Valentine’s Day weekend is usually a time for roses and heart shaped boxes filled with chocolates, but for eight couples along with Mets-star and SNY Broadcaster Ron Darling they decided to spend the day a tad differently.
Darling took time in the offseason to team up with 16 volunteers, and Habitat-NYC partners to help put the finishing touches on six affordable Habitat –NYC homes in the Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn-area. The three-story walk-up building, located on Halsey Street is a part of the Habitat-NYC’s 100 Homes in Brooklyn initiative.
“Habitat for Humanity-New York City is working hard to stabilize distressed neighborhoods,” said Josh Lockwood, who is the Executive Director of the Habitat-NYC program. “We’ve been purchasing vacant and foreclosed properties typically multi-family buildings and then have volunteers come and help renovate them and rehabilitate them and turn them into affordable condominiums for families in need.
Lockwood had this to say on the 100 Homes in Brooklyn Campaign, ”Habitat-NYC will be building new, acquiring and rehabilitating over 100 homes for the families in need in Bedford-Stuyvesant, and Brownsville Brooklyn.”
Darling took time from the construction site and chatted with the 1495 Sports about how he became involved with the Habitat for Humanity-NY program.
“For me, I got involved with the Habitat for Humanity program started after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. Being down there and seeing the devastation that happened and the ability Habitat had to not only rebuild homes, but rebuild lives,” Darling said. ““I live in Brooklyn and I have a chance to do something hands on that help out my fellow Brooklynites and I am doing that here today. It is such a great organization and I am lucky to be a part of it.”
With big smiles and dirty pants, volunteers, partners and Darling all took time to make sure that the touches were just right on the construction sites, as with a program called ‘Sweat Equity’ a ton of the participants were on hand to help build not only their future home-but the future home of one of their neighbors.
“Habitat for Humanity-NYC is teaming up with first time home buyers, allowing the adults to commit over 200 hours per adult in that household to our ‘Sweat Equity’ to help in building their new homes,” Lockwood said of the unique program. “The ‘Sweat Equity’ program is for folks in overcrowded, danger and non-affordable conditions and the work they do for us here at Habitat acts as a part of their mortgage product.”
Darling had this to say on the importance of doing the correct job on the site, “I feel it is important that I do the correct work, while I am here and make sure we get it done in the proper manner-because there are going to be real families living here.
On the importance of helping out Darling had this to say, “It is one Saturday to come and help-out and it is a great feeling to be here and be a part of this. When I go home and put my head on the pillow I know I would have done a good deed. The best part is that for me, is that I am working alongside families that are going to own these apartments someday-they are right next to me working harder than I am.”
The SNY broadcaster had this to say on spending a romantic weekend with Habitat-NYC, “Instead of going to a great restaurant or giving the flowers-the giving of your time for others –I think is just a beautiful gesture that any human can make to another. That is what we are trying to do-I grew up in different homes scattered around and I know how important it is to have a stable home environment that is all we are trying to provide for these hard working people-They may not be the 99% or the 1% but they are real people they are not a number and we are just trying to help them.”
Many returning volunteers were seen at the Halsey Street location, including Mary Turnbach and Him Bushey, who along with their time, brought bags of Sweet Harlem Pop, an all-natural and locally produced chocolate treat to the workers on site. The treats were donated by Mary and Sweet Harlem Pop owner Karole Bill Barkley, who grew up on Hasley street.
Another couple Sarah Muradian and Ben Moore spent the day painting rooms and spending quality time with each other. Sarah is a medical student at UCLA, flew in from LA to spend the day with her sweetheart Ben- who is working on his Master’s in International Affairs at Columbia University’s School of Interinational and Public Relations.
“Being together in a long-distance relationship, we don’t get a lot of time together,” said Muradian. “But being able to be together in such a wonderful environment is an amazing opportunity.’ On spending the romantic day helping others, Sarah had this to say, “We really wanted to mark Valentine’s Day by sharing our love with others-to help them feel the warmth and spirit of the day.”
For anyone interested in applying for a home, volunteering or donating funds to the Habitat of Humanity-NY organization should check out their official site seen below:
Written on February 11, 2012 also seen on the Examiner.com site here: