Okanagan families get home for Christmas, thanks to Habitat for Humanity

Four Okanagan children were sent to their rooms this week, and they couldn’t have been happier.

Four Okanagan children were sent to their rooms this week, and they couldn’t have been happier.

During a Saturday ribbon cutting for two newly completed Habitat for Humanity homes in Peachland, the executive director of Habitat for Humanity Kelowna, Deborah Guthrie, explained that sending children to their rooms is why the organization and its league of volunteers work tirelessly to provide affordable homes to local families.

It was a lighthearted spin on a story that two Peachland families know can be very weighty.

Melanie Evans, a single mother of three, said Habitat for Humanity ensured that her son Asher, 6, will get to stop sharing a bedroom with her and that is a joyous milestone.

“He’s so excited, yesterday when I picked him up at school…he jumped up and down and screamed…he’s so excited he can’t contain himself,” she said.

While Asher is excited to get his own space, Evans said her older son will be happy to get some privacy as well, and she admitted that she’s looking forward to going to sleep without a six year old’s foot kicking her in the middle of the night.

Having a Habitat mortgage, however, is giving her more than the space needed for a restful sleep.

It’s offering peace of mind that is hard to come by when you’re a single parent struggling through a litany of health issues.

“It’s amazing,” she said. “We have had our share of trials and tribulations and being able to do this feels awesome.”

Evans said that she had a bad accident over 20 years ago, and her three children have all had to help her as she healed from the countless surgeries that followed.

“My children have never asked for anything,” she said.

“They have been patient and content with what I’ve been able to give them. The day my oldest son took his last exam to graduate, he headed up north to get a job so he could help out.

“Knowing the challenges of being a single parent and the struggles of me being in-and-out of the hospital since before he was born…he’s been happy to help.

“Both my sons deserve their own room.”

It was a concept that resonated with the Nixon family, who took the keys to the house next door to the Evans. For Jordan and Travis Nixon, along with their two sons Zion, 3, and Salem, 1, being homeowners is something they couldn’t have done without the help of Habitat for Humanity.

Jordan said she’s thrilled to be able to put down roots that her family can build on.

“I just wanted to say thank you so much for everyone who volunteered to help us,” Jordan said.

“This is so much more than I could ever dream of. I am honoured to be able to live here.”

Habitat for Humanity has been in the Okanagan for 23 years, but the site that was opened on Saturday marks its first build in the Peachland.

The project started in May on land donated by the municipality,  and more than 80 volunteers, along with multiple contractors and construction companies which offered their services at reduced costs, ensured its completion.

Families who are chosen for a Habitat for Humanity House put in 500 hours of their own work.

They don’t need to put a down payment for the house and are expected to pay off a mortgage set at less than 30 per cent of their income.

“I cannot say how pleased I am…when I go through these units I see all the hard work of the volunteers, our donors and the board of directors and the families themselves put into this place,” said Guthrie.

“They are beautiful. Simply beautiful. I am so pleased.”


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