The phrase “home for Christmas” has new meaning for Dorothy Rice of Tweed, Ontario, this year. The 74-year-old widow has been homeless since flooding of the Moira River severely damaged her cottage last April 2014. She hopes to move back into her rebuilt home by Christmas, thanks to World Renew volunteer labor.
“World Renew volunteers took part in flood relief work in Belleville and Tweed last May,” explained Tony DeWeerd, project manager for the home-building project. “When we got to work on Dorothy’s home we became aware that the home was badly damaged and located on a flood plain. The owner was widowed and using a wheelchair to get around. It was the most serious situation we ran into. Clearly this woman needed a new home.”
To raise the necessary funds, World Renew staff approached local service clubs but found little or no help. However, the project moved forward quickly when Andy Geertsma, a member of nearby Maranatha Christian Reformed Church in Belleville and owner of Geertsma Homes Ltd. volunteered his expertise. Using volunteer labor, donated materials, and cooperation from the homebuilder’s sub-trades, World Renew determined that the new home could be built for a low enough cost that Rice was able to borrow against her deed to the land.
The new home is on a concrete slab on walls a full 12 inches above the 100-year flood level. House plans include a ramp to allow wheelchair access. Volunteers came from congregations in Kingston, Belleville, Bowmanville, and Peterborough. “We had a father-daughter team from Peterborough helping to shingle the roof this week,” said Tony DeWeerd. “We’re closing in as cold weather sets in, and God willing, we’ll hand Dorothy the front door keys before Christmas.”