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Ground broken on Worthington Habitat House

Brian Korthals/Daily Globe Members of the Southwestern Minnesota Habitat for Humanity break ground at the site dedication service for Amber Nordby and her daughters Saturday morning in Worthington.

WORTHINGTON --- Six-year-old Samara pushed her spade into the ground with determination Saturday morning, throwing little shovelfuls of dirt into the air with encouragement from sister Kiana, 2 and mom, Amber Nordby.

As recipients of this year's home from Habitat for Humanity of Southwestern Minnesota, the Nordby family was breaking ground on their new house.

"I'm very excited," said Amber Nordby, who works as a paraprofessional in District 518. "I live in an apartment complex, my kids have no yard, it's very crowded. This will be all around better."

Her new, 988-square-foot home, to be located at 1101 Eighth Ave., will be one level, no basement and will have three bedrooms and one bathroom. It will be the seventh Habitat House built in southwest Minnesota, and the third in Nobles County.

The home is the first one in the area that will be funded primarily by the Thrivent Builds with Habitat for Humanity initiative; the alliance between Habitat for Humanity International and Thrivent Financial for Lutherans will pay 65 percent of construction costs for the Nordby Home.

"We're just glad to be able to help them. It'll be fun to watch (construction) this summer," said Kathy Roslansky, a local Thrivent representative. She presented Nordby with a hammer and framed poem.

Habitat for Humanity of Southwestern Minnesota will fund 25 percent and area Thrivent chapters and Lutheran congregations will raise the final 10 percent of the costs. Nordby and her family and friends will also provide 300 hours of free labor on the home, known as sweat equity hours.

Nordby's application for a home was chosen from about seven others by the family selection committee and the Habitat for Humanity of Southwestern Minnesota board.

"I think her whole portrayal of herself and her family and her concerns for her family really made an impression on us," said Patt Johnson, a member of the selection committee.

"We were impressed with her work ethic and the way she was trying to guide her life," she said.

Habitat staff Marie Ekdom and Cheryl Thacker will be well-supported in their efforts. Roxanne Leckband, who directs youth programs at St. Matthews Lutheran Church where the Nordbys are members, has agreed to serve as the family support person.

And although organizers were without an official contractor during the groundbreaking, they were relieved when Dan Wagner of Wagner Construction offered his services shortly after the ceremony.

The event also included a number of prayers and scripture readings.

"We pray the outcome will be very meaningful for Amber and her children and the community," said Pastor David Sikkema in giving the invocation.

And though Nordby said receiving the home felt like a dream, that dream will become reality soon, with her home scheduled to be completed before the year's end.

"I want to say thank you to Thrivent and Habitat. I'm greatly blessed and I appreciate everything," Nordby said.