by John Stratton
A new house is always a thrill and a responsibility, and never more than when you help build it yourself, or provide a helping hand.
In the case of a new Habitat for Humanity home on Jefferson Avenue in New London, there will be many young-and-able helping hands in the form of cadets from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, who will provide hands-on-hammers assistance to future owner Linda Needham as they construct the house over the next several months.
The official groundbreaking ceremonies on August 15 saw the beginnings of the first Habitat for Humanity Home to be sponsored by the U.S. Coast Guard Academy Alumni Association Classes of 1950-2012, with additional support from the Parents’ Association of the academy.
It is true teamwork.
“These combined efforts really build unity in the community,” said Rear Admiral Sandra Stosz, Superintendent of the Academy, as she thanked her cadets, “and keep the Academy locally relevant, and nationally prominent.”
Noting that “Habitat homes have a reputation for withstanding storms and not falling down,” Habitat executive director Terri O’Rourke quipped that “Volunteers make sure that they put plenty of nails in!”
Cadets present were Anthony Monteforte, Second Class; Stephanie Bugyis, First Class; Jessica Ward, First Class; and Kathryn Weber, First Class. They are responsible, said Monteforte, “for finding out who in our corps of cadets wants to volunteer—and then letting them do it.”
Also at the groundbreaking were Commander James Sylvester, USCG Ret., president of the Academy’s Alumni Association, and alumni representatives from the Academy’s Classes of 1963, 1964, 2013, and 2014. Representing Second District U.S. Congressman Joe Courtney was the congressman’s housing caseworker, Sherri Vogt.
“This location is a great place to do this,” said the Rev. Tom Hogsten, a Habitat board member who is Pastor of New London’s First Baptist Church. “It is on a major street, it is highly visible, and it shows that both the Academy and Habitat are doing their work for the people of the city.”
Since 1987, Habitat for Humanity of Southeastern Connecticut has completed 48 houses throughout New London County.