Habitat builds hope in Camden, N.J.

CAMDEN, N.J. - November 18, 2010

"It is a big step, going from small to super huge. It feels good," said Clayton Gonzalez.

It is a big step for Clayton Gonzalez, because right now, he lives with his parents, siblings and their kids in a small two room apartment.

"This here is the kitchen. Right here - the dining room," said Gonzalez.

On Thursday, they stood in their 4-bedroom, one-and-a-half bath dream home. It's a reality because of Habitat for Humanity.

"Most people think that Habitat gives homes away to homeless people, and that is not the case. They are hardworking Americans who unfortunately do not have enough money to take the next step," said Amy Simcik of Habitat for Humanity.

The Gonzalez family is one of 9 who will move into the Cooper Plaza Project in the spring.

"It is coming together quick there was nothing - remember there was nothing!" said Gonzalez.

And they will have a hand in building it from the ground up.

"I have done everything from window seals to tearing down a chimney," said Gonzalez.

Volunteers, like these from Subaru, make it possible for Habitat to build the home and offer the families zero-percent mortgages.

"It is very gratifying to be able to help a person get something that is a part of the American dream, to be able to own a house," said volunteer Debra Crawford.

These new homes will not only change the lives of the families who will live there, but they are also a life-changer for the city of Camden, where many of the homes are either completely abandoned, or in a state of disrepair.

"It really electrifies the entire neighborhood," said Jeremy Young. "We feel like we have done a little bit to help this city become a better place to live."

And Gonzalez says at a time of year when we stop to give thanks, they are especially grateful.

"It is the biggest Christmas gift anyone can give us," said Gonzalez.

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