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News and Views for the Friends of Habitat for Humanity Canada

Possibility and Progress Starts with Home Habitat for Humanity Abroad Building Homes with Hope


Visit the newly redesigned! Earlier this year, HFHC launched a redesigned website, which we hope will offer our volunteers and donors more up to date and dynamic content that is easier to access and browse. Check it out at, and visit us on facebook to tell us what you think!


Habitat for Humanity Canada News & Views

and Progress  Possibility Starts With Home New Habitat Program Targeting the Key Activities Proven to Build Sustainable Communities

There’s No Place Like Home The Impact of a Safe, Secure Place to Live

Communities  Transforming Through Leadership and Collaboration

National Leadership Council to be a Voice for Change

 Habitat for Humanity Abroad Government Support Received for Haiti Projects; Volunteers Building a Global Village

 Building Homes with Hope Writing Contest Winner to Provide a Wellington County Family with the Hand Up of Homeownership


The Habitat Spirit, a publication of Habitat for Humanity Canada, seeks to promote communication, discussion and networking among Habitat for Humanity afďŹ liates, volunteers and supporters.


THE HABITAT SPIRIT Spring/Summer 2011


477 Mount Pleasant Rd., Suite 105, Toronto, ON M4S 2L9 1.800.667.5137 Fax: 416.646.0574



The photos contained in this newsletter were provided courtesy of Habitat for Humanity Canada, its afďŹ liates and HFHI unless attributed otherwise.

Christina Ryan John McMahon Jean Geary Soapbox Design Communications Inc. RR Donnelley HFHI HFHC Resource Development Team

A Message from our President & CEO

Building Our Organization’s Ability to Impact More Families and Communities


ow into our second quarter-century in Canada, we are looking to 2011 to be our most successful yet. A major accomplishment of this year will be the completion of our 2,000th house, which will be built over a two-week blitz build in Winnipeg, Manitoba this July. Interestingly, this home will be built adjacent to Habitat for Humanity Winnipeg’s 200th house, and both will be built as part of the third phase of the Sir Sam Steele housing development — the greenest affordable housing project in Canada, which will provide shelter to 32 low-income families once completed. With 72 affiliates across Canada, Habitat for Humanity has the presence needed to serve the majority of the Canadian population in housing need. So, in order to increase our organization’s impact, we must focus on ensuring that our affiliates have the tools they need to build more homes than ever before. For us at Habitat for Humanity Canada, this means constantly innovating our programs and looking for new ways to serve families and communities. Habitat for Humanity’s key activities focus on providing homeownership while reducing environmental impact; ensuring that our partner families have the tools they need to succeed with their new home; engaging our volunteers; collaborating and partnering with surrounding communities, and private and public partners; and, ensuring the safety of our build sites and other work areas. Ultimately, the ability of our affiliates to serve more families each year does not come down to just the wood and nails required to build the home, but rather to developing their capacity in each and every one of these key areas. This is why Habitat for Humanity Canada is launching the 360 Built Smart Partnership, a program that has identified each of these activities as a pillar, and

will drive support to our affiliates for capacitybuilding relating to each (read more about the 360 Built Smart Partnership on page 6). Another way we are looking to extend our organization’s ability to serve more low-income families is through ReNew It, a program that will enable our affiliates to assist families with owner-occupied properties by working with volunteers to undertake critical repairs or needed modifications. Staying consistent with the same principals we apply to our homeownership program, ReNew It will require qualified applicants to repay the cost of materials and contracted services at no interest and through affordable monthly payments. These programs will enable us to impact more families and communities, but as always, this will only be made possible through the dedication and passion of our supporters. Whether you have volunteered with an affiliate, have donated to our cause or advocated on our behalf, you’ve been a critical part of our past and the success we were able to achieve in our first 25 years. As we look to the future of our organization — focused on building even more homes for more families — your continued support and dedication is needed now more than ever. Be a part of our past and our future; join us this year in breaking the cycle of poverty for low-income Canadians. Sincerely,

