When David and Angela Mackenzie open the door to their new home, they will bring with them an unwavering appreciation for the volunteers and donors who made their new path possible.
High school sweethearts with two young children, the Mackenzies are among 12 families who’ll be moving into the Habitat for Humanity Vancouver Island North development on Piercy Avenue in Courtenay.
The couple laughs when they consider how their children will react on move-in day. If it’s anything like the day the family found out they were selected for Habitat, move-in day will be “very loud,” says David. “The kids were so excited they could not stop screaming.”
Like many people in our community and across Canada, the family has struggled to find housing. A 2021 Statistics Canada report shows 1,423,900 Canadian families are in core housing need (meaning their housing lacks adequacy, affordability, and/or suitability). The Mackenzies have lived in homes that felt unsafe for their children, and at times have had rent payments so high that going into debt was unavoidable. David recalls that it was hard not to feel defeated.
All of that has changed. Knowing they are entering safe, sustainable housing has altered how the Mackenzies see their life. “The house gives me hope for the future. So much more is possible now,” said David.
Habitat homes are funded by affordable mortgage payments, donors, and ReStores. The Comox Valley ReStore, with its ever-changing inventory of materials and items, is always a lively place to shop.
The Mackenzies have enthusiastically embraced the 500 volunteer hours that future homeowners are required to contribute to Habitat, noting that the organization truly is a community. Both currently work in the ReStore and will start volunteering on the build in the near future. Angela always leaves her ReStore cashier shifts feeling grateful and happy: “I appreciate [the customers], because just by coming through the till, they are helping a family build a home [and] I love seeing the treasures people find.”
THE MACKENZIE FAMILY
Verna Ardron became a ReStore volunteer earlier this year to help alleviate the Comox Valley’s affordable housing crunch. She’s having a ton of fun so far.
“I think this non-profit is exemplary,” Ardron declares. “The staff work so hard, with such grace, and there are many long-term committed volunteers. They all make you feel so welcome, and everyone is always thanking you for what you do and making sure they find the right fit for you—there are so many places to help in the store.”
There are other perks to volunteering at the ReStore, too, notes Ardron: “I’ve found some amazing things: a beautiful desk and hutch, and a skimboard, which led to a fun day with the grandchildren.”
Leif MacIver from Stonesthrow Renovations has also noticed the positive energy at the ReStore. “Every time I pull up to drop off, the staff and volunteers are there to help, and they’re smiling and happy.”
MacIver makes it a priority to keep reusable items out of the landfill. He appreciates that the ReStore helps make it easy to decrease construction waste. “You can pop by on your way to the dump and they’ll let you know what they can take, and then you’re decreasing waste and making a contribution to Habitat,” he said, adding, “It feels like a minor contribution, but everything helps.”
MacIver is passionate about the positive difference housing stability can make for a family—and frustrated with the current housing landscape. “The housing environment is so intense right now. You are so vulnerable as a renter in this market,” he says, adding, “Everyone needs a home, a place to rest their head, to be with their family, to gather around a table.”
People can help open doors to housing stability for more families simply by donating to, (or shopping and/or volunteering at) the ReStore. “We are a community and helping each other, contributing to others who have less, is what we need to do, and this is a way we can help,” comments MacIver.
When Angela, David, and their two children turn the key and enter their new Habitat home, and the kids barrel up to their room excitedly, they’ll enter a new phase of stability and increased possibilities. David looks forward to feeling a sense of pride and security. “It will be so much better for our children, and we’ll be putting money into our family as compared to paying others—we will see something back for our hard work,” said David.
Once they’re settled, they’ll head back to the bustle of the ReStore and continue volunteering, so the dream of an affordable home can come true for another family.