The Rotary Club of Grande Prairie and Habitat for Humanity celebrate the beginning of project in the City of Grande Prairie. Eight affordable homes are being constructed for families in the community.

August 6, 2020

GRANDE PRAIRIE, ALBERTA.  A Habitat for Humanity project is currently underway in Grande Prairie thanks to the generosity of the Rotary Club of Grande Prairie and other partners. Four duplexes are currently under construction by KCM Group of Companies, a local homebuilder and partner involved in the project. Partners and supporters joined to celebrate the win for affordable housing in the community at the construction site. Once the project is completed, eight families will own affordable homes; three of the eight families have already been selected by the Habitat committee.

“Habitat was delighted to celebrate alongside our many partners who have been working hard to build affordable homes for families,” said Chris Bruce, Chair of the Board of Directors of Habitat for Humanity Edmonton, the Habitat that oversees the program in Grande Prairie. “We could not be more proud of our partners for investing in their community through the Habitat program. These homes will serve many families in the coming years.”

The Government of Alberta has supported Habitat for Humanity builds across the province for over a decade and clearly understands the priority of affordable housing.

“Alberta’s government recognizes the demand for affordable housing is growing,” said the Honourable Josephine Pon, Minister of Seniors and Housing. “We are pleased to be a partner on this project giving more families access to affordable housing.”

Under the leadership of Mayor Bill Given, the City of Grande Prairie has been a stalwart supporter of affordable housing.

“The City is extremely grateful to welcome back Habitat for Humanity to our community,” said Mayor Bill Given. “We have been long-time supporters of Habitat for Humanity and are excited to add another one of their builds to our area and see the positive impact it will have on so many lives. The partnership between Habitat for Humanity, the City of Grande Prairie, Government of Alberta, CMHC, the Rotary Club of Grande Prairie and our local contractor truly demonstrate the power of working collaboratively to support all residents in our community.”

Through a generous donation of $980,000, the Rotary Club of Grande Prairie has set a solid future in place for eight local families, and as these families succeed and sell their homes back to Habitat, even more families will benefit.

“The Rotary Club of Grande Prairie is honoured to support our community through this project with Habitat for Humanity,” said Tyla Savard, President, Rotary Club of Grande Prairie. “It is exciting to give such an opportunity for families in our community to create an ongoing legacy and to strengthen the community. We are very excited that this project is well underway and look forward to any opportunity that we can roll up our sleeves and pitch in to help out outside of the financial support we have provided. We thank our fellow community partners: the City of Grande Prairie, KCM Group of Companies, and Habitat for Humanity for their part in this project, as our collaboration strengthens our community.”

This special partnership includes a local builder who will build the homes, which will allow for families to be in their homes even sooner.

“KCM has been developing communities and building homes in Grande Prairie for over 30 years and we are honoured to be working with Habitat for Humanity on this much needed project here in Grande Prairie,” said Andrea Coleman, Accounting Manager at KCM Group of Companies. “Pride of homeownership goes hand-in-hand with the embracing sense of community, and we are happy to contribute to assisting local families along their journey of achieving strength, stability and self-reliance.”

Habitat for Humanity and the Rotary Club of Grande Prairie are excited to see the progress on the houses and to welcome the families to their new homes upon its completion.

 

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About Habitat for Humanity Edmonton

Habitat Edmonton works to eliminate barriers to a better, healthier, and more financially stable life. With our help, Habitat homeowners achieve the strength, stability, and independence they need to build a better future for themselves and their families. The Habitat program in Grande Prairie joined with Habitat Edmonton in 2011. For more information about Habitat for Humanity, please visit HFH.org.

