Family celebrates new home

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Orlando Ruiz shovels dirt Saturday. His new home in Whitesboro is in the background. Orlando Ruiz shovels dirt Saturday. His new home in Whitesboro is in the background.

Getting ready for moving day Saturday

WHITESBORO – Eleven-year-old Orlando Ruiz shoveled dirt into a wheelbarrow several yards from his new home in Whitesboro last Saturday. He and others were getting the driveway entrance ready so concrete could be poured.

He and his family will move into the house this weekend. More than 100 volunteers have helped build the Habitat for Humanity home and do work on the property in Middle Township since January.

The Ruiz family used to live at the Wildwood Housing Authority, then moved into a trailer in Rio Grande. The family is temporarily living in Wildwood.

A Habitat for Humanity home dedication event is planned Saturday, Sept. 15, at the Reeves Street home. A similar event is planned by the Assembly of God church of Wildwood.

Orlando said the new home is about twice as big as the Rio Grande trailer, and the yard is about four times larger.

The 1,200-square-foot home in Whitesboro has three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen and living room. It’s also energy efficient, with windows and 6-inch-insulated walls.

The Orlando Ruiz already has plans to turn one bedroom into a game room. That room would have gaming systems like the Nintendo Wii, Orlando said.

The yard will have a pool and a basketball area, he said.

Orlando said he plans to invite friends over on weekends and after school when he completes his homework. He is a seventh-grader at Cape Christian Academy in Middle Township.

As Orlando’s mother Marielis Ruiz stood on the porch of her new home Sept. 8, she said the family is facing a mix of emotions as move-in day nears.

She said she's appreciative to God and to the volunteers who pitched with their new home.

How will she spend time in the home initially? Getting settled in, Marielis said.

She said her family is looking forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas in the home.

The Ruiz family put in more than 400 hours of work on the Whitesboro property. Only 300 hours are required, said Shawn Lockyear, Habitat for Humanity of Cape May County executive director.

On Saturday, Chino Ruiz assisted his son Orlando dig the dirt for the concrete section of the driveway. Marielis Ruiz helped with fencing.

As Yusxunet “Chino” Ruiz spent time building the home on Reeves Street over the past several months, he didn't realize he was working on his own home.

"I didn't know it was for me," he said.

Now his family is moving in on Saturday.

Orlando said he has shown pictures of the home to friends.

They’ve told him that the home is large.

"My son is so happy, too," Yusxunet said.

Carpeting still needed to be installed in the home and landscaping done as of Sept. 8. Another work day was scheduled for Sept. 11.

Volunteers have put in nearly 3,000 hours on the home, Lockyear said in an interview Saturday.

"This house has truly been built by volunteers," she said.

Dan Kelly of Linwood, Atlantic County, has been helping with the home in Whitesboro for about two months.

"It's awesome," he said. "It's a great group."

Kelly has enjoyed seeing the Habitat home take shape.

He wanted to help with Cape May County Habitat for Humanity because he never heard back from the one in Atlantic County when he offered to volunteer.

Kelly said he plans to continue working with the Cape May County organization.

Work on the foundation, plumbing and some areas were contracted out at the Whitesboro home, Lockyear said.

Dozens of businesses provided materials at a discount or for free, she said, including shingles, siding, windows and doors.

The vinyl railings on the porch also came from a home in Ocean City, Lockyear said.

Volunteers built a shed on the property, too.

The house will cost the Ruiz family around $110,000, Lockyear said. The family will pay a non-interest mortgage, insurance and taxes, which she says will amount to around $700 a month.

Middle Township donated the Reeves Street property to Habitat. The home is Habitat’s first stick-built house since 2005.

“Our goal for the past two years has been [to] develop a volunteer-driven construction program,” said Lockyear in a prepared statement. “We are thrilled that over 100 volunteers have participated in building this house from the ground up, and we have three more stick-built houses planned for 2013, meaning lots of opportunities for new volunteers to get involved with Habitat.” 

For more information about Habitat for Humanity of Cape May County, see

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