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RISMEDIA, Nov. 18, 2008-Tom Brokaw of NBC News toasted Habitat for Humanity – New York City’s 9th Annual Builder Awards recipients, telling them that “we are in challenging times, but the winds of hope are much stronger and they will prevail.” He urged guests to “raise our hands and re-enlist as citizens.”With more than 500 guests, the awards dinner at Capitale raised about $900,000, which will help Habitat-NYC build more affordable, healthy homes for New York families in need.

Habitat-NYC saluted the following honorees:

JPMorgan, Corporate Partner of the Year Award. Michael Carren, National Director of Employee Engagement and Volunteerism at JPMorgan, accepted the award.
The Rev. Dr. Gary Simpson and Concord Baptist Church of Christ, Richard Wong Faith-in-Action Award;

Brokers Build, New Partnership Award, with Stan Ponte and Mara Flash Blum accepting the award;

The Graham Family, Family Partner of the Year Award.

Josh Lockwood, executive director of Habitat-NYC, told guests: “Never has our work been more challenging. But never has it been more important. We too feel like we have a “righteous wind at our backs,” and we are so grateful that all of you are with us in our journey to transform the lives of deserving families.”

Special guests included Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat International, and Marilyn Gelber, executive director of Independence Community Foundation, one of Habitat-NYC’s most generous funders.

JPMorgan, which has supported Habitat-NYC for nearly a decade, is being saluted for its leadership role in affordable housing in New York City. Accepting the award on behalf of JPMorgan was Michael Carren, National Director of Employee Engagement and Volunteerism. The award was presented by Greg Hayes, senior vice president and CFO of United Technologies Corporation (UTC), which was Habitat-NYC’s 2007 Corporate Partner of the Year.

Pastor Vivian Grubb, senior pastor at True Holy Church in Ocean Hill-Brownsville, Brooklyn, presented Habitat-NYC’s Richard Wong Faith-in-Action Award to Rev. Simpson, who is recognized nationwide for his pastoral work

“Concord Baptist Church invests in uplifting the neighborhoods it serves, “Pastor Grubb said. “That’s one reason it’s been a longtime supporter of Habitat-NYC and the families it transforms.”

Peter Knitzer, chair and CEO of Citibank, N.A. and a member of Habitat-NYC’s board of directors, presented the New Partnership Award to Brokers Build. Brokers Build was created less than two years ago by New York City’s real estate brokers who wanted to give back to the city.

Accepting the award on behalf of Brokers Build was founder and chair Stan Ponte, president of the Coldwell Bankers Previews International division of Coldwell Banker Hunt and Kennedy, and Mara Flash Blum, advisory committee chair of Brokers Build and senior vice president of Sotheby’s International Realty.

Three years ago, Regina Graham and her two children received the key to their Habitat-NYC home-a key that unlocked the door to a better home and a better future. But Graham’s dedication to Habitat-NYC didn’t stop there. She has traveled all over the city, as well as far away as Albany and Washington, D.C., to fight for better housing policy. She and her family were honored for their exemplary commitment and service to Habitat-NYC and to affordable housing and social justice.

“Being a part of Habitat-NYC and a partner with all of you is the most powerful-and empowering-experience of my life. Mark was only 16, but he helped build our home, too. I’ll never forget the pride I felt the day he worked so hard his hands were covered with blisters-and his face was full of smiles,” she said.

Her daughter Lauren, now 13, came up on stage to tell the audience “Habitat rocks!”

“The Grahams are extraordinary, yet in many ways, their story exemplifies the hard work, sacrifices and determination of every single Habitat family,” said award presenter Deborah VanAmerongen, Commissioner of the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal.

During the evening, guests were invited to a video “tour” of the Habitat-NYC home of Sam and Esther Ansah. The Ansahs were living in a one-bedroom apartment when Esther gave birth to quadruplets. The children are now active two-year-olds and thriving in their affordable condo in the South Bronx.

Habitat-NYC transforms lives and our city by uniting all New Yorkers around the cause of decent, affordable housing. With the help of an average of 10,000 volunteers every year, Habitat-NYC has built more than 180 homes in all five boroughs of New York City.

To learn more about Habitat-NYC, visit