Keys to a New Beginning

The Coughlin family woke up in an apartment Friday morning. Friday night they fell asleep in their new house. Moving into their new home was all the family could think about. There were a few formalities to get out of the way first. In a ceremony late Friday morning the family received the keys to the latest Habitat for Humanity Prince Edward-Hastings (HHPEH) build on Sidney Street in Trenton. Dozens of supporters and volunteers gathered at the front steps of the home as board chairman Peter Stewart presented the keys to the Coughlins. The family started the process of owning a Habitat house in April 2014. “We went to our first information session about 14 months ago and here we are today,” said Melanie on behalf of the family. “It’s been an amazing experience and it’s very humbling that strangers are so willing to help. We want to thank everyone. With all of your help we finally have a home.” There was a long list of businesses and volunteers involved with the current project.

For Len Kennedy, it proved to be an emotional experience. It was his last day of the job as Habitat executive director. “This is a special event in the world of Habitat for Humanity. This is what the Habitat world is all about – turning over a new home to a family. Being a semi-detached build it was challenging and exciting. We want to thank everyone involved,” said Kennedy.

While the community and a long list of organization pitched in during the construction phase, the Coughlins worked right along side them. Melanie, husband Dan and daughters Meghan, Gwen and Jacqueline surpassed the required 500 sweat equity hours. “I love the house. It makes me smile every time I go in. Everyone is going to have their own space, and we can relax knowing that the house is safe and properly built. We’re looking forward to simple things, like having a garden or being able to get a pet for the kids,” said Melanie. The Coughlin children rushed into the finished house shortly after Gwen Coughlin cut the ribbon.

Outside, volunteer Juerg Roth stood on the front porch chatting with Kennedy. The retired chef spent about 14-hours a week volunteering on the project, and said he’s learned a lot about home construction over the past nine months. “I moved here last October and was looking for something to do. Volunteering for Habitat was the answer. Habitat for Humanity benefits and we benefit by learning and keeping active. And the new owners participated every step of the way. They took pride in their new home,” said Roth. Kennedy said Habitat is in the final stages of selecting a family for the adjacent half of the duplex.

Bob Clute took over as executive director from Kennedy earlier this spring. “Habitat maintains the importance of hand-ups not hand-outs. Every family deserves a home for their kids to grow and thrive in, and Habitat gives them the opportunity to provide that. Whenever a family moves into one of our homes, you’re giving them more than just a roof over their heads,” said Clute.

A Habitat home offers families home with no down payment, no interest on the mortgage, and mortgage payments adjusted to their income, allowing families the ability to establish financial security, while also providing a safe and decent environment for their children to grow up in.

Quinte West donated the building lot, permits and municipal service hook-ups.

“This is a special occasion. The city is pleased to be part of this. A family can now enjoy a great home for the rest of their lives. This is a great asset to the community,” said Deputy Mayor Jim Alyea.