Habitat for Humanity 106th Completed House Dedicated

By Jennifer L. Warren

NEWBURGH – For some it was her radiant smile; for others, her incredible way of making everyone feel worthy-capable, and then there were those who will never forget her humor, sheer kindness, unwavering strength and genuine love for people-life. Whatever attribute was recollected inside 64 Overlook Place Saturday morning, a common theme resonated: the priceless, unforgettable way you felt when Celeste Bloomer crossed your path.

Many of those deeply appreciative fellow Habitat for Humanity of Greater Newburgh volunteers, friends, family, and others gathered at the newly completed-106th home-by the organization aimed at providing affordable housing via a “hands-up,” family sweat equity hours, along with loving, caring assistance and empowerment. The celebration for the Women Build Home was extra special, as it was in memory of someone dearly missed since her passing in 2022: Bloomer, who devoted close to 25 years as a volunteer as well as House Captain for the organization whose mission she passionately pursued and whose love was equally returned by countless people.

“When I think of Celeste, I think of the way she lit up a room with her smile, making everyone feel welcome and never like they couldn’t perform or do anything at all; anything was possible and they were always capable” recollected long-time Habitat volunteer, Millie Flores. “She made everyone always feel like everything was going to be ok, and when she felt strongly about something, she wouldn’t back down, ever.”

Something Bloomer cherished intensely was the Women Build Homes, a segment of Habitat chiefly centered upon women and building up their strengths. Described as “homes that pay close attention to detail,” these all female projects, not only provide tools of the trade of building a home, but a forum for authentic bonding, friendships that last a lifetime. So, it was only fitting that the City of Newburgh home dedicated in her memory, as well as the setting for Bloomer’s Remembrance Day, was a Women Build one.

“Celeste always knew the right thing to say and do, recalled another volunteer, Susan Dawes, who worked on multiple homes with Bloomer. “She was never at a loss for words.”

A framed photo of Bloomer, alongside fellow volunteer, Mary Murphy, sitting on a table inside the 64 Overlook home, attested to Dawes’ words. The visual was accompanied by touching remarks from Murphy, friends with Bloomer since elementary school and a co-volunteer with her on the first Women Build, detailing how Bloomer helped her overcome her fear of working on a second floor unit removing window wires from the Henry Avenue residence. Nearby to that nostalgic piece was a large photograph, embedded on a poster, revealing Bloomer’s trademark smile, radiating so many of the pearls that those present Saturday alluded to about their legendary friend, whose indelible imprint on Habitat for Humanity of Greater Newburgh, will continue to live on.

“I never had the opportunity to meet Celeste; however, on my first day on the job, there was a photo of her on my desk which I will never forget,” said Jill Marie, Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Newburgh. “I feel so very blessed that I get to see this special house come to fruition.”

Paul Brothe, President of the Newburgh Habitat Board, delivered similar remarks on the breadth of the day’s impact.

“Whenever we dedicate a house, it always makes me realize how many people it takes to make it a reality; 100’s of people are involved in making it happen,” said Brothe. “Celeste was just an amazing person.”

That “one-of-a-kind” nature Bloomer possessed was something another Habitat volunteer and co-House Captain, Susan Smith, best detailed as the feeling one was left with after any interaction with her.

“With Celeste, it was all about the way she made you feel- capable, part of a team,” explained Smith. “She believed it, so we did too, and did it.”

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