Over the last four months, close to 900 volunteers, supported by the Habitat for Humanity affiliate team and a number of professional tradespeople, have donated almost 6,000 hours of their time to hammer, saw, paint and pour their love into two new ‘Habitat homes’ in Campbell River.
“Habitat for Humanity Vancouver Island North (VIN) is proud that our latest build will soon be complete, and two local families will move in by mid-July,” announces Executive Director, Pat McKenna. “The completion of this duplex will bring the total number of Habitat homes in our geographic region to 18, six of which are in Campbell River. We are celebrating this accomplishment at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, June 30th with a special dedication ceremony and key presentation at the build site. The public is welcome to attend.”
The duplex, located at 129 Westgate Road, will be home to Benny and Maggie McGrath and their three children and Melisa Hamstra and her two children. Benny, Maggie and Melissa have worked side-by-side with other volunteers to participate in the construction of their homes.
After the dedication ceremony, both homeowners will be presented with several symbolic gifts to welcome them to their new homes. They will then cut a ribbon across the threshold of their respective doorways and welcome the public and supporters inside to tour the homes. Refreshments will be served.
This construction project was months in the making – for both Habitat for Humanity and its two Partner Families.
“Some people believe that Habitat for Humanity gives homes away,” clarifies McKenna. “That’s not the case. Generous community support, in the form of donations of money, materials and volunteer labour, enables Habitat VIN to build homes at an affordable cost and then sell them to our partner families at fair market value. In lieu of traditional cash down payments, our homeowners must put in 500 hours of ‘sweat equity’ by volunteering both in the construction of their home and at our ReStore. They then purchase the homes with an interest-free mortgage provided by Habitat VIN. Their monthly mortgage payments are then used to build more Habitat homes.”
McKenna stresses that Habitat is grateful to receive significant support from The City of Campbell River. The city has been generous with the donation of land to build the duplex, as well as forgiveness of development costs and significant property tax exemptions for the ReStore.
“There is no way that we could deliver on our mandate to build safe, decent and affordable housing without this level of support,” adds McKenna.
When asked about their experience with Habitat so far, Melissa Hamstra says, “The entire process has been amazing. The employees at Habitat are amazing. Construction work is not a natural talent for me and, thanks to Peter Sanderson (Build Site Coordinator) and Steve Dalley (Lead Carpenter), I have learned a lot. They are two of the most patient people I have ever met! It’s most important to mention the volunteers and organizations that have given so much in order to help my family. I can’t wait to be in our new home and think that it is awesome we had the opportunity to help build it. There are no words to express my gratitude.”
Benny McGrath says that he was floored by seeing how members of the community came together to help his family and the whole community, and how fast it has all come together.
“This experience inspires me to want to be a bigger part of my community,” states McGrath. “I was especially impressed seeing so many retirees helping on the build. These are people who have done their part [for society] and are still working to improve the community for other people’s sake. I am honestly still in shock about what is happening. Homeownership was a dream that, six months ago, seemed impossible for Maggie and me. This time last year we were at a loss as to how we were going to have any financial security for our future. Now, we will soon have a house to call home. The kids are excited to have a yard, to be able to ride their bikes on the street and to choose colours to paint their own rooms.”
The Campbell River ReStore will be closed the morning of the 30th to allow our staff and volunteers to join in the celebration.
For more information, visit www.HabitatNorthIsland.com.