Christmas Cheer Arrives 3 weeks early
for Newburgh family
By Michael Lebron
‘Tis the season to be jolly, and for one happy Newburgh family of six, this season will be especially jolly indeed.
“To be welcomed home is one of the greatest comforts in life” said Martine Najork, a Newburgh Habitat Board member, on a sunny December 1st morning. With those words, Habitat of Humanity of Greater Newburgh welcomed the Guevara-Perez family – one of 103 families that have taken part in Habitat Newburgh’s program – with keys to the house at 30 South Miller Street.
This rehab was particularly special as it marks the third time that Habitat Newburgh has been the recipient of lumber that has been milled from Rockefeller Center’s Christmas Tree. Tishman Speyer, owner of Rockefeller Center, started the program in partnership with Habitat for Humanity about a decade ago. This reporter lived in New York City for over four decades and so was particularly pleased to see that the Rockefeller Christmas Tree’s spirit now lives on in the bones of buildings such as these.
This was Habitat’s 90th dedication. Cathy Collins, Habitat Newburgh Executive Director, said, “We are so excited to be marking the milestone of our 90th completed house,…one of five rehabs that Habitat Newburgh is giving new life to on this block. ”Mark Stellwag, the regional president of another of Habitat’s partners, M & T Bank, added: “This is a little over 18 years, an average of five homes a year, and I was talking to Bill Murphy (Habitat Newburgh’s Director Emeritus and founder) and asked him ‘Back then, what were you hoping for?’ and he said ‘I was just hoping to get through the first three!’”.
Since then, Habitat has shown their considerable commitment and staying power as a important catalyst for neighborhood revitalization. Habitat Newburgh families are working families from the Newburgh area with income that falls between 30-60% of the area median, and are selected based on a need for shelter, an ability to pay an affordable mortgage, and a willingness to partner. Habitat trains these families to invest their time and effort in sweat equity and to acquire the skills of homeownership, positioning these families to become contributors to the city’s tax base and a positive force for the community for years to come.
Photo credits: Michael Lebron, except ‘Homebuyers Viridiana Juan & Family.jpg by Habitat