High-pro­file hand helps city fam­i­lies

Govenor Gen­eral part of Habi­tat project

Calgary Herald - Calgary Herald New Condos - - New Condos - CLAIRE YOUNG

Car­ing Cana­di­ans help­ing one an­other — that is what is so pow­er­ful about Habi­tat for Hu­man­ity, says Gov. Gen. David John­ston.

The high-pro­file pa­tron of Habi­tat for Hu­man­ity was on site re­cently in Evanston, a com­mu­nity in north­west Cal­gary.

He was work­ing a skill saw, a nail gun and a paint brush on one of the two du­plexes that four fam­i­lies will call home late this spring.

He also hon­oured four vol­un­teers with Habi­tat for Hu­man­ity South­ern Al­berta with the Gov­er­nor Gen­eral’s Car­ing Cana­dian Award.

“It was a ter­rific build,” John­ston says of the day. He has ex­pe­ri­ence build­ing his own log cabin and has now par­tic­i­pated in four or five Habi­tat builds across the coun­try.

“(Habi­tat for Hu­man­ity South­ern Al­berta) has very am­bi­tious plans for the fu­ture,” he says.

"The big­gest con­straint is ac­tu­ally land. That’s true, of course, in Cal­gary, but it’s true in most other places across the coun­try.

“We have over a mil­lion peo­ple who are with­out homes in Canada, so the work of Habi­tat for Hu­man­ity is so won­der­ful in deal­ing with that and giv­ing peo­ple a step up.”

Qual­ico Com­mu­ni­ties is the de­vel­oper of the Evanston com­mu­nity and is a land part­ner for Habi­tat for Hu­man­ity.

“Not only is Qual­ico a fi­nan­cial sup­porter, it has, in Cal­gary, part­nered to pro­vide Habi­tat with ac­cess to land — lots or parcels — as a builder within our se­lect group among our show home builders,” says Karin Fin­ley, vice-pres­i­dent of com­mu­nity devel­op­ment for South­ern Al­berta for Qual­ico Com­mu­ni­ties.

“Ac­cess to land re­mains to be one of the big­gest chal­lenges for Habi­tat. Qual­ico is proud to help re­move bar­ri­ers to pro­vid­ing Cal­gary fam­i­lies ac­cess to land and homes, un­der­stand­ing that homes are im­por­tant to the growth and sta­bil­ity of fam­i­lies.”

The Evanston homes will con­sist of three-bed­room, two-storey homes con­tain­ing 1,030 square feet each. They will be cer­ti­fied plat­inum — the high­est level of the BuiltGreen Canada Pro­gram, which is a vol­un­tary pro­gram that pro­motes eco-friendly and sus­tain­able hous­ing.

It will help re­duce over­all costs to fam­i­lies for util­i­ties and water. Con­struc­tion be­gan last year and should be com­plete this spring or sum­mer.

Pa­trick Cash­ion, Brenda Fis­cher, John Davis and Phil John­son each re­ceived the Car­ing Cana­dian Award, the Gov­er­nor Gen­eral’s award to hon­our peo­ple who have made a sig­nif­i­cant, sus­tained, un­paid con­tri­bu­tion to their com­mu­nity in Canada or abroad.

All four­recip­i­ents have ded­i­cated count­less hours over the past years serv­ing as vol­un­teers on the board of direc­tors and as lead­ers on Habi­tat for Hu­man­ity South­ern Al­berta projects.

Mis­sion­ar­ies Tim Navratil and his wife Aileen, joined sons Josiah, 9, and Jeremiah, 7, to cel­e­brate meet­ing their com­mit­ment of 500 hours of sweat eq­uity hours of vol­un­teer work on their home.

“We’ve moved around to three dif­fer­ent coun­tries and moved seven dif­fer­ent times,” says Tim.

“A Habi­tat home means sta­bil­ity for us and set­tling down in Cal­gary here. It’s won­der­ful to be able to af­ford a home — that’s quite amaz­ing — and there’s a nice park here close to the house for the boys. It’s a nice, en­ergy-ef­fi­cient home we’re build­ing.”

Their house is framed and roofed, and work is start­ing on dry­wall and sid­ing.

Hav­ing a new home filled with nat­u­ral light from large win­dows — and with bed­rooms for each fam­ily mem­ber — is a dream come true for the Navratils.

The sense of com­mu­nity is al­ready es­tab­lished. “Some of the Habi­tat own­ers who are go­ing to live nearby have kids that our kids can play with,” says Tim.

The three other fam­i­lies in­clude Er­mias Yo­hannes and Mikal Berhe, with their three sons Yo­tam, 10, Ab­ner, 8, and Ya­son, 6.

They fled Eritrea in Africa be­cause of re­li­gious per­se­cu­tion and have started a new life in Canada.

Ghir­may Go­far and Fiori Fisa­haye have three girls, Ji­tirm, 5, Yo­cabed, 3, and Mary, 1. They sought a safer neigh­bour­hood in which to raise their daugh­ters.

Mean­while, Habi­tat fam­ily Yan­nick and Channy Potvin found the happy ad­di­tion of triplets — Tommy, Jimmy and Swanny, now one year old — to their fam­ily over­whelmed their bud­get.

“Once you have a home and you can put your fam­ily in, a lot of other good things flow from that, and we saw that to­day,” said John­ston.

Visit our web­site for more pho­tos.

Ar­lene Barr

Gov. Gen. David John­ston works a saw for Habi­tat for Hu­man­ity.

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