Turning a House Into a Home

Bob’s Discount Furniture Teams up with Habitat for Humanity of Bergen County and the New York Giants to Help Make Homeownership a Reality for Two New Jersey Families

John Cano was used to looking out his apartment windows and seeing buildings all around him.

For the past 27 years, the music producer from New York City would peer out the windows of his one-bedroom apartment to see the site of brick and mortar. 

But that all changed the week of Thanksgiving when Cano, his wife Nikki and their young son Johnny, moved into their new home in the Township of Washington, New Jersey.

“The first day that we stayed here I walked to the window in the back and when I saw the grass, my eyes watered,” said Cano.

Tears of joy during a week when we all step back and give thanks.

Thanks for family.

Thanks for food.

And thanks for home.

Welcome To Our New Home!

The Cano family in front of their new home | Bob’s Discount Furniture
John, holding Johnny, and Nikki Cano in front of their brand-new home.

The Cano family along with the DiSimone-Nieves moved into their brand-new homes just days before Thanksgiving. Both families were selected by Habitat for Humanity of Bergen County to purchase one of four, two-bedroom, one-bath units on Jefferson Avenue. Habitat for Humanity volunteers, Bob’s Discount Furniture volunteers and New York Giants players and staff helped build the four units.

For the last 25 years, Habitat Bergen has been helping low-income families achieve the dream of homeownership. This most recent project brings the total number of units to 36 and the affiliate has completed 92 critical home repairs.

“With the support of the Township of Washington, we are thrilled to have completed these four quality townhouses that will help low-income individuals and families move toward brighter futures,” said Maureen Cameron, Executive Director of Habitat Bergen. “This is a joyful day for John and Nicoletta and their son, Johnny, who did a great job cutting the ribbon.”

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on Saturday, December 7 to officially turn over the keys to the families. 

“We’re speechless to how much has gone into this and how privileged we are to be the recipients of such a great gift, which has completely changed our lives,” said John. 

The ceremony marked the reality of a dream come true for Nikki Cano.

“We want to thank all of you who contributed for us to have a home and my son to have a backyard and his own room,” said Nikki.  “This has been a prayer of many years.”

John Cano, New York Giants alum Jonathan Casillas, Nikki Cano and Johnny Cano at the Cano family home in New Jersey | Bob’s Discount Furniture
John Cano, New York Giants alum Jonathan Casillas, Nikki Cano and Johnny Cano.

Sweat Equity

Bob’s Discount Furniture employees assisted with insulation installation, moving gravel and painting.
Bob’s Discount Furniture employees assisted with insulation installation, moving gravel and painting.

The Cano and DiSimone-Nieves families each contributed to the building of their new homes. As part of the ownership agreement with Habitat for Humanity, residents are required to contribute 400 hours of sweat equity.

“I put in insulation upstairs in our room,” said Nikki. “John help put the walls up and every little corner of this house, we helped build alongside the volunteers.”

Some of the volunteers included Bob’s employees from surrounding stores. Bob’s employees worked alongside New York Giants players and team representations to install insulation, move gravel and paint.

New York Giants player representatives painting | Bob's Discount Furniture
New York Giants player representatives help paint the Habitat for Humanity units in the Township of Washington, New Jersey

“It goes to show you that it doesn’t matter what you do for a living; how much money you make, we’re all the same,” said Santino Melecio, store manager, Paramus, NJ. “We were able to come together for a common good thing, just as they do together on the gridiron every Sunday.”

Santino Melecio shovels gravel at the Habitat for Humanity location in the Township of Washington, New Jersey.
Santino Melecio shovels gravel at the Habitat for Humanity location in the Township of Washington, New Jersey.

Noah Abbassi, a store manager at my Secaucus, NJ location, spent a day on the job site helping to shovel gravel and place insulation.

‘It’s what humanity is all about,” said Abbassi.  “Helping out somebody else that could use a hand.”

Johnny’s First Bed

Nikki Cano reads to Johnny on his new bed | Bob’s Discount Furniture
Nikki Cano reads to Johnny on his new bed

Bob’s Discount Furniture donated brand-new living room, dining room and bedroom furniture to the DiSimone-Nieves family and the Cano family, including one very special bed.

Prior to moving to their new home, John, Nikki and Johnny all shared a king-size bed in their one-bedroom apartment and, as you can imagine, that made for pretty tight sleeping quarters. In their new home, not only does Johnny have his very own bed, but also his very own bedroom.

“This is my first bed that I’ve ever had,” said Johnny.

The bright and energetic six-year-old was eager to share his love of space with me and show me his toys when I visited his home during for the ribbon-cutting ceremony. He enjoys bugs, the moon and showing off his dance moves!

“I’m really happy to be in my new room,” said Johnny.

‘Let Me Live’

John Cano, Hector Mercado, Bob’s Discount Furniture showroom manager in Paramus, New Jersey and Nikki Cano.
John Cano, Hector Mercado, Bob’s Discount Furniture showroom manager in Paramus, New Jersey and Nikki Cano.

I can’t say enough good things about Habitat for Humanity and its mission of helping people realize the dream of homeownership. It just warms my heart to see the joy on these families faces when they step into their new homes and see their dreams come true.

For Nikki Cano, the dream of homeownership has a deeper meaning as she shared at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

She took everyone back to 2010 when she was at Lexington and 72nd Street and had just fainted. An ambulance rushed her to the hospital where she was later diagnosed with cancer – for the second time – at the age of just 34.

She started on chemotherapy a week after being diagnosed and then said a prayer.

“I said God, if my life is going to be full of pain and if it’s not going to make a difference in this world, take it, let me die. But if my life is going to make a difference in the community and to the people around me and I’m going to have joy and a family and a home, I said please let me live,” recalled Nikki.

“God let me live and I’m alive and after a few months he brought me my son and my husband and then after a few years he gave me a home which was a dream.”

DiSimone-Nieves Family

The DiSimone-Nieves Family in front of their new home | Bob’s Discount Furniture
Juliette DiSimone, Jose Nieves and Logan in front of their new home.

Jose Nieves, Juliette DiSimone and their three-year-old son Logan, moved into the unit right next to the Cano family. The family is from Park Ridge, New Jersey. Juliet is a patient care associate at Valley Hospital and Jose is a full-time college student. Jose served eight years honorably in the United States Navy. 

Logan hasn’t started school yet. He loves dinosaurs and the moon.

“We’re very blessed to move into our first home as a family and are extremely grateful for this opportunity that Habitat has provided us with,” said the DiSimone-Nieves family. “We want to thank each volunteer, employee and helping hand that worked to create such a beautiful project and made this possible for us to call home.”

About the author / Bob

I consider myself the luckiest spokespuppet ever because I get to talk about the thing I love the most everyday – furniture! Tufted headboards, rustic finishes, the difference between a sofa and a couch (yes, there is a difference)… I could go on and on. Oh, I just love furniture and I’m SO excited that I have this blog to share my passion with you! It may take me a little longer to create posts – have you ever tried typing with clay hands – but I look forward to talking furniture with you!

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