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Hudson Valley Press

November 28th, 2012

Habitat dedicates its 61st home in Newburgh

Juan Cruz, Sr. and his wife Ana Maria, along with their five children; Juan, Jr., Jeronimo, Jesus, Jonathan and Jose, officially moved into their new Habitat for Humanity of Greater Newburgh home following a special dedication on Sunday.

NEWBURGH - Roseanne Debenedictus smiled and looked on with pride, reflecting upon just how perfect the moment was.

"It’s Thanksgiving time, and it is just so appropriate to see this wonderful thing happening as well as the family involved with it," said Debenedictus.

That event was the 61st official dedication of a Habitat for Humanity of Greater Newburgh home. The Cruz family were the recipients. As with the prior 60 completed Habitat Homes, this one too was special... and then some. The brick home with the green-hued door at 285 Ann Street was donated by the Debenedictus Family in honor of Sacred Heart’s 100th Anniversary. Roseanne, the co-chairperson for the centennial, inherited the City of Newburgh home from her godmother, the last of a quartet of women, each living into their 90’s, who inhabited the house, to pass away. Debenedictus felt it only fitting to pass it on to the church and in turn a family in need.

A couple of years ago that worthy contingent was selected: the Cruz unit, made up of husband Juan, Sr., his wife Ana Maria and their five sons. The elder Juan had the unique experience of accruing many of his "sweat hours" at his own home, even taking part in its initial groundbreaking. He spoke with tears in his eyes at the dedication.

"How great is our God?" Cruz began. "I never even had owning a home on my mind until I heard about Habitat; I am so happy and excited that they helped us to complete our dream."

When asked about the first thing he was going to do when he moved into his new home, Cruz was quick to reply.

"I want to keep on working with the community as much as I can."

Also on hand at the well-attended dedication was Father Bill Scafidi of Sacred Heart Church. The long-time City of Newburgh religious fixture Scafidi provided the House Sponsor Reflections segment of the 30 minute program. Addressing the Cruz family, Scafidi gave words of inspiration.

"You are surrounded by churches, so you are around God," affirmed Scafidi, as he surveyed his surroundings. "We pray for this family today; they are the blessing as are all Habitat Homes." Scafidi continued, "Angels have entered, and angels will live."

Prior to the official Passing of the Keys, Cathy Amoia and Angela Amoia-Lutz, advocates for the Cruz family, spoke about the long, gratifying journey they accompanied them on, as well as the pride that ensued from being involved with such a genuine group of people.

"Without the help of everyone here, things would not get done," said Amoia.

In addition to younger sibling Jonathan Cruz approaching the podium to thank God for Habitat, eldest brother Juan, Jr. spoke of his appreciation in both words and music. Singing the number, "How Great is Our God," in both Spanish and English versions, Juan, Jr. told the crowd, "Even though this is not a mansion, we are so grateful for it."

He later added, "I am most looking forward to meeting our neighbors and spreading the word of God; we are just so fortunate."

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