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Cranbrook celebrates new Habitat home and hearth

Habitat for Humanity home completed, keys turned over to family at Saturday ceremony
Gord Johnston (back row

Saturday, Nov. 1, was a landmark day for Cranbrook, for the Berry family and for the Habitat For Humanity organization.

A ceremony was held that morning at the newly finished home, completely volunteer-constructed home in Slaterville, marking Habitat's first ever Cranbrook build.

In attendance were volunteers, the Berry family, members of the Cranbrook Habitat committee and members of the executive of Habitat For Humanity West Kootenay, who first approached the City of Cranbrook about building a home here.

Gord Johnston, Project Leader, handed over the keys to the house to David and Coreena Berry and their four children  Hana, Jordan, Alysha and Samantha

Rick Friesen, Regional Executive Director for Habitat for Humanity Southeast BC, from Grand Forks, spoke of the relationships forged by volunteers working on the site.

"It's a real community enhancement to see people coming together to help give someone a hand up, and a vacant lot that was a liability becomes a tax-producing property," Friesen said.

Mayor Wayne Stetski talked about the launch of the project almost three years ago, starting with the identification of an available lot.

In 2012, Habitat for Humanity's West Kootenay chapter told Cranbrook City Council of their plan to build a home in Cranbrook, for the first time.

After planning and consultation, the City came on board. A year later, in July 2013, 217 Crestbrook Avenue in Slaterville was chosen as the lot. A committee of volunteers was chosen, including Gord Johnston as project leader. Preparation of the lot, and site clearing began later that summer.

As 2013 turned into 2014, applications for a Habitat family were made available, and the selection committee (Jill Johnston, Gord Harder and Stu Deeks) began reviewing applications. The committee interviewed and visited with several families over the past three months.

Ulitmately, on recommendation of the Cranbrook Project Family Partner selection committee, the Board of Directors for Habitat for Humanity West Kootenay  approved the Berry family as the successful applicants for the first Habitat for Humanity home to be built in Cranbrook.

Site excavation began in May, and volunteers worked on construction of the home over the summer and fall, until its recent completion.

Gord Johnston thanked all the committee members, and spoke of the power of the community when it comes together.

"What I've taken away from this is not only are we providing a home for this family, but that the amount of community involvement is astounding," Johnston said. "It's real stuff — people have come out and offered their expertise and we've built something real."

An emotional Coreena Berry thanked everyone involved. "We appreciate this more than you can ever know," she said.

Jill Johnston gave a blessing, for the home and the generosity that went into building it, and for an atmosphere of peace, health, prosperity and love for those who are going to live there.

Project volunteers were mentioned and thanked — they  include: Gord Johnston, Project Leader; Jim Bennett, Construction Leader; Fran Fagan, Amenities Coordinator; Paul Willis and Gail Van Berlo, Volunteer Coordinators; Jill Johnston, Gord Harder, Stu Deeks, Family Selection Committee; Betty Roper, Publicity Coordinator; Roger and Majella Brown, Sharon Cross, Members-at-Large.

An open house followed.

Habitat for Humanity Canada homes are built by local volunteers and donations, and perhaps contrary to popular belief are not given away. HFH partners with a family in need, who will hold a no-interest mortgage, to provide them with an opportunity for home ownership they may not otherwise be able to achieve.

Habitat for Humanity describes itself as a partnership, not a charity, and believes that Habitat families are self-sufficient.

Barry Coulter

About the Author: Barry Coulter

Barry Coulter had been Editor of the Cranbrook Townsman since 1998.
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