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Transforming Residents into Community Leaders

Transforming Residents into Community Leaders

HANDS designs, develops and implements all neighborhood revitalization strategies within a Social Determinants of Health framework. Research shows that improved quality of housing and long-term affordability coupled with economic opportunity and strong civic empowerment and participation help residents achieve better health outcomes over the long term. 

I grew up in Orange and enjoyed my childhood. I remember what Orange was in the hands of others, and I knew Orange could be better. I not only was raised in Orange, but I am proud to say I currently work in Orange, and I am a proud homeowner in Orange. 

I was introduced to HANDS through Elizabeth Jackson, who was facilitating a Home Buyers certification course for 1st-time buyers. Before working with HANDS, we were looking at houses for sale in Essex County through a realtor. Emotionally we did not want to purchase anyone else’s “junk.” I was married, raising a family, and knew I could not afford to throw money away in a rental unit. HANDS came along at the right time because they were offering low income, newly built houses. I chose to work with HANDS because they provided homeownership opportunities within the community I want to help grow and flourish. 

As a homeowner in Orange, I can be a part of the progression within my hometown.  Being a homeowner gives me a louder voice in Orange. My community means so much to me that I am an active member of The City of Orange Township Planning Board, I am working for the Orange Board of Education, and my children are enrolled in the Orange School District.  

While working with HANDS, I learned that homeownership is more than a possibility and much simpler process than I feared. HANDS is an organization that I would collaborate with because the work they do is beneficial to the residents and the community. I hope the future of Orange will include more school buildings for the increasing number of residents and organizations.” -Dwight Holmes

Stories like Dwight Holmes’, a HANDS homeowner, are true representations of the importance of investing in the residents of our city to empower them to flourish and pay it forward. 

Help HANDS continue to empower and activate our community! Make a donation today. 

Activating Local Businesses to Shape Our City

Activating Local Businesses to Shape Our City

HANDS engages community stakeholders to lead, provide input into vision plans and uses collaborations and real estate development as tools to raise neighborhoods. HANDS seeks to empower local business owners to create healthy, equitable communities. Local business owner, Roger Apollon, Jr., co-owner of Four City Brewing Company, is a great example of how a business owner can take charge in shaping the culture if a community.  

“Throughout history, it has been local business owners that have had a large part of determining the culture and direction of a town or city.  In fact, it would be odd for a very successful business owner in a town NOT to be involved in community building since their businesses are often a sense of pride for the town they serve. This is why before we even began construction of our brewery, we had many meetings with Mayor Dwayne Warren and his staff to discuss exactly how our brewery would benefit the town of Orange.

In my opinion, small businesses are the backbone of any town.  While the focus of late has been on the “big box”, national chains, people now want a more intimate and personalized shopping experience.  Small businesses like ours have a tremendous opportunity to define what the retail environment of Orange can look like for the next few years.  Four City plans on showing everyone how much talent, creativity and great beer is here in Orange!

I see Four City as an employer to many local residents, a cultural and social center of the Oranges, a rejuvenator of local pride in Orange, and a contributor to the non-profit organizations that provide essential services to Orange.

To me, community is the next layer after your immediate family.  It’s the relationships you have with your neighbors, vendors, business owners and government officials.  Like any relationship, it must be maintained and cared for. Local connectivity is the key to real and meaningful change.” – Roger Apollon, Jr.

HANDS’ vision looking forward is for Orange and neighboring cities to be composed of healthy, robust neighborhoods where empowered residents want to—or are able to– raise their families and run businesses.

With your support, we can continue to lead initiatives to create a just and beautiful city. Consider making a donation today.

HANDS Undergoes Executive Transition

HANDS Undergoes Executive Transition


HANDS Undergoes Executive Transition

Orange, NJ – updated January 8, 2019 – HANDS, Inc. announced this week that Luther Flurry will step down as Executive Director of the Orange, NJ-based community development corporation (CDC), effective January 4, 2019. Board Chair Elliott Lee will serve as Interim Executive Director. Vice Chair Rebecca Doggett will become Acting Chair. As part of the transition, Mr. Flurry will help complete several ongoing projects during the first two months of the new year.

“During two years of dedicated service, Luther applied his considerable expertise to meet the challenges facing CDCs in the 21st Century,” said Mr. Lee. “The board will accelerate efforts to meet these challenges. We especially thank Luther for reinforcing our belief that community empowerment must fuel Orange’s efforts to become a just and beautiful city,” Mr. Lee added.

“I will miss the mission, people, and partners of HANDS, but know I leave them poised for great things,“ said Luther of his departure.


