At the recent Habitat for Humanity Canada AGM in Kelowna, Habitat for Humanity Vancouver Island North (VIN) was recognized with two prestigious awards for their efforts to build community in the Comox Valley and Campbell River.
Of the 56 Habitat affiliates across the country, Habitat VIN was recognized for ‘Epic Engagement’ and ‘Mobilized Leadership,’ winning two of 10 ‘HOMES’ awards presented by Habitat Canada. This is the second year in a row that the local affiliate was presented with two awards. At the 2016 AGM, they won for ‘Epic Engagement’ and ‘Social Enterprise’.
Epic Engagement Award
In their award application, Habitat VIN wrote: “With big plans to construct two multi-phased developments in two communities, we know that we need to engage the community in a BIG way! We need buy-in and commitment from our homeowner families, ReStore and build volunteers, donors, community partners, corporate sponsors, government and municipalities, and so many others.”
In addition to the Habitat VIN’s collaboration with faith groups, service clubs, and other community organizations, award-winning entries in local parades, plus recruitment and recognition of volunteers, two examples of Habitat VIN’s ‘Epic Engagement’ stood out to help earn them the award.
One was partnering with the City of Campbell River and benefiting from the donation of land to build homes, fast-tracking the permitting process, and forgiveness of development costs and taxes.
The second was the development and launch of a new financial education program called ‘Invest in Yourself’ by Karen Bezaire, Family Service representative. The six 90-minute evening classes were developed to provide financial planning and literacy to support Habitat homeowners, but it was opened it up to the public, recognizing that others in the community could benefit, too. The free program was developed in cooperation with Coastal Community Credit Union, with funding from the Catholic Foundation of Vancouver Island. North Island College donated the space for the classes.
Mobilized Leadership Award
The affiliate was recognized for ‘Mobilized Leadership’ due, in part, to the fact that several of its employees and volunteer board members serve the organization on a national and regional level by participating in federation-wide taskforces and committees, and their work in collaboration with the nine other affiliates in BC.
Their award nomination explained: “We strongly believe that to raise money to build community, we first need to build community spirit. This forms the nucleolus of our operations. We start by recognizing that everyone – partner families, affiliate and ReStore staff, build and ReStore volunteers, as well as committee and board members – are all on the same team. We work hard to foster an environment where there is a spirit of collaboration and a sense of family. Everyone is embraced – sometimes quite literally – with warmth, acceptance, and compassion.”