Habitat for Humanity on an upward swing

Tyler Clarke
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Of the almost 100 Habitat for Humanity ReStores across Canada, Prince Albert’s saw the greatest improvement in overall sales last year.


At last weekend’s national conference in Calgary, Habitat for Humanity Prince Albert was also recognized as the top contributor of aboriginal builds.

Beaming with the good news on Tuesday, Habitat for Humanity Prince Albert president Morris Sawchuk said that the awards affirm his belief in the local chapter.

“Hopefully people will gain some enthusiasm from this,” he said. “It will show the community that we are achieving some things and we are serious about what we do, and the national organization also recognizes what we do.”

Sawchuk attended the ceremony with incoming president Duane Hayunga, who will step in at next month’s annual general meeting.

The Habitat for Humanity ReStore, located at 911 Marquis Road, sells used building supplies, furniture, appliances and various other odds and ends.

While its 2013 sales figures merited national attention, Sawchuk said that the store’s forward momentum has only just begun.

An expansion project is underway at the main building’s west side, where offices are being constructed for the organization. This will consolidate an “ineffective” scattering of four offices throughout the city, Sawchuk explained.

As soon as that effort is done, a retail space expansion project will begin to the east of the main building.  

It’s an important expansion, Sawchuk said, noting that with every dollar donated to Habitat for Humanity earmarked for building materials, the ReStore plays an important role.

“Any paid staff we have are paid through the ReStore,” he explained. “We also keep some (money) on hand because you can have surprises, like our one vehicle can lose a transmission or something.”

Last year saw a 35 per cent ReStore sales surplus, which the organization tacked on to their build budget.

“It’s something that I knew all along we could do, we just needed to get better organized,” Sawchuk said of last year’s record sales.

“Originally (the ReStore) wasn’t very attractive. We still have lots of work to do, there’s no doubt about it, but at least now it’s organized and people can see.

“People know about the ReStore, they know where the money goes and they really think it’s a good cause, so people have bought into the program.”

ReStore employee and Habitat for Humanity homeowner Marie Descalchuk said that much has changed at the ReStore since she came on board about two years ago.

“At first people weren’t really aware that we were open to the public, so it’s nice that people are finding out that we are open to the public,” she said.

It will show the community that we are achieving some things and we are serious about what we do, and the national organization also recognizes what we do. Morris Sawchuk

“People are starting to learn more about us, now.”

The aboriginal build award recognizes “the highest aboriginal builder last year, for providing homes to aboriginal people in Canada,” Sawchuk explained.

A big credit for this award goes to the inmates at the Willow Cree Healing Lodge, who help Habitat for Humanity build aboriginal housing in Duck Lake.  

Feathers in Habitat for Humanity Prince Albert’s cap, Sawchuk said that the two national awards are indicative of an organization on an upswing.

In addition to the ongoing ReStore expansion project, the organization has six or possibly seven builds expected to take place this year, with more irons in the fire.

“People ask me what we can do, and realistically, I think Habitat for Humanity Prince Albert and area can build 12 houses (per year),” he said. “I wish we could build 100 houses per year.”

The local organization is already within the top eight Habitat for Humanity builders in Canada, Sawchuk said. When taken on a per capita basis, it’s the biggest.

The Habitat for Humanity funding model is one of perpetuity, in that it doesn’t provide a “hand out,” and instead offers a “hand up.”

The organization asks home recipients to pay affordable mortgage payments -- money that goes toward future builds.

“Habitat P. A. is growing, on average, by about $1.2 net worth per year,” Sawchuk said. “The more we build the more we can build, because the more money we have coming back.”

Between the build projects and the ReStore, a legion of volunteers keep the organization running, with Descalchuk noting that more are always sough.

“A lot of times we need volunteers to help us out as well, because we are overwhelmed at times,” she said.

“We ask them to be at least 15 years of age, but we could use anybody -- just whatever. We can use you.

“Even for it just to be a friendly, active spirit, or if you have an idea how to better organize the store. Everybody has their input.”

Click HERE For Habitat for Humanity Prince Albert’s official ReStore website.

Organizations: Habitat for Humanity

Geographic location: Calgary, 911 Marquis Road, Canada Duck Lake

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