The mission of HANDS is to empower the residents of Orange and nearby communities to create neighborhoods of choice–places where people can and do choose to raise their families and run their businesses. By targeting the most pivotal properties for redevelopment, engaging citizens and other stakeholders, and leveraging investments of time, talent and funding, HANDS has stabilized neighborhoods and created long term, sustainable change. Drawn to work in neighborhoods with untapped or underutilized assets, HANDS amplifies the voices of community members who are regarded as underrepresented or unheard. We look to engage stakeholders in collaborative efforts to improve their communities, create healthy and vibrant physical environments, and increase and diversify economic opportunities for all.

Established in 1986, HANDS is a nonprofit corporation and a chartered affiliate of NeighborWorks® America.


Primary Contacts:

Elliott Lee  

Interim Executive Director


Rebecca Doggett

Acting Board Chair


19th Annual Community Leadership Awards Nov. 29th

19th Annual Community Leadership Awards Nov. 29th

Orange, NJ- November 9, 2018- Putting the spotlight on the work of leaders and changemakers in the City of Orange and surrounding communities, HANDS is hosting its 19th Annual Community Leadership Awards: Building Together. Since 1986, HANDS has been dedicated to empowering the residents of Orange. This year’s event on November 29th at 6pm will be in the Heart of Orange at the Church of Epiphany and Christ Church,105 Main Street.

“HANDS mission is to empower residents to create neighborhoods of choice — places where people can and do choose to raise their families and run their businesses” states Executive Director, Luther Flurry. “Great neighborhoods depend on a network of committed individuals and organizations. People, not buildings, matter most, and all of our accomplishments stem from Building Together. We are thrilled to honor six outstanding individuals and organizations this year.”

With this year’s theme, “Building Together,” HANDS looks to engage those who live and work in the community, highlighting the progress that has been made to amplify neighborhood voices and elevate the quality of community life in Orange. Moving towards the vision of a just and beautiful city, HANDS continues to involve residents, business owners, municipal officials, and other stakeholders to use their assets and strengthen their capacity to bring real, impactful change in the city. Community empowerment works in tandem with HANDS’ development work to improve the built environment by repurposing vacant, deteriorated buildings for homeownership, affordable rental space for living and creative small businesses and improving open space.
The community is invited to join HANDS in this community-affirming event, in honor of those acting for the greater good. Tickets are available on Eventbrite. Call HANDS at 973-678-3110 x 26 for ticket inquiries and volunteer opportunities.

Prime sponsors for the event are Prudential Bank, Valley National Bank, and Lowenstein Sandler LLP.


Neighborhood Project Grants! Open for Grant Applications

Neighborhood Project Grants! Open for Grant Applications

HANDS, The HUUB and ValleyArts Working Together for Neighborhood Project Grants Initiative:

Do you have an idea that will bring people together, get to know your neighbors better, and make meaningful change in your community? Apply for a Neighborhood Project Grant to help make it happen! Click here to download the application (click here for Spanish version of the application and click here for Haitian Kreyol version) or to complete the application online, click here.  We are happy to answer any questions about the application!

Residents can receive application assistance at the Information and Help Workshops

Orange is full of talented people with exciting ideas about how to make the city a better place. We are supporting resident-led projects that impact the Heart of Orange or Valley Arts District neighborhoods and their residents. These projects are created to build community, cultivate neighborhood leadership, expand activities for youth, promote wellness and health and to more generally celebrate the diversity of people living in this city.

We are accepting applications from resident groups for projects in the Heart of Orange neighborhood.

The Orange High School NJROTC, Boys to Men and Robotics Club Little Heroes event in Orange, NJ, Oct. 14, 2017.

Groups may be long-standing, newly established or in the process of forming, and are not required to have non-profit or 501(c)(3) status. Submit your idea to HANDS, The HUUB, or ValleyArts by September 30th for a chance to make a difference in your community – one idea at a time!!

We look for projects that: are clear and thoughtful; address important community concerns; contribute to building stronger communities through neighbors working together; and result in concrete and sustainable improvements.

Applications are accepted until September 30, 2018. Residents can receive application assistance at the Information and Help Workshops. Click the workshop date you are interested in below to register online:

The application is available in English, Spanish, and Haitian Creole, with September 30, 2018 being the final date for submitting applications during the Fall 2018 grant round.

These grants are NOT for: individuals; for-profit projects; businesses; organizations with paid staff; religious, fraternal, and partisan organizations; projects affiliated with staffed organizations; groups that have received Neighborhood Project Grants in the last year. We also do not fund the following: rent, utilities, web hosting, web development, 501(c)(3) incorporation fees, salaries, speaker honorariums, and computer equipment.

Contact Charlie Wirene at 973-674-0010, ext. 1, or or Jeremy Moss at or 862-252-7035 to ask a question or request an application.

The Heart of Orange is bound by Main St, Scotland Rd, Central Ave and Oakwood Ave and the Valley Arts District is bound by Scotland Rd, Valley Street/Road, Argyle Ave, and Central Ave.

Orange Farmers Market, It’s Coming Back!

