Thompson Christian Fellowship Centre went over the top June 3, netting $8,528.10 to support the Our Home Kikinaw "drywall project" for the second home build under construction at 335 Juniper Dr. Their goal had been to raise $7,000 through a combination of individual donations at the barbecue and a matching church donation dollar-for-dollar up to $4,000.
The drywall as recently completed but the bill remained to be paid.
Pastor Ted Goossen told the Thompson Citizen Sunday afternoon, "A total of $4,528.10 came in for the barbecue fundraiser. So with our church's matching grant to a maximum of $4,000 the total receipts will be $8,528.10. There have been other donations that also came in earlier in May – not sure what the final tally will be but we are indeed grateful for a generous response!"
Our Home Kikinaw, under the auspices of the Thompson Neighbourhood Corporation (TNRC), is a made-in-Thompson project, modelled on Habitat for Humanity, which is probably most closely associated in the public mind with former U.S. Democratic president Jimmy Carter, who was elected in 1976, the same year the organization got its start.
The Thompson Neighbourhood Renewal Corporation's board of directors has governing responsibility but the Our Home Kikinaw's "community team" and Blake Ellis, TNRC's housing co-ordinator, oversee the project with the assistance of the building, fundraising and family selection committees.
Kikinaw is a Cree word for "our home" in English translation.
The Thompson Neighbourhood Corporation (TNRC) says the Our Home Kikinaw project "is structured in accordance with Habitat for Humanity Winnipeg's policies and procedures" and "the ultimate goal of the project is to become an affiliate of Habitat for Humanity Winnipeg."
Millard Fuller founded Habitat for Humanity International in 1976. From humble beginnings in Alabama, he rose to become a self-made marketing millionaire at 29. But as the business prospered, his health, integrity and marriage suffered, he noted later. In 1965, Millard and his wife Linda turned away from their millionaire lifestyle and re-dedicated their lives to serving God. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, remain the best-known faces of Habitat for Humanity. Their involvement began in 1984 when the former president led a work group to New York City to help renovate a six-storey building with 19 families in need of decent, affordable shelter.
A non-profit, ecumenical Christian housing ministry, Habitat for Humanity seeks to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness and to make decent shelter a matter of conscience and action.
Through volunteer labour and donations of money and materials, Habitat builds and rehabilitates simple, decent houses alongside the homeowner partner families. It is not a giveaway program. In addition to a down payment and monthly mortgage payments, homeowners invest hundreds of hours of their own labour or sweat equity into building their Habitat house and the houses of others. Habitat houses are sold to partner families at no profit and financed with affordable loans. The homeowners' monthly mortgage payments are used to build still more Habitat houses.
Sandy Hopkins, chief executive officer of Habitat for Humanity Winnipeg (HFHW), met with TNRC staff, and interested community representatives from several local businesses and organizations wanting to introduce the Habitat for Humanity model to Thompson in March 2008, but told them at the meeting Habitat for Humanity Canada was unsure of what to do with Thompson.
Although the community was interested in becoming a Habitat for Humanity affiliate, Thompson was too small to be an affiliate and too far away to be a chapter, Hopkins said.
Ellis said Sunday Habitat for Humanity Winnipeg has changed their position on the issue of size over the last four years and no longer require a population base of 50,000 people. Habitat for Humanity Manitoba's territory extends throughout Manitoba and parts of Northwestern Ontario and it now has chapters and in Asessippi, Parkland, Dauphin, Flin Flon, Kenora, Lundar, Portage la Prairie, Selkirk, Southeast, Springfield and Virden. A chapter in The Pas folded recently after building one house when some of the key Habitat volunteers moved away.
Similarly here in Thompson, TNRC was unable to find a construction manager, despite advertising the job, for the second Our Home Kikinaw home build after Larry Schroeder, a carpentry teacher at R.D. Parker Collegiate, who acted as construction manager for the first build, moved away.
Schroeder was the lead builder on Our Home Kikinaw's first home and in addition to working long hours on the building himself, he supervised other volunteers who worked on the project. For his efforts, he was named Thompson's Volunteer of the Year for 2011.
Nina Cordell , Ellis' predecessor as TNRC housing co-ordinator Nina Cordell, nominated Schroeder for the awards, writing, "Larry Schroeder is an ideal candidate for this award. When Larry courageously signed on to become the main builder for Our Home Kikinaw, he was aware that there weren't funds available to provide a stipend for work that needed to be done. Nonetheless, he made the selfless decision to lead the home build, and has been its foundation.
"Larry has shown tremendous dedication and diligence towards building this home for the selected family – a single mother and her three children. He has spent countless hours ensuring the home is up to standard, all the while demonstrating an amazing amount of patience, hard work, and humility. Beyond the full-time hours during the summer months, and part-time hours since the fall, Larry also had a day job as a high school teacher – and still, he could not be more giving with his time. He has taught numerous people numerous skills when it comes to construction of the home, but he has also taught us so much more. He has displayed such generosity with his time and skills, and has proven that determination equals success in anything we do. His commitment and drive are immeasurable."
Habitat for Humanity officials from Winnipeg met with TNRC about Thompson's desire to have a chapter as recently as April, Ellis said, but he added the process could take some time as now that Our Home Kikinaw is up and running it has some unique Northern and Thompson features that it wants to retain if it is to officially become a Habitat chapter or affiliate, although the TNRC program is modelled after Habitat and has borrowed many of their policies.
Ellis said June 3 at the Thompson Christian Centre Fellowship barbecue Thompson Neighbourhood Renewal Corporation still hopes initially to build five homes in five years through Our Home Kikinaw. They will have to build another three homes in the next three years between now and June 2015 to reach that goal. The City of Thompson previously owned the two vacant lots behind the Manitoba Métis Federation building and across from St. Joseph's Ukrainian Hall on Juniper Drive where the first two Our Home Kikinaw home builds have gone side by side. The city donated the lots for the Our Home Kikinaw project. Ellis said TNRC is now looking for three more lots.
The second Our Home Kikinaw home in Thompson will belong to the Carter family, made up of Tim and Laura Carter, along with their five children, Simon, Josiah, Adira, Isabel and Marigold. The family was chosen last July based on the criteria of family composition, current living conditions, willingness to partner, level of community involvement and ability to pay. The Carters are required to put in 500 hours of volunteer work on the project, whether through labour or fundraising, and those hours count as their down payment. The homes are sold at fair market value and the proceeds, through mortgage payments, go to the TNRC. The interest-fee mortgage, which is held by TNRC, not a bank, and property tax payments are set based on the family's annual income, not the value of their home.
Tim Carter, who works in maintenance and security at Glacier MDS Aero Test Centre, and his wife, Laura, who home schools their five children, currently live in a townhouse on Eastwood.
The Lindsay family – Carey Anne, her sons Jordan and Tanner, and her daughter Keanna – were chosen in December 2009 to be the recipients of the first house, which is next door to the current home build. Construction started on the first home June 3, 2010. Construction continued on it until March 2011 and the Lindsay family moved in in April 2011.
As well as the drywall, contractors, as opposed to volunteer labour, were also used to get the shell of the second house up before the cold weather set in last winter.
Ellis said Sunday it's hoped the Carter family could move in by September, but there's no certainty of that yet.