Tuesday wasn’t a beach day in Brick. Clouds, humidity and the occasional downpour kept swimmers at home in the air conditioning. But for a group of volunteers in town, a little rain and a lot of humidity didn’t stop them from missing a beat on their week-long mission to help those in need.
“It’s good to work,” Don McAllaster said, speaking to a reporter while handling an armful of brush that he and about a dozen fellow members of St. Mary’s Parish in Shrewsbury, Mass. groomed Wednesday morning. “We like to be busy.”
The group from Massachusetts, made up of two adults and eight teens, were in Brick volunteering with Northern Ocean Habitat for Humanity. While Habitat is well known for building homes for those in need, the organization also does extensive work to help those who are disabled, elderly or otherwise in need maintain their homes. Wednesday’s project took place at a ranch-style home in a neighborhood off Mantoloking Road which is owned by a nonprofit organization that provides group living to adults with developmental disabilities.
Keeping the home, which is run locally by the 21 Plus organization, looking neat is central to erasing the stigma that group homes often carry, said McAllaster.
“We’re helping to straighten up the outside a little bit so it fits into the neighborhood, and neighbors don’t think that it’s a bad part of the neighborhood,” he explained.
Lizzie Treat, volunteer coordinator for Northern Ocean Habitat for Humanity, said her organization helps with about eight or 10 homes in northern Ocean County, in addition to helping with Sandy relief and Habitat’s “A Brush With Kindness” program which assists those in need of home maintenance.
“We’ve done over 100 projects since 2012, which is in addition to over 50 Sandy houses,” Treat said, explaining that the local Habitat organization often receives help from volunteers out of state looking to take on projects.
“Our parish does mission trips every summer, and we do a couple of Habitat trips every year,” said McAllaster. “We look around for where there’s work and where there’s need and we take it on.”
The First United Methodist Church of Toms River provided a space for the volunteers to stay for the week. The group from St. Mary’s spent Monday conducting outreach in Ortley Beach, completed the maintenance project in Brick on Tuesday and will be helping with a carnival fundraiser at Habitat’s ReStore in Toms River on Thursday. The group will be painting on Friday before returning home Saturday.
Editor’s Note: Northern Ocean Habitat for Humanity has partnered with Shorebeat to get the word out about the “A Brush With Kindness” program for those who need help with home repairs. See this link for more details.