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.

  • Are you a champion of children's literacy?

    Do have children or grandchild in grades 4, 5 or 6, giving you a direct connection to teachers in these grades?

    Would you like to help Habitat for Humanity VIN have a chance at winning $50,000 to support our next build?

    Then this time-limited volunteer opportunity is for you!

    Habitat for Humanity Vancouver Island North is looking for three volunteers  in the Comox Valley who could help distribute 'The Meaning of Home' writing contest information to all of the elementary schools in SD71.

    What is the Meaning of Home Contest?

    Since 2007, Habitat for Humanity Canada has partnered with Genworth Canada to sponsor a nationwide literacy contest called 'The Meaning of Home.'

    The Meaning of Home contest  invites Grade 4, 5 and 6 students across the country to submit a written essay about what home means to them. First prize is $50,000 for a Habitat for Humanity build of their choice in Canada and $1,000 cash prize for the school of the winning student.

    The contest runs from October 3 through November 30, so we would  love to have this information in the teacher's' hands by the end of September.

    What's in for us?

    Since 2007, Genworth has contributed over $900,000 to help Habitat for Humanity affiliates across Canada build homes for deserving families. For every entry submitted in each community, the respective Habitat affiliate receives $5. So, even if one of our local students is not the winner, we still benefit. The more entries received, the larger the donation to our affiliate will be!

    Volunteers interested in helping promote the Genworth Meaning of Home Contest please contact: 

    Terri Perrin, Volunteer Coordinator

    W: (250) 334-3777 ext 224
    C: (250) 218-4952

  • On July 21, 2016, Habitat for Humanity Vancouver Island North held a small private home dedication ceremony to welcome Jessica and Darryl Cote and their eight-year-old son, Riley, to their new Habitat home in Courtenay. The home is one of six constructed at Piercy Place in 2014. Improved financial security enabled the previous homeowners to purchase a home through a conventional mortgage and sell this one back to Habitat, allowing the organization to provide another family a hand up to break the cycle of poverty.

    It was a friend of Jessica’s who suggested they apply for a Habitat home, after witnessing the struggles the family had gone through. While it took a lot of convincing for Jessica and her family to apply to become Habitat homeowners, the decision has opened up a world of possibilities to the young family.  

    “We went through some hardships and we were living in a house that wasn’t healthy, [but] I didn’t think we would qualify. I thought it was for people who had nowhere to live,” explains Jessica.

    Jessica put it off, but her friend kept pushing until she relented.

    “I finally applied, not thinking anything would come of it,” she says, as a smile comes across her face, “and here we are now!”

    Habitat homeowner families must complete 500 hours of sweat equity in lieu of a down payment. Then, the home is sold to them and they are required to pay a no-interest mortgage that is set at 30 percent of their annual gross family income.  Because of her health problems, which prohibit her from certain types of work, Jessica was worried about the commitment to the sweat equity hours. However, it ended up being one of the most rewarding aspects of the program for her.

    “I was really worried about completing the hours, but Habitat works with you to find tasks that suit your abilities. I started out sorting screws and nails, and as I began feeling better, I did more and more.”

    Jessica even had the opportunity to spend time working on the recent Campbell River build project.

    “It actually gave me more confidence, to know I can do this stuff, stuff that I didn’t think I could do anymore. And I loved the build! The build was so much fun.”

    What aspects of homeownership are the Cotes most looking forward to?

    “The future we didn’t think we would have,” is Jessica’s simple, yet poignant, answer. “After I got sick my husband lost his job. Before that, we had all these ideas about the future, and I realized they just weren’t going to happen. I thought that my husband would  have to work until he’s old and we would never have our own house. And now we have a future ahead of us. We can think about retirement, maybe even travelling if my health is okay. It’s opened up a whole new world.”

    What is their son, Riley, most excited for? Jessica laughs and exclaims, “Stairs! That’s what he said: ‘I have always wanted a house with stairs!’”

    Another exciting part of the move for Riley is having friends right next door. At their previous residence, there were no children around, but now there are five other Habitat families–two with children his age.

    “He’s met the other kids and is already fast friends with them.”

    Although Jessica has long finished her sweat equity hours, like many Habitat homeowners, she is not through with giving back to the community. She has found her time volunteering with Habitat so rewarding that she will continue to volunteer at the Courtenay ReStore.

    View all photos from the Cote's home dedication by following this link.

    Do you know a family that could use a hand up? Would your own family benefit from affordable homeownership? Join us for a family selection open house on September 22nd 6:30 p.m. at Lewis Centre in Courtenay. To learn more, contact Karen Bezaire, Family Services, 1-250-204-3003 or email


  • As part of their commitment to serving communities and families, WestJet has partnered with Habitat for Humanity Vancouver Island North on our Hope Builders Monthly Giving Program. Every donor that signs up for monthly giving between July 1st and December 31st, 2016 will be automatically entered to win two WestJet fly-anywhere tickets (exclusions apply).

