Keys to Home

December 8, 2014 at 4:34 pm

Last week I had the great honour of handing over the keys to a new Habitat home to Michelle, and her children, Faron, Niomi and Julia. Shortly they will move into their very first home thanks to a partnership between the U of M Faculty of Health Sciences, Habitat for Humanity Manitoba and the Tachane Foundation.

Habitat Key Ceremony 2014

New homeowner Michelle and her family with Dr. Postl


Michelle’s father Karl gave a blessing on the house in a traditional smudge ceremony and summed up the feelings of everyone present at the “key ceremony” when he declared that “this is a joyous day. I’d like to thank Habitat and everyone who contributed. You build houses, but in my heart you build dreams.”

Michelle was extremely humbled by the volunteer efforts of so many to build her home and expressed her gratitude through the presentation of meaningful hand-made gifts to some special volunteers. “I can’t give to everybody, but through my heart and everything, if I could give everybody something I would. I love you guys all and this means so much to me,” she said at the Dec. 4 dedication of her new home.

In 2013, the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Medicine was the first such faculty in Canada to partner with Habitat for Humanity. A year later, when we integrated into the new Faculty of Health Sciences, we gained support from the Colleges of Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy and Rehabilitation Sciences.

As health care professionals, we are in a very privileged position and have an obligation to share our good fortune with others. That’s why it made me incredibly proud to see more than 100 colleagues and students volunteer their time and efforts this past June to construct the house on Bannatyne Campus, which was moved to its permanent location nearby over the summer.

Dr. Jonathan Wong, a palliative care physician with the WRHA and an instructor in the College of Medicine, championed this project. An accomplished musician as well as a physician, Dr. Wong donated over $14,000 through sales of his CD Keys to Home. He produced the 15-track disc specifically to raise funds for the build and is donating 100 per cent of the proceeds to it.

“As health care professionals, our responsibility goes way beyond our clinic and hospital walls,” Dr. Wong said as he presented his CD to Michelle and her family at the key ceremony. “It’s fitting that we’re giving you the keys to your house today, because it was one year ago this week that I went into the studio to record this CD. Every penny will continue to go to Habitat. This CD represents more than just music, it represents community and love.”

I’d like to thank Dr. Jonathan Wong, Dr. Bruce Martin, the U of M Office of the Vice-President (Academic) and Provost, the Dept. of Community Health Sciences, Aramark, U of M Physical Plant, UMG and everyone from the Faculty of Health Sciences who supported this project and helped make Michelle’s dream of home ownership a reality.

Together, we are opening doors to brighter, healthier futures for families in our community. It’s not too late to show your support for this very worthy project in this season of giving. We are still fundraising for our Habitat Build and welcome donations here.

Do you volunteer in your community? Why is it important to ‘give back’?