Habitat for Humanity of Burlington County and Greater Trenton-Princeton is partnering with Catholic Charities, Diocese of Trenton to donate groceries, cleaning supplies, and other household items they receive and can’t sell at their ReStore in Maple Shade.
The donations will go to vulnerable citizens who come to Catholic Charities’ Community Services food pantries and other programs that assist people in need, such as Catholic Charities’ Providence House-Domestic Violence Services. Habitat already has delivered multiple pallets of donations to Catholic Charities.
An ultimate goal of the partnership is to enrich both agencies’ efforts in meeting the housing needs of people in different stages of housing crisis. Catholic Charities helps move people out of homelessness through its programs like Rapid Rehousing (permanent rental housing) and Linkages (emergency transitional housing), while Habitat empowers low-income residents to become homeowners.
Eventually, Catholic Charities will help Habitat identify people in Mercer and Burlington counties who could apply for homes they build. Habitat offers 0 percent interest loans with no down payment required, and Habitat homeowners make monthly mortgage payments that don’t exceed 30 percent of their gross monthly income.
The two agencies already partner to help Burlington County residents become more work-ready: Staff in Catholic Charities’ Supported Employment program do on-site vocational assessments with Habitat clients to determine their work-skill readiness before placement.
A great alliance
In 2018, Catholic Charities’ Community Services served more than 4,900 unduplicated clients in Burlington County and more than 1,200 unduplicated clients in Mercer County. More than 400 adults and children impacted by domestic violence stayed in Providence House’s two shelters in 2018.
“This is a great alliance that brings two nonprofits together to maximize our strengths,” said Marlene Laó-Collins, Catholic Charities executive director (pictured, at right, with Habitat’s Lori Leonard during a recent tour of the ReStore). “We look forward to a long relationship with them and hope to develop other ways we can collaborate to improve our communities.”
Lori Leonard, chief executive officer of Habitat for Humanity of Burlington County and Greater Trenton-Princeton, agreed: “We are extremely excited about this partnership between the two organizations. Together, Habitat for Humanity and Catholic Charities can best serve the people of Burlington and Mercer counties who are in need.”
Getting donations to where they’re needed
At Habitat’s ReStore, the public can buy new and used furniture, home goods, and building supplies – at 50 to 90 percent off their retail price – in two sprawling warehouses on Route 38 East. The nonprofit uses store proceeds – $828,000 last year alone – to build affordable housing in Burlington and Mercer counties.
The ReStore sells only donated items, both new and used. They provide free pickups of old furniture from residents in the community, as well as partner with large organizations that donate new items to sell at discounted prices.
But sometimes donors give things ReStore can’t sell or store, such as food, personal hygiene items, small housewares, and cleaning supplies, which is what drove Leonard in February to reach out to Catholic Charities. (A Providence House staffer sorts Habitat donations, at left.)
“Habitat is so grateful for the many donations we receive to our ReStore, where we sell furniture and building materials to the public,” Leonard said. “Many times we receive items such as food, baby formula, toiletries, and household items. Instead of selling those items, we realize that our community partners like Catholic Charities can get them to the most vulnerable people in our communities. As a result of this blessing, we are able to directly support food banks, homeless shelters, foster care programs, and victims of domestic violence, to name a few. We are so thankful to have these partnerships and share in our abundance.”
Habitat for Humanity International is a nonprofit housing organization dedicated to eliminating substandard housing worldwide by working in partnership with people in need to build simple, decent shelter. The Burlington County affiliate was founded in 1987 and merged with the Trenton Area affiliate in 2017, creating the new combined affiliate of Habitat for Humanity of Burlington County and Greater Trenton-Princeton. Since inception, the affiliate has built more than 150 homes throughout the two counties, providing affordable homeownership opportunities to hardworking families in our community.
For more information: Dana DiFilippo, Catholic Charities communications, [email protected] or (609) 394-5181, ext. 1153; Annie Fox, Habitat for Humanity communications, [email protected] or (856) 441-2765.
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