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Habitat for Humanity delivers new home to West Kelowna family

Star Mengede (middle) reacts as her new home, which is being financed by Habitat for Humanity Kelowna, is delivered Tuesday night. Her children, Keelan and Kiara said they are excited that they won
Star Mengede (middle) reacts as her new home, which is being financed by Habitat for Humanity Kelowna, is delivered Tuesday night. Her children, Keelan and Kiara said they are excited that they won't have to move anymore.
— image credit: Wade Paterson/Capital News

The Mengede family stood on a street near an empty lot in West Kelowna Tuesday evening.

They were joined by Habitat for Humanity Kelowna workers, members of the media and people who lived nearby.

“I see it,” yelled Kiara, as she ran toward her mother, Star, and brother, Keelan.

The family watched as two massive trucks hauled both pieces of their brand new prefabricated home up the street.

“It almost doesn’t seem real; it’s just wonderful,” said Star.

The moment of joy was much needed for Star and her children.

When Keelan was 10-months-old, Star found out he had Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Her marriage came to an end a short time after.

“All of a sudden our family life kind of fell apart. It was very difficult for me,” said Star.

“Then I came to Kelowna to become a long-term care aide and I was in a car accident.”

Since then, Star has been in a constant battle just to keep a roof over the heads of her two special needs children.

Finding affordable housing was nearly impossible for Star, especially because she needs a space that is wheelchair accessible for her son.

Habitat for Humanity recognized the tough breaks Star had been through.

The organization approached Star and offered to finance a wheelchair accessible home for her family.

“It feels like there’s still hope for everything because sometimes you get knocked down over and over again. . .it’s really hard to get up.

“With the kids we take it one day at a time, but this is like Christmas, Easter and Valentine’s Day rolled together. It’s wonderful—it restores your faith in humanity.”

The home has not been given away. The money Star contributes toward mortgage payments will be used to help build more houses.

Star said she is also looking forward to helping Habitat for Humanity Kelowna in the future by putting in volunteer hours to help bring homes to others in need.

Jacki Wlodarczyk, resource development officer with Habitat for Humanity Kelowna, said it was a special moment seeing Star’s reaction Tuesday night.

“It shows her that the community believes in her. . .it’s a forever home and that’s really important for her and her family,” said Wlodarczyk.

Although the home is in place, Star, Kiara and Keelan will have to wait until September to move in.

“They have to put the two pieces together and then do finishing touches on the inside. She’ll be moving in September and we’ll complete all the landscaping and the carport on the side with our sponsors after she moves in.”

Habitat for Humanity Kelowna needed to raise $125,000 to completely fund the project.

Wlodarczyk wouldn’t give an exact number; however, she said that the organization is still shy of that target.

“We’ll have an announcement next week where we’re at with the fundraising exactly. Our ultimate goal is $125,000—we’re reaching it, but we definitely can use more support.”

To donate to the cause, or for more information, visit payitforwardkelowna.ca.

wpaterson@kelownacapnews.com

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