There are a couple of very excited families in Red Deer as they settle into new homes thanks to Habitat for Humanity.
A celebration was held recently at a duplex unit on 44 St. in Eastview with families moving into both sides of the newly-constructed complex. It was also a special day in that Habitat for Humanity staff were handing the keys over to their first ‘barrier free home’ to a single mom and her two children.
“They are very, very excited to be here,” said Cynthia de Boer, executive director of Habitat for Humanity Red Deer. The barrier-free home is for Teresa Schroeder and her children Chantel, 14 and Brandon, 13. Brandon has cerebral palsy. To help Brandon move around in his wheelchair, everything has been carefully designed in the spacious home to allow the family to function comfortably.
“The whole experience – I wouldn’t give up a day of it,” said a clearly grateful Teresa following the presentation of the keys. “It’s been the experience of a lifetime.
“Sometimes I lose faith in humanity. But when you come and work with the volunteers, it puts your faith back in humanity. They are amazing.”
She said the new home will make a world of difference for her son.
“Before this, we rented a duplex for eight years. But it was a bi-level, so we had many challenges with Brandon’s equipment. This home will give him total independence.”
Moving in next door was the Herrera family – Jose Herrera and Ana Maria Fernandez and their children Carlos, Gaby and Adriana.
Habitat for Humanity finances homes with a no-interest, no down payment mortgage. The family also contributes 500 hours of ‘sweat equity’ to the project as their new home takes shape.
“We try to work it so the families can have their children earn some of those hours as well,” said de Boer. “If they can come and help clean up the house, clean up the yard or work in our ReStore, that all goes towards the hours with Habitat. Hours can also be earned at other charities, because we want them to be part of their communities. It’s helps the families feel secure, better understand their neighbourhoods and know they are part of a thriving community. That’s our goal.”
The Habitat for Humanity Red Deer affiliate was launched in 1994. Two homes were built in Delburne at the time, but a period of inactivity followed from 1996 to 1998.
With a donation of land from the City of Red Deer, the years from 1998 to 2005 saw steady growth with the construction of nine homes. To date, 19 homes have been built and there are plans for five more in the next 18 months.
“You can see a lot of very kind souls and very good people who put their hearts and souls into this home,” said Terry Balgobin, chair of the Habitat for Humanity Red Deer board. “Nothing like this is possible without really good people involved.
“I would guarantee you that everything that could be perfect in this home is perfect.”