Stewart Hardacre President & CEO Habitat for Humanity Canada

To donate, participate or advocate visit



Habitat for Humanity Canada News & Views

2011: A Year of Habitat for Humanity Anniversaries RESTORE 20TH ANNIVERSARY

This year marks several anniversaries of Habitat for Humanity in Canada, including that of ReStores, a concept first developed by five volunteers in Winnipeg 20 years ago. Quickly proving its worth, the idea caught on and today there are 65 ReStores selling new and gently used building materials and home décor items in Canada, with hundreds more spread across the United States. Equally important to the deals that can be had at ReStores is their environmental and social impact. In 2010, ReStores diverted over 20,000 lbs of material from landfill and recycled 2.1 million lbs of metal. As well, through the sale of ReStore items, a lot of which is marked down by up to 75%, ReStores raise substantial funds for Habitat for Humanity’s homebuilding efforts in Canada. ReStores rely heavily upon their surrounding communities: on volunteers in their operation and on community members to donate salable items. Visit to find and support your local ReStore.



“As with any teenager celebrating “Habitat for Humanity Hamilton their 15th birthday, Habitat for is looking forward to our next Humanity PEI is going to spend twenty years with a vision that it with its friends doing what it will not only provide opportunity loves – building homes for families!... to more families, but will contribute You’re invited to one of the biggest to the redevelopment of one of parties in PEI this year. Come Hamilton’s oldest neighbourhoods. help us celebrate!” While our early years were marked – Susan Zambonin, Executive Director, with challenges, we look forward Habitat for Humanity PEI to having learned from these and building at a rate that will For their 15th year, Habitat for Humanity place our affiliate as a leader in PEI plans to build five homes, providing providing homeownership to homeownership to 34 PEI residents hardworking families.” currently living in substandard housing. – Bob McConkey, Executive Director, Habitat for Humanity Hamilton


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This year has already seen Habitat for Humanity Hamilton dedicate four homes, setting in motion a transformation that will impact the lives of four partner families for generations to come. The homes are part of an eight-unit townhouse development, with the remainder of the units to be completed and dedicated later this year. With these homes, Habitat for Humanity Hamilton is working towards the city’s goal of making Hamilton the best place to raise a child.

EDMONTON 20TH ANNIVERSARY “We’re able to celebrate because of the incredible vision and determination of those who started the Habitat program in Edmonton twenty years ago. These folks set the foundation for us to be able to reach our current goal of serving 100 partner families each and every year by 2012.” – Alfred Nikolai, President & CEO, Habitat for Humanity Edmonton

Habitat for Humanity Edmonton built approximately one home per year during its first decade in Edmonton. In 2011, they plan to serve over 80 families with the hand up of homeownership. Habitat for Humanity Edmonton celebrated its 20th anniversary with their second annual Habitat Day in the Capital Region, a campaign that saw five builders each donate a home to the affiliate.


Governor General of Canada Puts Hammer to Nails On January 14th, His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, visited Habitat for Humanity Toronto’s William’s Way build site to lend a helping hand and mark his acceptance of vice-regal patronage of Habitat for Humanity Canada (HFHC). His Excellency arrived at the site eager to build, despite the day’s frigid temperatures. After meeting several Habitat partner families and volunteers, His Excellency got to work, cutting floorboards and nailing and sealing them into place. Following this, His Excellency, along with Stewart Hardacre, President and CEO of HFHC, and Neil Hetherington, CEO of Habitat for Humanity Toronto, addressed the crowd in attendance, thanking them for their contributions in making the William’s Way project possible. The twenty townhouses that will be built at the William’s Way site will provide safe, decent and affordable shelter to 96 women, men and children currently living in substandard housing in Toronto. The build is also the site of Habitat for Humanity’s first solar-panel technology homes in Canada,

eet GreenHouse® certified construction which will meet standards and will be 25-30% more energy efficient than those constructed to standard building code.

His Excellency, Carrying-on a Tradition of Patronage By accepting patronage of HFHC, His Excellency is carrying-on the tradition created by the two previous Governor Generals of Canada, the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean and the Right Honourable Edward Schreyer. This public expression of support will continue to bring significant awareness to the critical issue of affordable housing in Canada, and will further Habitat for Humanity Canada’s work in breaking the cycle of poverty for Canadian families. “The enthusiasm and support already expressed for our cause by His Excellency truly has been remarkable,” said Hardacre. “I want to thank the Governor General for his endorsement of our work and encouragement of our efforts, and welcome him to the Habitat Family.”

