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Morris Habitat for Humanity Annual Meeting Looks Back at 30 Years of Changing Lives

  Morris Habitat for Humanity CEO, Blair Bravo and Gary Kastenbaum, from Summit receiving the Charles Lee Hamilton Award. The award is given in remembrance of Charlie Hamilton, a long time Morris Habitat volunteer, who had three loves; his Church, the Democratic Party, and Morris Habitat for Humanity. Hamilton also had a deep belief in community activism.  Gary Kastenbaum has demonstrated his passion and love for giving families in need a hand up to homeownership over the years of volunteering with Morris Habitat.  For more information about Morris Habitat go to or call 973-891-1934.  Volunteer positions are always needed. Credits: Bob Alamonte

MORRISTOWN, NJ- On Jan. 25, Morris Habitat for Humanity held its Annual Meeting at the United Methodist Church in Morristown.  They looked back over thirty years of building safe, decent, affordable housing, recognized the efforts of many, installed new board members, and welcomed some of the newer homeowners at this wonderful event. 

Morris Habitat would not be possible without the passion and efforts of the Founding Members of Morris Habitat for Humanity.  Carl Buen, the original Vice President, and Jean Nilson, the original Secretary, are still in the area and are pleased to see how far the Habitat Affiliate has progressed.  The seed for the Morris County affiliate of Habitat came into being through their hard work.  Even from the beginning it was persistence and partnerships that helped Morris Habitat.  Reverend W. James White, the first president of Morris Habitat, had to lobby Habitat for Humanity International. Morris County was seen as a wealthy area, and not perceived to be as needy as its home base in Americus, Georgia.  With support from Millard Fuller, founder of Habitat International and Jimmy Carter, our former President, the Morris County affiliate was eventually approved.  Then the real work of the first volunteers began.  Reaching out to put together a working group, setting goals and raising funds to get the first home project started.

“It was amazing to realize just how much has been accomplished,” stated Blair Bravo, Morris Habitat’s Chief Executive Officer, “and we are committed to continue to build on the solid foundation our Founder’s have provided.”

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Over the years, Morris Habitat has served 305 households both locally and overseas through home ownership opportunities. During all this time they are proud to say they have not had one foreclosure!  Morris Habitat’s success is also do to the 64,350 construction and non-construction volunteers that have worked with the organization through the years. Partnership is the key to past and future success.  Morris Habitat has developed lasting partnerships with local business, congregations, municipalities, the community, and individuals.

Morris Habitat has evolved from a small affiliate, building one or two homes a year, to a major presence, completing  68 affordable homes.  It has developed strategic business plans leading to this substantial revenue and program growth; much of it accomplished during unstable economic times.  Morris Habitat is poised and ready to go into the future, continuing to provide safe, decent affordable housing for local families in need for years to come.

Blair Bravo told those in attendance, “Our success in 2014 alone included serving 15 families, with 5 homes closed and 10 critical home repair projects completed.  In addition, we had 15 projects under construction in 6 unique locations, and planned for 12 housing starts in 2015. We have added to our property pipeline that now totals more than 86 units that will keep us building through at least 2020. We worked with an Eagle Scout to build a shed for our 29 Hazel Street homes, assisted our sister affiliate in Ocean County on repairing a home devastated by Hurricane Sandy, and hosted the WoodsWork Mission Trip Students– a weeklong mission trip of 100 students and adults to build our Willow Street, Morristown homes. In addition, we won recognition for our work from the Metro Builders and Remodelers Association.” 

All this could not have been accomplished without extensive corporate and private funds raised and thousands of willing volunteers.  At the meeting a number of honorees were highlighted.  

  • Community Partners Awards were given to: The Center for Humanistic Change in Stanhope, Sally Wortman of Liberty Antiques in Sterling, and Mount Olive Township who have gone above and beyond to further Morris Habitat’s goals. 
  • Distinguished Partner Awards were presented to: Andy Iwanow  (Hackettstown), Al Moors (Towaco) , Frank Vorsi (Succasunna) ,and the 17 members of the Homeowner Relations Team.  Mary Ellen Ballentyne (West Patterson), Nadine Bustos ( Morris Plains ), Frank Corsi (Succasunna), Angela Dequina (Randolph), Francesca Drago (Madison), Faye Feinstein (Montville), Mike Fischer (Madison)-, Ray Graber (Parsippany), Jay Grossman (Morris Plains), Bessi Korfiatis (Basking Ridge) from, Katie Mallard (Randolph) and Yoram Meyer (Morristown) for their willingness to step up to take on leadership positions and assist the Morris Habitat staff. 
  • Perseverance Partner Awards went to: Bob and Preeti Senjalia (Mine Hill), Seth Leeb (Parsippany)-, Lorraine Nestman (Rockaway), Ellie Arnould-Tomb (Morris Plains), Katie Boyle (Mountain Lakes), and Ron Luiz (Chatham) for their work through thick and thin to help Morris Habitat.
  •  Extraordinary Service Awards went to 39 individuals who have been dedicated volunteers to 10 years or more!
  • The Charles Lee Hamilton Tribute Award,  given in remembrance of Charlie Hamilton, a long time Morris Habitat volunteer.  The award is given for selfless actions to provide families in need a hand up to homeownership.  The award was presented to Gary Kastenbaum from Summit, for his demonstrated passion and love for giving families in need a hand up to homeownership over the years of volunteering with Morris Habitat.

 To learn how you can help and also to follow the special events and new initiatives taking place during Morris Habitat’s 30th Anniversary year, visit or call 973-891-1934.








About Morris Habitat for Humanity

Morris Habitat for Humanity is part of a global, nonprofit housing organization operated on Christian principles by building homes, communities and hope. Morris Habitat is dedicated to eliminating substandard housing locally and worldwide through constructing, rehabilitating and preserving homes; advocating for fair and just housing policies; and providing training and access to resources to help families improve their living conditions.  Habitat for Humanity was founded on the conviction that every man, woman and child should live in dignity and safety, and that decent shelter in decent communities should be a matter of conscience and action for all. Morris Habitat welcomes volunteers and supporters from all backgrounds and serves people in need of decent housing regardless of race or religion.  

Since 1985 Morris Habitat has served 305 households though home ownership opportunities, home preservation, and international home building programs. In 2014, Morris Habitat completing 5 units with 15 under construction and 10 home repair projects.  In addition, proceeds from the ReStore, opened May 2007, have built 13 homes and diverted almost 4,000 tons of useable material out of landfills.  Located at 274 South Salem Street, Randolph. Store hours: Tues 12 - 8 p.m., Wed & Fri 10  - 6 p.m., Thur 10 - 8 p.m., Sat 10 - 5 p.m.  








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