Four families were given a fresh start in Lacombe on Friday.
Habitat for Humanity Red Deer handed over the keys to two brand new duplexes in the city’s developing Shepherd Heights neighbourhood.
But those homes didn’t come without a lot of sweat equity, 500 hours per family in fact. The time is a requirement for any family hoping to be approved for one of Habitat’s builds.
“When it really started to sink in was after we started volunteering on site here and seeing how things were coming together and all the people that came to help us achieve this -- it was very humbling,” says James Reid, father of two and fiancé to Leslie. “We are very grateful for this. Sometimes I’m at a loss for words because it’s such a positive thing in our life compared to when things weren’t so good.”
In 2006, Reid blindfolded himself, threw a dart at a map of Alberta and it hit on Lacombe. So he moved there from Ontario arriving on a Greyhound bus with $200 to his name.
“I [recently] had a medical issue. I got into a car accident – hit some wildlife on the highway. We found out there was nerve damage from the accident that needed surgery. After surgery, I got a new job and then approved for this house. 2017 has been a really good year so far,” Reid explains about the circumstances which led to his application to Habitat.
Karen Vavrek, Habitat for Humanity Red Deer CEO says the handover was emotional for all involved.
“We’re not giving people a hand-out, we’re giving people a hand up. That’s really what we’re about is making sure we’re improving peoples’ lives and that was really evident today,” she says. “Work is already starting on where we’re going to do our next build. We try and focus those efforts on where the need is greatest in terms of families and right now, one of the areas we’re seeing that need is right in the city of Red Deer.”
Reid says most of all, he’s happy to see how excited son and daughter are.
“The kids are ecstatic. It’s the first time my daughter will have her own bedroom and I guess that’s a big thing for a girl,” he says. “My boy is ecstatic about having a big yard and big open basement to play hockey in.”
Habitat Red Deer has now overseen the building of 35 homes in the Red Deer area since its inception in 1994, including the last two in Lacombe. A total of 223 volunteers put in more than 3500 hours of work to build the four homes.
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