26 Jan

COVID delayed move, but family gets Morris Habitat house…

Daily Record
COVID delayed move, but family gets new Habitat for Humanity home in time for the new year

December 30, 2020
By William Westhoven 

Twenty-five years after he immigrated to the United States, Dr. Mahmoud Abdelghafar finally has the home of his dreams to share with his family.

The health care worker’s scheduled move into his new Morris Habitat for Humanity second-floor Succasunna condo last month was postponed because he contracted COVID-19 and was ill for six weeks. The original move-in date included a grand opening celebration for the completion of the two-building condo development off Main Street by the organization.

Two weeks ago, a healthy Abdelghafar, his wife, Noura El Ouadoudi, and their son, Muhamad, 4, moved from their Newark apartment into their new home, built in part with 400 hours of the “sweat equity” work demanded of all the hopeful homeowners.

“It was worth it to have a home in a nice area and good school system for my son,” he said. “Habitat is a great organization. You have to see for yourself. I saw a lot of organizations before, but they don’t treat you as well as they treat you here.”

Their new address is part of the largest construction project in the nonprofit Morris Habitat’s 35-year history: two six-unit dwellings built on land donated by Roxbury Township. The Phase II building was completed last month. The Abdelghafar family’s five new neighbors participated in a ribbon-cutting there on Nov. 18.

“We’re still moving in,” Abdelghafar said Tuesday.

“We don’t just build homes, we build communities,” Morris Habitat CEO Blair Schleicher Wilson said. “It’s common sense that people should be helped in a way that does not foster dependency.”

An orthopedic surgeon in his native Egypt, Abdelghafar, 59, left for a new life and marriage in the United States. But the need to work interfered with his studies to qualify to practice medicine here. His quest later was complicated by his background after the 9/11 attacks.

“Every time I did the interview, they asked about your background,” he said. “And orthopedic is a very difficult field to get in.”

With limited options and a need to work rather than study full time, Abdelghafar qualified for different disciplines in the medical field. He’s been an emergency room technician at Newark Beth Israel Hospital for 25 years. Ten years ago, he doubled his hours, taking a second job as a diagnostic technician at Hackensack University Medical Center.

“Between the two, I’m working almost seven days, almost 80 hours a week,” he said.

Learning almost by accident about the Habitat for Humanity program, he applied online and was accepted in 2018, but had to wait two more years before a lottery system called his number.

Hopeful homeowners who are screened for eligibility must contribute their own “sweat equity” to the home they will own and occupy. They also receive education on how to manage the bills and budgets that come with home ownership.

Volunteers from the organization handle the rest, including construction, utility subcontracting and financial arrangements.

“We would come here early in the morning between my shifts and work for three or four hours every day,” he said.

The home came with a few extras, including a Lego Spiderman toy kit for Muhamad.

“He loves Spiderman,” Abdelghafar said.

He regrets missing the grand opening dedication ceremony last month, but the Abdelghafar family was there in spirit.

“We watched it through the video,” Abdelghafar said.

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Hearts & Hammers Gala 2021 logo
20 Jan

Virtual Hearts & Hammers Gala, Thu Feb 25

Please join us on Thursday evening, February 25, for an inspiring, fun-filled evening as we bring our community together with a free live-streaming celebration over Zoom.

Meet our families and hear their inspiring stories, learn about our exciting expansion and how you can get involved, help us build our largest project since our founding in 1985—brick by brick—without ever leaving home, win prizes and so much more!

You can also become a Gala sponsor to raise funds for future projects.

Home is where hope begins, and we hope you will join us from yours!

Details and RSVP >>

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COVID-19 update
09 Dec

COVID-19 Update

ReStore is now open along with our Construction projects!

Offices are open virtually and by appointment!

In an effort to protect our staff, volunteers, donors, customers and the families we seek to serve, we have taken unprecedented steps to have our office staff work remotely and to install all necessary precautions at our ReStore and our construction sites. Our priority is always to support the health and safety of our people — and to take a calm and informed approach to address this challenging situation.

With this in mind, effective Friday, May 15, 2020, Morris Habitat has taken the following actions –

  • Require all construction volunteers to follow health and social distancing protocols.
  • Keep our offices open virtually and by appointment (as of December 2020).
  • Institute stringent health and safety protocols throughout the organization, ReStore warehouse/sales floor, donation pickups and drop offs and construction sites.

RESTORE REOPENED on Friday, June 5, with new health and safety protocols

  • NEW HOURS: The ReStore will be open Tuesday–Saturday from 10:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m., with 10:00–11:00 a.m. reserved for elderly and immunocompromised shoppers.
  • Only shoppers wearing masks will be permitted to enter.
  • Online shopping continues with additional inventory added every day.
  • You may drop off donations, or you can schedule a pick-up in the local area by filling out the pick-up request form on the ReStore Donate page, by emailing or by calling 973-366-3358 ext. 210.

