Though cold weather is starting to set in, Habitat for Humanity organizers are hoping they will be able to continue working on their latest Penticton project through most of the winter.
“We are behind where we hoped we would be. We hoped we would have more done by the time winter sets in,” said Lynn Popoff, president of Habitat’s South Okanagan chapter. “Once the backfilling is done, then I think it is going to go fairly quickly and hopefully there will still be some days that are going to be OK for working.”
Volunteers have been working on the Huth Avenue property for the last couple of weeks, braving the cool weather to get the backfilling done around the foundations, so work on framing the house could begin.
Popoff is also grateful for the support the project is getting from the business community: people like Nikos Theodosakis of Theo’s Restaurant, who helped keep volunteer spirits up by providing a hot lunch on one of their work days.
“A hot lunch in the middle of a cold day was terrific. It was really good of him,” said Popoff.
Popoff said their project manager, Barry Chickloski, thinks they should be able to take advantage of warm days in order to keep working.
“Our plan is to try to work through the winter. Barry keeps reminding us that it’s not northern Alberta,” said Popoff. “Not steadily, it’s a matter of choosing the better days. It is a bit of a problem that we have to organize our volunteers and then cross our fingers for the weather.”
As the frame goes up and the home takes shape Popoff expects volunteer enthusiasm will build, especially as the fundraising for the project begins to take shape as well. She said they have had good news on that front too, with the future looking promising for the three grants they have applied for so far.
“The first one we applied for was a Habitat Canada grant for green builds. We applied for $15,000 and got $15,000,” she said.
They also collaborated with the Habitat chapter in Vernon and the Kelowna affiliate to put together a valley-wide grant proposal, aimed at hiring a fundraiser to work for all three groups.
“It was a $25,000 grant and we were successful with that one as well,” said Popoff.
Habitat completed the interviewing and hired Jacki Wlodarczyk last month, and Popoff said that Wlodarczyk is already getting to know the affiliates and what their needs are.
“I think that is going to help us a lot — to have a fundraiser; somebody who is really good in that field.”
A third grant request, to the Real Estate Foundation of B.C., is still going through the review process, and Popoff said it looks promising.
“We were notified that we made it to stage two and they will make a decision in early December,” she said. “If we are successful with that one, then we are batting three out of three, which would be amazing.”
Closer to home, Habitat has other fundraising ideas in the works, like a class at Pen High that is in the process of making a decision on whether they are going to build a playhouse or a tool shed for the group.
“We can do some sort of raffle or lottery in the spring with that,” said Popoff. “There are quite a few things like that in the works.”