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Westfield Students Swing Hammers With Habitat

Jeremy Montgomery

Thursday, March 20, 2014 • 6:08pm

This past Saturday, March 15 at the “Habitat Village” on West Seventh Street in Plainfield, local students and teachers from Westfield High School teamed up with the Greater Plainfield Habitat for Humanity to swing hammers and to build homes. The day of volunteer effort is in conjunction with the ongoing efforts of the “Habitat Club” at the high school– which is an active campus group engaged in building awareness and raising funds for Habitat homes.  In addition to their labor, the group delivered a contribution of $1,100 to help provide building supplies and materials for the day.

Many people appreciate the opportunity to 'give back' to their community, and they view volunteering with Habitat as a rewarding experience.  This past Saturday was unique because some of these student volunteers had been waiting to be old enough to volunteer.

“I just turned 16, so this is my first time with Habitat,” stated Amelia Ritter of Westfield.  To comply with child labor laws and insurance restrictions, volunteers must be at least 16 years or older to work on a Habitat build site.  Many students like Amelia are on a waiting list to get involved.

Since its inception three years ago, Westfield teacher Trish Pizzi aspires to facilitate the “Habitat Club” that provides her high school students with a memorable experience.  She copiously appreciates the opportunity that Habitat for Humanity provides to students who wish to give back by helping those in need of decent housing in our community.

Annually, her club sets a goal to fundraise $1,500 to “Adopt-A-Day” to build a Habitat house in Plainfield.  They have found great interest in their school and seek to engage as many students as they can to assist the organization.  

For instance, one of their annual fundraisers is to sell insulated mugs and hot chocolate during final exam week.  Each year, students both appreciate the hot beverage, but also the way it helps to build Habitat homes. Also, involving their classmates in a hands-on local project also motivates the club.  Various build days are then planned and coordinated for them to work with their fellow high school students building together a house.

In the near future, the “Habitat Club” plans to host a 5K Race at Tamaques Park in Westfield, to raise additional funds toward more build days.  They hope that others will attend the event to contribute to their efforts. 

“Our goal is to show our gratitude by giving a "hand-up" to low-income families, struggling to purchase a decent, affordable home,” comments Tom Gerris of Westfield.  “We ask for the support of our community, as we attempt to make a significant difference in the lives of our neighbors.”

All groups are encouraged to provide donations to help defray the rising costs of construction, to ensure proper materials are onsite, and to provide necessary supervision for the safety of the group.

“This effort showcases the power of passion for a cause,” said Rev. Jeremy Montgomery, executive director of Greater Plainfield Habitat. “It also demonstrates the ability of our youth today to make a difference in addressing serious issues like access to affordable housing for working families.  These students are masterfully meeting the challenge head on.”

About Greater Plainfield Habitat for Humanity

Celebrating its 25th year, Greater Plainfield Habitat for Humanity, an affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International, is committed to improving the lives of low-income families by helping them build and buy their own simple, decent homes.  Habitat offers families a hand up, not a hand out.  Every partner family devotes at least 200 hours per adult of sweat equity to help build their home or a neighbor’s home and secures a 0% mortgage provided by Habitat.  Plainfield Habitat supports partner families with training in budgeting, home and landscape maintenance and how to be a good neighbor.   To date, thirty‐five homes have been built totally by volunteer labor using donations of money and materials from the community. Construction is underway on its largest project to-date, a five-home development on West Seventh Street in Plainfield called "Habitat Village".  To volunteer, donate, or own a Habitat home, visit www.gphabitat.org.

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