“Volunteering with Habitat for Humanity New York City lets us help families pursue their dream of owning a home,” says John Kwon, who met his wife, Jeanne Cho, on a blind date in November of 2005.
John works as a senior manager for Deloitte Financial Advisory Services, LLP., and Jeanne is a litigation attorney for Schiff Hardin, LLP. After a few months of dating, John proposed to Jeanne at the Cooper Hewitt museum. In October of this past year they were married at the Crystal Plaza in New Jersey.
Habitat for Humanity New York City
He became involved with Habitat-NYC in 2001. “I wanted to give back to the community and get some personal fulfillment outside of my career,” says John. “So I took a six month leave of absence from my job to volunteer full-time with the organization.
“After Jeanne and I began dating I introduced her to Habitat-NYC. During our spare time we helped with event planning and fundraising, since I’m also the treasurer for the organization. We most recently worked at a site in Brooklyn, where we helped install ceiling track. We had such a wonderful time with each other and the other volunteers.”
Founded in 1984, Habitat for Humanity-New York City builds in all boroughs. Each year they bring together more than 10,000 individuals from different faiths, corporations, educational, and community groups.
“Our goal is to ensure that every New Yorker has a decent, affordable home, by creating a social movement to end the housing crisis plaguing the city,” says Roland Lewis, the executive director at Habitat-NYC.
“We’re known for our unique building model, with our volunteer’s working alongside the families who will eventually own the finished homes. It’s wonderful to meet these families who would in some cases otherwise be living in substandard conditions.
Habitat-NYC hires professional contractors and architects to design and build the exteriors of single and multiple family homes. Volunteers help complete the interior construction.
“I’ve known John for six years, when he first began volunteering,” says Roland. “Both he and Jeanne have a passion for social justice and a desire to give back to their community. They have become two of our most skilled volunteers at our construction sites and fundraisers. It’s individuals like them that encourage social justice.”
The organization is committed to supporting safe and healthy communities through green building. Each Habitat site is designed to reduce waste and use energy more efficiently, and is constructed using earth friendly materials. The families living in these homes benefit from a safer, healthier indoor air environment, and enjoy lower electric bills.
Often the greatest challenges for volunteers is taking on new tasks. But it can also be the most rewarding. “We were recently working on-site in Brooklyn and had to climb a ladder from the second to third floor,” says John. “Jeanne is afraid of heights, so going up was easy, but coming down she had a slight meltdown. I talked her through it and once she was securely on the ladder, she raced down, stepping on my hand along the way. At the time she was scared, but we laugh about it now.
“We feel so fortunate that we’re able to work with an organization such as Habitat for Humanity-NYC,” says Jeanne. “The best parts about volunteering for us is learning new skills, being able to work with our hands, and working side-by-side with our fellow New York City neighbors.”