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Community faith leaders join Habitat’s ‘Building on Faith’ program

TOMS RIVER – For Northern Ocean Habitat for Humanity, September is a month of faith-based programming called “Building on Faith.”

It is a month to bring together faith leaders from the community. According to Northern Ocean Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Suzan Fichtner, “Building on Faith” helps to advance Habitat’s mission to build affordable housing and eliminate poverty housing.

At the start of the month there was a pastors breakfast at Living Word Baptist Church, Beachwood.

The breakfast gave Habitat representatives an opportunity to roll out the programs for the month. It also gave the attending congregations ideas for how to participate. According to Fichtner, not every congregation is able to engage in the same activities due to the different size of each congregation.

“Some may pray for ‘Building on Faith’ for the year, some may have a one-time collection to help financially, some find donated household items and materials for the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, some may engage their youth in activities and some may actually participate in the day of building in October,” Fichtner said.

The houses of worship participating in the program include Holy Temple, South Toms River; Living Word Baptist Church, Beachwood; Union Church, Seaside Park; St. Andrew United Methodist Church, Toms River; Good Shepherd American Reformed Church, Toms River; St. Thomas Lutheran Church, Brick Township; Presbyterian Church of Toms River; Second Baptist Church, South Toms River; Jesus is Lord Fellowship, Toms River; and Christ Evangelical Church, Whiting.

“The program calls Christians from across the Northeast to participate in community improvement projects that address local housing needs. This month is about strengthening our communities,” Fichtner said.

According to Fichtner, residents may not be aware of a substandard housing problem that local senior citizens face. She said many individuals cannot afford to improve and maintain their homes at the same time they are paying monthly costs for food, medicine and utilities.

“We can impact change if we just get some momentum going. The more people who talk to their congregants, the more the messaging becomes louder. We cannot do it alone,” Fichtner said.

Northern Ocean Habitat for Humanity started in 2000 and is based in Toms River. Fichtner has been the executive director for 10 years. “Building on Faith” will take place from Sept. 14 through Oct. 14.

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