2011 Outstanding Contribution Award Recipients In Honour of All of Our Fantastic Volunteers As a way to honour all of our terrific volunteers, who every year give their time and voice to advance our mission and raise awareness of Canada’s affordable housing crisis, we recognized seven volunteers by posting their inspirational stories on our website over the 2011 National Volunteer Week. These Outstanding Contribution Award Recipients were: Joe Dauk, Wayne Helfrich, Martin Blake, Don and Lynda Sellar, Noelle Nurse, Sarah Saso and Mario Zambonin. Thanks to everyone who shared their volunteer stories with us – they were truly inspirational. And thanks again to all of our fantastic volunteers!

Buy a Hammer, Build Your Community Buy a $2 ‘paper hammer’ from June 2 to July 3, 2011, at your nearest The Home Depot location and support local charities including Habitat for Humanity. The Home Depot Canada Foundation will match the amount raised by the top performing district. Visit for participating stores.

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To donate, participate or advocate visit


Announcing the

New Program to Create Lasting Change for Canadian Communities


ome is a place where big plans grow. More than a refuge from the world outside, a home provides safety, stability, and self-esteem to the families that our communities are built upon. For those who lack a home – especially children – the impact can be devastating. Worldwide, more than 10 million people die each year from conditions related to substandard housing, and in Canada, those who lack affordable housing are: t UFOUJNFTNPSFMJLFMZUPDPOUSBDU meningitis, respiratory problems or asthma; t MFTTMJLFMZUPHSBEVBUFGSPNIJHI school; and t NPSFMJLFMZUPCFJNQPWFSJTIFEBOE unemployed as adults. Nationwide, one in seven children still lives in poverty and four million people live in core housing need. More recently, the United Nations stated that Canada is facing a national emergency on poverty, welfare, homelessness, and housing. Since 1985, Habitat for Humanity Canada has worked tirelessly towards our vision of a world where everyone has a safe and decent place to live. Our mission is to build affordable housing and to promote homeownership as a means of empowering families to break the cycle of poverty. Through our work, we have seen the transformative impact


THE HABITAT SPIRIT Spring/Summer 2011

that housing can have on families and on the communities in which they live. You might be surprised to know how many doors the key to a single home can open: kids do better in school; parents’ employment prospects improve; and families report that they are happier and better equipped to face life’s challenges. Ultimately, good housing attracts economic investment and development in our communities, and contributes to thriving school systems and community organizations. Habitat for Humanity’s model, which focuses on volunteerism and affordable housing, leads to the development of stronger, healthier, and more sustainable communities. However, today many of our 72 Canadian affiliates struggle to find the land, products, and financial donations they need to allow them to continue their work. They require support in areas critical to engaging volunteers, building homes, and training families in how to succeed with their new asset. As a result, on May 31st, Habitat for Humanity Canada will publically launch a new initiative called the 360 Built Smart Partnership, designed to drive support to local affiliates to help them proactively address the affordable housing crisis in their communities. The program takes a 360-degree approach, funding the key activities that have been proven to build sustainable communities:

1. Homeownership & Environmental Impact – Providing access to homeownership while reducing environmental impact though our green builds and ReStores 2. Family Outreach & Financial Education – Helping affiliates seek out families in need in their communities and helping partner families succeed with homeownership over the long term though financial literacy and homeowner training 3. Volunteer Engagement – Rallying communities and volunteers to tangibly take part in our work 4. Local Collaboration & Partnership Engaging both public and private partners in long-term solutions 5. Safety Commitment – Fostering safety on our build sites, and in all areas of our work Research has shown that investing in these activities leads to long-term social paybacks in the areas of improved health, educational and economic opportunities. “We’re very excited for the launch of the 360 Built Smart Partnership,” said Stewart Hardacre, President and CEO of Habitat for Humanity Canada. “Conquering Canada’s affordable housing crisis requires more than funding for home builds; it requires a conscious and holistic approach that addresses all aspects of the need for affordable housing.”