Orange Farmers Market, It’s Coming Back!

Monday August 13, 2018, 12pm – 6pm

73 Lincoln Avenue, Orange NJ

Come out and shop fresh produce from NJ farms as well a variety of other foods and beverages from local vendors!
Live music will be playing all day long, so make sure to bring your dancing shoes along with your appetites.
Vouchers are available for senior citizens with an income of no more than $1832 monthly. Also accepting Food Stamps, WIC, and SNAP. For senior citizen transportation call Orange Office of Older Adults at 973.266.4068/4069.

Hat City Lofts – Leading the Way for Neighborhood Transformation in Orange NJ

Hat City Lofts – Leading the Way for Neighborhood Transformation in Orange NJ

HANDS celebrated a neighborhood revitalization milestone with the completion of Hat City Lofts – the adaptive reuse of blighted factories transformed into vibrant affordable loft living and creative economy commercial space. HANDS Executive Director, Luther Flurry was joined by Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr., the Hon. Dwayne Warren, Mayor of Orange Township, New Jersey Community Capital’s President, Wayne Meyer and HANDS Founder, Patrick Morrissy along with government officials, funders and partner organizations, residents and business owners on May 31st, 2018 at 10am in the courtyard of Hat City Lofts (formerly the F. Berg Hat Factory) at 475 South Jefferson Street, Orange, NJ.

“Throughout the United States, we are seeing a resurgence of local communities,” said Rep. Donald M. Payne, Jr. “The Hat City Lofts project is the cornerstone for Orange’s arts community. This development, which my father worked hard to boost, will help revitalize the neighborhood and make the Valley Arts District a creative hub for entrepreneurship

From left- HANDS Board Member, Dr. Mindy Fullilove, HANDS Board Treasurer, Tom Slater; HUD NJ Field Office Director, Maria Maio-Messano; Prudential, Marica Smith; HANDS Board Vice-Chair, Rebecca Doggett; Greater Newark Enterprises Corporation Exe Dir., Steven Gomez; M&T Bank, Robert Carrozza; HANDS Exe Dir., Luther Flurry; Dir. Of Div. of Housing & Comm. Resources, Janel Winter; Orange Township Mayor, Dwayne Warren, Esq; HANDS Founder, Patrick Morrissy; Dir. Of Real Estate, CAPC, Jeffery Crum; Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr.; HANDS Board Chair, Elliott Lee; Valley National Bank, Bernadette Mueller; NeighborWorks America Relationship Manager, Keith Getter and Senior Dir. Of Northeast Region for NeighborWorks America, Eileen Anderson

and artistic expression.”

Click Here to learn more!

Photo by Jared Kofsky of Jersey Diggs


HANDS Part of Team to Receive 2018 New Jersey Smart Growth Award

HANDS Part of Team to Receive 2018 New Jersey Smart Growth Award

HANDS is thrilled to be part of the team awarded a 2018 New Jersey Smart Growth Awards for the #HarvardPrintingCompany project! The celebration takes place Wednesday, June 6, 5:30-8:00 PM, The Great Hall, Rutgers University, Newark. Click here for more information and to get tickets to the event!

Current Exterior
Harvard Printing Company Site BEFORE
Hat City Lofts Completion Celebration!

Hat City Lofts Completion Celebration!

Please join us to celebrate the completion of Hat City Lofts!

Thursday, May 31, 2018 at 10am
475 S. Jefferson Street, Orange NJ

Click Here to R.S.V.P.

HANDS celebrates a neighborhood revitalization milestone with the completion of Hat City Lofts – the adaptive reuse of blighted factories transformed into vibrant affordable loft living and creative economy commercial space. Join HANDS, New Jersey Lt. Governor, Sheila Oliver, the Hon. Dwayne Warren, Mayor of Orange Township, HANDS Executive Director, Luther Flurry, government officials, funders and partner organizations, residents and business owners on May 31st, 2018 at 10am in the courtyard of Hat City Lofts (formerly the F. Berg Hat Factory) at 475 South Jefferson Street, Orange, NJ.

A Kitchen Incubator Comes to Orange NJ!

A Kitchen Incubator Comes to Orange NJ!

We’re so excited to share this news! The wheels are in motion and soon there’ll be a kitchen incubator in Orange, New Jersey! Here’s Kris Ohleth, Founder of Garden State Kitchen signing the lease for one of our properties in the Valley Arts District! It was a special moment for everyone including HANDS team members Andrew Davlouros and Executive Director Luther Flurry and the great team of Greater Newark Enterprises Corporation including Kevin Chu and GNEC’s Executive Director (and HANDS Board member), Steven Gomez with ValleyArts Executive Director, Jeremy Moss! We can almost smell the incredible aromas that will soon be in the air! Check out Kris’s story at Garden State Kitchen’s website, Click Here.