Habitat for Humanity breaks ground on new home in Amherstburg



By Ron Giofu


Habitat for Humanity Windsor-Essex (HFHWE) has officially broken ground on its 54th home in the area with it being the first one in Amherstburg.

Habitat for Humanity Habitat for Humanity2The home is being built at 784 Richmond St. for Justin and Melissa Paquette and their three young sons Noah, Nash and Ethan. Work started at the job site immediately after last Wednesday morning’s groundbreaking ceremony.

The home is being built through the HFHWE Affordable Homeownership Program.

“It has been a long process, but now that the wheels are in motion, it is really exciting,” states Justin Paquette.  “Our boys are so excited to have their own yard to play in.”

Paquette said the process took four to five years, as they had to apply and get approved. He noted he is originally from Amherstburg but he and his family have only recently moved back to town from Belle River with them currently living at his parents’ home.

“It’s big,” he said of the groundbreaking. “It’s really gratifying. It’s hard to explain. It’s so special.”

Both he and his wife have to put in additional “sweat equity” hours on site in addition to hours he has already put in. A total of 500 hours are needed.

Paquette said the project would have occurred last year but HFHWE took a break from building homes. According to HFHWE, the organization decided to take a one-year break to renovate their “ReStore,” which HFHWE describes as “the major fundraising vehicle for the organization,” as well as to build their land bank for upcoming builds.

“Due to the needs of the partner family, it was a time consuming process to find the appropriate build site, and we are very pleased that were able to secure one that serves the needs of both the family and the affiliate,” said acting affiliate supervisor Bill Hess.

Hess pointed out they broke ground “both ceremonially and literally” on the project last Wednesday as diggers immediately began working once the official ceremony was complete.

Board president Ed Link noted the organization has been around in this area since 1994 and has assisted 60 families and built 53 homes prior to the Amherstburg build. While they have had larger projects, he said building one house for one home was just as rewarding.

“Let me assure you, it is as exciting as building all the other homes that came before it,” Link stated during the dedication ceremony.

Link added HFHWE has received tremendous encouragement as it makes its debut in town.

“The residents, businesses and the town of Amherstburg have been extremely supportive of our project in their town,” said Link. “We are looking forward to further expanding our program in the county.”

Essex MPP Taras Natyshak said organizations like HFHWE assists society by seeing value in assisting those going through difficult times and providing aid as people try and travel the road to prosperity.

“This is really an emotional event for me,” said Natyshak.

Natyshak added that “it means so much” for both the Paquette family and the town as well.

Essex MP Jeff Watson said he goes by the lot regularly as he trains for the half-marathon as part of the upcoming World Alzheimer’s Day “Run for Heroes” Marathon. He said it went from empty lot, to having a sign erected on it to having the groundbreaking.

“It’s moving at a great pace,” said Watson.

Watson thanked the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) for their involvement in such projects. He noted that by trading “sweat equity,” the Paquettes would be able to realize dreams of having a home and a yard for their kids.

“I’m proud we’re playing a role in making that just a bit more reachable,” he said.

HFHWE has done “so many great things over the last 19 years,” added Mayor Wayne Hurst, noting he is “confident” that the good things will continue.

Taking part in such projects “shows who we are as Canadians,” stated Hurst.

“It shows who we are and what we stand for.”

Judy Binder from CMHC said there are roughly 350 Habitat for Humanity projects that have been carried out over the years and that most show that children in such cases show a marked improvement in school due to having a stable home life. She added that 78 per cent of families also report better health conditions due to having more stability.

The home is expected to be complete by late October or early November with the Paquettes hoping to be moved in by Halloween.

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