Rob Gilmor (center) with Sarah Krisch, Victoria Befumo, Gracia Renkewitz and Samir Rathore in Mastic.

Huntington Habitat for Humanity Builds in Mastic

Rob Gilmor (center) with Sarah Krisch, Victoria Befumo, Gracia Renkewitz and Samir Rathore in Mastic.

February 24, 2021

An energetic group of Huntington High School Habitat for Humanity club members spent one of their vacation days working on the interior of a house that’s being erected in Mastic. The structure is destined to be occupied by a married couple with three young children.

Victoria Befumo, Samir Rathore, Gracia Renkewitz and Sarah Krisch accompanied Robert Gilmor III, a high school dean and founder of Huntington’s Habitat for Humanity chapter on the “build.”

The new house erected by Habitat will become the home of Daniel and Jennifer Marchelewski and their three little children, Daniel Jr., Gwendolyn and Aurora.

The group from Huntington worked with several Habitat members at the site, including Ryan Parsons and Huntington High School Class of 2012 member Alicia Ortiz, who is now participating in the Habitat AmeriCorps program.

“The walls of the house were up already and so was the outside,” Ms. Befumo said. “Our job for the day was to put down the hardwood flooring. It was incredible; I never would have thought I would know how to install flooring, but after a brief intro we were working. It took about a half hour or so to get into the groove of it and there was definitely a specific order we had to go in. We worked with Mr. Gilmor, who definitely taught us quickly. We worked together and got two-thirds of our bedroom done.”

Mr. Gilmor and the four Huntington High School students were all up early and on their way to the build shortly after dawn.

“We left Huntington at 7:30 a.m. and arrived at the site to start at 8:45 a.m.,” Ms. Krisch said. “The family that the house was being built for was a local couple with three children. We learned how to install hardwood floors and that’s what we worked on for the day. We took a break for lunch at 12 and then finished at 2:30 in the afternoon. Overall, I think it was a very rewarding experience and I had a great time contributing to the house and being a part of the Habitat for Humanity program, which really does help people in our communities and all over the country, to be homeowners.”

Huntington’s Habitat for Humanity chapter dates to 2003 when Mr. Gilmor was hired as a high school dean. He organized the club, which included a very energetic and enthusiastic set of young people who helped the group establish a solid footing that has endured.

“We went to the build site thinking we were going to paint and ended up doing hardwood floors, which I have never done before,” Ms. Renkewitz said. “I personally ended up loving it and it turned out to be a very good learning experience for me and oddly enjoyable, too. This was my first Habitat build and I am being so honest when I tell you, I’m very much looking forward to the next build, which will hopefully be soon. I might even sign up as a walk-on for the Suffolk Habitat for Humanity because I enjoyed my first experience so much.”

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 a social worker in the Elwood School District. He founded Elwood’s Habitat for Humanity chapter.

Last week’s build was a great experience for the Huntington contingent. “We arrived on site and were told about the plans for the day,” Mr. Rathore said. “We were assigned to install hardwood flooring. We split into groups of two to work on two different rooms at the same time. We staggered the wood, cut and then stapled the planks to the ground. It was a simple task, but there were many chances to make an error like when stapling or using the right wood length. We almost finished one room and finished half of the second one.”

The Huntington teenagers considered the trip to Mastic and the day of hard work at the site to be time well spent.

“It was an amazing opportunity and I am so excited to be able to go on the next build,” Ms. Befumo said.

Since its founding, Huntington High School’s Habitat for Humanity chapter has worked locally, regionally and nationally to accomplish its goals. The group has traveled to cities across the country, helping communities rebuild after being struck by natural disasters.

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

The Huntington Habitat members installed wood flooring in two rooms.
The Huntington Habitat members installed wood flooring in two rooms.
The Huntington Habitat members installed wood flooring in two rooms.
The Huntington Habitat members installed wood flooring in two rooms.