Grand Forks and area will soon be seeing a boost in Habitat for Humanity activity, with the opening of a new chapter dedicated to the Boundary region.
Bob Huff, Habitat for Humanity Southeast BC executive director, said the new chapter will allow people in the community to work more directly with Habitat in their community, rather than spreading resources over a huge geographical area.
“Habitat for Humanity Southeast BC is such a large region,” Huff said. “It runs from Rock Creek to the Alberta border and from Golden to the U.S. border.”
The new chapter, he said, will be able to respond to local challenges specific to the community.
The Boundary chapter is the second of two to be established, the first one being in Nelson. A third may be started in Cranbrook, but Huff said there are really no limits of where the chapters can go—as long as there are motivated volunteers to drive them.
Huff said the regional board of Habitat will still be responsible for the legal workings of the group, including issuing tax receipts for donations, but the chapters will do some fundraising and pick projects.
Local resident Lorraine Dick is helping raise awareness of the new chapter and get it off its feet. Dick said she’s liked working with Habitat because of the impact the group has in the community.
“I’ve watched Habitat in Grand Forks busily building houses for the 10 years I’ve lived here and been totally inspired by this group of people,” Dick said. “There are some sad stories in this town. How they can fundraise and build a house, it blows me away. The end result is you give someone a home.”
Huff said Habitat can think outside the box, and they’re hoping for more outside the box thinking from the new chapter.
“Moving forward, chapters in each community can identify the needs and by working with the regional board can come up with a plan to address those needs,” Huff said. “Ultimately what we are about is helping to eliminate poverty. One of the best ways you can do that is by building affordable housing.”
Huff said there is a long held perception that Habitat gives away homes, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Each family pays the full value of their home, including construction costs.
“People gravitate towards the thought of ‘oh, they’re getting a free house.’ That is a misunderstanding. We need to get beyond the idea of these homes being free,” he said. “When [families] pay their mortgage the money goes into our Fund for Humanity, and over time that we use to build another house.”
Dick said she hopes to see the new chapter pick up Habitat work in Grand Forks once more.
“This area, these volunteers, this Habitat thinks outside the box,” she said. “That’s what I see coming, a bunch of new people and new ideas, new energy.”
Interested volunteers can attend the first meeting of the Boundary chapter on July 12 at 7 p.m. at the Grand Forks and District Public Library.