My recent visit to Newburgh allowed much needed exploration and overdue urban bonding there. What made it particularly worthwhile was that the prolonged winter chill was finally on its way out and the first real hints of Spring were definitely having an effect on some “start-up” revitalization projects. One project that never allowed Winter to delay it or chill the spirits of the amazing volunteers working on it was the Habitat for Humanity Phase III of The East Parmenter project.
I had been looking forward to visiting the construction site that day. On arrival, the first thing that’s obvious is not only the frenetic pace of the work being done, but the truly pleasant nature and absolute symetry of this work-force. To see it up close and personal, it truly supported the saying that there’s no “I” in TEAM, as this was a group on a mission together! That being said, out of this team a pleasant older gentleman quickly approached me as I was taking pictures that day. He introduced himself as Jim Ferguson and was one of the house captains for this particular project.
While there, I took the opportunity to ask Jim about his thoughts of the revitalization efforts in the city and also as to why he was part of this particular effort. He explained that he had been part of Habitat’s revitalization work-force for quite a while, had worked on a number of previous restorations and still happy to be part of it. When answering my question, he smiled and without having to strain for an answer, he said that he felt “It was a really great way to spend his retirement days.” He told me that he’s been a resident on upper Broadway for over 28 years and the main reason he continues to volunteer is because it was extremely important (and his personal wish) to do his part so more children in Newburgh would have the opportunity to live in a safe community and enjoy a solidly built, attractive home to grow up in like he remembered having for his family.
Lastly he expressed that Habitat’s March for Housing on April 28th along with the much anticipated dedication of East Parmenter’s Phase III taking place that day also, is a date to keep on the calendar. He smiled, a genuinely warm smile and then raced back to “THE TEAM”. I headed back towards Liberty Street with not only my question regarding Newburgh’s revitalization visually satisfied, but also with a wonderfully reinforced definition of “Humanity”!