by Mike Davies – Campbell River Mirror
posted Sep 9, 2014 at 1:00 PM
Karen Bezaire has been working with non-profits for almost as long as she can remember, but when she finally found Habitat for Humanity, or it found her, she knew it was the one she was meant to help.
“There are a number of human issues I feel strongly about,” Bezaire said, which is why she gravitated toward non-profits in the first place. “However, the three basics of food, shelter and clothing are really at the heart of who I am, so when the opportunity came my way to work with Habitat (for Humanity) here in the Comox Valley, it was a dream come true.”
Starting out with the organization as a volunteer coordinator in the middle of a build, while the ReStore was without a coordinator, was a challenge, she said, but she “jumped in and got to work,” nonetheless, because she knew what she was doing was important.
She began noticing there were some holes in their communications strategies, and soon was designing and producing new pamphlets and rack cards, and when her job turned from part-time to full-time, she decided they needed to delve into the world of digital communications, as well, building a website and diving into the world of social media.
The organization then hired Nikki Hamilton as volunteer coordinator so that Bezaire could focus on communications and marketing, to share her passion for what they do with the community.
“For me,” she said, “what makes Habitat so special or important is it gives opportunity for change for the whole family and a community – change in a way that is hard to measure or to put a value on.
“A volunteer is not prepared for how their heart will change once coming onto a Habitat build site. The homeowners can not anticipate the friends and the experience they gain from joining others to build their home. It’s all so un-measurable.”
Bezaire is particularly geared up for their two current projects: the build launch happening at 480 Hilchey Road in Willow Point on Sept. 9, and the fact that some world-class animators and filmmakers are coming to town to create an animated PSA for the organization.
Team Generous is a team of 12 filmmakers and animators, consisting of people who have worked on projects such as Pixar’s Finding Nemo and Toy Story, and each year they select one non-profit to produce something for. North Island Habitat for Humanity was their choice for 2014, and they are on their way to town.
The team will attend and help with the Hilchey Road build and will follow it with two weeks of production and creation of the PSA.
Anyone who would like to get involved with North Island Habitat for Humanity projects (they have another property on Dalton Road that the city donated to them, which is next on the docket) can go to www.habitatnorthisland.com and register to be a volunteer.
It’s also where people can find out more about the organization in general, including its current projects.
“Just a few clicks of the computer, some good hiking boots or steal toed boots and they are set,” according to Bezaire, who said the experience is a life-changing one for many.
“My hope is that everyone who is able to, will come to just one build day. Come and experience the energy and hearts present who want to effect change for a family who has been having a tough go.
“We have had volunteers come to the build site just to see how it is, and come back day after day because they love it and they love the people they are meeting.
“Friends are made here.”