Northern Ocean Habitat’s mission is to help our low-income and vulnerable neighbors to remain safe in their homes. We encourage you to read our homeowner stories, and if you know someone who needs our help please apply through our Home Repairs Program to see if you qualify.
A Very Cold Winter
In February 2020, just before the Covid-19 outbreak, our staff went to Patty’s home to replace the front and back door to her trailer home. The front door was falling off its hinges, and the back improperly fitted caused frigid air to rush inside Patty’s home. She and her dog, Diamond, had been forced to take refuge in the bedroom with a space heater. “Both Simon and I never took our sweaters off,” Patty said. “To keep going, I reminded myself I once was a medic working out in snow and heat, so I can handle this.”
Years prior, Patty had worked diligently as a single mom to put her son through college as a paramedic in Newark, and in the burn unit at St. Barnabus. One day, out on a call, Patty attempted to save a patient during an opioid overdose. His mother begged, “Please don’t let my son die.” In a desperate attempt to save the boy while his mother looked on, Patty worked quickly. However, the boy woke from the drug-induced coma too quickly and attacked her. Beaten so severely, she was unable to return to work again. “I went from a $50,000 a year job to $20,000 in income.”
Patty needed a fresh start and an affordable residence. She found a mobile home unit in Ocean County and moved in. Little did she know she’d soon face new struggles. Fortunately, Patty learned about our program and soon applied. Since receiving our help, she continues to help others, cooking and baking for her neighbors. Patty has also become a regular volunteer at our ReStore. “People have no idea that when things go bad, they are not alone,” she said. “People need to know that what you do (Habitat) is not a charity, it’s a pay it forward.”
Serving His Country and Family
Military veteran, Stan, moved to Ocean County from Jersey City in the 1970s with his wife and children to offer them a better life. After he retired from Lehigh Valley Railroad, he and his wife moved to a mobile home in Jackson. In 2016, Stan’s wife of fifty years passed away after a five-year battle with cancer. “I promised not to send her to a nursing home,” Stan said. “I took care of her the whole time.
When she got down to sixty-five pounds, I told her it was okay to let go.”
Since that time, Stan has had a stroke and heart surgery. He reached out to us for help in September 2020. Stan had covered the antiquated windows of his mobile home with thick plastic to keep cold air out in summer and warm air in for the winter. A leaky and dilapidated roof had caused a plethora of problems that all needed attention. Poor health and low income, Stan could not afford to make repairs.
Through the Home Preservation Program, our generous funders, staff, and volunteers made it possible for Stan to remain safe and comfortable in his home. When asked what brings him joy in life, he responded, “Just being alive! I say thank you, Lord, when I wake up, and then I make the bed.”
Meet Our Volunteers
Without Volunteers, we would have no stories to share.
In Memory of our Dedicated Volunteer, Donald J. Tonachio
Don passed away peacefully at his home on November 13, 2020. A dedicated volunteer at the ReStore since 2015. Don also shared his time supporting the local animal shelter as well as a Board Member for Pheasant Run. We will miss his presence, he was a wonderful part of our Habitat family.
In 2017 Katiria and her daughters, Kamiah and Izabella received Northern Ocean Habitat’s 18th home. Prior, the family had been renting an apartment in Section 8 Housing while she worked as a Certified Nurse’s Aid struggling to make ends meet. When she learned of Habitat’s mission, she told her girls about the possibility of having a home of their own.
Unfortunately, after meeting with program services, Katiria discovered she did not meet the financial requirements to afford a mortgage. However, she did not give up. Katiria continued her education, landed a better job, and reapplied several years later.
Hopeful this time, Katiria rushed home to complete the required application. After thumbing through the extensive process, she became overwhelmed and questioned, “Why should I think Habitat for Humanity would give me a home?” Despairingly, she slid the application beneath her bed and told the girls she had lost it. Izabella saw the application peeking from under the bed and urged her mother to complete it. That evening Katiria stayed up late until she checked every box and answered all the questions.
Today, Katiria and her girls are thriving. She says, “My life has changed tremendously. I no longer stress or worry about home leases, and my children are happy and safe.”
Wells Fargo Grant helps Northern Ocean Habitat Repair Toms River Woman’s Roof Before Christmas
Carol has lived in her home on Darren Street in Toms River since 1973. Incapacitated from a spinal injury after a car accident, she struggles physically and financially. Her two adult sons live out of state, and she resides in the home alone.
In 2012, Carol’s home was severely damaged during Hurricane Sandy leaving her homeless for three months. Though repairs were finally made, many issues continued to arise. When we met Carol, she was in dire need of a new roof, repairs to her ceilings due to leaks, no heat in her bedroom, and many electrical problems. Through a $15,000 grant provided by Wells Fargo, our team made repairs to Carol’s home just in time for the holidays.
“Wells Fargo has dedicated their time and resources over the years to support Northern Ocean Habitat. Wells Fargo makes it possible for us to meet the needs of our low-income and vulnerable neighbors. We are so grateful for their continued support,” says Kristine Novakowski, Executive Director of Northern Ocean Habitat for Humanity.