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Habitat for Humanity dedicates first house in new subdivision

Jennifer Cox, her husband, Ken Cox, and their two sons, Nick and Nate, cut the ribbon on their newly built home in Morris made possible by the Grundy-Three Rivers Habitat For Humanity. The family had an open house and dedication Saturday morning.
Jennifer Cox, her husband, Ken Cox, and their two sons, Nick and Nate, cut the ribbon on their newly built home in Morris made possible by the Grundy-Three Rivers Habitat For Humanity. The family had an open house and dedication Saturday morning.

Five-year-old Nick Cox's favorite part of his new home built through Grundy-Three Rivers Habitat for Humanity is not his bedroom or his playroom. It's the fact that he got to help construct it.

"I liked helping them build it. I helped a lot," he said just after giving his friend a tour of his new home."

Habitat for Humanity dedicated Saturday morning its ninth house, the first one in the "Hancock-Page Subdivision" on the old papermill property on North Street in Morris. The plan is for five total homes in the subdivision.

John Latimer, immediate past president of the Grundy-Three Rivers board, recognized the government officials, donors and construction team volunteers who contributed to the project.

"Without your help, this just wouldn't be possible," he said before the ribbon-cutting dedicating the house to the Cox family. "We have four more houses in this subdivision, so we need your continued support."

Habitat for Humanity works with low-income families to build homes and provide no-interest mortgages. As part of the deal, the families perform labor on their own homes and help with the construction of other homes.

The city of Morris purchased five acres of the paperboard property from Grundy County in April 2009. It is in agreement with Habitat for Humanity to sell the lots to the organization as it has funding available.

It has purchased one of the five lots so far. It will purchase the next lot after the next family is chosen, board member Julie Wilkinson said. The family selection committee is currently going through applications for their next home and has narrowed it down to three families. The next step is home visits, she said.

The family of four who received this house are Jennifer, Ken, Nick and Nate Cox. Each had a pair of scissors for the ribbon cutting and cut the blue and green ribbons together to the applause of the crowd outside their new home.

"This has been life-transforming, and I'm so thankful," said Jennifer Cox, choking up. "It's such a blessing. We have a beautiful home thanks to all of you. Thank you so much."

The Cox family was one of more than a dozen families who applied in the fall of 2011 for a Habitat for Humanity home. They will be moving from Ottawa to Morris. Jennifer Cox was born and raised in Morris. They applied for the home because of the encouragement of her mother, Jennifer Cox said.

The three-bedroom home has one and a half bathrooms and is the first Habitat for Humanity home to have a garage. All of the Morris homes will have a garage, as required by the city of Morris, Alderman Julian Houston said.

"The city of Morris welcomes you," Houston said to Cox while touring her new house after the dedication ceremony.

The Cox brothers decided to share a room so they could use the other bedroom as a playroom, Cox said. The kids' rooms are painted similarly in red, blue and grey, so when they're older and want their own rooms, they won't fight over which room they want.

The main rooms of the house are painted grey, with red accent walls, and the master bedroom in shades of blue, brown and grey.
The Cox family has contributed more than 400 hours of "sweat equity" required for their home ownership. Much of that time was putting the vinyl floor in their entire home.

"That was the main project we did ourselves," Cox said. "We've never done anything like this before, so to do the whole house and actually have it turn out, I don't think we did too bad," Cox said.


During the ceremony, past president Latimer was recognized for his seven years as board president.

"I have some big shoes to fill. ... We just want to thank John for everything," said Julie Wood, new board president.

Latimer was given a plaque for his dedication to the organization.

In addition, he and board member Tim Beck were recognized for co-leading the construction of the Morris house.

"We are so fortunate to have two incredible construction minds," Wood said. "Without these two gentlemen, we would have crooked doors and crooked windows."

Latimer said he has been a part of the organization for about 13 years and credited a strong board for the whole organizations' accomplishments through the years.

"Without the board, this job would be difficult," he said. "I appreciate all the board members."

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