Family chosen for Springhill Habitat For Humanity

Christopher Gooding
Published on May 9, 2014
Front and centre of the Habitat For Humanity volunteer effortst in Springhill are Carla and Harold Embree and their three children - Devin, Anthony and Dennis. The volunteers met the family at the site of their future home Friday.  

SPRINGHILL – Something incredible happened today in Springhill.

It’s no secret community volunteers here formed a Habitat For Humanity team, partnering with the Town of Springhill for a parcel of land and the Nova Scotia Community College’s Cumberland Campus for its experience from builds in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. But what was a secret was which family would be chosen for the program aimed at helping a family step away from the cycle of renting and own their own home through a no down payment, interest free mortgage.

That is, no one knew until now.

“Right here will be the driveway and right here is where I’ll park my bike,” Grade 4 student Devin Embree said Friday afternoon as he crossed the vacant building lot on the corner of Main and Princess Street in Springhill.

“We’re going to have our own home,” Devin’s brother Anthony, who is in Grade 3, said. “We’re going to have our own rooms.”

“I‘ll be able to play anything I want. It’s our yard,” Dennis, also in Grade 4, said. “There’ll  be rules. But they will be our own home rules.”

Dennis isn’t oblivious of the world of renting despite his age. He knows there are rules his parents, Harold and Carla set, and then there are rules that came with the apartment they rent. But that’s going to change.

The Habitat For Humanity team in Springhill learned Friday the Embrees were the successful  applicants for the upcoming build. It was a long process where local applications were collected and sent to Halifax. There, Habitat For Humanity Nova Scotia reviewed the applications and informed the Springhill family selection committee of the decision.

“I’m speechless,” Carla said. “It’s amazing, I’m happy, I’m surprised. Every word in the book. Harold has worked so hard. He’s a real hard worker.”

Part of Habitat For Humanity’s guidelines for selecting a family is its ability to pay for the home when  it’s completed, and getting out of the cycle of renting and becoming a homeowner has been more than a dream for Harold, it’s been a goal he says he’s been working towards for years now.

“I created a five year goal and I always had the dream of owning my own home,” Harold said, visibly emotional about the day “I worked so hard to find full-time employment. I worked full-time night shift at Walmart, then Foodland. Now I’m working day shifts at the paint recycling plant. When I saw an opportunity I went for it and everything has been falling in place.”

Harold's diligence is an example of what Habitat For Humanity looks for when making its family selection and serves as an example for future applicants when Habitat For Humanity builds are announced.

“Never say never,” Denise Fawthrop, marketing and stakeholder relations for Humanity Nova Scotia said. “Even when you think that day will never come, never give up.”  

Now the hard work starts for volunteers.

As part of the build, the Embrees will contribute 500 hours of sweat equity into the building process. Volunteers will have to do their part by raising the money and supplies needed to build the as of yet designed home. When the design is finalized, volunteers will have an official number to work off of, but Fawthrop says $35,000 is a safe working number for now. And they’ll need it in cash.

“Cash is king, and it’s hard to get a hold of so fundraising is a very important part of the project.”

Springhill’s Habitat For Humanity has already started the process, raising money through coin drives at the local schools and community college, and even more work is being done to start soliciting businesses and potential investors for the project. Making a Habitat For Humanity home a reality is a shared responsibility, with a third of the funding coming from the local level, a third from Habitat For Humanity Nova Scotia, and the final third through in-kind services, like donations of materials or expertise. That in-kind portion is topped up by the local team and Habitat For Humanity Nova Scotia by pooling their resources and networks.

Walking over to the same spot as his brother Devin chose earlier, Anthony looks at his big brother and says that’s where he’s going to park his bike, too. And he’s going to have his own room.  It’s just a vacant lot right now, but they can already see what the volunteers are working towards.

With the project moving forward, anyone interested in becoming a volunteer with the build, donating services or making a financial donation can contact Cheryl Veinotte-Mackey by calling 902-597-4502, or emailing