Originally from Quebec, Hélène is no stranger to Muskoka. Before finding “the job I love” at Clear Lake Village Resort in Torrance, she worked for 12 years in Bala. Her 14-year-old daughter, Simona, attends school in Gravenhurst, is a star athlete, and the apple of her mother’s eye. Sadly, due to a breakdown in her long-term relationship, Hélène has been on what’s seemed like an impossible mission: a new living situation for her and Simona.
“We’ve looked at 20 apartments since January,” says Hélène. “Everything in our area is in the $2500 range. That’s half of what I make. And that only covers rent – not utilities, food, car expenses, or any hope of saving for Simona’s college fund. Last week we saw a place in Gravenhurst that was $2000 for a basement apartment with one door, one window, and one bedroom. It feels like it’s impossible.” With rental vacancies at an all-time low and skyrocketing prices, Hélène says she felt “trapped.” She asks, “What will I do when I’m 65? I’m 50 now and don’t see a time when I’ll not have to work. I can’t ever see retirement in my future.
“You have given me a life.”
At the news that she had been offered the opportunity to be a Habitat for Humanity homeowner, Hélène was at first speechless. Through tears, she tried to put into words what this turn of events means to her and to Simona. “I have a future here in my new job. I love Bala. I have lots of friends there – people who understand and can listen in tough times. Simone can stay in the same school. I can go to work knowing she’s close enough to walk to the store or to see her friends. And instead of putting money into rent, I can put money towards a home that I can grow old in and can actually afford on the salary I make. It will change my life. It will give me a life. You have given me a life.”
“Thank you so much to all of you at Habitat OGN. The work you do is amazing. I’m going to go to bed tonight, dreaming, ‘Thank you.’ Merci. Merci beaucoup.”
About Habitat for Humanity Ontario Gateway North
Amalgamated in 2014, Habitat for Humanity Ontario Gateway North is a not-for-profit organization working toward a world where everyone has a safe, suitable, and affordable place to call home. Habitat for Humanity brings communities together to help families build strength, stability, and independence through affordable housing. With the help of government organizations, charitable foundations, local businesses, individual community members, volunteers and other Habitat partners we provide a solid foundation for better, healthier lives in our service area, in Canada, and around the world. Our region serves communities across central and northern Ontario, including North Simcoe County, Muskoka, Parry Sound, Nipissing, Greater Sudbury, and Cochrane. Habitat for Humanity Ontario Gateway North is an affiliate of Habitat for Humanity Canada, which was established in 1985. To date, across Canada, Habitat for Humanity has helped thousands of families in need of a hand up. Across the globe, Habitat for Humanity has grown to become a leading global not-for-profit working in more than 70 countries. For more information visit www.habitatgatewaynorth.com.