Students help push Habitat homes to finish line

The Essex County Habitat for Humanity homes at 22 Old County Road, Salisbury, are almost complete. Courtesy photo/Aronson Aerial

SALISBURY — Seven families will soon see their dreams of home ownership become a reality when Essex County Habitat for Humanity begins opening their front doors for them on Old County Road.

Merrimack Valley Habitat for Humanity merged with its North Shore counterpart to form Essex County Habitat for Humanity late last year.

The nonprofit organization has been building a single-family home and three duplexes on Old County Road since 2018 and had planned for a summer 2020 occupation date.

“We have built about 142 new constructions and have rehabbed 41 homes,” Marketing Director Jacques Du Preez said. “So we are very excited to have the whole of Essex County, all 34 towns and communities, as our service area. This really gives us a chance to do more and to build more.”

Du Preez said the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the occupation date for the Salisbury homes to later this spring.

“There were plenty of delays,” he said. “But we are now weeks away from having three of our homes completed. Everything is in the homes. The floors are down and it is painted. All the appliances are in.”

Electrical, gas and water lines have been installed for the cluster of homes.

“It was really nothing there running all the way through Old County Road,” Du Preez said. “Right now, we are just waiting on the electric and gas companies to come in and hook their services up. At that point, we can have occupancy.”

Seven families were chosen to occupy the new homes beginning as soon as next month, Du Preez said.

“This is just awesome,” he said.

Du Preez said the project has made use of volunteer hours from AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps Delta 3 and electrical students from Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School over the past three years.

National Honor Society students from Triton Regional High School also lent a hand with construction.

“We have had a number of student groups come out over the years,” Du Preez said. “It really saves us money. But it also gives the students the chance to come out and get real-life experience in their trade.”

Kathy Norton is an adviser to the Triton students along with Marissa Galante.

Norton said about 10 Triton students worked on the Habitat project while about 30 others took part in a cleanup on Salisbury Beach over the weekend.

“These kids are always looking to do projects for the greater good,” she said. “They volunteered to do all this and they were there from 8 a.m. to  3 p.m.”

Du Preez said Essex County Habitat for Humanity hopes to schedule a women’s build day in the near future. People interested in volunteering for the Salisbury Habitat for Humanity project can go to www.essexcountyhabitat.org/volunteer/.

“We still have some volunteer spots open and we are finding that people are just aching to get out,” Du Preez said.

Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at jsullivan@newburyportnews.com or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.

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