Women volunteers help Elie family move ‘build of first new home’ along in Old Bridge


OLD BRIDGE – At times, Taylor Elie has moments of “Oh my God, this is going to be mine” as she and her family spend time putting “sweat equity” hours into building their first new home.

“It’s been a process, it’s all beautiful and all worth it … every piece of wood, everything,” she said.

Eight months ago, the Elie family along with the Morris Habitat for Humanity and the community broke ground on the new home for the family – Taylor, her husband Jimmy and their two children, Jilaya, 18, and their 10-year-old son.

On June 7, Morris Habitat for Humanity celebrated Women Build Day to spotlight the homeownership challenges facing women.

Wearing pink T-shirts, hard hats and swinging hammers, women construction volunteers from local businesses and organizations worked alongside the future homeowners to help move the build along.

“It’s hard work to put in the sweat equity,” said Blair Schleicher Wilson, CEO of Morris Habitat for Humanity. “For the family moving in here and that was selected, they have the extra burden of traveling far, but they put in that commitment while raising a family, while working.”

She said having families put in the “sweat equity,” is a key part of Habitat for Humanity.

“Many of us don’t have thousands and thousands of dollars to put down on a home,” Wilson said. “But we have a pulse and a smile.”

The home for the Elie family is expected to finish by August. The women volunteers worked on painting the home during Women Build Day. Chick Fil A provided lunch for volunteers.

It was in October 2020 when Elie came across an open application with Morris Habitat for Humanity and soon after their family, who live in Queens, N.Y., started a new chapter in Old Bridge.

The new construction, ranch-style home located at 308 Norwood Ave. will feature three bedrooms, one bath, a front porch and small backyard. The home will be Energy Star certified and will have a septic system and public water. The property was donated by Michael Landreth.

Mayor Owen Henry said it means so much to the community “to offer a family an opportunity to live in a community that is safe, offers all the services and a great school system.”

“It means a lot to us to bring good families to Old Bridge,” he said. “Nothing is more important to a family than a place to call home. We all need that place to call home and feel safe and know that everyone in the community is here for them.”

Soon across the street 12 more families will be afforded with the same opportunities as officials have partnered with Morris Habitat with Humanity to build 12 duplex units.

The Old Bridge home at Norwood Avenue is Morris Habitat’s first build in Middlesex County since their merge with their sister affiliate Greater Plainfield and Middlesex County.

Since 1985, Morris Habitat has served more than 780 families through building 172 local homes, preserving 325 homes for low-income and senior residents, and helping 282 families with housing solutions worldwide

Morris Habitat also operates a successful ReStore home improvement outlet which has kept 13,500 tons of reusable materials out of landfills and funded 31 homes.

For more information, visit MorrisHabitat.org or call 973-891-1934.