BY ZACHARY CORMIER
Nearly 10 months after the first sod was turned on two Habitat for Humanity duplexes in the MacKenzie Ranch subdivision in Lacombe, four families in need have a permanent place to lay their heads.
During a special Key Ceremony last Friday, Habitat for Humanity Red Deer Region unveiled the newly completed homes and presented the families who will be taking up residence with the keys to their new dwellings.
“This is absolutely incredible. The project started on the 21st of August last year when the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta came here and turned the sod and here we are 10 months later and the job is done,” said Brian Brake, executive director of Habitat for Humanity Red Deer Region.
The four residences are the first of their kind in Lacombe and were built on land purchased by the City with help from 223 volunteers who put in more than 3,500 hours of volunteer labour collectively. Several local businesses also made donations of materials or specialized service hours to make the spaces look their best.
“There’s been a lot of different people who came forward who want to be a part of the project and then to get 223 volunteers up here, that was pretty incredible,” Brake said.
“It’s an amazing opportunity. It’s a miracle for us because we’ve come a long way in the last few years,” said Danita Grovet, who, along with her two children, Serena and Luke, will be taking up residence in one of the newly completed Habitat homes.
There are now 30 homes that have been built by Habitat Red Deer in Central Alberta.
“Once a Habitat Home is built we transfer title to the family and then when they are finished with the home and prepared to move on they must sell the home back to Habitat so that we can prepare it for another family,” said Brake.
Habitat for Humanity is an international organization that provides homes for families who would not normally be able to get a mortgage because of financial reasons.
“They can come in and apply for our model and, provided that they demonstrate the need, they’re in the right financial range and they’re willing to do 500 hours of volunteer service, they can become a Habitat homeowner. And that makes it pretty special for the family,” said Brake, adding that mortgages for Habitat homeowners, once selected, have no down payment and no interest.
“Every cent they pay into it is what we give back to them when they leave.”
For Grovet and her family that meant putting in many hours at the food bank and Women’s Outreach, among other charitable organizations.
“We all worked together really hard and just to be able to do that, we’re hoping to continue in some of the volunteer things as well,” she said, adding she is grateful to all of the volunteers that banded together to make her home a reality.
“I can’t even thank them enough. I just think it’s amazing they would volunteer hours and their services. Because life is busy. Life is hard, you know when you’re raising a family and everything, it’s hard. And for people just to do that — I can’t even say enough thanks to the people who volunteered.”
Habitat Red Deer isn’t done yet, though. According to Brake, the organization has had to stop holding homeowners meetings because there are already 160 families on the list of families that qualify for a Habitat home.
“Every time we have a meeting another 80 plus families will show up. So our goal is to raise our production and during the past 12 months we’ve been able to give out Habitat homes to 11 new families, so we’re very, very pleased with that,” Brake said, adding that planning has already begun for another project in the Shepherd Heights subdivision in Lacombe.
“This morning, I saw the drawings of the new project in Shepherd Heights and the City is coming in as a partner with that as well. We’re hoping that we’ll get the project underway here within the next month.”
Construction on the new project is expected to get underway in August with a completion date set for the week of July 10th, 2017.