Giving a Hand Up not a Hand Out

Habitat for Humanity VIN helps low-income families build and buy simple, decent quality affordable homes through a no-interest, no-profit mortgage.

  • More than 30 years ago, the United Nations General Assembly took an important step in promoting the idea that everyone deserves a decent place to live by declaring the first Monday in October to be World Habitat Day.

    On Monday, Oct. 3, 2016, Habitat for Humanity Vancouver Island North (VIN) will join more than 2,000 affiliate partners around the world to celebrate World Habitat Day by hosting an Open House at their Courtenay and Campbell River Restores. Visit the stores between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. to enjoy complimentary refreshments, get an update on current building projects, and learn about volunteer opportunities. This event kicks off a month-long ReStore Volunteer Recruitment Drive.

    “The construction of safe and affordable Habitat homes is made possible only because hundreds of people volunteer on our construction sites and in our ReStores,” says Habitat’s Campbell River Volunteer Coordinator, Lorraine Holden. “While it is exciting and personally gratifying to put a hammer in your hand to help build a home for a deserving family, it is the day-to-efforts of volunteers in our ReStores that make construction possible. The ReStores are the social enterprise that supports the operation of Habitat for Humanity. Our ReStores sell new and gently used household items, furniture, and building supplies -- all of which are donated to us by individuals and local businesses.

    “Our latest two Partner Families moved into their new homes in August, so we are between builds … but we still need volunteers  now, more than ever,” adds Holden.

    “Habitat for Humanity Vancouver Island North is actively searching for land to purchase in Campbell River and has recently purchased a parcel of land in Courtenay that will facilitate the development of a multi-family project over the next three years,” explains Habitat’s Courtenay Volunteer Coordinator, Terri Perrin. “We are entering the most ambitious building period in our affiliate’s history. The pressure is on to raise the money to do so, by ramping up efforts in our ReStores.”

    “Volunteers truly are the heart of the ReStores, and while we are ever grateful for our core group of current volunteers, we need more people to assist our team to help sort, clean, price, repair and sell the items so generously donated to us,” concludes Perrin. “We are looking for cashiers, receiving and merchandising assistants, and yard attendants. We also have an active metal recycling program, electronics testing, and a kitchen deconstruction crew where we need more help. There are also times when we need assistance with special events, such as selling raffle tickets or our upcoming dance in Campbell River on November 5. You can learn all about these opportunities and more at the October 3rd Open House event or by contacting Lorraine or I directly. We invite the public to join us at ReStores to learn how they could help and to celebrate World Habitat Day on Monday, October 3.”

    People interested in volunteering at the Habitat for Humanity VIN ReStores are welcome to contact the store in their community:

    Courtenay ReStore (1755 - 13 Street)

    Contact Terri Perrin at 250-334-3777, ext. 224 or email

    Campbell River ReStore  (1725B Willow Street)

    Contact Lorraine Holden at 250-830-1493, ext 224 or email

    RSVP to Open House



  • On Thursday, September 22nd, 2016 we will be hosting an open house to provide families with information on partnering with Habitat to become homeowners. This information session will be held at Lewis Centre in Courtenay at 6:30pm. 

    We are seeking families for our largest project yet, a multi-phase development on Lake Trail Road in Courtenay which will eventually house 11 families. Partner families are chosen based on their income level, need, willingness to partner with the program, and ability to pay back the interest-free mortgage.

    We partner with hardworking families in northern Vancouver Island who would not be able to qualify for a conventional mortgage. To receive their home, partner families must put in 500 hours of sweat equity in lieu of a down payment, and then make monthly interest-free mortgage payments set at a maximum of 30% of their gross household income.

    Families that partner with Habitat must have full custody of at least one child under 18. Safe and healthy housing is integral to a child’s growth and stability. According to a 2013 study from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, children partnered with Habitat saw remarkable improvement in their confidence, social life, grades, behaviour, attendance, and enjoyment of school.

    To inquire about becoming a homeowner family, attend our open house or contact Karen Bezaire, family services coordinator, at or 250-334-3777 ext. 226.

  • It has been an exceptionally busy spring and summer for us all at Habitat for Humanity Vancouver Island North. We have celebrated three dedication ceremonies and the conclusion of our two newest homes in Campbell River. I am so excited about our upcoming Lake Trail Road project in Courtenay, where we will build 11 homes over the next three years for deserving families. We will also continue to build in Campbell River and serve our existing families there moving forward. I am proud of what we have accomplished in the first half of this year, and I am very excited about the rest of 2016.

