Habitat for Humanity executive director Pat McKenna and Mayor Andy Adams presented the keys for new homes to two Campbell River families Wednesday morning.
Megan Anderson and her daughter Anneli and Carlye Burton and daughter Stella also received hugs and other ceremonial gifts – bread, a Bible and a toolkit – as part of the opening of the two new Habitat for Homes.
“Today is the day we hand the keys over to the families,” McKenna said.
Prior to the gifts and the key ceremony, Logan Ronhovde, the project manager who is also a pastor, delivered a blessing for the two new homes.
“This structure is so much more than a house,” he said.
During the opening remarks, Adams talked about the relationship between Habitat for Humanity and the City of Campbell River, which helped the organization find the site for the $2.2 million project.
“Council is very, very pleased to have the partnership we have,” he said.
He credited the efforts of many, including the families themselves, who helped with the building of the homes.
“I think you put a little more than the 500 hours in,” he said.
The two Hilchey Road homes are the latest of what will be 11 homes at the site. Two more are basically ready with more on the way. There are a few more touch-ups and some appliances on the way, but the two families should be living there before Christmas.
The project is ambitious and did not come together overnight, as Burton says it’s been about a year and half since her family was selected as one of the first to take part.
Foundation work on the homes started in the spring, with work continuing through the year. Ryan Hawkins, who was the construction site supervisor for Habitat for Humanity, said the homes received their occupancy inspection on Dec. 7.
As part of the Habitat projects, the families help with the work. For both Burton and Anderson this meant doing hours at ReStore, the second-hand store that Habitat uses to raise funds, as well as helping to build the house.
The “sweat equity” part has been a learning experience for Anderson, who said she did a little of everything on the house.
“I never built anything, I never fixed anything,” she said. “Ryan and Logan have been teaching me everything.”
She estimates she reached her required hours by May but kept working on the project. Similarly, Burton worked through to October.
The Hilchey Road project represents the work of many organizations, businesses and volunteers, which McKenna touched on during his opening remarks. He talked about how this is the time of year when he thinks of family most, so it was appropriate to be getting the two families into the new homes at Christmas.
“Today I have Christmas in my heart,” he said.
Habitat’s goal is to help create affordable housing for families. In Anderson’s case, it has proven to be the difference in getting a mortgage. She had been talking with several banks but, as a single parent and a nurse who doesn’t work regular hours and needs daycare, she could not get anywhere.
“I had multiple conversations with the bank,” she said.
Burton echoes these sentiments about the importance of Habitat in helping her and Stella find a place to call home.
“It’s definitely opened my eyes to what this organization actually does,” she said. “I love them all like family. I think they’re pretty amazing.”
The opening of the two homes in Campbell River is just part of the festivities right now, as Habitat for Humanity Vancouver Island North will also hold a key ceremony in Courtenay later this week, marking the first time in the 14-year history of area chapter that it has built in two communities at the same time. The Courtenay event is slated to take place at a Lake Trail Road site on Friday.
“It’s a very exciting week for Habitat for Humanity,” McKenna said.