Dreams come true every day, but they do not happen on their own. It requires determination, sacrifice, hard work, and perseverance. Plugging firmly into that formula of never-give-up mindsets lead Abbi Morales-Cox to security.
She and her family have plenty to be grateful for this holiday season. They are in the midst of celebrating their first Christmas in a newly-constructed home, one they all helped to build locally with the Habitat for Humanity nonprofit organization. The chance to be a homeowner was one opportunity Cox explored to provide a better life for her children.
Many times throughout her young life, the 33-year-old mother of two said she struggled when faced with obstacles, some of which seemed too rough to handle.
Completing high school, for instance, was one of those times. She was a mother at age 18, but dropping out of Shelbyville High School (SHS) her senior year was not an option.
Cox signed a pledge in the eighth grade to do community service, make good grades, and graduate. She joined students from across Indiana as a 21st Century Scholar, a program that started in 1990 for multiple reasons, including a way to raise educational aspirations of low- and moderate-income families insuring students could attend college after high school graduation.
Accepting her diploma in 2005 made Cox the first member in her family to graduate from high school. She is the youngest of 10 siblings and stepsiblings.
She was also the first member of her family to attend college. Cox’s studies were considered pre-physical therapy, she said, while attending the University of Indianapolis and Ivy Tech. After earning an associates degree, she completed the Bridging the Gap Interpreting course through St. Vincent Health’s Rural and Urban Access to Health in Indianapolis and has been a rehabilitation technician and Spanish interpreter at Eskenazi Health in Indianapolis for four years.
“I’m the first in my family to travel outside the U.S., too,” she said. “I lived in Mexico (Vera Cruz) for one year.”
It was a tough time in her life, according to Cox, who kept the details to herself.
Another first for bettering her life and the lives of her children, said Cox, happened on April 21 this year when they moved into their home on Easter Sunday.
“We were so relieved to move into the house,” she said. “The house we had been renting was tilted and the foundation was crumbling. This one is such a relief. This is a home we can rely on. It lets me know my future is going to be okay.”
Cox had completed an application in November 2017 to be considered for a house to be built by Habitat and community volunteers. She was selected to be a homeowner in November of 2018. Before the build started on March 2, 2018, however, she was required to participate in financial education classes to learn about budgeting, credit repair, checking, savings and other accounts, loans, estate planning and more.
Setbacks in construction popped up along the way, which pushed the completion of construction back to this past April, she said.
She and her children, 14-year-old Adan Granados, who is a SHS freshman, and Addi Cox, 11, a fifth-grader at Coulston Elementary School, along with her husband of one year, Polo Morales, assisted with the construction, donating many, many hours in “sweat equity” to move in and secure a 20-year mortgage.
“This makes us feel secure as a unit,” she said. “I didn’t really know what to expect. It’s wonderful. We love our house, and with it being a house that we built with our own hands makes it extra special. There’s nothing we would change. I’m just super excited about this. I’ve never had a place that I could call my own.”
And, this is the first time, according to Cox, that she has had financial stability.
“We’re a happy family for the first time,” she said. “Sometimes it’s hard to find all the loose ends and to know how to put them together. My husband has put all of the pieces together and tied up the loose ends for us. It helps having a good father figure here.”
Cox seems content to have gotten beyond many of the bumps in her journey of life so far.
“God giving me my kids when I was young gave me a way to have a better life,” she said. “My kiddos push me to be better. I want the best for them. And, my husband makes me better every day. He keeps me grounded and keeps me knowing what’s important. He keeps me in line.”
Dreams of what the future will bring continue to be a part of Cox’s thoughts. While she said she’s happy working in Indianapolis, Cox, as a mother and wife, would like to work closer to home.
“I want to be useful to our town and use my Spanish,” she said. “I love my job, but that drive takes its toll and time away from my family.”