Habitat for Humanity recently completed two homes for families in Red Deer who were more than excited to learn they would be in their new dwellings for Christmas.
The Olivares and Vincent-Lavie families moved into their homes Dec. 15 after being handed the keys in a celebratory ceremony the same day.
Ami Vincent, mother of five and wife to Damian Lavie, said it is the best Christmas present they could receive as well as give to their children.
“This is awesome and has been amazing for the kids. It’s the greatest gift they could have gotten,” said Ami, who explained that her family had applied three times and is only just receiving their home.
“It makes a big difference to know that the kids have a home and can have their own bedrooms,” said Ami.
Kaya, age 10, said she is very happy to be moving into her new home right before Christmas and that it’s an amazing feeling.
“There was a lot of jumping and screaming when we told them. It takes away the worry of renting for us,” said Ami.
Shaena, age 12, said one of the most exciting things for her is the ability to have friends over to their new home because it’s bigger.
“They’ve never had friends over because it’s always been so cramped,” said Ami.
Ami said quietly and out of ear shot of the children that one of the biggest things this home will allow them to do is examine the possibility of a pet of some sort.
The baby of the family, Faith, accepted the house key in the presentation ceremony and Ami explained that Faith is one of the reasons they are so happy to be in a new home. “The last place we lived in there was a lot of mold. The baby was born premature and had major surgery and so being in the home and having to worry about the mold was a lot. This place is brand new, so we don’t have to worry about that.”
Damian said he is very proud of his home and knows the work that went in to it as he volunteered more than the required 500 hours to help build it. “After we finished our 500 hours we still kept coming and ended up working on other projects. The best part is that I’ve worked on this house physically from ground up and helped pour the basement.
“It was fun and good experience to volunteer because you get to interact with other families. You spend your time at someone else’s home and you’re paying it forward,” said Damian.
Cynthia de Boer, executive director of Habitat for Humanity Red Deer, said the house was built in a little bit over a year. She added that the staff at Habitat for Humanity feel a sense of overwhelming joy being able to provide the families with homes during the Christmas season.
“We’re not housing the homeless. We’re housing people with steady income and a job and happy families that just need a kick start. They’re wonderful and appreciative.”
de Boer said there was a big push for the volunteers and construction workers to get the home done before the Christmas season.
“Ami was here and I was saying if we are done for Christmas, where she would put her tree? Her face lit up so I said we definitely have to get this done for Christmas,” said de Boer.
“Now that my home is finished doesn’t mean I’m finished volunteering. My wife and I volunteer and if they called one night for the next day, I’d go,” said Damian.
The two homes account for the 23rd and 24th Habitat for Humanity homes in Red Deer. For more information on Habitat for Humanity and how to volunteer, visit www.habitatreddeer.ca