Hamilton’s most anticipated new home is now well in the works, thanks to Habitat for Humanity Hamilton, Homes by DeSantis, 400 volunteers from the Hamilton area, and a slew of As and Bs on two report cards.
Making the 1400 square foot Habitat for Humanity home a reality for the seven-member DenBesten family required some creative thinking. This is due in part to Habitat for Humanity’s requirement of the recipient family to contribute 500 hours of their own time into the build of their home.
A full time job doesn’t leave many daylight hours for Brandon (the father) to contribute to the build during the week. Meanwhile, Michelle (the mother) is busy caring for 10 year old Declan, 7 year old Hayd’n, 4 year old Bli, 3 year old Havyn and 1 year old Stazja, leaving her virtually no free time to help. Compounding this issue is the fact that Homes by DeSantis, the builder who is donating both time and trades, has set an unprecedented 90 day time frame for the build. The targeted June 29th completion date cuts down the amount of available free time even more — Habitat for Humanity usually requires a one-year time frame to complete a build of this size.
Realizing the challenges facing the family, Bob McConkey, Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity Hamilton, devised an out-of-the-box solution: convert each A and B received on the two older children’s report cards into a contributed “hour” for the family’s time bank. Meanwhile, Brandon assists at the site on weekends and during all of his vacation time, and Michelle helps with any transportation or computer work needed — jobs she can complete while watching her children. Brandon has also enlisted the help of his brothers to help him amass his required 500 hours.
The entire family is propelled by the anticipation of moving into their new home. “I’m looking forward to having a winter where the kids aren’t sick, and when they can run around without me worrying,” says Michelle, referring to the mold and asbestos in their current rental property. Michelle’s husband Brandon adds,” It will be a fresh start for my family and I. They are building the house in a great location, just steps from the beach and boardwalk … it couldn’t have been more perfect.”
The family’s excitement escalated recently when the entire all 7 members visited the Homes by DeSantis Design Studio to select counters, door styles, carpeting and paint colours. The children got to have their say in finishing touches such as handles and doorknobs.
The good fortune of being the recipient family is not something lost on Michelle. “We started the process, and at that time, never in my wildest dreams did I think this would turn out to be ours.”
The DenBesten’s Habitat for Humanity home is the 18th build in the Hamilton area since the Hamilton chapter was established in 1995. Today the organization has 1200 volunteers donating their time and skills in the area.
What lies behind the incredible success of the Hamilton chapter? Perhaps Bob McConkey summarizes it best: “When you give freely of your time and talent, for the well being of others, you put meaning in your life. When you work for Habitat for Humanity, you get both.”