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Ken Nelson and Katrina Fenn are receiving a home through Lakes Area Habitat for Humanity. They stand near the construction site with daughters Gabrielle and Annabelle. (Anna Erickson / Enterprise)

A new home for Laporte family

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news Park Rapids, 56470
Park Rapids Minnesota PO Box 111 56470

By Anna Erickson

A family in Laporte will soon move into a new home thanks to Lakes Area Habitat for Humanity.

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Ken Nelson and Katrina Fenn realized they needed a newer, safer home for their children and heard about Habitat for Humanity on the radio. They thought it might be a possibility for them and went through the application procedure.

They were chosen to be the recipients of a new home. The 4-bedroom, one-and-a-half bath house should be a perfect fit for them and their children.

Daughters Gabrielle and Annabelle and son, Joshua, will have more room to play in the new house once it’s complete.

“It’s remarkable,” Nelson said. “I want to thank all the volunteers who have been coming a long way to help.”

Nelson is also volunteering his time and to work on the house, which is a requirement of receiving a Habitat home. He is thrilled to be able to have a new home for his growing family.

“I won’t have to worry about the girls falling through the floor,” he said, referring to their current home, which he fell through at one point.

Habitat construction supervisor Larry Johannessohn said he’s had between six and 10 people volunteering each day on the Laporte home.

This week, the crew was finishing the roof and getting the inside ready for an electrician and plumber to work on those aspects of the home.

“By next week we should be working on sheet rock,” he added.

Volunteers come from Park Rapids, Hackensack and as far as Crosby.

“We’re especially grateful to the church ladies for lunches and snacks each day,” Johannessohn said.

Area churches have been taking turns bringing food to the construction site. They have also written prayers and kind words for the family on some of the wood used in the home.

Habitat Dick Jeub is from Crosby and has worked on 45 homes over 11 years.

“After I retired I needed something to keep me busy,” he said.

After applying for a part time job at McDonald’s and going through orientation, he realized that was not what he wanted to do in his retirement. Being a Habitat volunteer was a better fit.

“My dad was a bricklayer,” he said, and he always had an interest in construction. “I’ve learned to do just about everything.”

Anyone interested in being a Habitat volunteer is welcome, Jeub added.

“If someone has never done anything like this it’s OK. We’ll teach you,” he said.

Jeub is also on the Habitat selection committee. Applicants are typically those who couldn’t afford a home without some help.

“We don’t give the house away, though,” Jeub said.

The family gets an interest free mortgage and when it is paid off, a second mortgage is forgiven. The mortgage payments go into a revolving fund for Habitat for Humanity that is used to build more houses.

Families need to put in 300 hours in sweat equity so they have a stake in the home.

Lakes Area Habitat for Humanity is a Christian non-profit organization that strives to build simple decent affordable housing. It is run out of Brainerd and serves Cass, Crow Wing and Hubbard Counties.

Volunteers provide most of the labor, and individual and corporate donors provide money and materials to build Habitat houses.

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