Bless this house

Pastor Curtis Aguirre (right) blesses the home of John Draus and April Turford, the latest Penticton family to realize the dream of home ownership through the work of Habitat for Humanity South Okanagan. - Joe Fries
Pastor Curtis Aguirre (right) blesses the home of John Draus and April Turford, the latest Penticton family to realize the dream of home ownership through the work of Habitat for Humanity South Okanagan.
— image credit: Joe Fries

Life is about to change for the latest Penticton family to receive a hand-up from Habitat for Humanity.

The non-profit group threw open the doors Saturday to its latest build, a 900-square-foot home on Huth Avenue.

Habitat for Humanity selects families in need of a break then helps them build a home, which come with no-interest mortgage. Each build is supported by the donations of supplies and volunteers, plus 500 hours of sweat equity from the chosen family.

The Huth Avenue home will soon be occupied by John Draus and April Turford, both 23, plus their two-year-old son Nathan and one-year-old daughter Chloe.

Draus, a carpenter, said the build was fun, but taxing.

“I’ve been pulling double shifts after work and weekends for quite awhile now, so I’m just a little tired,” he said Saturday after a brief ceremony at the home to bless the space and acknowledge everyone who helped with build.

Besides having a modern, safe home for their kids, Draus said he and Turford are also looking forward to putting their money to work for them.

“It’s going to be nice to have our own house and mainly a mortgage, so we’re paying into something instead of just rent.”

But despite the family being ready to move in, the house isn’t quite ready for them since an occupancy permit is still needed from the City of Penticton.

Lynn Popoff, president of the South Okanagan chapter of Habitat for Humanity, said the final inspection is expected by the end of the month, but plans had already been made for Saturday’s dedication so the group jumped the gun a bit.

“There are a few things that we are waiting until spring to do,” she added. “One is the cement front step; the cement companies want it to be warmer before we do it. And also there is some fencing that needs to be done and we are waiting for the springtime to do that.”

Just a few weeks ago, Popoff said, members of the Habitat board considered stopping work on the house until sufficient funds were raised to complete the build. Then at noon the same day, the board was notified by the executor of the estate of the late Maureen Sewell that she had chosen to include the chapter as one of the beneficiaries in her will. That allowed Habitat to finish the project and schedule the dedication.

About 100 volunteers and local business donated to the project, in addition to fundraising efforts by the Habitat board. The house was designed by architect Cal Meiklejohn to fit an oddly-shaped, triangular lot.

“It’s a very attractive house. It fits the lot; Cal did a really good job of designing it. It just settled right into its space,” said Popoff.

This is the third project so far for Habitat for Humanity South Okanagan, and the group has already started casting about for its next build.

“We have been talking with the city. There is some land that could be made available,” said Popoff. “And it is suitable for a multiplex and that is what we have to do next, because the cost of land is so high in this valley that single-family homes, even with an interest-free mortgage, are beyond what many people can pay.”

Building a multiplex, with either four or six units, is desirable no matter where they find their next piece of land, she explained, because it will lower the cost of the individual units and allow Habitat to help more families.


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