Jaunt for Habitat, hope
Home for family in need
A single mom and her son get to move from their cramped apartment to a spacious new home at the end of the month, thanks to the fundraising efforts of 49 strangers.
For 22 years, Habitat for Humanity Manitoba’s Cycle of Hope campaign has helped build a new house for a family in need every summer.
This year, 49 cyclists collected more than $226,000 in donations and set off on a marathon 1,600-kilometre ride. They began in Niagara Falls, Ont., wound through the United States and ended in Winnipeg Saturday. The trek took about two weeks. Sandra Kozlowski and her 10-year- old son, Aba, get to move into the side-by-side built with the money raised by Cycle of Hope and were in awe of the strangers who took time out to help, they said.
The mother and son have been waiting patiently for a new home for 6½ years. In that time, the rent in their apartment block has increased 30 per cent, Kozlowski said.
“They got an OK for the rental increase, so rent is almost as expensive as it is to own (a house),” she said. “Now our money is stable, and we have a yard and a playroom and our friends.”
The two-block radius around Nairn Avenue where the Kozlowskis will be living is populated by many familiar faces. Many Habitat for Humanity homes are in the area, and Kozlowski already met some of her neighbours while putting in the mandatory 350 hours of volunteer work building others’ homes before getting keys to her own.
The Kozlowskis are eager for moving day at the end of July.
“There’s going to be more room, which is nice… I’m not going to have to go up and down tons of stairs,” said Aba.
The family’s current apartment is on the third level of a building that doesn’t have an elevator.
“I’m just glad we’re moving out of our apartment,” Aba continued. “It was worth the wait.” “Very, very much so,” his mom added. Sandy Hopkins, the CEO for Habitat for Humanity Manitoba, said events such as Cycle of Hope are more necessary than ever with the increasing costs of building homes.
“Every year it’s more expensive to build, so you need more cash just to stay in the same place,” he said. “The number of homes we build is based on how much cash is available.”
The Manitoba charity usually builds between 20 and 25 homes per year and always has a long waiting list for more, despite the fact they never advertise their services, Hopkins said.
“There’s hundreds of families that come, and we don’t advertise. It’s just our connection to the community,” he said. “It’s a great organization to work for... it’s an organization that has lots of sunshine. Even today, there’s lots of sunshine,” Hopkins said while standing in the rain.
Charlie Onyske smiles as he leads a pack of 49 Habitat for Humanity Cycle of Hope cyclists Saturday.