Beautiful homes in your neighbourhood
Maybe a home tour is for you
Tara O’Donnell had a long love of house tours, a bunch of neighbours who had recently done kitchen renovations and a compassionate heart when she learned Haven House, a women’s shelter in Cambridge, had not reached its fundraising goals.
In an “aha” moment, the Kitchener woman decided to see if she could garner enough support to hold a tour of these kitchens to raise funds for Haven House.
“It was ‘from our home for your home’ kind of thinking,” O’Donnell said in an interview. “I also sit on the Auditorium Neighbourhood Association and it’s our goal to do grassroots activities. I thought this would be perfect.”
In fact, she would like to see other neighbourhoods copy the concept.
“We don’t own this idea,” she says. “I would like to see it in different parts of the city. And it could be for different charities. There’s a lot of room to do a tour that suits your neighbourhood.
“People shy away from volunteer work thinking they don’t have the time. But it doesn’t have to be complicated. This was pretty simple to organize and once the tour is over, you’re done.”
There are a few large-scale home and garden tours in Kitchener already, and O’Donnell didn’t want to compete with them. This was always intended to be a tour within the neighbourhood, she says.
So to keep it small and manageable, only 10 homes were on the tour and only 100 tickets were sold at $25 each. It ran for three hours on a Sunday afternoon in January – during that lull after Christmas and before life gears up again, she says.
Most of the promotion and communication happened over Facebook, keeping costs to a minimum. The tickets were paid for before tour day. The neighbourhood association helped cover some printing costs for tickets, posters and flowers for the homeowners on tour day.
Many of the homeowners provided refreshments or found sponsors to do so.
One of the homeowners was also a graphic artist and she designed the tickets. Louise Jessup makes framed stylized maps that she sells on Etsy through her business “All Over the Map.” The tour tickets used that same format, featuring a map of the Auditorium neighbourhood and the tour home locations.
“She does these cool maps and we had such good feedback on the tickets,” O’Donnell says. “After the tour she continued to sell the maps and that money went to Haven House as well.”
O’Donnell says her neighbourhood also holds a porch party in the summer with a musician playing on every porch.
She’s planning a second home tour for January 2018 and already has a dozen homes lined up. But instead of having a kitchen focus, this one is a Mystery Tour, she says, including basement, bathroom and attic renovations.
“These small efforts can make a big difference in building a sense of neighbourhood. And helping worthwhile charities,” she notes.
Anyone wanting more information on organizing a home tour can contact O’Donnell through the Auditorium Neighbourhood Association at Auditoriumna@gmail.com.
We don’t own this idea. . . . There’s a lot of room to do a tour that suits your neighbourhood.” TARA O’DONNELL