Looking at the turbines on Pincher’s surging grassy hills, Nov 2nd was, by all outward appearances, a normal day for this ranching town. But what was unusual was hidden from the 70 km gusts of wind, in the quiet of a newly finished living and kitchen room, where 50 people gathered together for one purpose; celebrating the completion of two affordable homes in this historically windswept community.
Don Anderberg, Mayor of Pincher Creek, brought greetings to the group on behalf of the municipality.
“Welcome to Pincher Creek. We have the perfect day for you here,” he said playfully.
Less than three years ago the Town of Pincher Creek reached out to Habitat for Humanity to help fulfill an aspect of its Housing Need Assessment.
In his speech, the mayor recalls how from the beginning residents of Pincher Creek embraced the Habitat model. “The commitment that was made by our municipality was met by the groups and the town,” said the mayor.
“It was a lot to fundraise and we didn’t know if we could do it, but we had a solution to our housing need.” The town contributed the land valued at $94,000 and $120,000 was raised by the town of 3,642 people. In total, Pincher Creek donated $214,000 to the build.
The Pincher Creek Elks Lodge #74 worked with six local service clubs including the Cowley Lions, Pincher Creek Lions, Rotary of Pincher Creek, Angels Within US, Pincher-Cowley Roaring Lions, Legion #43 and to raise the cash.
“The Elks Club with other community service clubs and organizations were pleased to be asked to raise money for a Habitat for Humanity build in Pincher Creek,” said Charlie.
“It was a lot of work, but now we know that two families will be moving into their new homes.”
Left, homeowners in front of their home. Right, community fundraising leaders.
Other supporters of these two homes are Community Foundation of Lethbridge and Southwestern Alberta, Shell, Walmart, Crowsnest/Pincher Creek Landfill Association, the Credit Union, Co-op Food Store and Hardware Store, Westcastle Motors Ltd, family and community support services, numerous generous individual donors and fundraising events.
“There are some things in life that we tell ourselves we don't want, because in the back of our minds we feel we cannot reach them. For me home ownership was one of those goals I had written off and accepted I would never reach.”
Tara, pincher creek homeowner
After words from community partners and Habitat staff, a new chapter of these homes was opened when Janice and Tara, representing their families, received their keys to an applause that filled the home.
The weight of this moment was distinct on Janice’s face and in the tremble of her voice. “To all the committee members, supporters, donors and volunteers, thank you very much for this wonderful blessing,” she smiled. “It’s an answer to our prayer.”
Janice recognized her friends and family who supported her application process and helped her complete her family’s 500 volunteer hours. Her husband, Clemente and two children Chloe and Chase were also in attendance.
Chase running and playing in his new home.
Tara, with her son Van, finished the event. She carefully took out her notes, expressing her nerves, but also her deep gratitude. “There are some things in life that we tell ourselves we don't want, because in the back of our minds we feel we cannot reach them. For me home ownership was one of those goals I had written off and accepted I would never reach,” said Tara.
“Now we have a stable foundation of hope to build on, a foundation that will create a momentum for positive growth.”
Habitat for Humanity Southern Alberta CEO, Gerrad Oishi also spoke to the group. “This is Pincher Creek's moment. You have joined a global community that said affordable housing is important and looking after our neighbors is important.”