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Friendship House is new home for family
For several years, Tim Davidson of Timko Developments, built houses for those in need in places like Mexico, Haiti, Honduras and Brazil, but his latest project, in partnership with the Wesley First Nation, was much closer to home. Beginning at 6 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 24 and working around the clock on the donated time of skilled sub-contractors, Davidson and over 100 volunteers pitched in to build a three-bedroom, 1,200-square foot bungalow in 72 hours for one fortunate member of the Wesley First Nation at Morley.
Almost all of the costs were covered by donations of labour, materials and cash. Trades people who donated their time and skill encouraged suppliers to donate materials, including concrete, windows and cabinets. Other partners, such as ATCO Gas and Transalta, contributed cash. One week before the build, approximately $30,000 was left of the $150,000 total cost. The goal was to have the entire cost of the home recovered. Following the groundbreaking, the foundation had been completed two weeks earlier as it needed time to set.
Based in Cochrane, Davidson has worked with the Stoney Nakoda Nation for about 10 years and with the Wesley First Nation for the past five. Having built between 200-300 homes on the reserve, he is acutely aware of the backlog of homes needed. In the past year, the partnership included employing workers from the reserve to build the ready-to-move modular houses that Timko constructs at the Goodstoney Rodeo Centre, located near Morley, and then transports to Cottage Club, a new development at Ghost Lake, 45 km west of Calgary. To date Timko Development and Wesley First Nation have built eight cottages, providing training and employment opportunities for those living on the reserve.
Wanting to give back to the First Nations community, Davidson came up with the Friendship house idea as a project of his family-owned business. Given the tough times for non-profits looking for money, Davidson said he was “shocked by how many people jumped on board.” In true community effort, Stage West, working with Nakoda Lodge and the Stoney Nakoda Resort, catered the food, served in a huge tent all weekend. The weekend was an occasion to socialize and meet new people as well as to pitch in.
Linda Bearspaw, who was on site helping out the entire weekend, was chosen by chief and council as the new home owner. A member of the Stoney Tribe, Bearspaw and her family had been sharing crowded quarters with her grandmother who had raised her.
“I thought that I would wait a lifetime for a chance to have my own place but this Friendship House will provide me with a new and bright outlook on life,” said Bearspaw.
She plans to complete her Grade 12, go on to study in SAIT’s culinary program, and ultimately work as a chef in the Bow Corridor.
As Ray Greenwood, administrator for Wesley First Nation, said, “This project highlights the kinds of partnerships the Nation has to develop off the reserve. We have to start one at a time.”
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