First Team® Real Estate Proudly Volunteers at Fullerton Site of Habitat for Humanity
Hard-working people with good credit but low incomes in Orange County, CA can still realize the American dream of home ownership, thanks to Habitat for Humanity of Orange County and local volunteers and businesses that support it.
Interestingly, many of the non-profit organization’s most ardent supporters are part of the housing industry.
“I was impressed by the network of Habitat for Humanity of Orange County volunteers who come from the construction trade, and how dedicated they are with hands-on volunteer work in actually building the homes,” said Greg Carrescia, the Fullerton locations office Manager, First Team Real Estate.
40 plus volunteers from First Team each donated one eight-hour day of labor in December to help build two homes in Fullerton for Habitat for Humanity of Orange County families. Carrescia himself volunteered both days. The volunteers ranged from branch managers to First Team and First Team Estates agents, coming to participate from all parts of Orange County – Aliso Niguel, Anaheim Hills, Corona, Fullerton, Huntington Beach, Irvine, Long Beach, Newport Beach, Mission Viejo, Tustin and Yorba Linda.
First Team supporters included Greg Carrescia, Jennifer Berman, Kristy Reil, Monica Garay, Sarah Stalzer, Chinita Stalzer, Agi Mezei, Tony Santana, John Hancock, Richard Stephens, Steve Sheikh, Pat Little, Shelly Merbach, Nancy Lee, Dana Habener, Tapan Pandhi, Pablo Salcedo, Christopher Pak, Rob (Louis) Weiss, Chris Perez, Kim Walsh, Wanda Walsh, Rosalind Aguilar, Victor Mezhinsky, Kay Brandt, Yvette Wise, Juan Carlos Perez, Jayme Reisler, Alaine Uthus, Maricela Siyam, Vince Ciaccio, Jessica Griffith, Leigh Dempsey, Alice Marie DeLeon, Amy Sims, Noelle Longmeyer, Melody Bahu, Brandon Bonk, Perla Hernandez, Ali Jahanshahi, Karean Wrightson, Ingrid Ski and Kathleen Heckathorn.
“It was a perfect partnership for us. I’ve always considered Realtors as being dream builders, and Habitat for Humanity of Orange County makes that literal,” said Carrescia.
The homes will be ready for occupancy in February.
Earlier in 2009, First Team Real Estate founder and CEO Cameron Merage presented a check for $50,000 to Habitat for Humanity of Orange County for the homes in Fullerton, resulting in lifetime donations of $178,683 to the organization. Giving back to the community is nothing new for Merage; it is a tradition he has been carrying out since First Team began in 1976. Merage states that, “given the support we’ve earned in serving our clients, it’s natural for us to seek ways in which we can help others in the communities where we live and work.” Merage is looking forward to participating in the dedication ceremony and presenting the keys to one of the families at the Fullerton site on Saturday, January 23.
The families selected to live in the homes will contribute 500 hours of their own “sweat equity” with Habitat for Humanity of Orange County, and must make a one percent down payment, pay the closing costs, and assume long-term mortgages. Mortgages are recycled into the Fund for Humanity and used to build more Habitat homes.
“It’s a hand up, not a handout,” said Gladys Hernandez, Habitat for Humanity of Orange County’s Manager of Public Relations. The organization, which celebrates its 21st anniversary this year, has built 137 homes in Orange County to date. Most Habitat family members work several jobs to achieve and maintain their home ownership, and many of the residents’ children have gone on to college, Hernandez said.
“The families check back with us and tell us how things are going. Education is very important, so it’s very gratifying when we see the children in our families continue with higher education,” she said.
Hernandez added that Habitat for Humanity of Orange County is very appreciative of generous local individuals and companies. “It wouldn’t be possible to build our homes if not for the financial and volunteer support of people in the community,” she said.
Weeda Lutfi, First Team Real Estate