    Like many Canadians, I recently watched the final concert of The Tragically Hip on a commercial-free CBC. Not only was the show emotional—I have been a big fan for 30 years—but it truly educated me as to why I love Canada. Canadians give back. Canadians truly care about their fellow human being. Instead of folding their shop after the diagnosis of Gord Downie’s terminal cancer, The Tragically Hip gathered their collective strength and gave Canadians one last tour. They unselfishly gave to their fans one more chance to experience a truly iconic Canadian band. CBC, during the most profitable advertising period of the 2016 Olympics, gave over three hours of primetime space to a band that has given Canadians so much. CBC ran the show commercial free. Millions of dollars forsaken because, as Canadians, they knew we needed the closure of this show. We, as fans of this band, are grieving the loss of their music and their friendship.

    Canadians give back. We give back because we are fortunate. We embrace diversity and we champion all that is Canada. We give back because we have so much.

    I travelled to the East Coast of Canada this summer, back to Nova Scotia and to Newfoundland.  I discovered a few things on my travels. The first thing that I discovered (and I guess I already knew it) is that all Canadians have the propensity for niceness. We accept others with good intent. Ask for directions anywhere in Newfoundland and you will find out just exactly how amazing Canadians can be.

    As many of you know, my career prior to HFH was in the corporate sector, battling with multi-national conglomerates. I was pretty good at it, but it wears you down over time. “Do more with less,” is my friend’s current battle in the corporate world. Actually, “do more with less”, is a consistent phrase you will encounter in any other employment location. Here at Habitat we get to do more with more. More volunteers, more families, more donations...more. I am thankful for my team that continues to serve. I am thankful for the ReStore staff and volunteers that continue to process the goods that allow us to make sales that allow us to build more homes and serve more families. I am thankful for our build teams and volunteers who give selflessly to ensure new homes stand that we can sell to our homeowner families.

    On my vacation, people would ask me where I work. I was proud to tell them that I work for Habitat for Humanity. If they were trapped to listen, I would tell them everything we accomplished this year, and just before their eyes totally glazed over, I would let them know how it has changed my life. I would let them know how fortunate I feel. How we as Canadians have so much, yet there are still Canadians who need our help. There are people all over the world who do not have a safe decent secure home. A place where they can rest, where they can feel comfortable. A place to provide escape and solace.

    Thank you to everyone at Habitat for Humanity Vancouver Island North for offering hope to our families. Thank you for playing a part in transforming lives. Thank you for welcoming our volunteers, for welcoming our staff and for welcoming me. I feel thankful that I am able to wake up every day and do what I do. Thank you for allowing me to exercise my right as a Canadian to change the world.

  • When Habitat for Humanity Vancouver Island North (VIN) put out the call for t-shirt sponsors for their latest build in Campbell River, two north Island businesses were quick to respond. Hub International Barton Insurance Brokers and Courtenay-based Sunwest RV each donated $1,000 towards the cost of the build t-shirts. To acknowledge their generosity and support, their company logos are featured on the back and sleeves of the colourful shirts.

    “Hub International believes in giving back,” explains Courtenay Branch Manager Dorothy Tolsma. “We support the work that Habitat does in the community. Several of our clients were involved with the most recent build, so it prompted us get involved.”

    “For over 30 years, Sunwest RV Centre has been about bringing our local families together and we are passionate about our local community and local charities,” says sales manager Kevin Kelly. “We are happy to be involved with Habitat for Humanity as they do an incredible service for the local community.  It is what Sunwest RV Centre believes in, and we are proud to be involved with such a great organization.”

    Since its first build in 2006, Habitat VIN has made a tradition of producing build t-shirts for volunteers and staff. It is a fun way to celebrate each build and to engage local businesses as sponsors, which helps cover the cost of the shirts for over 600 volunteers that work on each build. Many volunteers have worked on multiple Habitat VIN builds. They proudly wear past (and current) build shirts, as a testament to their commitment and effort, and as a badge of honour to declare that their gift of time changes lives.

  • There are many costs associated with getting a Habitat homeowner family into their new home. Some, such as building materials, are obvious. Others are less so. Home appraisals fall into the latter category. Because Habitat homes are sold to families based on the fair market value of the home, these appraisals are very necessary to our organization.

    Thankfully, the Comox Valley is full of community-minded local businesses that help to alleviate some of these not-so-obvious costs. Wm. S. Jackson & Associates Ltd. – Real Estate Appraisers and Consultants is one of those businesses. While they have been involved with Habitat since the beginning, they most recently volunteered their services for the Cote family's new home in Courtenay.

    When asked why they choose to consistently partner with Habitat for Humanity Vancouver Island North, this is what appraiser Dan Wilson had to say: “We have supported Habitat from the very beginning. We’ve been involved with all the builds. We truly support what Habitat does to build our local community, and we are very excited for the opportunity to be a part of that process.”

    Thank you, Wm. S. Jackson & Associates Ltd., for generously lending your talents to Habitat for Humanity. We are so lucky to live in a community where businesses support affordable homeownership for families.

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