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ESL and Habitat Dedicate First Panel-Build Home in Rochester

Rochester, NY — One family’s dream of one day owning their own home started in a warehouse on a freezing January day in Rochester, NY. Today, the ESL Charitable Foundation and Flower City Habitat for Humanity dedicated a new home to a deserving family in the JOSANA neighborhood and made the family’s dream of owning a home a reality.

With the help of Flower City Habitat for Humanity and the ESL Charitable Foundation—which sponsored the house—and their own sweat equity hours, Niama Simmons, Anthony Ragland, and their three children are now proud new homeowners.


 David L. Fiedler, CEO, ESL Federal Credit Union and President, ESL Charitable Foundation, at the dedication event.

“Dedicating a second home to a deserving family has been a rewarding experience,” said David L. Fiedler, CEO, ESL Federal Credit Union and President, ESL Charitable Foundation. “ESL employees worked alongside Habitat and the family, even in the winter months, to make this home possible. We look forward to continuing to work with Habitat for Humanity to instill pride in neighborhoods and strengthen the Rochester community.”

Construction on this home began in January, and unlike most Habitat homes, the walls on this home were built in a warehouse by ESL employees. This is the first Flower City Habitat for Humanity panelized build. The innovative building practice is more efficient, safe, and creates a better overall volunteer experience.

“This is the second home we’ve had the opportunity to work on with ESL, and it continues to be a mutually beneficial partnership, not only to us, but the community as well,” said Matt Flanigan, President and CEO of Flower City Habitat. “It’s amazing to see what teamwork can accomplish and see the home come together, from the groundbreaking, to the wall raising, to the dedication ceremony.”

As part of the Habitat program, each family contributes at least 300 hours of sweat equity in building Flower City Habitat houses; taking classes in financial literacy and home maintenance; and giving back to the neighborhood through community partners. In addition to volunteer hours, the ESL Charitable Foundation provided $75,000 to fund construction of the home.

“This home means that my children will never know what it’s like to move every year,” said Niama Simmons, homeowner. “They will grow up with stability, comfort, and safety in this home. We can’t thank ESL and Habitat for Humanity enough for their generosity and hard work they’ve put into helping us build our home.”

During the dedication ceremony, the new homeowners were presented with a hammer, as a symbol of their hard work, and a bible, as a symbol of the foundation of faith that the house itself is built upon. They also received well wishes from the many volunteers present at the ceremony who had helped construct the home. 

In fall 2007, Flower City Habitat for Humanity launched a major, multi-year house building program in the JOSANA neighborhood. Currently, the organization has built nearly 50 homes to their 100 house goal.

In 2013, the ESL Charitable Foundation funded its first Habitat for Humanity home in the JOSANA Neighborhood, where ESL employees volunteered hundreds of hours to help complete the construction of the home.

Founded by George Eastman in 1920, ESL Federal Credit Union is a full-service financial institution with $5.0 billion in assets. The locally-owned financial institution employs more than 680 people in Rochester, New York, and includes more than 325,000 members worldwide.

The company has now appeared on the Great Place to Work® Best Small and Medium Workplaces List for four years (2014, 2013, 2011, and 2010). Access to the credit union includes 20 branch locations and more than 40 ATM locations, locally-based telephone and Internet chat centers, and online and mobile banking channels. The company is headquartered at 225 Chestnut Street, in Rochester, and can be found on the Internet at www.esl.org.

The ESL Charitable Foundation uses philanthropy to strengthen, integrate, and catalyze the community by funding initiatives that drive significant advancement for all.

Flower City Habitat for Humanity, founded in 1984, is a non-denominational Christian housing ministry dedicated to eliminating substandard and poverty housing in Rochester, NY. Since 1984, FCHH has built more than 200 homes, and is one of the largest Habitat affiliates in the northeastern U.S. Visit: www.rochesterhabitat.org.

For more information, contact:

Rich Pulvino, APR
Manager, Corporate Communications
rpulvino@esl.org
585.336.1009