THE HABITAT - Habitat for Humanity Canada

THE HABITAT - Habitat for Humanity Canada




News and Views for the Friends of Habitat for Humanity Canada

Possibility and

Progress Starts

with Home

Habitat for



Building Homes

with Hope



Habitat for Humanity Canada News & Views

Possibility and Progress

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

Transforming Communities

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

affiliates, volunteers

and supporters.





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 affiliates and

HFHI unless attributed


Visit the newly


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!


Christina Ryan

John McMahon

Jean Geary

Soapbox Design

Communications Inc.

RR Donnelley


HFHC Resource

Development Team

A Message from our

President & CEO

Building Our Organization’s

Ability to Impact More

Families and Communities

Now 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.


Stewart Hardacre

President & CEO

Habitat for Humanity Canada

2 THE HABITAT SPIRIT Spring/Summer 2011 To donate, participate or advocate visit 3


Habitat for Humanity Canada

News & Views


2011: A Year of Habitat for Humanity Anniversaries


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

their 15th birthday, Habitat for

Humanity PEI is going to spend

it with its friends doing what it

loves – building homes for families!...

You’re invited to one of the biggest

parties in PEI this year. Come

help us celebrate!”

– Susan Zambonin, Executive Director,

Habitat for Humanity PEI

For their 15th year, Habitat for Humanity

PEI plans to build five homes, providing

homeownership to 34 PEI residents

currently living in substandard housing.



Habitat for Humanity Hamilton

is looking forward to our next

twenty years with a vision that

will not only provide opportunity

to more families, but will contribute

to the redevelopment of one of

Hamilton’s oldest neighbourhoods.

While our early years were marked

with challenges, we look forward

to having learned from these

and building at a rate that will

place our affiliate as a leader in

providing homeownership to

hardworking families.”

– Bob McConkey, Executive Director,

Habitat for Humanity Hamilton

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.



“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,

which will meet GreenHouse® certified construction

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


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.

20 11

4 THE HABITAT SPIRIT Spring/Summer 2011 To donate, participate or advocate visit 5

Announcing the

New Program to Create Lasting Change for Canadian Communities

Home 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:

meningitis, respiratory problems

or asthma;

school; and

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

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 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 1-800-667-

5137 ext. 230, or by completing the reply

card included with this newsletter.

Bridging Personal


and Corporate Social


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.

6 THE HABITAT SPIRIT Spring/Summer 2011

To donate, to advocate or participate visit 7

Please help us

transform the lives

of more families like

the Ryan’s. Please

give to Habitat for

Humanity Canada.

Transforming Communities Through

Leadership and Collaboration

Stewart Hardacre, President & CEO, 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 forHabitat 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.


2010 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:

CEO, Delta Hotels and Resorts

Holcim (Canada) Inc.

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

8 THE HABITAT SPIRIT Spring/Summer 2011 To donate, to advocate or participate visit 9

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.




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


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 THE HABITAT SPIRIT Spring/Summer 2011

To donate, participate or advocate visit 11






Significant Funds

Committed by

CIDA to Habitat

for Humanity



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).

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


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.


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.

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.

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.

12 THE HABITAT SPIRIT Spring/Summer 2011 To donate, participate or advocate visit 13


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

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.

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






















14 THE HABITAT SPIRIT Spring/Summer 2011

To donate, participate or advocate visit 15



Habitat for Humanity Canada

upholds the highest standards of

accountability and transparency.

Our reputation is our most important

asset, and maintaining strong and

open relations with our supporters

is a top priority.

For this reason, Habitat for Humanity Canada

is one of Imagine Canada’s Ethical Code

Program participants, meaning that we commit

to the guidelines set in Imagine Canada’s

Ethical Fundraising and Financial Accountability

Code. For more information, please visit

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