HOPATCONG, NJ – A tragedy has been turned into a blessing for Eileen Jackson and her family in Hopatcong. Jackson and her daughter Danielle now have a place to call home through the generous donation of a home to Habitat for Humanity.
Jane King had planned to have the house renovated for her daughter Alice. Before that could happen, however, Alice died in a motorcycle accident. Nearly 18 months ago King contacted the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity and made the gift.
The home has been doubled in size from 400 to 800 square feet. A bedroom was added along with a laundry room. The bathroom, kitchen and utilities were updated. The exterior and windows were replaced. A back stairway was added to have a second exit. Landscaping completed the make-over.
“This is what she would have done if she had the choice,” Jane King’s son David King said.
Jane’s husband also passed away before the project was completed. Jane King also followed up on the community garden project that Alice King had been trying to establish prior to her death. The community garden is located on Alice King Way near the town hall.
The work was done by volunteers and with donations to Habitat for Humanity. The labor for the electrical update was donated by Jack Kalafuta of Grizzly Electric in Blairstown along with two retired electricians who frequently help on Habitat for Humanity projects.
Bob Henderson of Henderson Pump donated the installation of the pump and was able to discount the cost of the pump as well.
The Wallkill Valley shop class built and installed the kitchen cabinets.
“The teacher is already looking to help with the next project,” Habitat for Humanity Board President Kenneth Landrud said. “It is a good experience for the students.”
The paint and blue board drywall were donated as well.
The homeowner, Jackson, was required to also work on the project. Her work hours were limited, however, when she broke her ankle. She “spackled, painted all of the rooms and landscaped.”
Her family helped out as well; daughter Danielle and Danielle’s boyfriend Adam, her sister Ann Thompson were all on hand to celebrate the project.
“All of the volunteers were amazing,” Jackson said. “I couldn’t even imagine how it would all turn out.”
“Thanks to Alice because she would be thrilled,” Jane King said. “My husband and I think there couldn’t be a better, more appropriate use of the house.”
The dedication began with a prayer from Pastor Wade Abbott. Abbott is on the local board of Habitat for Humanity and helped to match Jackson with the new home.
“We are building houses and building hope. In the second book of Exodus it says ‘when poor people need help you don’t charge them interest,’” Abbott said. “We do this in the name of Jesus Christ.”
The homeowner will be responsible for an interest free mortgage.
“I have too little words,” Jackson said. “This means so much to both of us. Thank you everyone.”
“Thank you so much,” Danielle Jackson said.
A blessing was conveyed by Abbott with words and a New Home Blessing Basket containing “rice that the love in your home may multiply, bread that you never go hungry, salt that there will always be flavor in your life, sugar that you always enjoy the sweetness of life, candles that you may always have light in the darkest time and wine that you always have joy and never go thirsty.”
Landrud explained Habitat for Humanity had been started by Millard and Linda Fuller. Having made a fortune at a young age, the couple moved onto a commune in the early 1970’s. Seeing the difficult situations of those who lived on the outskirts of the farm, they developed the concept of “partnership housing.” They began “The Fund for Humanity” to provide no interest loans to the new homeowners.
The Fullers took this idea to Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo, in 1973. After three years of home building in Africa the Fullers returned to the United States where, together with a group of supporters, founded Habitat for Humanity, according to Landrud.
With the support of President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn Habitat for Humanity works in about 1,400 communities in the United States as well as 70 other countries. They have helped nearly 10 million people, according to the Habitat for Humanity publications.