The Power of Positive Thinking
How did we come to have a Habitat for Humanity chapter here on the Sunshine Coast? For Ed and Gwen Hawkins, the answer is simple: it’s the result of the power of positive intention.
“It’s like the power of positive thinking,” Ed explains. “But this power is more… productive.”
While positive thinking has a certain mystical aspect to it, the power of intention requires action.“You decide something has to be done and proceed as if it has already happened. It works — but a lot of people think you are nuts.” Here’s how it worked here, and here’s why nobody thinks Ed is nuts at all.
The story begins in the early 2000s at a men’s church breakfast. “We were looking to do something for our community instead of always looking inward,” Gwen says. Ed, with his real estate background, was interested in housing. “Habitat was the only organization I had heard of that built homes and sold them to people at the poverty line. It sounded like a nice organization.” With the support of the Living Faith Lutheran Church in Davis Bay, Ed did the necessary paperwork and the chapter was launched in 2004.
In addition to Ed, the first steering committee was composed of Rev. Ray Niebergall, Dieter Lauber, Phil Jones, Holger Heitland, Barry Smith, Suzanne Smart, Beatrice Sorensen, Pat Hennessey, Sandra Friedman, Dan Fivehouse, Jay Deyman, Bill Lasuta and Margie Garrard.
“It was a whirlwind of activity,” Margie Garrard says. “Our spouses quickly became regular volunteers and all invited family, friends and neighbours to our events and work parties. “We faced a ton of challenges as we jumped into council meetings, group presentations, grant applications, raffle sales, event planning, recruiting three recycling teams for Gibsons, Pender Harbour and Sechelt — and the whole point of it all: finding a building lot and selecting and supporting a hard-working family to become successful Habitat ambassadors.
“I don’t know how we did it all, yet we did. Ed’s famous Blue Sky Thinking was hard to keep up with, because he was, as he is today, absolutely incorrigible! Had he not been so, I doubt very much that we would ever have reached so high, dug so deep or worked our way through so many seemingly insurmountable circumstances.”
Garrard was no slouch herself. When Alcan offered an annual $60,000 prize to the Habitat affiliate that collected the most aluminum cans per capita, she got the recycling operation running so efficiently, our chapter won the award three years in a row. “After that, they changed the rules,” Ed laughs.
Sunshine Coast was the smallest community to have a Habitat chapter when it was formed.
“Habitat Canada was reluctant to give us a chapter, but we were like a dog with a bone. They finally said ‘go for it’ just to get us out of their hair,” Ed says. Next step was acquiring a building lot. Ed made presentations to municipal officials up and down the coast, and the Town of Gibsons came through with a $30,000 grant. “We found a plot of land in Gibsons, but the neighbours didn’t want us there,” Ed says.
“No, it wasn’t a ‘not in my backyard’ situation,” Gwen adds. “It wasn’t really an appropriate lot; it was just a bit of land left over by a developer and the neighbourhood was using it as a park.” Ed and Gibsons Mayor Barry Janyk struck a deal: Habitat could take the town’s $30,000 grant, and if the neighbourhood pitched in another $40,000, Habitat could buy a more appropriate lot. “The neighbourhood came up with $45,000,” Gwen says. “They really wanted their park.”
The chapter bought some land on North Road in Gibsons for $75,000. “The first house was basically all built by volunteers — 20 to 30 people in all, with 10 or 12 guys working all the time,” says Ed. That’s not to say that the community wasn’t quick to support the project.
The Recycle Centre
In order to fund the affiliate’s home building operations, HFHSC started a recycle operation for refundable containers.
This operation was initially the only source of funding the affiliate had. It has and is run totally by a team of dedicated volunteers.
This successful operation is located on Black Bear Road in Sechelt.
After the recycle operation was established, our affiliate started a ReStore which continues to grow and prosper.
The store counts primarily the local community and some commercial enterprises outside of the Sunshine Coast to supply us with donated household and building goods which are then sold to the public.
It is a popular stop for many “Coasters”.
Our ReStore has grown since its inception and is now our major funding resource.