Special to Black Press
Habitat for Humanity Canada celebrated the achievements of eight local Habitats during its national conference in Ontario this May. The Vancouver Island North affiliate, based out of Courtenay and Campbell River, brought two awards back to the island with them.
Peter Sanderson received the prestigious Kenneth J. Meinert Leadership Award, which honours individuals who, through exceptional leadership, have significantly advanced the mission of Habitat for Humanity in Canada. The winner of this award may also designate a $10,000 grant to their chosen area of Habitat’s work. The grant is donated by Bailey Metal Products in honour of Ken’s retirement from the company.
Peter, along with his wife Beth Sanderson, has contributed to Habitat’s mission since the early 1990s when they lived in Carman, Man. They even took part in the 1993 Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project in Winnipeg.
After relocating to the Comox Valley in the early 2000s, the Sandersons got involved with Habitat for Humanity Vancouver Island North (Habitat VIN). Over the last 18 years, Peter has held many roles with the organization, both in a staff and volunteer capacity: board member, build manager, project manager, build consultant, and currently, after retiring from staff in fall 2021, build volunteer.
“Peter not only committed hours upon hours to planning and construction, he also took countless hours teaching us homeowners how to build, maintain and love our new homes,” said local Habitat homeowner Lisa Tukker.
Habitat VIN also received the Family Partnership Award which celebrates an affiliate that has achieved better family engagement and better outcomes for families over the term of their partnership by improving communications, processes, homeowner educational and training opportunities and expectation setting.
“A successful partnership is built on transparency, trust, and respect,” said Karen McKinnon, Habitat VIN’s director of family services and community engagement. “Success means that even before a family has moved into their house, Habitat has added value to their well-being through supporting community connections and skill development, treating them with dignity, and valuing their unique differences.”
Over the course of 2021, Habitat VIN improved processes to continue to develop and maintain successful relationships and positive collaboration with Habitat homeowners at every stage of their journey. This included revamping the homeownership education course with the help of current homeowners and implementing a “three months until move-in” plan to help reduce stress.
They implemented a pre-qualification questionnaire for potential applicants and improved application paperwork for readability and comprehension. They also have volunteers in place who can support people with barriers to completion of the application, whether the barrier is literacy, language, or technology.
Habitat VIN credits local Habitat homeowners with this win for demonstrating excellent partnership and collaboration. “We are learning as much from them as they are learning from us,” said McKinnon.
“Congratulations to all the winners of this year’s awards,” said Julia Deans, president and CEO of Habitat for Humanity Canada. “These awards showcase the exceptional work of local Habitats across Canada that help fulfill our mission by providing families in need of housing with a decent and affordable place to call home.”
Other Habitat locations that received awards were Edmonton, Fredericton, Grey Bruce, Heartland Ontario, Kingston Limestone Region, Manitoba, and Windsor-Essex.
For a full description of each award and award winner, please visit habitat.ca/national-awards