What does home mean to Langley kids?
A national charitable organization, which has operations in Langley, wants to know.
Habitat for Humanity Canada is asking students in Grades 4 through 6 to share their opinion on what home means to them in a national writing contest.
Three grand prize winners will each receive a $30,000 grant to help a local Habitat for Humanity build a place to call home for a family in need of affordable housing.
And, on behalf of each students who enter the Meaning of Home contest, the charity will donate $10 per submission to the local Habitat for Humanity branch.
In addition to the grand prize winners, nine runners up will receive a $10,000 grant for their local Habitat build.
The annual contest, started in 2007, has yet to see a winner from Langley.
Lyn Duke, the community events manager, has shared the details about the contest to the school boards across Metro Vancouver, encouraging them to pass on the message to teachers of Grade 4, 5, and 6 and hoping to see some local participants.
“When teachers take it [the contest] on as a class activity we get a great deal of buy-in… and we’ve had some amazing winners from Greater Vancouver,” said Stephani Baker, interim CEO of Habitat for Humanity Canada.
She noted that the contest is open to homeschoolers, as well.
Last year, the contest received a record-breaking 12,000 entries, and this year the organizers hope to accept more submissions.
The contest was founded by Sagen, a Canada-based mortgage insurance provider company, also Habitat Canada’s leading sponsors. In addition to donating more than $5 million, the company’s executive team also offers strategic assistance to the non-profit-organization.
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One of the ways the registered non-profit raises funds is through ReStores, a chain of home and building supply stores that accept and resell new and used building materials.
The Langley ReStore, which opened in August 2018, is an 18,000 sq. ft. store. According to Baker, the store exceeded their expectations in terms of revenue and the Langley community and local businesses donate generously.
“The community embraces that store, and it is always extremely busy,” she said. Baker wants people to know that their contributions are helping numerous families move into a home.
Volunteers who help at the stores are families looking for affordable housing solutions, Baker noted. Once these families complete their 500 hours of volunteer time – a requirement that every applicant must meet – they are offered a home to live in for a monthly payment of 30 per cent of the family’s income.
Baker further explained that a portion of the total rent these families pay throughout their time at the property is returned to them when they leave to look for market housing options.
Many families that volunteered at the Langley store were offered a home in Mission.
“Often they [families] will be helping in the store… help merchandise products, set up shelves and do a number of things so that products can be sold to the public after they are donated to us,” she said.
“Home has been a refuge for so many over this difficult time. Home begins with four walls, but it doesn’t end there. It means so much more – more time with family and a safe and healthy place to study, to grow and to build community,” said Julia Deans, president and CEO of Habitat for Humanity Canada.
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To participate in the writing contest, eligible students or teachers (on behalf of students) can submit pieces online at meaningofhome.ca before Feb. 18. Alternatively, people can mail their submissions to Habitat Canada’s head office in Ontario.
“We would love to have every student in Grade 4,5, and 6 in Langley particpate and tell us what their home has meant to them in the last couple of years,” said Baker with a grin.
Baker and her team are currently focusing on developing homes in Coquitlam and Mission, but said they would love to focus on Langley as soon as they secure land.
Founded in 1985, Habitat for Humanity Canada is a member of Habitat for Humanity International.
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