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BEN PHILLIPS/Photo special to Alachua County Today

L-R: Tommy and Frances Rooks and their children, Katie and Noah, received a blessing and dedication of their Habitat for Humanity home in Newberry. Father John M. Phillips of Holy Faith Catholic Church, Gainesville, performed the dedication ceremony.

NEWBERRY – A brand new Habitat for Humanity home was dedicated Sunday in Newberry. The home, owned by the Rooks family, replaces a rundown trailer formerly located on the property at 29317 Northwest 46th Avenue.

“Community members dedicated countless hours of volunteer labor to build the new home,” said Jocelyn Peskin of Habitat for Humanity.

According to a Habitat press release, the new home, sponsored by an anonymous Catholic donor with matching funds from the local Catholic community, was built in honor of Pope Francis for his commitment to social justice and reinvigorating the Catholic Church.

Rooks’ new home was constructed at Santa Fe College’s Charles R. Perry Construction Institute and transported by truck to the family’s land, where volunteers and community partners worked together to complete the home by adding a front porch, back porch, driveway, landscaping, and other final touches.

The mobile home the Rooks family lived in had mold problems, along with rodent and insect infestations. Tommy Rooks, a disabled veteran, needed a safe home for his own health as well as that of his family. “I have tried all of my life to provide for my family and to give them what they need to survive in life,” Mr. Rooks said. “I can’t say how wonderful it is to have people helping my family out. I’m at a loss for words with how thankful I am for these people giving their time to help my family.”

Alachua Habitat for Humanity supports its home-ownership program through donations, grants, and principal payments from family partners. All homeowners assume an affordable mortgage for their homes at the end of their 400 committed sweat equity hours. The principal paid by Habitat Family Partners is then used to build more homes, allowing families the opportunity to pay forward the gift of home-ownership.

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