Since 1996, The Home Depot Canada and The Home Depot Canada Foundation have provided tens of thousands of skilled, volunteer labour hours and millions of dollars in cash and in-kind donations to Habitat for Humanity’s housing projects across the country. To extend their commitment to developing safe and healthy housing solutions for Canadian families in need, The Home Depot Canada Foundation recently made a three-year commitment to support sustainable community development through the 360 Built Smart Partnership. They are joined by Holcim (Canada) Inc., who has also made significant financial and in-kind contributions towards the program. Together, these organizations will encourage and empower their employees to take a leadership role in their communities by volunteering on build sites or on local boards and committees. As business leaders, they believe in going beyond the bottom line to help lead our country toward a better future. “Before a family can set their sights on where they’re going, they must first have a place to begin. We believe that a home is a starting point; a safe place where people and their ideas thrive. The transformation that we can ignite, whether through a single home, or through thousands of homes, truly is profound and enduring,” Peg Hunter, Vice President, Marketing and Communications, The Home Depot Canada and Secretary, The Home Depot Canada Foundation. Together, we are calling on Canadians and Canadian organizations to support the 360 Built Smart Partnership program to ensure lasting change for families in need. THE RIPPLE EFFECT STARTS WITH YOU

The 360 Built Smart Partnership will be a powerful movement to drive change, but we can’t do it alone. We are now calling on the support of all Canadians. Donate to the 360 Built Smart Partnership and bring about transformation to families and communities across the country that will impact generations to come. Donate now online at, by calling 1-800-6675137 ext. 230, or by completing the reply card included with this newsletter.

Bridging Personal Volunteerism and Corporate Social Responsibility Jean-Maurice Forget General Manager, Demix Agrégats (Holcim Canada) Administrator, Habitat for Humanity Montreal Board of Administrators

HUNG ON THE refrigerator of a nearly-completed Habitat for Humanity

Montreal house was a photo of the family that would soon move in. For me, just this simple image made everything that I had heard about Habitat for Humanity seem so much more tangible – the fact that a real family would experience a real transformation within the walls around me. That they would become homeowners and create a legacy impacting generations to come. I passionately believe in the work of Habitat for Humanity Canada, so when their Montreal affiliate asked for my volunteer support, I agreed whole-heartedly. I now serve on their board of administrators, working with a dedicated and skilled group that is focused on building the affiliate’s capacity. Benefitting from our work are people like Abdellatif Aabid, who moved his family from Morocco to Montreal eight years ago in hopes of a better life. An engineer in Morocco, he was able to find work relatively quickly, but was unable to secure either safe and affordable rental accommodation or financing to purchase a home. It was then that Abdellatif turned to Habitat for Humanity Montreal. I later found out that it was a photo of the Aabid family that I had noticed on the refrigerator of the build site I had visited. My passion for Habitat for Humanity is one of the reasons I am proud to work for Holcim Canada, an organization that also supports the cause with great dedication. Since 2003, Holcim Canada has been a charitable partner of Habitat for Humanity Canada, committing more recently to becoming a 360 Built Smart Partnership Title Sponsor. I find it extremely fulfilling to be able to manage this partnership for Holcim in Quebec, a region of great potential for Habitat’s work and permanent impact. Paul Ostrander, CEO of Holcim Canada, said last October, “no longer does corporate giving involve an arm’s-length financial donation that gets logged in the books as another transaction and nothing more.” Gone are the days of hollow corporate social responsibility. Today “partnership” means so much more, and I can say from experience that we’re all better for it. Our communities will not improve by themselves and many Canadian families, despite their best efforts, have not been able to break free of the cycle of poverty on their own. Through their homeownership program, Habitat for Humanity provides families with the tools they need to be confident and proud homeowners who are able to contribute to and better their communities. This is the same line of thinking that we apply at Holcim Canada, as we seek to build our employees’ pride and sense of ownership in the company with every opportunity. For me, it is inspiring to be part of Habitat both personally and professionally. I know that with the continued combined support of Holcim and its employees, our impact on communities and what it means to be “socially responsible” will continue to be undeniable.