If you have a question, please email our general mailbox at or leave a message at 973.891.1934.  All calls and emails will be returned within 24 hours.

We will continue to monitor the situation closely and we will re-open our offices as soon as it is safe to do so.

This disruption to our workflow will most certainly affect our fundraising. The families we seek to serve are already vulnerable; many of them in positions at the forefront of the crisis — health care workers, civil servants, service sector employees; those to whom a missed paycheck can mean catastrophe. If you intended to volunteer, to visit the ReStore, or to donate – please show your support with a donation to keep us building a better place as we face down this pandemic.

Thank you for your continued support in staying safe and healthy during this challenging time. We will make it through this crisis, and it will make us stronger.

Blair Schleicher Wilson, Chief Executive Officer

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Morris and Middlesex County service area
09 Nov

Morris Habitat Expands into Central New Jersey

Morris Habitat Expands into Central New Jersey

After celebrating 35 years of providing safe, decent and affordable housing for families in the Morris County area, Morris Habitat for Humanity is expanding into central New Jersey in November 2020 by acquiring the service area of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Plainfield & Middlesex County. The combined organization will operate under the Morris Habitat for Humanity brand.

The acquisition will effectively double Morris Habitat’s service area to 68 municipalities spanning one thousand square miles in Morris, Middlesex and parts of Union and Somerset Counties.* Plans to efficiently leverage donations, corporate support and a volunteer workforce will enable our expanded affiliate to create more opportunities for affordable housing and community improvement through new home construction, home repairs and neighborhood revitalization.

Since 1985, Morris Habitat has served more than 600 families through building 120 local homes, preserving 200 homes for low-income and senior residents, and helping 280 families with housing solutions worldwide. We have engaged more than 130,000 volunteers for our various programs. Morris Habitat also operates a successful ReStore home improvement outlet which has kept 11,000 tons of reusable materials out of landfills and funded 28 homes.

Accomplishments for the Greater Plainfield & Middlesex County affiliate include serving more than 106 families through its homeownership, repair, and international homebuilding programs since 1989.

As the last eight months have demonstrated, we are stronger together. By uniting our affiliates, we are poised to make a greater impact on the communities we serve during these unprecedented times.

*Serving Fanwood, Plainfield, Scotch Plains, Green Brook, North Plainfield and Watchung in Union and Somerset Counties.


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Discount Building Supply
01 Nov

Shop and Pay Online for Building Supplies

The ReStore’s new online Discount Building Supply store opened on November 2, 2020. You can now shop and pay on the Discount Building Supply web site for building supplies such as flooring, doors, millwork, windows, countertops, sinks, vanities and tools. You will also find an ever-changing selection of DIY home improvement products for sale. New products at great prices are added daily.

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Giving Tuesday 2020 logo
31 Oct

#GivingTuesday, Dec 1, 2020

After focusing on how thankful we are on Thanksgiving Day and then shopping online on Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday is a day to give back to the community or to a non-profit of your choice.

This year we hope you will consider supporting us on Tuesday, December 1, 2020.

It is quick and easy to make a contribution using our secure online donation form.

Please check with your employer to see if they are offering matching donations, either on Giving Tuesday or any day throughout the remainder of the year. You can search this directory of matching employers, although it may not be a comprehensive list.

You can also donate by shopping:

  • Shop for new and gently-used building supplies and furnishings at the ReStore in Randolph.
  • Choose Morris Habitat for Humanity as your charity of choice when shopping online. If you start your shopping at AmazonSmile, Amazon will donate 0.5% of the price of your eligible purchases to the charitable organization of your choice. Or shop through GoodShop to find coupon offers from more than 30,000 stores when you click “Shop Now.” An average of 3% of your online purchase amount will go to Morris Habitat as your designated charity.

We appreciate all contributions and accept them throughout the year. They will be used to build safe, decent affordable housing for local families in need.

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Habitat for Humanity 35 year anniversary logo
22 Oct

35 Years of Building

Morris Habitat for Humanity commemorated 35 years of building homes, communities and hope with a celebration at its headquarters in Randolph on October 22, 2020. Joined by local elected officials, donors, volunteers, Habitat homeowners and friends, the nonprofit organization reflected on its successes and shared plans for the future.

“This is a glorious day to bring the community together to celebrate 35 years of providing safe, decent and affordable housing for local families in need,” said CEO Blair Schleicher Wilson. “But we build more than just homes—we empower families to build brighter futures for generations to come.”

