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Raritan Valley Habitat For Humanity Dedicates 53rd Home, This One In Franklin

Anita and Obiora Okagbue outside their new home. (Photo: Raritan Valley Habitat for Humanity.)

Submitted by Raritan Valley Habitat for Humanity.

On a crisp, sunny Saturday morning – the day after Valentine’s Day – a large group gathered on the front lawn of Raritan Valley Habitat for Humanity’s 53rd home, to celebrate and congratulate their newest partner-homeowner family, the Okagbues.

Anita and Obiora (Obi) Okagbue waited excitedly along with one of their two young sons, as they prepared themselves emotionally for the ceremony they have been eagerly anticipating for over a year. According to Obi Okagbue, this ceremony was fitting for the day after Valentine’s Day – “This is the month of love and this journey has been one of pure love.”

Like other partner-homeowners, Anita and Obi have worked alongside hundreds of volunteers from the community, many of whom were in the crowd to support them at their home dedication. According to David Polomski, Raritan Valley Habitat for Humanity (RVHFH) Construction Director, “It’s a great day for the Okagbues, but equally a great day for all of the volunteers and businesses that helped make this house possible for Anita and Obi.”

A group of women from MetLife came out to support the family that morning. They had gotten to know Anita as they worked alongside her during a MetLife Women’s Build Day back in the Spring. According to MetLife’s Patricia Kerster, “It was overwhelming to see the support for the Okagbue family at the dedication of their home. I am so glad that I was able to play a part in making their dreams come true.”

RVHFH’s volunteer build crew, affectionately dubbed the “Wednesday/Thursday Volunteers” worked each week on the home and provided support to hundreds of volunteers from corporations, businesses and faith-based and civic organizations who rolled up their sleeves to help on the construction site.

Through donations of funds, materials and volunteer labor, RVHFH subsidizes the cost of building a home, sells it at approximately half of the fair market value and extends an affordable mortgage to low and moderate income partner homeowners, like the Okagbue family. These savings reduce partner homeowners’ monthly housing expenses by 30-50%, allowing them to save money, invest in education and pursue other opportunities to increase their earning potential. According to Jan Holmstrup, RVHFH Executive Director, “It’s amazing how much the Okagbues will be saving by living in this home compared to a modest two-bedroom apartment. Addressing the need for affordable housing so families can become financially strong, stable and self-reliant is critically important for us all.”

The home dedication ceremony was held on Anita and Obi’s new front porch – the first of many rocking chair memories for the couple’s new home. The front door was wrapped in ribbon and gift baskets and boxes were waiting to be presented by volunteers, board members and RVHFH employees, many of whom spoke from the heart of their experiences with the family and hopes for their future success and happiness. Kathy Leonard, RVHFH Partner Homeowner Family Liason, commented in her speech to the audience, “I think that the large turnout on this very frigid day shows how warmly the Okagbue family is embraced by the Habitat and Franklin communities.”

Representatives of the Franklin Township community welcoming and congratulating the Okagbue family included Somerset County Freeholder Director, Shanel Robinson; Freeholder, Brian Gallagher and Franklin Township Mayor, Phillip Kramer. Collin MacMillan from Boy Scout Troop #132 delighted the audience as he presented a gift basket to the family and wished them luck in their new home.

The audience became emotional hearing from Obi and Anita. Anita had not been planning to speak that day but was so moved by the words of the speakers and the smiles and emotions of the crowd that she tearfully asked for the microphone to express her gratitude, “Thank you from the bottom of my heart, this has been a blessing, to make our home possible for my boys to grow up in. Thank you.”

This home and others like it would not exist without the support of people in the community. To make a donation to RVHFH, please visit rvhabitat.org or send a check payable to Raritan Valley Habitat for Humanity and send to P.O. Box 6275, Bridgewater, NJ 08807.

Seeking to put God’s love into action, Raritan Valley Habitat for Humanity (RVHFH) brings people together to build homes, communities and hope. In 29 years, RVHFH has built 53 homes in Hunterdon and Somerset counties. The affiliate also operates a Habitat ReStore in Manville, which sells gently used household goods to benefit the building and repair of more homes in our community. To learn more, visit www.rvhabitat.org or call 908-704-0016.

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