John DeMattia bought his first house, a duplex in Bridgeport, at age 22. He had just completed his military service and was able to secure a veteran’s loan with a $500 down payment. Now he and his company, NAPA Auto Parts of Bridgeport and Fairfield, are helping to make it possible for another family to improve their circumstances by supporting Habitat for Humanity of Coastal Fairfield County (Habitat CFC). Specifically he is helping to fund a home on Waldorf Avenue, one of 7 Habitat CFC homes currently under construction in Black Rock and on Bridgeport’s East Side. DeMattia grew up directly across the street from where the Waldorf Avenue Habitat CFC home is being built. His family rented one floor of the 3-family home that his maternal grandmother was able to purchase by working hard, cleaning homes and an apartment building.
“It was a steppingstone neighborhood,” DeMattia said. “Families started out there and then transitioned on as their circumstances improved. It’s very nostalgic for me to be able to help another family move ahead through home ownership on Waldorf Avenue.”
One condition of DeMattia’s support is that Habitat CFC increase the amount of American made materials it uses to construct the home. He was motivated by economist turned builder Anders Lewnedal’s concept of increasing the usage of US made materials by at least 5%. Lewendal maintains that if every builder bought just 5% more U.S. – made materials, 220,000 jobs would be created.
“It’s just not the same as it used to be” DeMattia said. The opportunities for people to work in solid blue collar jobs just aren’t here anymore. This seemed like a great way to support an organization that helps families get ahead and also create awareness of the need to restore manufacturing jobs here in the U.S.”
DeMattia hopes that others will be inspired to support Habitat CFC as he has, because of its impact on families, neighborhoods and the City of Bridgeport and because of the American made commitment.
DeMattia and his wife Connie are helping his friend Alan Wallack who is the driving force behind the Cal Ripken field being built nearby to DeMattia’s old neighborhood. “Giving kids a safe place to learn and play baseball also gives them the opportunity to learn life lessons like teamwork and individual responsibility. Growing up we played baseball year round, and I know it kept me out of trouble.”
The DeMattias have been long term supporters of Habitat CFC, particularly its Women Build program. For years, Connie served on Habitat CFC’s Board of Directors and led Women Build, the goal of which is to empower women to help others by teaching them construction skills. Women then apply their newly learned knowledge by building homes for deserving, working low income mothers and their families. Now Connie ensures that every new Habitat home has well outfitted closets that make it easy for homeowners to stay organized.
For more information about Habitat CFC or to make a donation please call 203-333-2642 or visit www.habitatcfc.org.
For more information about the American Made movement visit http://abcnews.go.com/WN/MadeInAmerica/