Nelson residents Tiffany Underwood and Dan Bishop enjoy being homeowners, thanks to the work of Habitat for Humanity Southeast B.C. Photo submitted

Habitat for Humanity seeks board members in Kootenays

Helping build affordable homes takes planning, volunteers and commitment

Want to do some good for your community? Habitat for Humanity, a group that builds low-income and affordable housing for people across Canada and around the world, is looking for fresh faces to help guide the organization in the Kootenays.

If you’ve shopped in the Castlegar ReStore you may already know that the store raises funds to make affordable home ownership a reality for low-income Kootenay residents.

But did you know the local Habitat affiliate has already built 23 homes, and is hard at work preparing to build more?

They are now looking for engaged and active community members to join the board and help make that happen.

“Our area covers a broad region of southern British Columbia, from Rock Creek to the Alberta border and from Golden to the U.S. border,” says Neil Coburn of Nelson, who heads the governance committee of Habitat for Humanity Southeast B.C.

That adds up to a land area of approximately 60,000 square kilometres, making it (geographically) the second largest affiliate in Canada. However, with a population of about 150,000 it probably also has one of the lowest population densities in Canada.

The nucleus of the affiliate emerged from several active and successful Habitat initiatives in Grand Forks. In 2014, this affiliate was enlarged and given responsibility for the entire southeast.

“Over the past two years, we have worked hard to develop a strategic plan to build capacity to enable Habitat for Humanity to successfully provide services across its broad service region,” says Coburn. “We currently have board members from the Boundary and West Kootenay.

“Building on the successes of the Grand Forks ReStore, there is now a second ReStore in south Castlegar. We wish to continue expanding the affiliate’s coverage by engaging board representation from across the region and by strategically expanding the ReStore and house building operations.”

Coburn says the board is active and engaged.

“This board meets monthly, but directors are active on committees to make sure our goals and objectives are met,” he says. “Expect to put in about 20 hours a month, although some directors do more.”

Board meetings are typically held in Castlegar as that’s central for most board members.

The skills needed are diverse. There is a specific need for board members with experience in finance, technology, volunteer leadership, and law, but they also invite interest from those with backgrounds and experience in other areas, including social services, construction, community engagement, and communications.

“We welcome directors who live anywhere in Southeast B.C., but are specifically seeking directors from Castlegar, Cranbrook, Creston, Nelson, and Trail,” Coburn added.

Board chair Eleanore Martens has been an active member of Habitat in Grand Forks for 20 years, and says it’s time to bring more Kootenay voices to the board table and make a difference in people’s lives.

“I have been thrilled to see families thrive and children go on to higher education, having had the opportunity to afford a stable home,” she says. “It has truly been a hand-up for many families.”

If you are interested in taking a leadership role in helping build homes, raise funds, and impact the lives of Kootenay families, couples, and singles, contact Coburn at 250-551-1747 (cell) or ncoburn2018@gmail.com, before the end of March. You can also find out more at hfhsebc.org.

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