By Alberto Gilman
Volunteers, community members and passers-by joined Habitat for Humanity of Greater Newburgh on Monday, January 16 to help with the construction of certain properties and assist in community cleanups as part of an annual celebration to honor and remember the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
As the early morning started for the volunteers at their respective sites in the city, newly appointed Executive Director of Habitat Newburgh Jill Marie visited each site to check in on the progress and to address any questions that the volunteers may have. Additionally, tours of the buildings were shared to the organizations social media to provide additional information and community updates.
“I am feeling like, on cloud nine. It’s great that we are at so many locations in Newburgh and really making a difference on all different levels. I love coming to work every day. I love what we do. I tell everyone that I feel very blessed,” Marie said. “For me personally, service is the space of which, that I leave my ego at the door. And then I move forward and do things that are based on the needs of the community,” Marie said. “Making sure that they tell me what they need, and that I don’t make those assumptions or implications and so service in its most genuine sense is coming from that humbling space.”
Also during the day of service, children and teenagers were invited to come and participate by painting several construction materials for the new homes at 125 Washington Street which is where the current Habitat Newburgh office is located. Volunteers 16 and older would be able to work at the various sites and at the ReStore located at 38 South Plank Road. Other sites in the city included 142 North Miller Street and 116 William Street.
Joining several volunteers at the properties located at 139 and 141 Johnston Street, Paul Brothe, President of the Board of Directors for Habitat for Humanity Greater Newburgh, helped in preparing materials for the workers to install in the home. “It’s really exciting to see so many people coming out. This is a really special day, because we get to recognize not only the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, but also just a tremendous number of volunteers across Newburgh,” said Brothe. “On a very fundamental basis, service to me means doing the best that I can for every person around me. And that’s not a once a year thing. It’s always.”
Habitat Newburgh members and volunteers also assisted the Newburgh Ministry’s team in a community cleanup at their properties on Johnston Street as the organization is looking forward to construction of additional units for residents. Councilman Anthony Grice joined volunteers in hauling away trash and other debris from the site during the cleanup. “Today makes me so very happy for two reasons. I get to support Habitat for Humanity because when we’re talking about affordable housing, we have to keep homeownership in mind, it can’t just be rentals. You know, there are some people who want to rent and that’s great for them. But home ownership is what we really need to increase in the City of Newburgh, and Habitat for Humanity has been a great partner,” said Grice. “At the same time, I get to support Newburgh Ministry. They really are doing a great job in the City of Newburgh, and the area we’re cleaning up today is behind where they’re going to put micro units.”
With these units looking to be constructed and available, the ministry will be able to offer drug counseling, mental health counseling, financial literacy courses and additional services that will offer city residents opportunities to pursue help and homeownership.
As the afternoon began, Calvary Presbyterian Church on South Street hosted a free luncheon for the volunteers and all the other staff to thank them for their hard work and time spent during the day. In recent weeks, according to Marie, Habitat Newburgh has dedicated its 103rd house and currently has eight houses in construction. In addition to the houses being built, there are 17 families as part of their housing program that Habitat Newburgh is assisting and will be looking to have housing built for them.