Habitat for Humanity Newark staff joined with city leaders, sponsors and build volunteers to dedicate a home on South 9th Street this morning to U.S. Army veteran Isaac Ezirim and his family.
During the ribbon cutting on South Ninth Avenue in the Central Ward, about 40 attendees gave a warm, rousing welcome to Ezirim, who lost most of his valuables in Superstorm Sandy when the waters flooded his storage facility in the Ironbound.
“I am so grateful to be here today, among all of you, to own the home of my dreams,” said Ezirim, before he cut a ceremonial blue and green ribbon on the front porch of his new, three-bedroom home in a quiet neighborhood off South Orange Avenue.
Habitat Newark teamed up with the GI Go Fund to ensure that Ezirim, 52, would have the opportunity to own a home.He devoted more than 200 hours of “sweat equity” to become a Habitat for Humanity family partner. He will live in the new home with his wife, Roseline, and their son, Isaac, Jr. who recently moved to Newark from Nigeria. Ezirim hadn’t seen his family in five years.
The home was built as part of Habitat Newark’s “Veterans Initiative” program, in which the nonprofit is aggressively constructing homes throughout Newark to serve returning veterans.
Members of the community attended the opening of a home in the city’s Central Ward, built as part of Habitat Newark’s “Veterans Initiative” program to construct homes for returning veterans. Pictured, from left: Central Ward Councilwoman Gayle Chaneyfield Jenkins; West Ward Councilman Joe McCallum; Isaac Ezirim; Habitat Newark CEO Jeffrey J. Farrell; and South Ward Councilman John S. James.
“This is the first of what we will be a string of homes constructed for deserving men and women who have given so much to preserve and protect our freedom,” said Jeffrey J. Farrell, CEO of Habitat Newark. “It is an honor to serve those who have so bravely served our country.”
Three members of the Newark City Council attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Councilwoman Gayle Cheneyfield Jenkins, who represents the Central Ward, warmly welcomed Ezirim to the neighborhood and expressed her appreciation to Habitat Newark for constructing the home.
“Habitat for Humanity is one of the most important institutions around this country and we are proud to have them in the city,” Chenyfield Jenkins said. “They have helped build communities and lives, and give hope to people - whether they are families or veterans trying to participate in the American Dream, which is home ownership.”
The two other council members – John Sharpe James and Joe McCallum – both served in the military and expressed the need for more veteran housing in Newark.
A key supporter of the Veterans Initiative is the GI GO Fund, which had representatives at the ceremony to welcome Ezirim. The fund, based in Newark, helps returning veterans adjust to civilian life and receive services to help them along the way.
Another supporter at the event was Thomas Hiebert, Senior Director of Veterans Initiatives for ADP, which is a strong and ongoing participant with Habitat Newark. “
Another key corporate sponsor, Verizon, has helped make the house possible. Sam Delgado, Vice President of External Affairs for Verizon New Jersey and a U.S. Marine veteran, said Habitat Newark is making a tremendous difference.
“So many of our brothers and sisters are returning from war and are finding another battle at home,” Delgado said. “Through Habitat Newark, these veterans are getting a lending hand to enjoy the benefits of home ownership. Habitat Newark must be commended for all its work as it creates new opportunities for veterans in the Newark area.”