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Client chosen for first Habitat for Humanity house here

Rev. Cindy Morgan and her canine companion, Elmo, will soon take up residence on Birch Court - but not before offering Habitat for Humanity a helping hand.

Rev. Cindy Morgan and her canine companion, Elmo, will soon take up residence on Birch Court - but not before offering Habitat for Humanity a helping hand.

Morgan, who's permanently disabled, will be the first to reside in a home constructed in Hubbard County by Lakes Area Habitat for Humanity.

The home, she said, will be the site of her small group ministry. And the Tadpole cyclist - a three-wheel vehicle with room for Elmo - will be welcoming cyclists as a Warm Showers host. Bicyclists traveling across the US will be invited to make a stop at her new home, once complete.

Last summer she logged 540 miles via north country trails. This year, she'll put down the kickstand.

"I'll be building a house."

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The initiative, expected to begin in mid-May will be undertaken in partnership with Thrivent Financial for Lutherans and Lakes Area Habitat for Humanity, based in Brainerd.

"Habitat for Humanity welcomes all faiths," stressed Kevin Pelkey of the Lakes Area Habitat for Humanity. "If you agree serving families in need is holding a hammer, we can build a house.

But Habitat for Humanity is beyond merely building a home, he told the 30-plus volunteers who arrived for the meeting. "It's about building a community, improving neighborhoods by building simple, decent safe homes.

"Working with Habitat for Humanity is a joyful ride," Pelkey said.

The homes are generally built in six weeks, start to finish, "depending on how many are willing to take the hammer or broom in hand."

The house to be built in Park Rapids is a 962-square-foot, two-bedroom handicapped accessible "patio home."

Habitat for Humanity applied for the building permit last week.

Two hundred "volunteer slots" are needed to build a home, Pelkey explained. "I don't want anyone to feel restricted if they're not Lutheran."

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Professionals, some on a volunteer basis, will complete excavation, concrete work, electrical wiring and plumbing.

"Everything else is done by people like you," Pelkey told his audience of men and women.

Week one involves 10 to 25 people per four-hour shift with framing, trusses, interior walls and windows, shingles, siding and door installation on the agenda.

The plumber and electrician will go to work during week two, with sheetrock hung Friday, work continuing through week three. Painting will be underway by week four, trim work during week five with the finishing touches - closet doors, shelving, towel bars and rain gutters - during week six.

Habitat for Humanity partners with Whirlpool, Pelkey said, the appliance manufacturer donating a stove and refrigerator for every home built. Other corporations have also stepped up to the plate.

Habitat for Humanity "thinks green." The Lakes Area chapter recently receiving a Best Practice Award for "green building."

The award applauds the affiliate for energy saving efforts that "go beyond building code requirements and for job site waste reduction efforts."

Plans call for a solar home to be built in Pillager in the near future, Pelkey said.

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"We welcome salvage work," Pelkey said of heading to homes to be remodeled or replaced before the wrecking ball and backhoe arrive.

The Lakes Area affiliate now has a 12,000-square-foot building in Brainerd selling "rescued" carpet, cabinets, appliances, windows, doors, flooring and more.

Proceeds generate enough money to build 1.5 homes a year, Pelkey said.

Financing for the Park Rapids home is through Thrivent Financial for Lutherans Corporation (65 percent), the local Thrivent chapter (10 percent, approximately $10,000, with $4,000 raised to date) and Lakes Area Habitat for Humanity (25 percent), Pelkey explained.

Morgan's no-interest, 20- to 30-year mortgage will be administered by Habitat for Humanity. She will be matched with a mentor to assist her with "home ownership."

She may sell the property, with Habitat for Humanity given first option to purchase. She may not rent the property.

To learn more about the volunteer opportunities - about to unfold - contact Chuck Anderson with the Hubbard County chapter of Habitat for Humanity at 652-2680.

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