By Chris Bishop
RIVERSIDE — Diane Chambers, a retired schoolteacher from New York, always dreamed of owning her own home.
Now, thanks to her hard work and a little help from Habitat for Humanity, Chambers will be moving into her own place on Webster Street by the end of the year.
Chambers, 65, who now lives in Burlington City and retired from teaching special education 15 years ago, said she had been a volunteer and advocate for Habitat for some years.
“Never did I think I would be a recipient,” she said Wednesday morning during a ceremony to kick off the rehabilitation project at the one-bedroom, one-bathroom residence built in the late 19th century.
“What I really, really like about this is it’s hands-on. “Nobody is giving you anything. You work hard; you work on your own house.”
Chambers said the camaraderie that forms among Habitat volunteers is “fantastic.”
“We are really excited about renovating this home for Diane’s purposes,” said Lori Leonard, executive director of the local Habitat for Humanity.
Work will begin on the 2,600-square-foot property next week, and involve what Leonard called a “total gut,” meaning the inside will be rehabilitated. The roof will also be replaced, she said.
A total cost figure for the work was not disclosed. Chambers said she hopes to move in by the end of the year.
A devout Buddhist, she said a prayer as she conducted the house “blessing” in front of about two dozen officials and friends.
“Faith equals daily life,” Chambers said.
“When you clearly envision a victorious outcome, engrave it in your heart and are firmly convinced that you will attain it, your brain makes every effort to realize the mental image you have created,” she said. “Then, through the unceasing efforts, that victory is finally made reality. You are the playwright of your own victory.”
Her prayer was followed by applause.
New Jersey Democratic Assemblyman Troy Singleton, who attended the ceremony, praised the efforts of Habitat for Humanity, a national nonprofit organization that actively promotes the building of affordable housing. The local chapter is on Taylors Lane in Cinnaminson and also has a “restore” that sells furniture and home improvement items at discount prices.
The 7th District legislator from Palmyra called the Riverside project the “embodiment of the American dream,” and lauded the town as a great place to live, labeling it a “welcoming community.”
Singleton and his team of carpenters will be joining Habitat’s construction crew on Aug. 17 to work on a duplex in Mount Holly.
“With the help of Assemblyman Singleton and the support of the Burlington County community, we’ll be able to achieve our mission of transforming lives through affordable homeownership,” said Leonard, a Mount Laurel resident who has led the local Habitat since December.