The Meadow Wood Manor in Randolph was the site of Morris Habitat for Humanity’s 8th Annual Hearts & Hammer’s Gala on Saturday.
The sold out event was attended by 350 supporters, and raised $165,000 to support the non-profit housing agency’s mission to provide decent, affordable housing for low-income families in Morris County and the surrounding area, including Stanhope, Summit, Perth Amboy, and West Milford.
BASF was the premier sponsor for this year’s gala, donating $25,000. The world-leading chemical company, with its headquarters in Florham Park, contributes financially as well as through volunteer builds throughout the year, many involving new hires and college interns.
Lydia Everitt, Manager of University Recruitment for BASF said, “Today's college students are passionate about participating in community service and ‘going green.’ This combination makes BASF a great place to work -- for them as well as us, given our commitment to sustainability as well as
Also contributing largely to the event were: Investors Bank, Longo Electrical-Mechanical, Weichert Companies, Normandy Real Estate Partners, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), DrinkerBidddle, Skyline Steel, North Central Jersey Association of Realtors, and Madison Affordable Housing Corporation.
Honorees included Joseph Longo (Founders award); Hal Maxwell on behalf of Coldwell Banker (Corporate Partnership Award); Stephen Bienko of College Hunks Hauling Junk and Moving (Stewardship Award); and Susan Zellman of the Housing Partnership (Lifetime Achievement Award).
Twenty-year-old Zoe Everett presented the Beth Everett Award to former Board Member Jim Downs, of the Downs Group, for his continued passion and commitment to Morris Habitat for Humanity.
This new award is dedicated to honor the life and work of Zoe’s mother, Beth Everett, the beloved volunteer and board member who lost her life, along with her husband in the wake of Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Zoe, a sophomore at Rutgers University, spoke about her mother’s contributions, and love for Habitat for Humanity.
“Although my mom is no longer with us, what she leaves behind is a reminder; a reminder to honor people such as herself," she said. "These people donate their time and efforts endlessly, not in search of recognition or an award, but in search of a smile, a glimpse of hope, or a happy tear upon someone’s face. It is these people that humbly change our world.”
Camille Allen, a single mother of two and Morris Habitat for Humanity homeowner, followed Miss Everett’s presentation. Allen, recalled the years she spent working two jobs in order to pay the rent, which often ate up nearly three quarters of her income.
“The opportunity to be a homeowner has significantly changed my life and that of my children. It has added stability and comfort to our lives. My children were able to attend college and I have been able to continue my life’s passion of helping people,” she said.
Allen, originally from Jamaica, is a United States Army Reservist who counsels soldiers returning from combat who are having psychological issues. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Psychology.
Proceeds from the evening’s gala, which also included dinner, dancing and a silent auction, will aid Morris Habitat build approximately 20 new affordable homes this year.
“Every dollar raised helps local hardworking families achieve the American dream of owning their own home. Through our ReStore (a 25K sf home furnishing and building supply resale store located in Randolph) and other programs such as and Cars for Homes, the Morris Habitat program allows families to move up the housing continuum into homeownership," Executive Director Blair Schleicher Bravo said.
Bravo continued, “As was shown tonight by our guest speaker, long time Habitat for Humanity homeowner Camille Allen, we’ve seen lives transformed because of the positive changes in lifestyle, family dynamics and improved school performance, which is good for families, good for our communities and good for our future.”