Habitat for Humanity
Supporting New Beginnings
“I had something special to offer my daughter.”
-- Gloria Fay, owner of the very first Habitat for Humanity home in Steuben County
They say home is where the heart is, but imagine the disruption that heart endures when it’s moved from one dwelling to another, over and over again. Gloria Fay, owner of the very first Habitat for Humanity home in Steuben County knows what unsettled means. She lived it as a child and did not want the same for her own child. “I was divorced, living in an apartment and looking around for options when someone told me about Habitat,” she says. “I went through the application and interview, but when my pastor said they’d accepted me I truly couldn’t believe it.” Like all Habitat owners, Fay put hundreds of hours of “sweat equity” into the house she eventually moved into the week before Christmas 1993. Even then, she still couldn’t believe it and would wake often in the middle of the night. “I would walk to the front window and stare out,” she remembers. “Just stand there thinking ‘this is my house’ and feeling so grateful.”
The kind of wonder, gratitude and exhilaration that translates into an improved quality of life for residents in our region is exactly what the visionaries who began the Community Foundation of Elmira-Corning and the Finger Lakes, Inc. had in mind from the beginning. In fact, Fay’s Habitat project was funded in part by the original Southeastern Steuben Human Services Fund Grant Committee in Corning. Today, the Community Foundation continues to support Southeastern Steuben Habitat for Humanity which has built homes in Corning, Gang Mills, Addison and Bath, expanding their local coverage area as they are able, while at the same time supporting Habitat builds around the world.
Current Habitat President, Jan Harvey says the repercussions that result from helping someone into a home of his or her own expand exponentially. “I can’t even count the number of people who are positively affected each time we build,” she notes. Bottom line: Habitat, like the Community Foundation provides opportunity.
Where might that opportunity lead? Fay’s daughter is now happily married, employed and living in Ohio. And, positive results from many of the projects supported by our Foundation predecessors can still be felt throughout the region, from the Benjamin Patterson Museum in Corning to the YWCA in Elmira. Expanding opportunity and improving quality of life remain at the heart of what the Foundation does today, every day.