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Habitat for Humanity makes most of 2020

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Breaking ground on a new home in Simcoe and winning the Outstanding Community Service Award for the ReStore are among the accomplishments Habitat for Humanity Brant-Norfolk has achieved in 2020.

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The Brook Street lot was purchased from Norfolk County by Habitat in mid-2019. The purchase was initially met with confusion from neighbours, who were under the impression they would have first dibs on the land if it were to ever be sold.

Since then, staff, volunteers and the Habitat family that will be taking over the home have had to opportunity to introduce themselves to the neighbourhood and community.

“Habitat for Humanity’s goal is always to be a good neighbour, right from the start,” said Lynda Henriksen, director of fund development and communications. “Many of the neighbours in the area have been here for a long time and they’re very passionate and caring people.

“We knocked on doors to introduce ourselves, we’ve had some terrific conversations, we’ve provided build updates and we’ve listened really closely to those who were initially concerned about the change.”

The future homeowners, Sharon Cosby and Russell Helka, and daughter Krysten Helka, have been on site to assist with the build.

One of the biggest obstacles for getting the Brook Street build started was the initial COVID-19 shutdown.

“This home was actually supposed to start in April,” Joe Scrocco, build services director, said at the construction site on Thursday.

Due to the delays, a virtual groundbreaking ceremony took place in late September before the official build began in the fall.

Weather and difficulty acquiring lumber became issues as the build was starting later than expected.

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Habitat officials were able to create a plan with a lumber warehouse in Burlington that allowed them to purchase lumber and use the warehouse to build the home indoors in pieces that would be able to travel to Simcoe. The pieces were then transported in a bin by Norfolk Disposal to the build site.

“We managed to put the entire home in a bin and shipped it here,” Scrocco said. “It went up in less than a month here.”

A final date is not set for the home to be completed.

In December, the Simcoe Chamber of Commerce announced the 2020 business awards. The joint winners of the Outstanding Community Service Award this year were the Norfolk County Public Library system and the Simcoe ReStore of Habitat for Humanity.

“That was a great honour to be selected alongside the library,” said Henriksen. “We recognize that both organizations are really legacy organizations, we’re serving the community in different ways. We’re really proud of our ReStore team here in Simcoe, and we’re really proud of the opportunity to provide a great way to reduce their carbon footprint.”

Volunteers and donations are still being accepted for the build. Visit the Habitat for Humanity Brant-Norfolk website at habitatbn.org for more information.

“I want to give a shoutout to all of our community partners, but also our volunteers and our staff,” said Henriksen. “Our volunteers and our staff are part of the community too.”

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