Northern Ocean Habitat for Humanity to build hope in Southern Ocean County with new set of wheels
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Causeway CARes' donates its 23rd vehicle through its CauseWheels Vehicle Donation Program. The donation was funded in part through a grant from the Grunin Foundation.

MANAHAWKIN, N.J. - JerseyDesk -- Karen's roof was leaking. The water was coming through the bathroom ceiling. She called Northern Ocean Habitat for Humanity for help. The Habitat team went to assess the roof and noticed that Karen needed other modifications to help her "Age in Place" in her home. In addition to replacing her roof, Habitat volunteers repaired her bathroom to include a raised toilet and walk-in shower.

"Now I don't have to hold onto the bathroom sink to get in the tub," she said. "The shower is going to make it so much easier and safe for me. Everyone working on my house is so nice, they are angels."

Stories like this are made possible by Habitat volunteers who donate their time and energy to help others in need. But Northern Ocean Habitat for Humanity only had one truck to carry out the long list of home repairs it receives each week. After a recent collaboration between Northern Ocean Habitat for Humanity and Southern Ocean Habitat for Humanity, it became clear that a new truck was necessary to fulfill home repair requests from the Southern Ocean County area.

That's when Kristine Novakowski, Executive Director of Northern Ocean Habitat for Humanity, contacted Joe Stroffolino, Director of Advertising and Marketing for the Causeway Family of Dealerships, to discuss the need for a new construction vehicle and the availability of a large box truck through the CauseWheels vehicle donation program.

"Luckily, we had the perfect truck in stock and available, which is amazing considering the current new vehicle storage," said Stroffolino. "The only issue was the price of the box truck fell outside the CauseWheels donation parameters of $10,000. I asked Novakowski if she reached out for grant availability with the Grunin Foundation."

After making the call to Heather Barberi, Executive Director of the Grunin Foundation, the Foundation graciously stepped in to collaborate with Northern Ocean Habitat for Humanity to fill the monetary gap with a $10,000 donation so that the nonprofit could obtain the box truck.

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"Our pillars focus on arts, education, healthcare, economic excellence and capacity-building," said Barberi. "Our overall mission is to improve the quality of life for all residents at the Central Jersey Shore. Habitat's repair program enables people to remain in their homes, and while it doesn't directly align with our core pillars it absolutely improves quality of life. Northern Ocean Habitat for Humanity's recent partnership with Southern Ocean Habitat for Humanity also played a key role in what compelled us to partner with them. Collaboration between organizations, as well as funders and partners, to make a difference in the community is not only incredible but creates more impact."

"The key is always collaboration," said David C. Wintrode, President of Causeway Family of Dealerships. "That's the whole purpose of Causeway CARes – to give back to our nonprofit partners.  It is our pleasure to partner with Northern Ocean Habitat for Humanity and the Grunin Foundation so that they can continue to support even more community members in need."

Causeway CARes' donated its 23rd vehicle through its CauseWheels Vehicle Donation Program to Northern Ocean Habitat for Humanity on May 18th, which was funded in part through a grant from the Grunin Foundation.

"It all came together nicely," said Novakowski. "The size of the vehicle, a 17-foot box truck, is what we need to help carry our mission and expand our home repair program to cover all of Ocean County."

Northern Ocean Habitat for Humanity's goal is to serve more people and be there to help all of Ocean County. "We are all one habitat," said Novakowski. "We are going to use the new truck to have another crew in Southern Ocean County."

Bob Conway, Construction Director of Northern Ocean Habitat for Humanity, says his volunteer crew is made up of retired teachers, electricians, corrections officers, principals…. individuals from all walks of life.

"Our volunteers could give their time to anyone, but they give it to us," said Conway.

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In addition to the Critical Home Repair Program, Northern Ocean Habitat for Humanity also offers a Homeownership program, Special Event Builds and ReStore.

To date, Habitat for Humanity is working on its 21st new home build, has completed 54 critical home repairs in 2021, and 313 home repairs to date. "We are looking to grow from there," said Conway. "The new truck will allow us to that."

Northern Ocean Habitat for Humanity is also partnering with Ocean County Vocational Technical School on the new home it is currently building in Manchester. "This new house acts as a classroom to 18 students," said Conway. "It's all about partnerships."

"People know Habitat for Humanity as building new homes and that is something we will continue to do," said Novakowski. "But we can help and have more impact with our home repair program. At the end of the day, it is about everyone having a decent place to live whether it is having a new home or rehabbing and maintaining their current home so they can stay there. That is just as important."

Northern Ocean Habitat for Humanity's 21st home is sponsored by: Woodhaven Lumber, Ben Franklin Plumbing, One Hour Heating and Cooling, Christone Electric, Ocean County Vocational Technical School, Ocean First Foundation, New Jersey Natural Gas, Crossroads Realty, Ferguson, Carl's Fencing Decking and Home Improvement, Goodfriend Electric, Icarus Brewing, Toms River Brewing, Last Wave Brewing, Garden State Distillery, All County Exteriors, Horizon Pest Control, Manasquan Bank and Manchester Township. Home Repairs are sponsored by Ferguson and All County Exteriors.

The mission of Northern Ocean Habitat for Humanity seeks to put God's love into action by bringing people together to build homes, communities and hope. To learn more about the nonprofit or to volunteer, visit https://northernoceanhabitat.org/.

About Causeway CARes

Causeway CARes' mission is to make a direct and profound impact in and around Ocean County in the areas of education, food security and quality of life. Founded in 2004 and funded by the Wintrode Family Foundation, Inc., Causeway CARes strives to make the community a better place to live grow and thrive. To learn more, visit https://causewaycares.com/.

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Source: Causeway CARes
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