New Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity leader builds on growth

 

New Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity director Dan Simpson stands in front of homes that were built on Kirkwood Street in Dover. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

DOVER — Dan Simpson is no stranger to Kent County, having lived practically his entire life in the area.

Mr. Simpson believes his knowledge of the region and diverse work experiences will help him in his new role as the executive director of the Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity.

“It’s an opportunity for me to leverage the experience that I’ve already had in life and put it to work in our community,” Mr. Simpson said. “When the opportunity was presented I really saw this as a chance to give back with the years of experience that I have and I look forward to being a part of making a difference for central Delaware.”

Mr. Simpson, who graduated from Caesar Rodney High School in 1986, takes over the organization’s role left vacant by Jonathan Gallo, who decided to move his career in a different direction.

Mr. Gallo attended a home dedication on South Kirkwood Street on Dec. 19 and noted that it was time for him to pursue other opportunities.

“I have transitioned from Habitat for Humanity to go into some other business, but I also wanted to make sure that I see through these builds that I had started and have been a part of and to see these families successfully transition into these homes,” he said.

Chris Cooper, development director for Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity, said the future remains bright under Mr. Simpson.

“While we’re sad to see Jon Gallo leave with all of the success that we’ve had, we’re just as excited about what the future is going to hold with Dan Simpson,” said Mr. Cooper. “He also brings a lot of expertise to the job.”

Mr. Simpson joins Habitat after an extensive career in the corporate sector as well as being self-employed as a general contractor.

He brings more than 30 years of experience in finance, retail management and construction to Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity and the ReStore, which sells donated goods at discounted prices at 544 Webbs Lane in Dover.

Last Friday marked Mr. Simpson’s eighth day on the job for Habitat and he could hardly contain his excitement as he ventured about to different properties in the downtown Dover area that the organization has built.

“I’m extremely excited about joining this team,” he said. “I haven’t been here very long but in the short time that I’ve been here I’ve been very, very impressed with the team of people that Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity has already put together.

“This is just my eighth day and I’ve learned a great deal from a very qualified group of people that are around me and I’m very excited about working with them.”

He will certainly be busy with Habitat, which has built 51 new homes in central Delaware since it was founded in 1990.

From their first year until 2009, Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity built an average of one house per year. However, they’ve ramped up efforts in recent years, constructing nine new homes in the downtown Dover area in 2015-’16.

“The thing about it is as we move forward into the next couple of years we have plans to build anywhere from five to eight homes per year, give or take,” said Mr. Simpson, “but it’s really not about the quantity of homes that we’re building.

“Our vision really is to make sure that our focus is on the quality of the relationships that we build with the people who are moving into this area.”

Mr. Simpson said he considers it an honor to be working for the CDHFH, whose goal is to help families achieve their dreams of homeownership and break the cycle of poverty.

Habitat makes housing affordable through partnerships with local businesses, materials either donated or purchased with donated funds and volunteer labor.

Habitat homeowners are required to contribute 250 volunteer hours to the construction of their home and in return get a 30-year interest-free mortgage.

Mr. Simpson is glad to be a part of making some of those dreams come true.

“I’ve noticed that with my job there are many hats that you have to wear,” Mr. Simpson said. “The one thing that I really want to drive home is that Habitat for Humanity’s mission starts with a very simple phrase — ‘We’re seeking to put God’s love into action.’

“If I can emphasize any part of what my role I hope to be in this community it would be to be a part of that demonstration of God’s love and our community. For me, this is home.”

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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