Jeff Heuchert, Gazette staff
With an ambitious target of three new homes in 2013, Habitat for Humanity Stratford-Perth is looking for more community support than ever before.
And to help kick start support for this year’s builds, including two in Stratford and one in Listowel, the organization will hold its second annual ReCycle, Recreate, ReImagine Art Gala this Friday evening, March 22 at City Hall.
The event will shine the spotlight on local artists who, using recycled materials, have created one-of-a-kind artwork to be auctioned off, with proceeds going towards the three builds.
Last year’s event raised $9,800 for Habitat’s build on Home Street in Stratford, and fundraising chair Debra Stacey-Rivers says expectations are even higher this year.
Among the many eye-catching creations Stacey-Rivers has seen that will be available are a memory tree made from wine corks, a painting accented with pieces of beach glass and a brightly painted chair and sidetable, both plucked from the shelves at Habitat’s Restore.
But maybe the most prized item up for auction will be a framed piece of art from Jeanette Tessmer’s Kindergarten class at Avon Public school.
One of Tessmer’s students, five-year-old Bianca, is the daughter of Oscar Lara and Crystal Lisqum, who will be the recipients of Habitat’s new semi-detached home on Railway Avenue.
The artwork contains a pink house in the centre drawn by Bianca and surrounded by the traced hands of her classmates, along with quotes from the children on what makes home special.
“It just gave me shivers when I saw what they created,” Stacey-Rivers says. “It’s very well done ... and to see the picture of what (Bianca) thinks her house is going to look like is just the sweetest thing.”
While she might have to settle for a pink just inside her bedroom, Bianca says she is looking forward to her new home and the new furniture she and her brother Brayden, 3, are getting for their rooms, as well as having extra space for their toys and movies.
Habitat plans to announce its other two build families for 2013 at Friday’s gala, which will also include a silent auction, live music and food provided by Stratford Northwestern’s Screaming Avocado.
This year marks the first Habitat has scheduled more than one build in any year, and to help offset the larger-than-usual construction costs, the organization is looking for third-party fundraisers – something it hasn’t typically done in the past.
Avon school will be holding a hat day later this year to raise funds for the build and a student at Northwestern who sits on the Habitat fundraising committee is organizing a class fundraiser as well.
“We truly can’t do any of these builds without the support of the community, whether it’s donations or physical labour,” Stacey-Rivers adds, noting anyone with a fundraising idea is encouraged to contact Habitat, which will be happy to help in any way it can.
Stacey-Rivers says the need for Habitat homes – which require no down payment and come with an interest-free, geared-towards-income mortgage – in Perth County has never been greater.
Habitat families are selected through a lengthy application process to verify the mortgage will be paid back. Families must also put in 500 sweat equity hours, which are typically completed during the build.
Stacey-Rivers says Habitat is an organization the whole community can get behind, noting studies have shown that families that receive a Habitat home often begin to make improvements in their personal and professional lives.
“I think it just builds up their confidence, how they feel about themselves,” she notes. “It could be because where they’re living is a safer place now or more stable ... it just lifts up the family and the whole community that they live in.”
Tickets for the gala are $30 in advance and $35 at the door, and can be purchased at the Habitat Restore on Griffith Road. The event runs from 7-10 p.m.