To donate, to advocate or participate visit


Please help us transform the lives of more families like the Ryan’s. Please give to Habitat for Humanity Canada.

There’s No Place Like Home The Impact of a Safe, Secure Place to Live For a single mother of two working three jobs while putting herself through school, finding out that the apartment she rented was being sold was not welcome news. Finding a place where her daughter, Emily, who suffers from Down syndrome, could live wasn’t easy. “There just weren’t a lot of options for a single mom with two kids, one who is in a wheelchair,” says Christina Ryan. Financially stressed in one of Canada’s most unaffordable housing markets, Christina turned to Habitat for Humanity Calgary. She attended a family information session, applying for a home with a zero interest mortgage that would be geared to her income. Several months later, Christina received the news that she’d been hoping for — Habitat for Humanity Calgary had matched her with a home they were planning to build. “After meeting Christina, we knew that the hand up of a Habitat home would empower her to do many of the things that she was not previously able, while substantially improving the standard of living of her and her daughters,” said John McMahon, Habitat for Humanity Calgary Faith Coordinator. In 2008, Habitat for Humanity Calgary had completed a fully accessible home for the Ryan family in the community of Evanston in Northwest Calgary. Now, Christina no longer has to carry her daughter and wheelchair up and down stairs as she had to at their apartment building, a task she says she wouldn’t be able to do now that Emily is almost 12 years old. And the affordable mortgage payments allowed Christina to purchase a vehicle with a wheelchair lift. “We can now do more things and go more places as a family,” she says. Christina has also found professional success, opening her own photography business and regularly lends her skills to her local Habitat for Humanity affiliate that made it all possible.


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Transforming Communities Through Leadership and Collaboration Stewart Hardacre, President & CEO, Habitat for Humanity Canada



was a landmark year for Habitat for Humanity Canada, it marked 25 years of breaking the cycle of poverty by offering families in need of affordable housing a dignified and permanent solution. By the end of the year, an additional 238 families across the country had recieved the hand up of homeownership — the greatest number in our 25-year history. Sadly however, housing insecurity remains a persistent issue affecting 1.3 million Canadian families. According to a recent Wellesley Institute report, the effect of the lack of affordable housing on Canadians’ health is reducing our nation’s productivity, limiting our national competitiveness, and indirectly driving up the cost of health care and welfare (“Precarious Housing in Canada,” 2010). The nationwide affordable housing crisis is costly to individuals, communities, the economy, and the government. Together, we can and must do more. That’s why Habitat for Humanity Canada has created a National Leadership Council, a group of prominent Canadian leaders who are passionate about creating solutions to Canada’s housing crisis. They have pledged to devote their personal time, expertise and influence to raise awareness and understanding

of the problem of inadequate housing and the effectiveness of solutions centered around homeownership. We are delighted that Cossette President and CEO Brett Marchand, who has led his agency to international acclaim, has agreed to chair the Council. To date, invitations to join the Council have also been accepted by: t )BOL4UBDLIPVTF 1SFTJEFOUBOE CEO, Delta Hotels and Resorts t 1BVM0TUSBOEFS 1SFTJEFOUBOE$&0  Holcim (Canada) Inc. t 3VTUZ4VUIFSMBOE 1SFTJEFOU  Tachane Foundation We will also be announcing council members from The Home Depot Canada, MCAP, and RBC shortly. Habitat for Humanity’s work is well known, but not always fully understood. Many people are familiar with our builds, but are unaware that our model empowers families to own their own home. Partner families take out affordable, interest-free mortgages that are paid into a revolving fund, which is used to help other families in housing need by financing future builds. Many people are also often unaware of the links between housing insecurity and the determinants of health, educational outcomes and employment. Because many of our National

Leadership Council members have been involved with our cause for a number of years, witnessing the impact of our work, they are best-placed to tell our story and inspire others to get involved as donors, volunteers and advocates. They know first-hand that housing is so much more than four walls and a roof: it is a point of transformation that opens the door to education, health, security and dignity. They have seen families lifted up as children’s grades improve and parents are able to start saving for their futures. They’ve seen families once dependent on social services become taxpayers and contributors to the economic base of the community. They understand that an investment in housing isn’t a band-aid solution; it is a gateway to change, and change that lasts for generations. The National Leadership Council will be a powerful voice for change. With respected leaders sharing our message with communities nationwide, we will inspire more Canadians than ever before to invest in Habitat for Humanity: a permanent and perpetual investment that pays itself back time and time and time again. Look for more information on the Council in the coming months.

