35 years of raising walls and spirits

Habitat for Humanity Manitoba was founded in 1987, and this year marks the Affiliate’s 35th anniversary in Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario. 

Habitat for Humanity Manitoba celebrating 35 years

Habitat for Humanity International, which was founded in 1976 by Millard and Linda Fuller, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to building homes, communities and hope for low-income families. With global operations in more than 70 countries and millions of properties built to date, it is the largest not-for-profit of its kind in the world.

A local legacy

To date, Habitat for Humanity Manitoba has helped to house over 500 low-income families who are struggling to save for a down-payment or can’t afford ongoing mortgage payments. The organization purchases land, builds housing and holds the no-down-payment, no-interest mortgage for 15 years. 

Habitat for Humanity Manitoba celebrating 35 years

Instead of securing mortgage financing through a traditional lender, first-time homebuyers contribute 500 hours of sweat equity towards build sites or ReStore activities, and then purchase the property directly from Habitat for Humanity. Homeowners make monthly payments to cover property taxes and pay down the principal, eventually owning the property outright when payments conclude. 

The nonprofit is funded through a variety of revenue streams. In addition to home builds, the Manitoba affiliate operates three ReStore locations, which receive new and used building materials generously donated by manufacturers, retailers, contractors and homeowners to resell to the general public. All profits fully support ongoing administrative costs, meaning every dollar that is donated to Habitat goes directly to the builds.

Nurturing potential

Sandy Hopkins, Habitat for Humanity Manitoba’s Chief Executive Officer

Sandy Hopkins, Habitat for Humanity Manitoba’s Chief Executive Officer, joined the organization in 2006. Now, 16 years later, he’s still passionate about the organization and the benefits it provides low-income families.

“The people we support are truly amazing. No matter where they come from throughout the world, they all have common values,” says Sandy. “They want their kids to have a better life than they had. These homes are foundational pieces for them.”

Sandy believes that Habitat’s housing model has not only an immediate impact on families, but their children as well, noting that students who grow up in a secure household are much more likely to complete post-secondary education and pursue a career.

Building homes and camaraderie

Whether it’s helping newcomers find their footing at IRCOM or building financial literacy through SEED Winnipeg, ACU’s mission to build capacity and support for low-income individuals extends through everything it does.

The credit union’s partnership with Habitat for Humanity Manitoba is no exception. In addition to annual financial contributions, ACU employees volunteer their time on sites. Twice every summer, up to 10 employees from varying positions and departments come together to help build homes. 

ACU team members volunteering with Habitat for Humanity

Dennis Cunningham, ACU’s Manager of Environmental Sustainability, has been participating in builds since 2010, with 14 completed to date. What started as a one-off event has become a meaningful part of his life and something he’s proud to do each year.

Dennis Cunningham, ACU’s Manager of Environmental Sustainability

“People should have affordable housing, so I was immediately hooked,” Dennis says. “Our most recent build was so positive in so many ways. The homeowner was on site, building as well. It’s a great opportunity to work alongside the people who are going to live there.”

Kerri Robertson agrees. She joined ACU as Vice President of Member Engagement after the financial institution merged with Entegra Credit Union last year. In September, she completed her first build and says the experience has stayed with her. 

Kerri Robertson, ACU's Vice President of Member Engagement

“These kinds of activities mean so much more than a donation,” Kerri explains. “They tie into our values of being present in the community. Putting time in to help others is really powerful, as you can see the immediate positive impact.”

How you can help

Celebrations for Habitat for Humanity Manitoba’s 35th anniversary are well underway, with chapters around the province participating in fundraising events to support local activities. The celebrations conclude on November 17 with the organization’s annual House Party fundraiser — their largest event of the year. 

If you’re looking to support Habitat for Humanity Manitoba, there are a variety of ways to help. Builds happen throughout the year, but are handled by Red Seal carpenters in the winter months, so summer is the best time to volunteer as on-site labour. 

If you happen to be near one of the organization’s three ReStore locations, a donation or purchase supports ongoing administrative costs. Finally, a financial donation makes the most meaningful contribution as funds go directly towards changing the future of children and families in need.

Get further information about Habitat for Humanity Manitoba on their site, and learn more about the difference your support can make for families and the local community.

About Matt Cohen

Matt is a Winnipeg-based marketer and investor who covers the Canadian financial services industry.

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