By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Patrick A. Gordon, Fleet Week New York Public Affairs
NEW YORK (NNS) -- Sea service members assisted Habitat for Humanity New York City at Staten Island to provide helping hands to complete an extensive single-family home renovation project, May 22
"It's really exciting to have all these service members volunteering today," said Frances Hardy, Habitat for Humanity New York City's Faith and Community Relations Associate. "This is our second year hosting Fleet Week volunteers. Our site staff said last year's event was probably one of our best volunteer days they've experienced, so being able to work with these military volunteers again means that we're going to have another great volunteer day."
Before work began, site supervisor Caleb Porter informed the volunteers that the house they would be working on had been vacant for 16 years and fallen into disrepair before Habitat for Humanity New York City purchased the home from the New York City Housing Authority. After gutting the interior, the organization worked diligently to make the home livable once again.
"Four months ago this house was nothing," Porter explained. "Since then, we've got it to where it is today. Thanks to you guys, we'll be even closer to finishing so a family can move in within a couple of months."
The project is one of more than 380 homes Habitat for Humanity New York has built or significantly rehabilitated in New York City's five boroughs. The organization provided much needed relief to families affected by Hurricane Sandy in late 2012 by rehabilitating more than 50 in Staten Island and the coastal areas of Brooklyn.
"Habitat really believes that it is our job to empower families, and just giving homes away isn't empowering," said Hardy. "Instead, we work in partnership with our families to help them achieve their dreams of safe, decent and affordable housing. We believe in giving families a hand up, not a hand out. All of this is made possible by our the affordable State of New York Mortgage Agency mortgage product we offer, and the great support we have from government partners, donors, and volunteers like today's Fleet Week volunteers."
The sea service volunteers worked side-by-side with Habitat site supervisors who guided them through the renovations they would be completing. Except for a lunch break, the crew worked a full day to install tiles and floor molding, build cabinets, and paint rooms of the house.
"It's great to be doing something that will really help the community," said Fire Controlman (SW) Eric Forbes, of USS Stout (DDG 55). "I volunteered because I actually wanted to do this. It's nice to be able to enjoy New York, but at the same time, give back. And we've been doing a lot of good around here. We came out to do whatever was asked of us, and we're going to make sure it gets done."
Fleet Week New York, now in its 27th year, is the city's time-honored celebration of the sea services. It is an unparalleled opportunity for the citizens of New York and the surrounding tri-state area to meet Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen, as well as witness firsthand the latest capabilities of today's maritime services.