(left to right) Maureen Hassett, Tim Lizura and Lori Matheus of the EDA, Annie Fox, Resource Development Manager, Habitat for Humanity Burlington County, Fred Cole and Melissa Orsen, EDA.
For the second consecutive year, New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) CEO Melissa Orsen volunteered with Habitat for Humanity of Burlington County to work on a new home for a family in need as part of the Christie Administration’s sixth annual “Season of Service.” Orsen worked alongside EDA President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Lizura, and Senior Vice Presidents Fred Cole, Lori Matheus, and Maureen Hassett, putting the finishing touches on a four-bedroom home in Beverly.
The day’s activities included installing flooring, plumbing, woodworking, and general clean-up. Habitat for Humanity of Burlington County will market the home to identify an eligible family in need to acquire the home through its unique low interest home buying program.
Habitat for Humanity is an international non-profit organization that brings together families and volunteers to help build affordable housing for local communities, serving over 6.8 million people worldwide to date. The Habitat for Humanity of Burlington County branch is based in Maple Shade, and was started in 1987. They have been able to complete homes in Burlington City, Mt. Holly, Medford, Cinnaminson, Beverly, Pemberton, Palmyra, Florence, Moorestown, Burlington Township, Bordentown, and Mt. Laurel. Habitat of Burlington has been able to serve thousands of people each year with opportunities for volunteers to give back to their community and with the families who get to have a part in the conception of their homes.
Habitat sells the homes to low income families with zero interest financing, payments not exceeding 30 percent of gross income, and no down payment required. Participating families must complete 250 to 400 hours of “sweat equity” to build their home and the homes of other Habitat families, work in Habitat’s ReStores, and attend Homeowner Education classes, meetings, and special events.
Habitat of Burlington received a loan in 2015 through the EDA’s Small Business Fund to purchase the building it had been leasing since 2014. Prior to that, the entity’s corporate offices and ReStore operations had been located in Cinnaminson. The move to Maple Shade was driven by the goal of expanding, and attracting more customers to the ReStore, which sells donated, secondhand items to raise money for the organization.
The Christie Administration’s annual Season of Service activities allow Administration staff to perform volunteer work at various locations across the State to help New Jersey residents. Continuing the success of previous service initiatives, this year’s activities are focused on serving New Jersey’s most at-risk residents.
In the spirit of Season of Service, EDA has undertaken its second annual Community Challenge Initiative, through which each department within the EDA participates in a community service project. Organizations supported to date under the 2016 Community Challenge include Isles, Inc., Farmers Against Hunger, Rolling Harvest, Arm in Arm, Ronald McDonald House, Operation Shoebox, Children’s Home Society of NJ, Trenton Area Soup Kitchen, the Stray Cat Project, and Homefront.