Home Sweet Home

Sometimes wishes do come true. When five-year-old Ava Hills — who had been in and out of foster care for a large part of her young life — saw a new house being built on Sydney Street in Quinte West she said to herself “I’m going to live in a house like that someday.”

On Friday during a key presentation by Habitat for Humanity Prince Edward-Hastings she got her wish. “When they showed up and told us we were moving in here she told me later that night ‘well, I wished for this and that’s why we got it’,” said Alyssa Hills, Ava’s aunt who received custody of Ava through the Children’s Aid Society in order to give her a stable home.

Two years ago Alyssa shared a tiny two-bedroom apartment with her husband Arthur Nixon and daughter Morgan Nixon. The subsequent birth of their son Adam and the addition of Ava to the family had their small apartment bursting at the seams. She had applied for a Habitat for Humanity home but didn’t share that fact with the kids to avoid getting their hopes up. A month ago members from Habitat showed up at their apartment to give them the good news. “I cried a lot,” laughed Hills. “They showed up at our house with balloons and I cried. It’s overwhelming, it hasn’t even sunk in yet.” “I’m still shaking,” added Nixon.

For little Ava, who was unaware of the application for the home, it was simply her wish coming true. “She even now is convinced that all of this is her doing, it’s all her five-year-old imagination that ‘yeah, this house is mine because I prayed hard enough’. I think it’s actually really cute, she’s excited.” While Hills is looking forward to a lot of the little things, like being able to do laundry in her own home or to be able to sit on her own porch it’s the stability she’s most looking forward to. “I’m going to be able to laundry in my own home, I’m going to be able to sit out on my own porch.” “I think it’s a kind of peace of mind you get that this is where you live, it’s like putting roots down. You’re not worried about having to uproot your family again.” “It’s always a good day when we put a family into a home,” said Peter Stewart, chairman of the board for Habitat for Humanity Prince Edward-Hastings.

As part of the conditions for a Habitat home Hills and family will put in 500 hours of “sweat equity” —— through working at the Restore outlet or on other builds — as well as buy the zero interest mortgage from Habitat. The mortgage payments go directly back into Habitat for Humanity which allows them to build more homes. Over the past 16 years the program has built approximately .8 homes per year, but this year they’ve managed to put three families in new homes and are aiming for an additional six next year. There are two builds currently ongoing on Golfdale Road in Belleville which Stewart is expecting to be ready no later than the end of January. “I hope to do a lot more of these, these are so touching these ceremonies.”

IMAGE: Two-year-old Adam Nixon peeks through the porch railing at his family’s new house during a key presentation from Habitat for Humanity Prince Edward-Hastings on Friday October 30, 2015 in Quinte West, Ont.

Tim Miller/Belleville Intelligencer/Postmedia Network By Tim Miller, The Intelligencer tim.miller@sunmedia.ca