Huntington has one of the most active Habitat for Humanity chapters in the country

H-ton Habitat for Humanity Ready to Make a Difference

Huntington has one of the most active Habitat for Humanity chapters in the country

August 17, 2018

Soon after being hired by the Huntington UFSD to work as a dean of students at Huntington High School in 2003, Robert Gilmor III took the necessary steps to establish a Habitat for Humanity chapter.

Mr. Gilmor sought out some of the building’s most enthusiastic students as members. From that group came four especially determined teenagers who assumed roles as the group’s first executive board. They went about setting ambitious goals and raising money to establish a strong footing. Since then the Huntington High School chapter has thrived as one of Long Island’s most active Habitat for Humanity units.

Habitat for Humanity club advisor Robert Gilmor III.
Habitat for Humanity club advisor Robert Gilmor III.

Habitat for Humanity is a worldwide organization dedicated to eliminating poverty and homelessness by building housing side-by-side with those in need.

The Huntington chapter’s founding set of officers included Laura Ellman (president), Libby Thomson (vice-president), Cheryl Wayne (treasurer) and Katy Nastro (secretary). That energetic group made its mark and helped establish the foundation for the club’s success through the years.

A graduate of the College of Wooster in Ohio, Mr. Gilmor earned a Master of Social Work degree at SUNY Stony Brook in 1994. He later obtained certification as a school administrator through Long Island University. He was employed from January 1997 through the summer of 2003 as an Elwood School District social worker. He founded Elwood’s Habitat for Humanity chapter.

Prior to his stint in Elwood, Mr. Gilmor worked for two years as a social worker at The Opportunity Pre-School in Kings Park and was a special needs worker and sports and leisure night counselor for a year at Youth Directions and Alternatives in Northport.

At the time of his hiring in the district, Mr. Gilmor was no stranger to Huntington High School as he completed a school social work internship in the building from September 1993 to June 1994. He has also worked as a case manager for Suffolk’s American Red Cross community service program.

The 2018/19 school year will once again see dozens of Huntington students filling out the ranks of the high school’s Habitat for Humanity chapter membership. The group will be led by an executive board that includes Emma Grassi (president), Emma Farrell (vice president/treasurer) and Yasmin Khilji-Neal (secretary).

The group is formulating big plans for the new school year, including helping those who need it both locally and in other states. Club members have traveled out of state annually for years, with multiple trips usually occurring during mid-winter and spring vacation periods. The club raises money to defer individual expenses for the treks, which are typically in response to some type of natural disaster that has wiped out housing for thousands.

“After a tremendous past year the year ahead cannot look any brighter with an amazing group of hard working members that are eager to help the many Habitat affiliates in their building endeavors,” Mr. Gilmor said. “The club has outstanding leadership that cannot wait to hit the ground running.”

The club most recently traveled to Houston, Texas for a week of work in late June. It was the second time this year that Huntington Habitat had gone to the city. Between the two visits was a week-long trek to Chattanooga, Tennessee. Students must be 16 years to travel with the club.

The Huntington Habitat chapter held its first ever outdoor music festival at the high school last May. It was an overcast and sometimes rainy day, but the event was successful and the club hopes to host another one next spring. Event coordinator Quinn Blackburn is headed to Syracuse, but the club members left behind have enormous energy and the enthusiasm needed to carry the torch forward.

The Huntington Habitat club welcomes new members of any grade level. It also hopes to receive community support and even corporate sponsorship. Interested in joining the campaign to make the world a better place? Send a message to Mr. Gilmor at [email protected]

Senior Emma Farrell is vice president and treasurer of Huntington's Habitat for Humanity chapter.
Senior Emma Farrell is vice president and treasurer of Huntington's Habitat for Humanity chapter.
Senior Emma Grassi is president of Huntington's Habitat for Humanity chapter.
Senior Emma Grassi is president of Huntington's Habitat for Humanity chapter.
Yasmin Khilji-Neal is secretary of the Habitat for Humanity club chapter.
Yasmin Khilji-Neal is secretary of the Habitat for Humanity club chapter.
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