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McGREGOR e@ca.on.simcoe_county.nottawasaga.collingwood.the_connection 2003-07-25 published
   category e is education election employment athletics
Local Habitat family can't wait to get into their new home
Apryl MacGREGOR, Special to the Connection, page 4
At the comer of Raglan and Ontario Streets in Collingwood stands the basement of what will be a family's first home - the first place they will ever truly call home.
Patrick and Lisa MILLER are the family chosen to reside in Colingwood's first Habitat for Humanity build. The couple and their three children; Jordan, Emmily and Sara, were told just before last Christmas that they would be building their new house, an announcement the family had long wished for.
"I didn't think we were going to get it'" Lisa MILLER said, as she stood and looked at the start of her new house.
"After the first meeting, I told Pat, 'we're not getting it.'"
"I told her, yes we are!" Pat said with a big grin.
It was a prediction he made that came true for the five of them. The pair has been together for twelve years, through thick and thin, hand in hand. Just before they received word that they would be getting the help to purchase and builds new home, Pat proposed to his long-time companion. They married this past March Since being approved for the Habitat for Humanity Build, the MILLERs said they have seen improvements in themselves and their children. The children have better grades. The oldest, Jordan, recently got a library card and has read at least ten books. Emmily got a perfect mark on her Spelling Bee, and promised she would study every night. The youngest, Sara, is opening up, asking more questions in school.
The excitement is building, brick by brick, along with the house. Jordan walked beside the cement walls that were laid the day before.
"I have to touch the house, Dad," he said as he ran his hand over the hardened base.
The basement is where Jordan wants his bedroom. The house will be a three-bedroom bungalow with an unfinished basement. The framework will be set up in the basement for a bedroom.
"We're going to drywall it and make it into his own bedroom," Pat MILLER said.
Lisa, the first to admit she's not a gardener, said she anxious to learn. "I've never had a garden."
The Collingwood Horticultural Society is helping with the landscaping on the house when it's finished, and the MILLERs are eager to pick up some pointers.
"I'm making a scrapbook," MILLER said with another big smile, standing close to her husband. "I come here and take pictures every day."
Pat MILLER already has plans lor his new house, "I know where my workshop is going to be; then I can take my tools out of my car."
Besides the plans the family has for the new home, they have a lot of work to do, and have already done much.
Combined, they need 500 so-called sweat-equity hours on top of their modest down payment before they move in. They can earn these hours by working at the Re-Store and helping on the build. They are proud to say they have accrued 400 hours, and their move-in date is October 1.
"I can't wait to build," Pat MILLER says, his cowboy boots digging into the soil that is now his property.
"If we didn't get approved, I would be here volunteering on the build."
The MILLERs were in great need of a hand up, a break. Since being approved for the build, the family is now together and has found a stable house to rent through Habitat for Humanity.
When they move into their house, the committee will follow them for one year after-ward making sure they are adjusting well. The house will start to take its true form August 9 when the walls and trusses will he put on the structure.
A natural high is what the MILLERs say they're on, especially since things are starting to take shape.
"We keep thinking we'll wake-up," both Lisa and Pat said, smiling at each other.
The shy, reserved family said they are counting the days, but know they have a lot of people to thank.
The attention they are receiving is something they're not accustomed to, but after a few minutes of talking about their plans for the house, even the kids get animated.
"We're going to paint our room pink and purple," Sara said, pointing out that she will be sharing a room with Emmily and that Emmily's favourite colour is purple.
The MILLERs say the biggest change in their lives, . and the most welcome one, is the fact that they actually have a house. Something they admit was unfathomable for them even ten months ago.
"Thank you to all who donated their time and materials."
Habitat For Humanity's motto is "it's not a hand-out, it's a hand-up."
As the sun sets over Sunset Park just across the street from the site, the children run around the property, finding heart-shaped rocks and putting their footprints in the dirt. Playing in their minds what their new home will look like. Hand-in-hand, Lisa and Patrick MILLER walk away to their car, glancing back at the frame of their first home.
For information on Habitat for Humanity, call 727-0802.

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