“Since becoming involved with Habitat for Humanity Canada, I’ve become more aware of the struggles that many families face when it comes to housing insecurity. As business leaders, I believe that we must take a leadership position on the issue and we must do so by investing in the development of Canadian communities. I am eager to play a meaningful role on Habitat’s National Leadership Council — driving awareness and support to Habitat’s work across the country. I’ve seen the transformation that results when a family moves into a home that they own and it is this transformative impact that gives me hope that our contribution to this issue is truly making a difference,” Hank Stackhouse, CEO, Delta Hotels and Resorts

To donate, to advocate or participate visit


National Partners The key to Habitat for Humanity Canada’s success is the generous contributions we receive from our corporate, foundation, individual and government partners. Thank you to all of them.







We are fortunate to have many committed partners – not all could be listed here. To view our complete donor list, please visit To learn more about partnership opportunities, contact Matthew Gustafson at (416) 644-0988 ext. 352 or 10

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A special “Thank You” to our committed multi-year partners. Your long-term investment helps us plan into the future and better achieve our mission to build sustainable communities across the country.




Tachane Foundation


To donate, participate or advocate visit



Significant Funds Committed by CIDA to Habitat for Humanity Canada’s Rebuilding Efforts in Haiti On March 2nd, the Government of Canada announced its commitment of almost $1.3 million to support Habitat for Humanity Canada’s rebuilding projects in Simon Pele, a low-income, high density, earthquake affected area of Port-au-Prince. With this financial support, Habitat for Humanity Canada (HFHC) plans to repair 175 homes and install 100 sanitation facilities. This will involve the training of local residents at a Habitat Resource Centre in repair and reconstruction techniques, employing and empowering Haitians in an area with high unemployment. As well, with this funding HFHC plans to provide primary health care clinics to the community, educating 10,000 community members on major health issues, immunizing 100 pregnant women and 900 children, and providing health supplies to 3,000 households and two schools. This component of the relief effort will be delivered under the direction of HFHC by Rayjon ShareCare, a Canadian NGO that has been working in Haiti for 25 years. The Government of Canada provides funding for this initiative through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).


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The State of Haiti, a Year Later The magnitude 7.0 earthquake that struck the Caribbean nation on January 12th, 2010, just 10 miles west of the capital, Port-au-Prince, damaged nearly 190,000 houses. Just over a year later, one million survivors are still displaced. Afraid to return to their homes, they are suffering severe overcrowding, health and security risks. Yet the Ministry of Public Works, Transport and Communications’ initial Building Habitability Assessments indicates that nearly 80% of damaged homes can be safely repaired and/or retrofitted while being strengthened in order to be able to withstand future disasters. Simon Pele was suggested to HFHC as a community of focus by Habitat for Humanity Haiti following a request from the United Nations Shelter Cluster to consider developing a neighbourhood program there, as it was not previously being served by any other shelter organization.

Habitat for Humanity Responds to Devastation Triggered by Earthquake in Japan Habitat for Humanity Canada (HFHC) sends its thoughts and prayers to all those affected by the 8.9 magnitude earthquake and tsunami that devastated areas of Japan on March 11th, 2011. In response, HFHC is currently working with Habitat for Humanity International, Habitat for Humanity Japan and other NGO partners to assess the situation and determine how and where Habitat for Humanity can be of most help. Currently, Habitat for Humanity International is sending leadership representatives to Japan to determine potential operational plans. We expect the response to include domestic volunteer engagement with key NGO partners, and potentially direct activities focused on home clean-up and repair, although this latter element will be a function of resources, capacity, and specific needs of those affected by this disaster.