    Monthly donations are what keep Habitat for Humanity’s homeownership program sustainable. Your monthly donation allows us to plan ahead for the eleven families we will eventually house at our newest and largest development, Lake Trail Road in Courtenay. We are proud to say that 100% of all donations received go towards building homes and serving families, with our social enterprise the ReStore covering all administrative costs.

    We know that monthly donors care deeply about Habitat’s mission, and that’s why we are launching “Hope Builders,” our new monthly giving club. As a Hope Builder, you will receive exclusive updates and/or promotions in your inbox once a month. The exclusive Hope Builder newsletter will keep you updated on exactly how your monthly donation is going to work to help local families.

    Become a Habitat Hope Builder and enjoy all of the perks:

    • Automatic entry to win a pair of WestJet fly-anywhere tickets if you sign up before December 31st, 2016
    • Monthly email updates
    • Exclusive offers
    • Hassle-free automatic donations
    • Ability to change or suspend your donation at any time


    Sign up for monthly giving online by following this link or contact Tom Beshr, Resource Development, 250-792-4810 or email

    Become a Habitat Hope Builder


  • The two soon to be completed Habitat for Humanity homes in Campbell River, and the 14 other homes that the non-profit organization has constructed on the North Island since 2004, will forever stand as a testament to volunteer spirit, generosity and community collaboration. One of the many local companies that provide ongoing support to Habitat for Humanity Vancouver Island North Affiliate builds is Coastal Community Credit Union (CCCU).

    Through CCCU’s Building Healthy Communities Fund, Habitat for Humanity received a $20,000 donation. The contribution was equally divided between the Campbell River build and the upcoming 11-unit Lake Trail project in Courtenay.

    Allyson Prescesky, CCCU’s manager of community experience and communications, explains that the fund is for one-time donations and social enterprises that provide direct benefit to local communities.

    “With both the ReStores and build projects, Habitat for Humanity fits well with our fund criteria,” says Prescesky. “There is also an important link between the credit union and offering financial services to get people into their own homes, to improve their financial health. We have done various initiatives with Habitat over the years. We were involved in the Women Build on Piercy Avenue in Courtenay, and we have helped with past builds in Campbell River.”

    CCCU’s generosity provided them the opportunity to work together on the Campbell River construction site for a ‘Team Build Day.’

    “I have an incredible job, to be able to play a part in touching so many people’s lives.” Reports Prescesky. “Participating in a Habitat Team Build is an incredible experience. Hearing the stories of the families in the homes and how they bond to create a sense of community is gratifying. The words of my co-worker, Dale Henderson, truly sum up what it is like to volunteer on a Habitat build site, and why we elected to make the donation to Habitat for Humanity VIN.”

    “We sit in an office each day, and use our minds to help our members improve their financial health,” describes CCCU Regional Manager, Dale Henderson. “When our staff participated with our build day, we found ourselves using our hands and our backs to help someone greatly improve their financial health. It was pouring rain the entire day, we were outside moving dirt, building decks, and up on scaffolding pounding nails. It didn't matter how cold and wet we were. We were working side-by-side with Melissa Hamstra, who was putting in her sweat equity hours to earn the down payment for her Habitat home. Hearing her story, and literally watching her achieve her dream of homeownership, to secure the future for her young family was amazing. We all left at the end of the day with a different perspective on the value of volunteering, and a sense of pride in our community spirit. What a difference a day makes.”

    To inquire about a Team Build for your company or community organization, contact Tom Beshr, Resource Development, at 250-792-4810 or email

  • Habitat for Humanity Vancouver Island North’s (VIN) most recent home build was made possible through the efforts of more than 900 volunteers. Over a period of four months these individuals gave more than 6,000 hours of their time to hammer, saw, paint and pour their love into two new ‘Habitat homes’ in Campbell River. Amongst those hammer-wielding volunteers was a team of 12 eager wealth management professionals from RBC Dominion Securities in Courtenay and Campbell River.

    Earlier this year, Habitat VIN was thrilled to receive a contribution of $20,000 from the Royal Bank of Canada’s RBC Foundation, plus an additional $10,000 for a Team Build Day from RBC Dominion Securities. These significant contributions follow a large donation of office furniture that was made to Habitat’s Courtenay ReStore when the RBC Dominion Securities office in Courtenay was renovated at the end of 2015.

    “We really enjoyed participating in the Habitat for Humanity build to help provide affordable housing for our local community,” says Blake Simpson, Branch Manager, Courtenay & Campbell River, RBC Dominion Securities. “It was an honour to be part of the process and assist two families in North Vancouver Island to realize their dreams of home ownership.”

    Now that the Campbell River build is complete, Habitat VIN is focusing efforts on raising awareness and funds for its latest acquisition, a .83-acre (.34-hectare) parcel of land on which they will build an 11-unit multi-family housing complex. Permitting and lot servicing will take place over the next few months and the first foundations for what is expected to be a multi-phase two to three-year project will be poured in early 2017.

    To learn more about volunteer and sponsorship opportunities for the Spring 2017 Lake Trail Project or the ReStore, please visit To inquire about a Team Build for your company or community organization, contact Tom Beshr, Resource Development, 250-792-4810 or email


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