Gift to Habitat for Humanity lifts 100+ Women Who Care over $100,000 in giving over two-year period

Members of the 100+ Women Who Care Lennox and Addington listen to presentations at Wednesday's meeting at the Strathcona Paper Centre. (Adam Bramburger/staff)

Philanthropy group’s latest gift to support a future build in Lennox and Addington

Adam Bramburger

Beaver Staff

Celebrating their second anniversary Wednesday, the 100+ Women Who Care Lennox and Addington surpassed the $100,000 milestone in cumulative giving within their community.

Going into its vote at the Strathcona Paper Centre that evening, the group that has grown to 92 individual members and 180 team members had given $86,495 to eight charitable organizations.

“Everyone needs to take a moment and be proud because that is an accomplishment,” said Lori Morris, one of the volunteer organizers known as “leading ladies.”

Habitat for Humanity Kingston Limestone Region chief executive officer Susan Zambonin advocates for her agency at Wednesday’s meeting. (Adam Bramburger/staff)

Following the evening’s discussions, its members agreed to write about $14,400 in cheques to Habitat for Humanity Kingston Limestone Region to support a local build within the county.

“That money will be held in trust until we have a build in L&A,” said Habitat chief executive officer Susan Zambonin. “If we have a family this fall and build this fall, that’s great. If we don’t have a family until spring, we’ll build in the spring. It will be used to buy materials to be used in the construction of that home.”

Zambonin said the agency, which also covers Kingston and Frontenac County, has had expressions of interest from 8-10 families that it would like to see continue to a full application. She said she believes some of the families in that prequalification stage are from the county.

During her presentation to the women, Zambonin said Habitat has already built four homes in Lennox and Adidngton — two in Bath in 2012, one in Napanee in 2016, and one in Roblin last year. In each case, the home has represented a “hand up, rather than a hand out.” To qualify, families must demonstrate a need — either living in substandard housing or paying too much for housing based on income. They must also make between $35,000 to $65,000 to be able to pay a mortgage and commit to 500 volunteer hours.

“Habitat for Humanity doesn’t give homes away for free. Families purchase their homes at fair market value, but they pay zero downpayment, zero interest, and monthly payments are geared to income.”

She described the work Habitat does as “the best pay-it forward” program that I know of, explaining that building materials are turned into houses, then mortgage payments help pay for materials for other homes.

Zambonin shared a story of talking with a mother in 2004 who was about to receive a home. She noticed the woman’s teenaged son hadn’t said a lot about the build, so she asked what he thought.

The woman told her he had said “Don’t get too excited about this mom, good things like this don’t happen to people like us.” Zambonin said she couldn’t believe someone so young felt so defeated. Habitat offered the family acceptance on Thanksgiving weekend that year.  She said the home offered stability and confidence for that mother to continue raising her family.

Also during the presentation, Zambonin discussed the concept of an empowering women’s build on a Habitat site and the idea of providing construction training to give women confidence to contribute. She’s hopeful the 100+ Women can be a driving force for those kinds of volunteer initiatives on a future build.

“I’d love to see a full women build,” she said. “What we’ve been doing has been a week or a few days. Having this group helps. The women want to be involved in moving forward what they’ve supported.”

Chill Zone, Canadian Tire Jumpstart also pitched

Habitat For Humanity won the vote against the Chill Zone and Canadian Tire Jumpstart, the two finalists randomly selected from among 12 nominations at this quarterly meeting.

Lindsay Campbell nominated Chill Zone after reading a Beaver article earlier this year about how it had to close its doors due to lack of funding. Campbell said the facility served over 300 youth in the area with an average of 50 attending weekly. It offered a safe, supportive environment for vulnerable youth to connect.  Some 17 per cent of the people it served identified as Aboriginal.

The Chill Zone offered opportunities for job searches and homework, interaction with positive role models, healthy meals, and direct access to Napanee Area Community Health Centre services.

In her research, Campbell learned that transportation was a major barrier as some participants were travelling up to 30 minutes and transportation was fully funded through taxi chits. She urged her colleagues to offer support.

“Chill Zone wants to move from surviving to thriving. Although I don’t currently have a teenager at home, I will one day. When I think back to being a teenager in Lennox and Addington when I was younger,  it would have been wonderful to have a place like that.”

Meighen Hodgen spoke in support of Canadian Tire Jumpstart. Miss Greater Napanee explained that her own involvement in youth sport helped install confidence, dedication and leadership in her. Sadly, she said, many children don’t have the chance to take part in sport or other organized activity. That’s where Canadian Tire Jumpstart steps in to provide funding for registration.

Hodgen said the funding is offered to families who make under $30,000 a year to help children aged 4-18. In Lennox and Addington alone, there are 2,500 families and 2,829 children that qualify. In 2016, the local chapter distributed $21,000 to support 107 children. That still leaves a gap and Hodgen noted registration and applications locally are capped due to limits of funding.

“Everyone in the community has the responsibility to give each child an opportunity. It breaks my heart that kids today are unable to participate in sport and activitiy due to lack of funding,” she said. “There is strength in numbers and with your help we can make a difference in a child’s life. It’s time to allow equal opportunity so all kids have a sporting chance and have a chance to play.”

Also at Wednesday’s meeting, the 100+ Women received an update from Lennox and Addington Interval House executive director Sue Weir about their March donation. She said the $13,600 gift will help buy groceries to support women and children using their services.

“We have an 18-bed shelter and we have eight beds that aren’t funded by government. This community supports those beds through donations, fundraising events, and things like this,” she said. This is the cost of  actually feeding the women and kids in those beds. That actually nets out to be the perfect amount to cover the entire year.”

Without that funding, Weir said the alternative would be to leave the beds empty — and most days, they’re all full. If those beds aren’t in use, Weir said about 50 women and children a year would face a difficult decision of leaving the Napanee area or living with a violent situation in their homes.

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