Orest Myckan Building a Global Village Some see retirement as the end of an era, others see it as just the beginning. For Orest Myckan, retirement has given him the chance to travel the world while helping those less fortunate. Since retiring in 1997, he’s participated in 19 Habitat for Humanity Global Village builds around the world.

“When retirement came along I said no more meetings, no more committees,” remembers Orest, who spent his career working as a human resources specialist. He was a long-time volunteer with Habitat for Humanity in his local community in Edmonton, but the year he retired, he joined his first Habitat build abroad – traveling to Honduras to erect a house for a family in need. Orest began leading trips in 2000. “Once I started, I just couldn’t stop,” he says, “the experiences were just so fulfilling.” Over the course of the last decade, Orest’s builds have taken him from Guatemala, the Philippines, Jamaica and Mexico to Cost Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic and even Iqualuit.

Now 67, Orest plans to continue doing two international builds a year in addition to his local volunteer work. His most recent build took him to Nepal for the Everest 2010 Build that brought together teams from all over the world to launch construction of the second 5,000 Habitat houses in the region. Orest says the payoff from his involvement with Habitat for Humanity has been incredible. “You come together as a team and form really meaningful relationships with each other and the local people – and you see first-hand the results of your efforts,” he says. Hammering nails and laying bricks across the globe has been Orest’s fountain of youth. “It really keeps me young,” he says.


Volunteers Building Homes and Building Hope for Families Abroad IMAGINE TRAVELING into the interior of the Cambodian jungle, to the Northern Island of Hawaii, or to the mountainous region of Uganda to immerse yourself in the local culture, working to build safe and secure homes side-by-side with local residents who have welcomed you as their own. You’d be changing lives, and your own life would likely be changed in the process too. Since its beginnings in 2005 when Habitat for Humanity Canada’s Global Village program sent one trip of 20 volunteers to Uganda, the program has exploded in popularity, now having impacted the lives of over 400 partner families and 6,000 Global Village volunteers.

A testament of the life-changing impact that these trips have on their volunteers, and something that can explain the rapid growth of the program in general, is that just about every Global Village participant becomes a Global Village advocate. The stories and photos that come back from each and every trip have inspired countless others to act, which is goodwill that has led to a greater number of families abroad receiving the hand up of homeownership every year. Visit to learn more and to view upcoming trip schedules.

To donate, participate or advocate visit


Building Homes with Hope Genworth Financial Canada’s Meaning of Home Contest Winner to Provide a Wellington County Family with the Hand Up of Homeownership



Genworth Financial Canada (Genworth) announced that Grade 6 student Karson Simpson from Guelph, Ontario was chosen as the winner of this year’s Meaning of Home contest for her exceptional essay that used poetic language to compare a homeless teen with one who has a comfortable home. Karson’s submission was selected from a record number of 2,400 entries received from Grades 4, 5 and 6 students across Canada, winning her the opportunity to devote a $60,000 donation from Genworth to the Canadian Habitat for Humanity affiliate of her choice. Deciding that she wanted to help a family from her own community, Karson chose Habitat for Humanity Wellington County to receive the award. As this year’s winner, Karson also received a home computer for her own use as well as a pizza party for her entire school. Karson is the 4th winner of the Genworth Meaning of Home contest, which was established in 2007 to raise awareness among students of the importance of having a home. Since its inception, $357,000 has been donated by Genworth to 23 Habitat for Humanity affiliates in Canada. In addition to the


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grand prize $60,000 donation, five runners-up will get to devote $5,000 donations and 18 semi-finalists will get to devote $500 donations to the Habitat for Humanity affiliates of their choice. “Genworth Financial Canada’s Meaning of Home contest has once again effectively engaged youth as advocates in Canada’s affordable housing crisis,” said Stewart Hardacre, President and CEO of Habitat for Humanity Canada. “In addition, the substantial financial support that has come to Habitat for Humanity as a result of the contest has helped provide several Canadian families with the hand up of homeownership, something that we know will have a transformative impact on these families and their communities for generations to come.” All winning essays from this year’s contest can be viewed at Genworth’s Meaning of Home website, “The quality of entries we received again this year demonstrates the high level of creativity and compassion found in the younger generation,” said Peter Vukanovich, Executive Vice President, Corporate Development. “The Meaning of Home contest empowers students from across Canada to use the importance of their words to give a family a home. We would like to thank all of the entrants as well as the many teachers who brought this project to their classrooms.”

