Ooh La La Boutique has helped numerous organizations in recent years by raising funds at their annual fashion show, they decided to get more hands on with their charity work in 2011.
Having worked with Habitat for Humanity in New Orleans, Ooh La La decided to get involved closer to home on Long Island, where they have five locations, including in Long Beach. Their team helped build a home for the Deacon family in Bellport.
“We didn’t have to travel,” said Natalie Orellana, Ooh La La’s public relations representative and Babylon store manager.
“We helped right in our own backyard.”
In order to help with Habitat Suffolk, members of the Ooh La La team connected with Kathy Schaefer, director of partnerships at the organization. Ooh La La not only donated $5,000 to Habitat for building materials, but also sponsored two days of building for Habitat’s “Women Build” project.
“Each year our affiliate builds one home that is sponsored and built by women volunteers,” Schaefer said about Women Build. “In addition to their fundraising for this project, eight Ooh La La staff members volunteered.”
Ooh La La owner Jenny Montiglio, a former Long Beach resident, said that her employees constantly “wow” her.
“For me, to see ten of my employees taking personal days, not getting paid and taking eight to ten hour work days for someone else, is truly inspiring,” she said. “Working together builds a ton of girl power. There were some girls who never even picked up a hammer before they helped with Habitat.”
Barbara Deacon, a single mother, applied for a home with Habitat Suffolk in November 2010 and received approval from the Habitat board in April 2011. In response to the approval, Deacon wrote to Habitat: “I am extremely excited and so thankful for all that that has been done for my family.”
Thanks to Ooh La La’s help, Deacon now has a home for herself, her two children, Mackaylah (5) and Anthony (17) and her mother, Alice.
By building the house themselves and knowing details about the Deacon family, the Ooh La La staff members who participated with Habitat felt more connected to their charitable work. Orellana and Montiglio even attended the “wall raising” ceremony for the home.
“I think we chose Habitat because it is hands on,” Long Beach store manager Nicole Campbell said. “We like getting out there ourselves, getting a little dirty, getting to know the families we’re helping. The process is more personal, so we enjoy it more [than only donating money].”
Looking to the future, the Ooh La La team believes it is highly likely they will work again with Habitat for Humanity. Depending on where Habitat needs helping hands, Ooh La La would build again in either Nassau or Suffolk.
“We put in the same amount of work here as we did in New Orleans,” Montiglio said. “We just felt more of an impact here. We know people who live in Bellport. A few of our customers drove by the house to check it out. The experience has truly been inspiring.”