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Morris Habitat For Humanity: Elie family set to ‘put down roots’ in Old Bridge

OLD BRIDGE – In a few short weeks, the Elie family will start “putting down roots” in the township.

The journey to their first home on Norwood Avenue came with partnerships – Blair Schleicher Wilson, executive director at Morris Habitat For Humanity (MHfH), Old Bridge Mayor Owen Henry, Tom Hayes, director of community relations at New Jersey Natural Gas, Tom Wescoe, director of construction at MHfH, Mark Odenwelder, director of program development at MHfH – and literally a village of 450 volunteers, who put in 3,500 hours.

Those partnerships and some volunteers joined the family – Jimmy, Taylor and their two children, Jilaya, 18, and their 10-year-old son – as MHfH held a ribbon cutting ceremony on Aug. 10.

Jimmy said although the process has been challenging, it could not be done without everybody he considered as “one big family.”

Taylor said her husband worked tirelessly from the time they started building their home in the fall into the super cold winter days.

“[After putting sweat-equity time into the home] he then came all the way back to the city to get to work on time,” she said. “I, myself, too put in the sweat equity hours.”

Taylor thanked her kids for being patient when she would hurry them out the door to New Jersey from their home in Queens, N.Y.

“So many people asked me, ‘Are you excited, what are you looking forward to the most?’ I really didn’t know how to answer,” she said.

Taylor said the only way she could answer is genuinely from her heart. She said it’s the stuff that some may take for granted every day.

“Having a washer and dryer, being able to breath clean air, having a dishwasher, no peeling paint, no worries about safety … just living, ” she said. “My son developed asthma from a mold condition to where we currently live, so for me it’s the little things. Those things that you all helped made possible, I’m super grateful for that.”

It was in October 2020 when Taylor came across an open application with MHfH and soon after their family began their journey towards moving to Old Bridge.

The new construction, ranch-style home located at 308 Norwood Ave. features 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.

The family will purchase the home for $226,000. Many organizations welcomed the family with welcome baskets including Chick-fil-A, First Church of Whippany, Liquid Church, New Jersey Natural Gas, and Presbyterian Church in Morristown.

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.

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