a response to the need for affordable housing

Pond View Drive - Wellesley (2009)

Feeling Great In New Homes

Large rural families are living in buildings that would be condemned if a building inspector made a visit. This was Shirley Redekop’s urgent message to the MennoHomes’ annual meeting in November, 2007. Shirley, a Rural Outreach Worker, was well qualified to make such a strong statement. On her caseload are mainly large Low German families many living in sub-standard housing conditions.

Two years later a blonde seven-year-old responded to her Wellesley public school teacher’s question: “What do you like best about your new home?” Her immediate answer was: “I like that it is warm.”

With input from Shirley and five other advocates during the summer of 2008, MennoHomes was motivated to apply for governmental funding to build eight dwelling units for large rural families. A year later, in June 2009, MennoHomes received funding to build two Wellesley semis (four units) in the Pond View subdivision. Work began in August, accelerated by a barnraising blitz during the September long weekend by Old Colony Mennonite Church volunteers. It was a Christian service project by 30 men from their Virgil, Aylmer, Crosshill and Drayton churches.

Further making this a very special experience were the donors of building and landscaping materials as well as significant discounts from some of the trades. And many volunteers gave hands-on assistance during the construction period.

Was the effort worth the cost and work? By January 2010 four families had settled into their new four- bedroom homes. One of the mothers shared with
MennoHomes that the day after her family had moved in all members reported a great boost to their morale. “We all feel better physically and emotionally,” she reported. “We are so grateful to be living here.”

Footnote 1: The six advocates who were instrumental in producing the information that demonstrated the level of need all interact daily with Low German families. MennoHomes would like to acknowledge the great value of the services of:
• Lily Hiebert Rempel, MCC Ontario Low German Co-ordinator
• Shirley Redekop and Sue Martin, Rural Outreach Workers under the auspices of Mosaic Counseling and Family Services
• Brenda Gingerich and Esther Janzen, Family Support Workers and interpreters with the St. Jacobs Family Support Centre for Low German Families
• Peggy Snyder, nurse-practitioner, based in Linwood and Wellesley, under the Woolwich Community Health Centre

Footnote 2: Among the many rich blessings experienced by MennoHomes in the Wellesley project, now known as Pond View Village, was the willingness of Murray Leis to serve as Project Manager in lieu of a general contractor.

Under Murray’s excellent leadership, involving the co-ordination of trades and volunteers, the project finished on time and virtually on budget. Assisted by his wife, Marilyn, they are the owners of Murray Leis Construction and members of Crosshill Mennonite Church. Murray also is a Director on the Board of MennoHomes Inc.

Reported by Martin Buhr