Terrence Dhainy and Adelina Lopez help make Harmony House run smoothly in very different ways.
As part of the housekeeping staff, Dhainy plays a key role in creating a homelike atmosphere for homeless families seeking refuge at the transitional housing facility at 278 South Orange Ave. in Newark. Each morning, he scours the grounds of the 102-unit complex to remove trash, clear snow during the winter and address work orders.
When he receives a request to fix a toilet or kitchen sink, Dhainy says he rushes to the repair because he knows just how urgent the situation can be. “Whenever you call on Mr. Terrence, he always answers, never complains about work,” said Lisa Chavis, Senior Case Manager at Harmony House.
Dhainy also works with Carolyn Andrews to update the apartment units after families move out—he paints, strips and waxes the floor and handles electrical repairs while Andrews overhauls the bathroom and kitchen.
“I wouldn’t say it’s hard work but it’s a lot of work,” said Dhainy, who started working at NCC in 2012. “You’re trying to make them comfortable,” he said of the residents at Harmony House.
While Dhainy ensures that each family’s stay is comfortable and dignified, Lopez, a Case Manager, works intensively with the families to prepare them to succeed after they leave the temporary housing site.
Angelina Corry, 32, is a Newark resident staying at Harmony House with her 14-year-old son, Jaliek. She called Lopez “my backbone.”
“When I came here, I was sad. I was lonely. I was crying,” Corry said of arriving in February. Since then, Lopez has helped the single mother pursue her education and recently Corry earned her medical assistant certificate at Essex County College. She wants to eventually become a registered nurse.
Starting as a volunteer at Harmony House, Lopez was hired as a receptionist in 2000 and later took online classes, earning a social work certificate from Stratford Career Institute in 2009. Now as a case manager, Lopez wears many hats in the office and handles payroll, orders office supplies and even covers the front desk during lunch.
“Mrs. Lopez goes over and beyond the call of duty,” Chavis said. “At times I have to tell her to slow down to do self-care to avoid burnout.”
Dhainy also exemplified what it means to go the extra mile last year for New Community’s annual parade and family festival. Despite his daily demands, Dhainy devoted time to build a replica of Harmony House to showcase at the event, according to Chavis.
She highlighted the fact that both Dhainy and Lopez serve to the best of their abilities in their respective roles. “I greatly appreciate having the two of them on my team,” Chavis said.