It was a momentous day for two Humboldt families.
Sod was officially turned on Humboldt’s Habitat for Humanity project at 521-2nd St. in Humboldt on June 28 — a duplex that will give two families a chance to own their own home.
In front of the already-dug basement for the bi-level duplex, each side of which will have four bedrooms over 1,900 square feet on both floors, there were plenty of Habitat volunteers dressed in blue T-shirts, with shovels in hand, ready to be part of the official ceremony.
“Today marks the beginning of a most significant step in the realization of the Humboldt and area’s first Habitat for Humanity home,” said Ivan Buehler, co-chair of the Humboldt Habitat for Humanity committee. “The duplex that will stand here in some months’ time will provide two families with quality, affordable housing that they will own after fulfilling the requirements of volunteer labour and payment of the mortgage,” he explained.
Those two families, introduced at the ceremony, are Christine Knutson and her children Skyler and McKenzie, and Greg and Toni Pascal and their three children, Alex, Kaydence and Shyanne.
This, Humboldt’s first Habitat project, would not be possible, Buehler told the assembled crowd of media, volunteers, donors and interested community members, without Habitat for Humanity Canada, the generosity of many area volunteers, the Province of Saskatchewan, the City of Humboldt, RBC, the Good Neighbour Store and other donors who have contributed money, services and materials to make this building possible.
And it’s not just a Humboldt project, Buehler stressed.
Volunteers, donors and committee members have come from all over the wider area, including Watson, Englefeld, Muenster and Lanigan.
“Habitat Humboldt’s mandate is to provide service to communities within a 50 kilometre radius of this city,” Buehler said.
This entire project got started with Rev. Brenda Curtis of Westminster United Church. After returning from one of her trips to Mexico, where she helped with projects for the poor, she approached Buehler and Bellamy about chairing a Habitat project in Humboldt.
“We then set about creating an affiliation with Habitat Saskatoon and organizing a steering committee,” Buehler said.
“Since then, we have been busy fundraising, buying this property, finding a building, getting volunteers, buying materials and getting to this moment.”
Humboldt MLA Donna Harpauer was on hand at the ceremony to help in the ceremonial ground breaking.
“This home is another wonderful example of Saskatchewan’s spirit of caring and sharing in action,” said Harpauer. “This project is the result of individuals, business and government working in partnership to help Saskatchewan families attain homeownership and to ensure that Saskatchewan remains one of the best places to build a life.”
As we all know, she said, “a house is more than just four walls and a roof over our heads. A house is a home where family and friends share memories and build dreams.”
But, she added, the cost of building a new home has increased greatly.
“As a result, some families need a helping hand in order to achieve the dream of owning their own home.”
The Saskatchewan government, she said, believes that everyone in this province deserves to have a home that promotes health, dignity, security and independence.
“That is why I am pleased that the province, through the Saskatchewan Housing Corporation, is providing $100,000 to Humboldt’s first Habitat for Humanity project.”
The government, she noted, provides funding for Habitat every year, and it’s exciting, she said, that with this project, the builds are moving out of the largest centres in the province.
“I know there’s a lot of work to be done. And I know Humboldt is up to the task.”
With this project, we are going to see, she said, what can be accomplished when the people of this region are committed to a common goal.
“A common goal is a powerful thing,” she said.
“Our Habitat project has tapped into the community spirit that Humboldt and area is well known for,” said Mayor Malcolm Eaton at the ceremony, “and created a sense of involvement and excitement about a totally new community project — one that is all about giving a helping hand and working together so good things happen for families and residents in our city.”
As a community, he said, we can pat ourselves on the back for many proud accomplishments, including building Humboldt and area’s first Habitat project, and we can look forward to a future which will include more projects in years to come, Eaton concluded.
Barb Cox-Lloyd, executive director of Habitat for Humanity Saskatoon, was also on hand at the ceremony.
“We’re really excited to be here to see the start of construction... in Humboldt,” she said.
Habitat Saskatoon is proud of the work Habitat does across the country, she noted, and they are particularly happy when communities like Humboldt come on board and say, “we really want to build a Habitat home.”
“Congratulations to Humboldt on taking this step in your first Habitat home. We are really excited to be a partner in this,” she concluded.
Prior to the official groundbreaking, Buehler added that the local build is still in need of funds, materials and volunteers.
So far, they have raised $180,000 of the $240,000 in funds and materials needed to complete the duplex.
They need to hit their goal, he indicated.
After ground was officially broken, the two families who will soon live in the homes stayed around, looking at what will soon be their basement.
“It’s very exciting,” said Knutson as she watched her son continue digging with one of the ceremonial shovels.
“We’re very blessed that God has given us this opportunity. We’re very grateful for all the willing hearts coming out to help us and make our dream come true,” she said.
Greg and Toni Pascal told the Journal they have been wanting to own a home for years now, and their entire family plans on volunteering to help with the build.
“We’re definitely looking forward to this,” said Greg, adding that his daughter, Kaydence, was wanting a hard hat and hammer already.
“Really, really good,” said Buehler when asked how it feels to get to this stage with this project.
“We’re just so pleased that these two families are going to get a good place to live in,” he noted.
However, at the same time, he said, he’s disappointed as they have five other families that are interested in getting a Habitat home, and they weren’t included this time.
“We have space here to accommodate them,” he said, gesturing to the other half of the plot of land which Habitat owns — enough room for another duplex.
It would be nice, he noted, if this initiative keeps on and can help families like those five in the future.
And while the groundbreaking was a significant step in this project, there is a lot left to do.
The basement digging, water and sewer connections, and survey elevations were all donated to the project, Buehler indicated.
The next step is to get the footings for the basement poured, and get the utilities hooked up. This will all be done by professionals.
The aim is to get everything ready by July 10, so volunteers can get on site to start building the basement, noted project manager Tim Prytula.
Habitat for Humanity is a non-profit organization working toward a world where everyone has a safe and decent place to live. The organization mobilizes volunteers and partners to build homes that provide families of low income with access to affordable homeownership. Homeowners must contribute a minimum of 500 hours of volunteer labour toward the building of their home.