35 years of building

35 years of building

CEO Blair Schleicher Wilson

CEO Blair Schleicher Wilson

Board President Ken Sauter

Board President Ken Sauter

Octavia Chavis, Morris Habitat’s very first homeowner, agreed. Back in 1985, she and her husband, Willie, moved from apartment to apartment with their three young sons. Even though both held full-time jobs, homeownership was out of their reach.

“I am so grateful that Morris Habitat came into our lives,” Chavis told the crowd, as she described how her family has grown and thrived. Chavis recalled how the couple put in more than five hundred hours of sweat equity while building their home in Morristown, starting the model of partnership with homeowner families that provides a “hand up, not a handout.”

Sandy Jones also spoke about becoming a homeowner with Habitat. With the security of living in one place, her four daughters have all gone on to higher education or successful careers  She continues to be a Morris Habitat volunteer and has even traveled to work on Blitz Builds around the country.

Rev. Alison Paden of First Presbyterian Church in Mendham gave a blessing.

Blair Schleicher Wilson & homeowner Octavia Chavis

Blair Wilson & homeowner Octavia Chavis

Rev. Alison Paden

Rev. Alison Paden

Homeowner Sandy Jones

Homeowner Sandy Jones

In his speech, State Senator Anthony Bucco remarked that Morris Habitat “is the perfect model for achieving the American dream of home ownership and of the community coming together to give families a sense of hope.” Senator Bucco and Assemblywoman Aura Dunn presented a proclamation from New Jersey to Morris Habitat, honoring its work over 35 years.

From humble beginnings of building one or two houses a year, Morris Habitat has grown into one of the most active Habitat affiliates in New Jersey. In the last decade alone, the organization completed 74 affordable homes—and more than 100 projects are planned over the next four years.

Since 1985, Morris Habitat has served more than 600 families, built 120 local homes, and preserved another 200 homes for low-income and senior residents.

The organization has engaged more than 130,000 volunteers for its various programs. The affiliate also operates a successful ReStore home improvement outlet in Randolph that has kept 11,000 tons of reusable materials out of landfills and funded 28 homes.

State Senator Anthony Bucco

State Senator Anthony Bucco

Singer/songwriter Maribyrd

Singer/songwriter Maribyrd

Pumpkins and mums

Pumpkins and mums

According to Schleicher Wilson, these achievements have served to energize the organization. “Next summer we will be breaking ground on Morris Habitat’s largest project in the state—25 condo units, right here in Randolph.”

The project is being constructed in partnership with Randolph Township, which donated the property on Bennett Avenue. Four buildings will contain one-, two- and three-bedroom condos. Families will be able to use a community meeting room, sidewalks, bike path, outdoor picnic area and playground.  The complex will be handicap accessible and will meet the highest standards of energy efficiency and safety. Steve Westhoven, President and CEO of New Jersey Natural Gas, presented Morris Habitat with a $35,000 donation for this project.

Randolph Mayor Christine Carey highlighted the Bennett Avenue project in her remarks: “Several years ago, we joined forces with Morris Habitat on a plan for the development of 25 housing units on the former E.A. Porter industrial site.  I am happy this project is coming to fruition. I can’t wait to see the results, the new homes and the happy families and homeowners.”

Stephen Westhoven, President and CEO of New Jersey Natural Gas

Steve Westhoven, CEO of NJNG

Randolph Mayor Christine Carey

Randolph Mayor Christine Carey

Architect Seth Leeb

Architect Seth Leeb



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35-year commemorative keepsake
08 Sep

Commemorative Keepsakes Celebrate 35 Years

To support families on their path to homeownership and to celebrate our 35th anniversary, donate $35 or more and receive this limited-edition handmade commemorative keepsake, while supplies last.

This one-of-a-kind keepsake is 100% made in the USA from solid brass and finished with 24k gold.

Donate online to receive your keepsake by mail, or make your donation in person at the Morris Habitat for Humanity Restore register.

Your gift will help fuel the fight for safe, decent, and affordable housing right here in Morris County.

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Table of Hope Mobile Food Pantry
06 Jul

Table of Hope and Morris Habitat for Humanity to host free mobile food distribution on July 8 – Hundreds expected to attend as need for food grows due to pandemic

RANDOLPH, N.J., July 2, 2020–Table of Hope and Morris Habitat for Humanity will host a free mobile food distribution at the Morris Habitat Restore on Wednesday, July 8 to assist families in need during this time of crisis. All residents are welcome and there are no eligibility requirements.

Anyone in need of food is welcome.

Details >>

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01 Jun

Become a HopeBuilder

Hopebuilders is a group of exceptional donors who truly believe everyone deserves a decent place to live. Fitting a recurring, monthly donation into your budget will allow us to meet the growing needs of our community.

Learn how to become a HopeBuilder >>

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