This is the 56th single-family home built by Habitat’s Monmouth County affiliate. A closer look at how they pull it off.
KEANSBURG – The first time Roger Pharel heard he could get a brand-new home at a bargain price, he didn’t believe it.
Making it happen
Army of volunteers
Habitat for Humanity’s lifeblood is the volunteer effort. Last week was its annual Women Build, featuring 20,000 women working on projects in 300 U.S. communities. Between the Keansburg and Long Branch houses, there were roughly 80 women helping out.
“It’s a really unique thing in you can see what your contribution goes to,” said Kim Stulb, a frequent volunteer who was working on Pharel’s home. “As you drive around the neighborhood you’ll say, ‘I worked on that roof.’ If you see kids playing you’ll say, ‘I laid the sod in that yard.’ It really makes it worth the time.”
Stulb, who lives in Hazlet, connected with Habitat through her employer, T&M Associates. The Middletown-based engineering firm is a longstanding Habitat supporter.
“I’ve heard from a lot of the construction managers that we do better than the males,” Stulb said with a smile. “We take direction better, we’re a little more creative and we know how to swing a hammer, too.”
As Stulb gave this reporter a tour of the house-in-progress, the pride of helping a veteran was palpable.
“I’ve done a lot of these builds and they’ve always been fantastic, and this is my favorite,” she said. “We’re not just helping a family. We’re helping a family who has helped us already. So it’s awesome.”
Though the bulk of the work was done last week, the home won’t be live-in ready until late June or early July. There will be a ceremony, and Pharel knows it’ll be hard to hold back tears.
“Sometimes people forget about us,” he said. “To see Habitat and the volunteers pour their energy into helping veterans, it touches my heart.”
To make a donation, volunteer or find out more about Habitat for Humanity in Monmouth County visit www.habitatmonmouth.org.
Jerry Carino is news columnist for the Asbury Park Press, focusing on the Jersey Shore’s interesting people, inspiring stories and pressing issues. Contact him at email@example.com.