By Elsie Walker
As people look back on the summer, many tend to think of those days where they got to relax and have fun. However, for Chuck Ranslear of Hopatcong, a memorable summer experience involved working with others on house repairs.
Ranslear and other members of the Stanhope United Methodist Men’s group and family members, took out a summer Saturday to work on a house in Andover for Habitat for Humanity.
The Netcong church’s men’s group looks for outreach opportunities to help the community. Coincidently, one of its long-standing projects is an annual jazz pancake breakfast with the proceeds going to help in the restoration of homes damaged by Super Storm Sandy. In looking for an outreach this summer, Habitat for Humanity was suggested and the group reached out to the organization and got a project.
Tasks included things such as mixing mortar used to level a floor, installing insulation, and removing rotted wood from a deck and replacing it with treated wood. The work was explained to the group by a project foreman. Ranslear noted that most of those on the work team had never done that type of work. However, that did not damper the 13-person group’s drive or enthusiasm.
Christina and Rick Munoz of Hopatcong were part of that project team. Christina Munoz worked on cleaning and reorganizing the garage, sweeping up dust, collecting construction debris and cleaning up around the yard site. Meanwhile, Rick Munoz worked on a kitchen floor project, laying the subflooring to prepare the floor for tiling. That included cutting, gluing and fastening the backer boards using power tools.
Christina Munoz shared, “we both thought that the project was a good way for Stanhope United Methodist Church to reach out to the local community. Since we had some free time in our schedule over the summer, we thought it might be fun and educational to work on a Habitat for Humanity site. At the end of the day, we were hot and tired, but we felt so good knowing that our labors were helping someone get one step closer to living in a home of their own. We also got to know some of our [fellow] church members better: enjoying fellowship, teamwork and conversation.
Jennifer Cusack and her 16 year old son, Jack, also participated in the project. However, this was not their first time on a build. The Byram Township residents had experience volunteering with Habitat for Humanity. However, being new to the church, Jennifer Cusack thought this project would be a good chance to get to know other parishioners. Jack Cusack worked on the crew which was handling the kitchen floor. This mother was on another team, she shared, “I worked on insulation throughout the home. We taped the seams and added insulation and something called ‘pizza boxes’ to the eves of the roof.” She added that she worked closely with another woman from the church and they’ve become Facebook friends and talk at church.
“My son, Jack, and I truly enjoy volunteering together and are excited to participate in another build soon,” she said. “You leave the day tired and sweaty, but with a heart full of pride that you did something good for the world.”
Her sentiments were echoed by Ranslear who looks forward to working again with his fellow church members: “I believe we each left that site feeling closer and having new-found respect for each other. I am proud of what we accomplished that Saturday. I hope we have made a difference to a family in need.”