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Mets, Citi volunteers build Habitat condos

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Jennifer Baptiste, a financial analyst at Citi, spent a day last week measuring, breaking and cutting dry wall at a fourth floor bedroom in-construction at Habitat-NYC’s four-story affordable condominiums project in the Ocean Hill-Brownsville section of Brooklyn. She is one of the 18 Citi volunteers who joined with Habitat-NYC at the Brooklyn Build day.

This is also the third year that with the Mets Citi has participated in the project “Teammates in the Community” initiative, reflecting their ongoing commitment to be active participants in the community.

“Working with an organization like Habitat for Humanity and serving New Yorkers is just one of the many ways in which Citi makes an impact in the community,” said James Cava, executive vice president, Citi Realty Services.

Mets alumni greats, SNY broadcasters Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling joined the 18 Citi volunteers. Ron Darling is a Williamsburg resident and noted that he worked with his two sons on a Habitat build in New Orleans following Katrina. Both ball players spoke of how much it meant for them to help with this project and lend their names to this important work.

“We’re excited that Keith and Ron are the latest Mets legends to participate in such a vital community initiative,” said Dave Howard, executive vice president, Business Operations, and Mets. It’s our way of doing well by doing well.

Neighbors of the condo project peeked into the construction site to get a look at and autograph from their idols.

During comments to the press, Family Partner in the St. John’s Place condo project Georgette Lee held a base that was signed by Hernandez and Darling and will be on display in the finished condo. Georgette now lives in public housing in Ocean Hill-Brownsville with sons ages 23 and 13. She heard about Habitat housing opportunities from her sister who is a Family Partner living in Bed-Stuy.

“You work all your life not believing that I could own my own home in New York City and then to be introduced to a program like Habitat and realize that I can afford to own a home. It was a wonderful opportunity and I wanted to take advantage,” she said.

Georgette works as a payroll supervisor for the City and will move into a three-bedroom apartment, hopefully by the end of the year. “I am elated!”

Georgette and her 23 year-old son both have already completed their 200 hours each of their sweat equity requirement for home ownership. “I continue to volunteer,” she added. “This is a wonderful opportunity. You read about an organization that sounds too good to be true, but Habitat is true.”

The 12 affordable homes in Ocean Hill-Brownsville are among the new ‘100 Homes in Brooklyn’ initiative to create affordable homes and help strengthen Ocean Hill-Brownsville and Bed-Stuyvesant, two communities hit hard by the recession.

With the Mets commitment in giving support to Habitat, that evening at Citi Field playing against Philadelphia, Mets and Citi executives presented Habitat-NYC volunteers Tom Pace and Martin Friedman with the “Teammates in the Community” award, for their exemplary volunteer commitments, during a special on-field pre-game ceremony.

Citi is a long-time supporter and partner of Habitat for Humanity. Citi has participated in more than 12 home-building events in New York, with an average of 15 volunteers per build.

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