About the Rotary Club of Grande Prairie

Grande Prairie is known as Rotary City. The Rotary Club of Grande Prairie was established nearly 70 years ago as the first of four local Rotary clubs. Rotary is a strong force in our community. Members of our four clubs – our Rotaract club (post secondary), multiple Interact clubs (high school) and one of two EarlyAct clubs (K – Grade 8) in North America – we engage members of all ages to be community stewards, develop their leadership skills, and create positive change in our world. Rotary is for everyone! Rotary in Grande Prairie has a long, rich history of community building and collaboration to fundraise and give back through such events and projects as the Dream Home Lottery, Stop Hunger Now, scholarships, grant applications, and donations towards projects like Habitat for Humanity. To learn more about Rotary in our community, visit www.gprotary.com

For more information, please contact

Chris Bruce, Board Chair
Habitat for Humanity Edmonton
chair@hfh.org

Tyla Savard, President
Rotary Club of Grande Prairie
780-897-4875
tyla@synergypromotions.ca

Home in South Edmonton.

Kadra is ecstatic about her new life at Neufeld Landing, a Habitat development in south Edmonton. She is married to Abdul, and they have two children: Tasleem, their 9-year old daughter, and Hamdi, their 5-year old son. She spoke about family walks, getting to know the neighbourhood, and having great family discussions over food grilled on the BBQ. At their apartment, barbecuing wasn’t possible, but now they can enjoy it all summer long. Also, both Tasleem and Hamdi are avid swimmers who feel at home in water.

Before Habitat, Kadra and Abdul found themselves in a similar situation to many families in Edmonton: trying unsuccessfully to save for a down payment due to high rent costs and other factors. Kadra and Abdul found themselves yearning for a better life without any means of making that life a reality. There was no foreseeable exit from the apartment they had been renting for eight years.

Abdul had a friend whose family was living in a Habitat house, and his friend encouraged them to apply. Kadra and Abdul were both working parents who really wanted to own THEIR OWN HOME. They had little hope that they would be accepted into the program, but they applied any way. Kadra recalled the day they received the call from Habitat Edmonton:

“You have no idea! I was so excited when they told me that they had a house for us! I asked Habitat, ‘are you sure we are accepted?’ We set up an appointment to meet and I didn’t sleep the whole week until we met with them. I called my husband and was screaming on the phone! We’re in! We got a home!”

Kadra was excited to start her 500 hours of volunteering, but some of it was postponed due to COVID-19; however, there was an opportunity to deliver flyers for Habitat, so her and her kids pounced on the opportunity.

“Home ownership is peace of mind,” said Kadra. “Not worrying about getting kicked out, no rent raises, or wasting my money… I can stay in this Habitat house as long as I want and I’m building equity.”

Kadra was speechless when she walked into her home for the first time. She said that words escaped her. She was overjoyed because it was her first home.

“My son was the most excited; he couldn’t run around in our apartment,” said Kadra. “When we moved in, the first thing he did was run around the entire house. He said, ‘Mom, are you going to stop me from running?’ I told him, no! Go!”

Kadra and Abdul thank the many people who made it possible for them to own a home.

She said, “My husband and I couldn’t even have imagined a house like this, but Habitat transformed our lives 100 percent.”

Around the world for Habitat

*Please note that due to COVID-19, all Global Village trips have been cancelled until the end of 2020. 

 

In 2015 two incredible people entered the Habitat for Humanity world: Kerry and Rudy Buchfink. They discovered the Habitat program in 2015 and have volunteered multiple times per year in countries across the world. Since 2015, they have been on a staggering 19 Global Village trips!

Where have they been?

Armenia, Chile, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Indonesia, Macedonia (x2), Nova Scotia, Nepal, Nicaragua (x2), Poland, Portugal (x3), Prince Edward Island, Trinidad, and the Yukon.

“I’m not sure what we’d be doing if we weren’t building homes with Habitat,” Rudy joked, “We already walk our daughter’s dog 2-3 times a week. If we weren’t building homes we’d probably double that number and take a small vacation once a year.”

Habitat changed their future of dog-walking into building homes for families in need. In 2015, the couple boarded a plane for their first Global Village build, which was in Portugal. The project was a renovation, and Rudy spoke fondly of their first time experience on a Habitat build site.

“When we arrived on site, we saw that [the renovation] was a big job,” said Rudy. “The homes needed everything from trenching to removing the old roofs. We mixed cement in a wheelbarrow and the work was HARD, but the hosts were well organized and so we were making huge progress throughout the day.”

