By Lauren Wanko
They’re cutting planks for a new deck, repairing a roof damaged by Sandy. They’re all volunteering with Habitat for Humanity of Monmouth County, donating their time for strangers.
“You kind of find out who’s good at what and everybody kind of found a role. It’s almost in like in an emergency room, someone’s handing you the drill when you’re underneath a deck and it was just a well-oiled machine already within the first few hours,” said volunteer Skip Trachtman.
Homeowners Thomas and Colleen Burke watched in amazement as their storm damaged home was transformed. The volunteer efforts moved Colleen to tears.
“Can’t even imagine, can’t even imagine what would possess them to want to come help us. It’s great,” she said.
Over the course of three days, 650 volunteers will help repair 14 homes in Union Beach and rebuild another two from the ground up. President Jimmy Carter will roll up his sleeves at Elmer Lamberson’s home.
“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Lamberson said.
Volunteers are getting a head start on the construction. Lamberson calls it a miracle.
“They’re still suffering and so they need assistance. many of them still don’t know what to do. They’re just stuck and here we’re offering them an opportunity to get unstuck,” said Habitat for Humanity Director of Operations Raymond Gabler.
Habitat for Humanity is assisting low- to moderate-income families. The storm-damaged home must be their primary residence.
“The families that we’re looking to assist are families who are falling through the cracks,” said Gabler. “They may have received some grants but now they’ve run out of their money.”
So far, Habitat for Humanity of Monmouth County has helped 40 families get back into their homes since the superstorm and the non-profit hopes to help another 100 families over the next year.
This is the first time Shawn Gold has volunteered his time.
“As a father with three children, I want to get them involved as well. We’ve had friends that stayed with us through the storm. And so we’re definitely going to be doing more,” Gold said.
“We hate to see people out of house and home so we want to help out,” said volunteer Kevin Ogborin.
“There’s a lot of compassion. People’s hearts are touched and they suffer along with their neighbors and so they want to help out,” said Gabler.
“If you go back to 9/11 and any of the tragedies we suffered either as a nation or as a local community, it is amazing the American spirit how people just pull together. And I think this is just one example of what truly Americans are made of,” Trachtman said.
President Carter is expected to start working here early tomorrow morning.