A Longstanding Habitat Partner The Meaning of Home Contest is part of a larger national partnership between Habitat for Humanity Canada and Genworth, the largest private sector supplier of mortgage insurance in Canada. The company has committed to a three-year project called “The Path to Home”, which will total more than $1 million in support for Habitat for Humanity’s affordable homebuilding projects nationwide. In addition to donations, Genworth is contributing educational materials, volunteer hours and expertise to local Habitat for Humanity affiliates in Canada. About Genworth Financial Canada: Genworth Financial Canada, a subsidiary of Genworth MI Canada Inc. (TSX:MIC), has been the leading Canadian private residential mortgage insurer since 1995. Known as “The Homeownership Company”, it provides default mortgage insurance to Canadian residential mortgage lenders that enables low down-payment borrowers to own a home more affordably and stay in their homes during difficult financial times. Genworth Financial Canada combines technological and service excellence with risk management expertise to deliver innovation to the mortgage marketplace. As of September 30, 2010, Genworth MI Canada had $5.3 billion in total assets and $2.6 billion in shareholders’ equity. Based in Oakville, Ontario, the Company employs approximately 265 people across Canada.

1 Hope by Karson Simpson She opens her eyes slowly hoping, yet again, that maybe when they are fully open she’ll be in a warm house, with a cozy bed and a fridge full of food. Instead she has only two brick walls covered in graffiti— she knows as art, a ratty old sleeping bag and a back pack for a pillow. She takes a deep breath and hopes for a good day. She wants five more minutes but doesn’t have time. Time is all it takes to be alone. A sliver of light creeps onto the walls of her brightly coloured room, as her sister slowly opens her door. She rolls over in her warm bed, blankets still wrapped around her, and opens her eyes. Her sister tells her she can get into the shower and disappears into the dark hallways of the house. She gets up to the shower five minutes later. As she steps into the steady stream of warm water, she loses herself in her thoughts. As she steps out, she clears the mirror and looks at her reflection — nothing ever changes in her life. She just stands there and thinks, for a while. She has the time. Time is all she has. She learns everything she needs to from her sister, at least that’s what her parents tell her. She hopes more for herself, because she feels like she deserves it. She’s never asked her parents for more than she already has. She knows her parents do the best they can for her and her sister, but she can’t help thinking about more. The wind whips through her hair as she walks to school with a friend. She slowly takes out her headphones as the song on her iPod finishes its last chord — All You Need Is Love; is love all you really need? As her parents argue about what to do next, the rain beats down harder and her stomach moans loudly; she’s starving. Her parents tell her and her sister to go to the women’s shelter and the family will meet again tomorrow. Will they really be back? She slowly walks upstairs leaving the family television alone till tomorrow. She brushes her teeth then crawls into her bed. She lays there in the peaceful silence, left alone; she’s swallowed up by the darkness of her non-existent room to venture into her thoughts. What if I didn’t have my warm bed, my good food? What if I had to work for everything I have and nothing was a privilege? What if I didn’t have my carefully planned out routine I follow daily? As she lies in the bed at the shelter she hears only the consistent breathing of her sister bedside her and the careful cry of an infant off in the distance. She runs through the thoughts in her head. What if I had a bed and food of my own? What if I could go to school and learn? What if I had money to buy what I wanted? What if I had my days planned? What if I had a warm home of my own? For right now she can only hope for these things, but with hope the world is yours. The next morning she wakes up and knows that if she didn’t have her home, she wouldn’t have much of anything at all. She knows now she needs to love and cherish what she has because not everyone has what she has — a home.

Read the runner-up winning entries online at








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THS: Spring 2011  
THS: Spring 2011  

The Habitat Spirit, a publication of Habitat for Humanity Canada, seeks to promote communication, discussion and networking among Habitat fo...