Kerry noted that when they first arrive on site, they immediately notice a language barrier. However, everybody laughed so much while they tried to understand each other that it added a new element of delight to the experience.

“The groups are happy to have you there and they bend over backwards to help YOU in any way they can,” said Kerry.

It was difficult for Kerry to select one trip as a highlight, but she did remember building in Nepal as a neat experience. “Baby goats were born every day on our build site – yes, goats! We also had to take jeeps to the build site because some of the roads were washed out. I’ll remember that build.”

Rudy likewise had a special trip, and that was his trip to Indonesia, “Building the homes was a real community effort. Everyone – even the kids – pitched in to learn construction and to learn English. Habitat helps families get homes; worthwhile homes that they are proud of.”

The couple was surprised by how they were accepted so quickly by people who didn’t even know them – both in the community and on their build teams. It is fair to say that Global Village has changed the Buchfink’s lives as much or more than the impact they have had on the people in the countries they have visited.

 

*Although Global Village trips have been cancelled to the end of 2020 (and, unfortunately, the Buchfink’s September Global Village trip to Romania was cancelled), you can still read up on Global Village to see what is all involved. https://habitat.ca/en/volunteer/build-globally

 

 

Amanda and her family move into a Habitat home in St. Albert.

A surreal experience: Sabrina’s journey to home ownership.

Sabrina and her sons received their Habitat house keys in December of 2015.
Sabrina and her sons at their home at Neufeld Landing in Edmonton.

On a chilly December morning in 2015, Sabrina and her two sons arrived at Neufeld Landing, the biggest Habitat build in Canadian history. Their anticipation was brewing – it was “key day”: they were about to receive the keys to their new Habitat house in the 64-home development. Her partnership with Habitat required that she volunteer 500 hours and she had completed those hours and was ready to reap the rewards of all her hard work.

A few months earlier, life was different; it was much more difficult. Sabrina had lived in small condos and she wasn’t sure if she would ever be able to afford a house for her sons. She had heard about the Habitat program through her cousin, who encouraged her to apply. Her research led her to an information session, where she learned all the details of the Habitat program. Sabrina was invited to apply, and she submitted her application.
Weeks passed and Sabrina thought that she was likely passed over for another family in need. However, she decided to call the office to inquire. A Family Services Coordinator politely answered the phone. Sabrina asked her about her application and wanted to know how she could improve it for next time and to see why she wasn’t selected. The Coordinator quickly thumbed through her notes and said, “Actually, you have been approved. We were making our calls today. Congratulations!”

Shortly after she received the news, Sabrina began working her 500 volunteer hours, the majority of which she completed at the Habitat ReStore East. She helped unload donations and cleaned them before bringing them out to the sales floor. While completing her hours she met many volunteers and donors for whom she is extremely grateful.
When Sabrina received her house keys, joy filled her entire being. However, nothing could prepare her for how she would feel when she walked into her home. When the door opened, there was light everywhere! In her old home there were no windows in the kitchen, but here, in her Habitat home, there were many more windows for sunlight to pour through. In her words, the experience was “surreal”.

Today, life is much different for Sabrina’s family. Sabrina has strength; and stability. She is building a solid financial foundation for her and her sons, who are now 19 and 16 years old instead of 14 and 11. They’ve grown in myriad ways. They love their independence. They speak of how their old homes felt like hotel rooms, but how their Habitat home in Neufeld Landing feels like home. Indeed, they have a promising future ahead.

When they shut the door behind them to take their dog Waffles for walk, Sabrina and her sons are grateful to be homeowners. Whether they are enjoying their favorite family pastimes: playing board games, enjoying the outdoors, sitting around a campfire, or cooking together, they always know that, as Habitat for Humanity’s founder once said, they have a safe place to rest their heads on terms they can afford to pay.

Nine wonderful years in Anderson Gardens.

