-income families through volunteer labor and community support; the Military Veterans Initiative; a Neighborhood Revitalization program that addresses vital home repairs, public safety, afterschool programs, access to services, job training and college prep; and the Critical Home Repairs program which provides critical repairs, weatherization, and home preservation services.
Habitat of Greater Newark recently completed Harmony Point, an urban-style condominium subdivision of 23 affordable two- and three-bedroom units in Newark’s South Ward. It is the largest project of Habitat of Greater Newark to date.
Daniels, the longtime board chair, said supporters of the organization are crucial to its ability to provide services to the community.
“It is only because of their support that we have gone from a Newark affiliate to now include Hudson and Union counties,” Daniels said. “We absolutely could not have done it without them. They built the blocks to where we are today.”
Habitat of Greater Newark CFO Hema Gandhi said the organization is grateful for the chance to express their gratitude during this annual dinner, filled with music, speeches and camaraderie.
“All of these people help us, but we never get a chance to thank them formally,” she said. “It’s just so special to be able to thank them.”
Habitat for Humanity began in 1976 as a grassroots effort on a community farm in Georgia and has since grown to become a global nonprofit working in nearly 1,400 communities throughout the U.S. and in nearly 70 countries.
Habitat homeowners help build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage.
Through volunteer work and tax-deductible donations, Habitat homes are sold to family partners while the organization provides a zero percent interest mortgage.
Statistics show that 16 million American families pay more than half their income for housing while living in overcrowded or substandard conditions.
One in three American households spends more than 30 percent of its income on housing, and one in seven spends more than 50 percent.
Farrell said the organization will continue its mission of improving the quality of life for residents.
“Going into 2018, we’re looking to serve more families and focus on critical repairs, housing and revitalization,” he said.
Daniels expressed emotion as he received his award.
“Being a part of this is what I was raised to be,” he said. “This is very special to me. We’re going to build, we’re going to strengthen, and you’re all a part of that."