GAYLORD — The Otsego-Antrim Habitat for Humanity chapter and the Gaylord Bowling Center have teamed up to give back to the community by helping a family that recently relocated to Gaylord.
"We were approached by the Gaylord Bowling Center who said they had a family that recently moved to the area and needed the basic essentials to get off to a good start," said Aini Abukar, executive director of the Otsego-Antrim habitat chapter.
CJ, his wife and two children — one-year-old and five-year-old boys — moved to Gaylord seeking a better way of life. Abukar said CJ and his family present an inspiring story.
"They came here to seek a stable and safe environment for the family," she said. "They came from an economically-distressed and crime-ridden community."
Growing up, CJ never had a stable family life and has always had limited resources. After moving his family to Gaylord for a fresh start, his goal is to work as hard as he can to provide a safe living environment for his family.
He is now employed at a local restaurant and works over 60 hours a week. His boss came into the bowling center and talked about how dedicated an employee CJ is, said Sueann Braley, who assists Tony Sharkey in operating the center.
Braley called Abukar and the two decided to combine efforts to help CJ and his family. They are seeking donations including clothing, furniture, towels, bed frames, mattresses and toys for the children.
Those who wish to help CJ and his family can drop off items at the Otsego-Antrim Habitat for Humanity office at 526 Edelweiss Village Parkway, the Gaylord Bowling Center at 1200 Gornick Ave. or St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church at 525 Weiss St. in Gaylord.
"You can tell (CJ) is a good worker and deeply cares about his family," Braley said. "He really wants them to have a better start in life than what he had growing up."
Both the habitat chapter and the bowling center have expanded their usual outreach for CJ and his family. Habitat for Humanity is best known for helping low-income individuals achieve home ownership and the bowling center was founded in part to give returning veterans a fresh start.
"We are not just about veterans. We are also about helping everyone in need," said Braley.
Abukar added that "Part of habitat's goal is to not only help build a home but to also extend our community outreach."
Monetary donations will also be accepted for the family. For more information call the habitat office at (989) 731-4506.
This article originally appeared on The Petoskey News-Review: Habitat chapter, bowling center join forces to help family get a good start