In August 2011, Getahun and Ergo received keys to their Habitat home in Anderson Gardens.
Nine years later, Getahun, Ergo, and family are still thriving in their Habitat home.

Nine years.

That’s how long Getahun, Ergo, and their 15-year old daughter and 13-year old son have been living in their Habitat home. Although they received the keys to their home on a warm August morning in 2011, their journey towards home ownership began years before.

Getahun and Ergo had moved from Brandon, Manitoba, a few years earlier and Getahun secured a job as a health-aide with Capital Health. During his time as a health-aide, he was asking his coworkers about social housing, as he and his family had lived in social housing in Brandon before their relocation to Edmonton. Instead of directing him to social housing, they told him he should look into the Habitat for Humanity program.

“What is Habitat for Humanity?” asked Getahun, not knowing that his question would lead to a better future for his family.

The couple explained Habitat’s affordable home ownership program, and so Getahun and Ergo went to the website to see if their family qualified for the program and – to their amazement – they did! After an information session, Getahun and Ergo submitted their application to become homeowners. Getahun recalled how Habitat came to the house they were renting in downtown Edmonton not once, but twice. He knew they were ensuring that Getahun and Ergo would take good care of a Habitat home should they be accepted into the program.

Soon thereafter, the phone rang. It was Habitat, and they told Getahun and Ergo that they were approved!

“We were really very happy because of the stability the home would provide for our family, and it was near my work,” said Getahun.

Once they were accepted into the program, Getahun strapped on safety boots and began volunteering his 500 hours at his future home: Anderson Gardens. His hours were filled with joy and he made special friends on the build site.

“I really appreciated the donors and volunteers,” said Getahun. “One said he’d volunteer his life for Habitat because the families deserve to be homeowners.”

It was a magical morning in August 2011 when the family received their keys, which were presented by Ken and Margaret Anderson, the generous couple who donated the land at Anderson Gardens to Habitat. At the time, Getahun’s and Ergo’s children were 5 and 7, and they were running around the house teeming with excitement – especially when they saw their new rooms.

Getahun said:
“Our children were and are very happy with our home and where we live. It is a quiet place and our neighbourhood is really great too. I am so thankful for Habitat because the opportunity has changed our lives. It gave me the opportunity to get my LPN (licenced practitioner nurse) and better our lives. My children have had a great place to live. I thank all the volunteers and donors who give to help families who are struggling to make their lives better and to help our children become more successful.”

Getahun mentioned that he didn’t have the words to say to express how much Habitat has done for his family. He wanted people to know that he is grateful for all that supporters have done to improve his family’s life.

Shelly’s Story

My name is Shelly, and I have two daughters. We own a Habitat “buy back” home in Edmonton’s Kirkness community. About four years ago I heard about Habitat for Humanity and how the program helps families. I did some research and realized, wow, the program had helped so many families get a new fresh start. I was amazed and thought an opportunity like the Habitat program would be so great for my daughters and me. Before Habitat, life was okay, but I never felt like we had a stable home because with renting you just don’t have stability.

I was renting an old home that was very cold in winter. I had to put plastic on the inside and outside of my windows to keep the cold out. We rented this house because it was all I could afford, and the rent was 50% net of what I was paid at work. Before being accepted into the Habitat program, owning my own home was only a dream. Now I own a beautiful, bright, clean, warm, safe and stable home, and it is my dream come true. To me, the most important thing about being a homeowner is safety and stability for my daughters and me. I have had many positive and fun experiences while completing my 500 volunteer hours, including meeting all those nice friendly volunteers at Habitat.

I remember my very first 8-hour shift at Restore North. My youngest daughter and I went to the lunchroom and saw a bulletin board with our family’s picture on it and it said “future homeowner”. I started to cry, and I said to my daughter this is real. The past few years I have shed more than a few happy tears. I am so, so thankful for all the hard work Habitat staff and volunteers do to make dreams like mine come true. Since owning our Habitat home life has been GREAT for us!

For those of you who support Habitat, thank you for all the amazing things you do to help families! All of us are grateful for all you do and are grateful that you are people with very big hearts.