This year’s charity event will see all donations go towards Habitat for Humanity. Please take a moment to read about how the proceeds from this year’s gala will be helping out a truly deserving family:
Could you please tell me a bit about your family?
I’m a single parent of six children. My first three children are adults, and the youngest three children are 9 year old triplets with autism and intellectual disabilities. Two of my older children also have disabilities, but are able to function in daily living independently with supports. My triplets homeschool and have therapists come to our home for speech, occupational therapy and rehabilitation assistance. They have educational assistants that attend daily, and they have behaviour interventionists and respite workers. They require full care in all aspects of daily living, including dressing, bathing, toileting and eating. I work full-time plus a second job, both in the healthcare field as a Licensed Practical Nurse and as an instructor for Healthcare assistants and practical nursing. I’ve single parented most of my life and have always worked in healthcare and human services. One of my older boys lives at home, and has dedicated the last 9 years to helping me take care of his younger siblings. He’s my hero, the reason I can work, and helps me take my triplets to healthcare appointments at BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver. With my triplets having no awareness of danger and are escape risks, they need 1 to 1 supports when we leave the house. My kids are my life. I live and breathe for them.
Could you please describe your situation prior to working with Habitat for Humanity?
It’s been a crazy renting journey, filled with 35 moves in 31 years, all for a variety of reasons. Sometimes we moved to a larger rental home, a less expensive rental home, moved provinces for work amid government cutbacks, moved to safer locations, moved to be closer to family or supportive friends, moved for better services for my children, moved because the housing market changed and homes were sold for big profits and we were left finding a new home, moved for unsafe housing reasons such as black mold or dangerous neighbours, including gang members that told me which hospital and crisis shelter I worked at and where my kids went to school, we moved after each of four different break-ins, and moved after the death of a landlord, and for a landlord to put family in the home. It’s very difficult to find housing that’s affordable and appropriate for a large family. We’ve lived in 2, 3 and 4 bedroom homes, spending up to $2300/month. We also had a cat for 12 years, and a different one for 10 years prior. Our cats were family, and it’s difficult to find housing that allows a pet. Its even harder to find housing for children with disabilities, even more so if I had to make special requests to put locking chains or door guardians on the doors. Safety and stability were always lacking in rental homes.
How has your life changed since working with Habitat for Humanity? What positive impacts has it had on you and your family?
We finally have hope. Hope for a stable home and a safe environment. We are excited that soon we’ll be able to have a space that is finally customized to meet the safety requirements for my children. Each place we’ve lived, I had to problem solve ways to make a place safe, spending up to hundreds of dollars for pantries to line up and block pony walls, locking door knobs, childproofing locks, etc. We haven’t been able to decorate the kids rooms. When I bought nice red car beds for my boys, they wouldn’t fit the next home we moved to. I took the smallest room, so my boys could keep their beds and use the master bedroom. The next move, neither bedroom would work, so I had to sell their beds. One son cried when his bed walked out the door. They just have mattresses right now. So this home will allow us the simple pleasure of even having their own special bed without fear of having to getting rid of it in a year or two. Moving is expensive. Each year I’ve spent on average $5000 just for movers, cleaners, and paying extra rent for time to move. This is an annual expense we won’t have anymore. We can finally unpack all our boxes and settle in for good. We don’t know what that feels likeIts been 31 years of transitions.
What was the process like?
The process has been extra long for me. I first learned of Habitat for Humanity over 20 years ago. I’ve held onto the dream of one day having our own HFH home for all those years, never quite meeting the requirements, and twice had applied and was told no, we didn’t qualify. It’s hard to have a dream for so long and hear no, but with hope, perseverance and positive thinking, plus a whole lot of kindness and generosity of others, my dream is finally coming true! Never give up. Its been worth the wait, and the Habitat for Humanity team has been a pleasure to work with. Each step is necessary and I appreciate the time and efforts of all the volunteers and staff that contribute to helping each and every family along the way. We are still going through the process but our home is within sight. Getting the volunteer hours done, amongst family and work schedules can be challenging, but determination and the kindness of others, gets it done. I look forward to each step as it comes, and appreciate everything that happens behind the scenes.
What do you want people to know about this initiative? Why should people contribute?
Habitat for Humanity has always been an amazing opportunity for families to help themselves by receiving an affordable yet fair mortgage, with no down payment and no interest. The organization had been a blessing in so many lives, locally and around the world. In today’s economy, Habitat for Humanity is the only hope of some people to ever have a home of their own. I am one of those families. We would never have a home of our own, if we weren’t partnered with Habitat for Humanity. The organization is a blessing and a necessity.
Contributing to the organization helps grow Habitat for Humanity and the positive impact they make in each community. Some give of their time and talents, through volunteering at events, on builds, at the Restore, the new Up Project initiative, on committees and so much more. Others donate money or goods for the builds or to sell at the Restore. Every bit helps to accomplish the goal of helping families have a stable and secure home of their own. I sure appreciate everyone who is helping make my family’s dream of home ownership a reality!
Anything else you would like to add?
The smallest and simplest things can make a big impact. For our family, specifically, the smallest detail of having therapy swing bolts installed in the ceiling, removes the large bulky swing frames from the living room. This gives us back family space to spend time in together, rather than just a room full of equipment. Our quality of life will be enhanced by all the changes we can have in our own home, that can’t be done in a rental home. For my children with disabilities, this is more meaningful than I could ever express.
Thank you, Habitat for Humanity, all the supporters and donators, and staff and volunteers. You are changing our lives for the better! There are simply not enough words of gratitude.