Building a Future for Families: Wiss’ Recap of Habitat for Humanity Build Day

By Abby Blecker, Former Marketing Intern

Wiss employees gathered in Morristown on July 1st to volunteer for the Habitat for Humanity of Morris County. Habitat is a nonprofit that provides homes with interest free mortgages for qualifying families, where the land is bought from the city at extremely low costs, and most of the materials used for each house are donated.  Homeowners embrace the Habitat process, especially their “sweat equity” concept, which requires homeowners to help build the house they will live in.

Our employees spent the day building sidewalks for the property of the house.  It required hard labor, patience, time, and precision.  Employees participated for a variety of reasons.  Carrie Grotz had always been interested in volunteering with Habitat, even before her career at Wiss.  When she found out about the opportunity, she jumped at the chance.  She was immediately impressed by the site managers, who have the patience and ability to re-train new teams like Wiss’ every morning to get the job done.

It was a memorable day because of the bonding that took place amongst coworkers.  This was the first time most had volunteered for Habitat, and she was blown away at how willing everyone was to jump into something new as a group.  “This must be how our clients feel when we talk in technical accounting terms!”  The experience was overall humbling.  She loved being a part of helping a family, and left feeling accomplished, tired, and having a newfound respect for outdoor workers.

Erin Silkowski has worked with Habitat ever since college, so when she heard about Wiss’ initiative for a local community service project, her first instinct was to call and make a volunteer day happen.  She loves Habitat because it’s hands-on and to her, is the most effective and direct way to make a difference in someone’s life.  She enjoyed her time with fellow employees along with some non-Wiss volunteers.  Everyone was friendly and very willing to help, and the site manager gave great enthusiasm and direction.  Upon completion, she felt incredibly accomplished that the team had completed their goals and helped meet the site manager’s unusually tight deadline.  “I like to get my hands dirty, and the deadline made me work with a sense of urgency and purpose.”

Gary Sozzi, a Supervisor for Tax, is a Leader of the Leading Edge Alliance Young Professional Group and helped encourage much of the younger staff to participate in the volunteer day.  Working from New York, he didn’t know most of the staff that came to the build day, so building firm-wide comradery throughout the day created a really positive impact on his overall experience.  As the day went on, he became increasingly curious about the entire process, especially about the future homeowners.  Gary was in luck, as one of them stopped by at lunch time!  She was very gracious and thankful for all the work Wiss did that day.

“In the beginning it was nothing: all we saw were boards in the ground,” he explains, as he really couldn’t believe it looked like a finished product at the end.   He enjoyed gaining building experience as it was entirely new to him.  When asked about what made the day a success, he said it was a combination of teamwork, communication, and willingness to learn together.

Completing manual labor was harder work than some imagined, but it really made everyone feel that they were helping others. Everyone who was interviewed used the same word to describe how they felt at the end of the day: accomplished.  When the building was done, they ate leftover food from lunch and listened to the site manager play the accordion!  The new family moves in July 18, and we are happy to have contributed to a brand new future for these homeowners.

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