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Families chosen for Habitat for Humanity homes; company donates $50K

Andrew Philips

By Andrew Philips, Special to Postmedia Network

Walker Industries aggregate operations superintendent Ryan Dosch, centre, presents a $50,000 donation to Habitat for Humanity representatives David Abernethy, Tom Phillips, Britta Gerwin, Margaret Phillips and Shirley Harris. The funds will be used for the organization's ongoing Orillia building project. (ANDREW PHILIPS/SPECIAL TO THE PACKET & TIMES)

Walker Industries aggregate operations superintendent Ryan Dosch, centre, presents a $50,000 donation to Habitat for Humanity representatives David Abernethy, Tom Phillips, Britta Gerwin, Margaret Phillips and Shirley Harris. The funds will be used for the organization's ongoing Orillia building project. (ANDREW PHILIPS/SPECIAL TO THE PACKET & TIMES)

Mother Nature has been kind to a local home-building project that now has its occupants.

Britta Gerwin, director of development and communications for Habitat for Humanity’s Ontario Gateway North branch, said the two families for the duplex now being constructed on Bay Street have been chosen and were notified this week by Habitat volunteer Margaret Phillips, who chairs the Orillia/Lake Country selection committee.

Phillips said both families were elated to be chosen from a field that was narrowed to seven final applicants.

“She was ecstatic,” Phillips said of the single mother of two children who will call one part of the duplex home. “The other family are two gentlemen who hope to eventually adopt. One of them called the news absolutely fantastic.”

Phillips said more than half of those who called in about being considered for the new home didn’t meet the selection criteria.

Now that Phillips’s role for this build is over, family contact representative Shirley Harris will begin working with the families for the next year or so to discuss sweat equity and to answer any questions they might have.

The ongoing Orillia building project received a $50,000 donation Wednesday from Walker Industries, a fifth-generation family business with its roots in Niagara but with a presence across North America, including aggregate operations in Simcoe County.

“They’re very involved in giving back to the community,” said regional aggregate operations superintendent Ryan Dosch, who presented the oversized cheque to Habitat staff and volunteers at the Habitat Orillia ReStore.

Local building supervisor David Abernethy said the footings for the Bay Street home are now in place, with work beginning this week to install insulated concrete form walls.

“It’s been going very well and even Mother Nature’s been helping us out lately,” Abernethy said of the building’s progress with anywhere from four to 10 workers involved on a regular basis. “Ninety-five per cent of those involved are volunteers.”

Abernethy said hopes are high crews will be able to pour concrete walls and foundations next week.

“Because it’s a duplex, there’s a firewall separating the two sides,” he said.

But the fall should continue to be busy for Abernethy, who will start supervising the charity’s next build of a single-family home on Victoria Street by November, meaning another area family will also soon have a new place to call home.

“We already have an existing Habitat house on that street,” he said.

Besides completing a 16-page application along with supporting materials, Habitat hopefuls must also agree to an in-home visit to assess their suitability.

As well, the chosen families will put in 500 hours of sweat equity, which can be completed through participating in the build or by volunteering at the ReStore.

The Orillia builds are part of an overall Habitat initiative to construct 150 homes nationwide to coincide with the country’s sesquicentennial and are related to the Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter Work Project.

andrewphilips@live.ca 



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