Open Letter to Habitat for Humanity

Janise, me and Nadine

My friends, Janise and Nadine

Dear Habitat for Humanity,

Hello. My name is Shelley Smith. Since September 2012, my husband, John and I have volunteered for Habitat. The purpose of this letter is to share my thoughts and feelings on June 14th’s Habitat for Humanity Vancouver Island North Piercy Build Dedication Ceremony and to offer my thanks to Habitat for creating the opportunity for us to participate in this worthwhile cause.

Prior to the official ceremony, the final set of keys were passed over to Nadine and her daughter, Kasey.

IMG_5278 Bread, so you never go hungryIMG_5281 Salt to fill your lives with flavourIMG_5282 A pink toolbox to maintain your homeIMG_5285 Quilts from Beth Sanderson, Barely There Quilters and FabriclandIMG_5287Man can not live on bread alone IMG_5290

Peter Sanderson, Build Coordinator, passes over the keys to Nadine and Kasey, so they’ll always feel safe and secure.

Next were the introductions of board members, acknowledgements of donors and volunteers. To be honest, these types of ceremonies are usually touch and go for me, but today was different. Can you believe that one point two million dollars was donated in gifts and kind, that ninety-two local businesses partnered with Habitat, that there were over six hundred volunteers, that there was a special Womens’ Build group,

Womens' Build

Womens’ Build

that some of those volunteers donated over two hundred hours?

My friends, Doug, Darryl, Joe and Al

My friends, Doug, Darryl, Joe and Al recognized for over 200 hours

Lisa, proud home owner, thanked everyone on behalf of the six families. IMG_5332 She observed that completing the required five hundred hours of sweat equity while working full time and raising children was challenging but the end result of owning their own home was worth every hour. She described how incredible it was that two years ago, strangers volunteered to build their homes and how now, these volunteers are their friends. IMG_5345 Which brings me to thanking Habitat. I’ve read that people volunteer because it’s good to give back to the community and they make a difference. Volunteering promotes growth and self-esteem. All worthwhile reasons, but quite honestly, John and I volunteered because we wanted to make friends. Let me explain.

Three years ago, John and I moved to the Comox Valley. Although we were lucky enough to have family here, we set out to make friends. Rugby didn’t work out because I literally feared for my life. Zumba was a bust, because, nothing could entice John for a repeat experience.


Once we discovered that our dentist and his wife, whose names shall remain forever anonymous, kayaked nude, we resigned ourselves to being friendless. Until John spotted an article about Habitat.

I’ll never forget our first day on the site. John and I introduced ourselves to Peter, who I eventually called, IMG_5271

“My first friend of the Comox Valley”

Peter welcomed us warmly, albeit with just a touch of anxiety, as we had zero house building experience. After a quick round of introductions, he put us to work.

We learned so much. We know what a header, a crown, a joist, a cripple and a stud is. We know how to use a hammer, an electric drill and a power saw. We kind of know how to attach siding, build fences and John’s favourite, dry wall. And thanks to Peter, I know that builders don’t use the metric system. However, by far, the most important thing we’ve learned is that Habitat creates opportunities to make friends.

Me, Doug and Joyce

Me, Doug and Joyce

Friends who showed up at 8:30 with perpetual smiles on their faces. (I’m assuming they arrived at 8:30 because I liked to keep, as Peter would say, executive hours, so I would wander in around 9:30… ish.)

John and Darryl

John and Darryl

Friends who exhibited endless patience as they explained to us how to measure and cut again and again and again. The very same friends who forgave us for making mistakes while measuring and cutting again and again and again. Ken and me

Ken and me

 Friends who shared stories about themselves and listened to ours. Friends who laughed at my jokes. John, Julia and Doug

John, Julia and Doug

Thank you Habitat.

And with that said, John and I would like to take this opportunity to invite all of our new Habitat friends over for chilli on June 19th, Thursday night, around 6:30. The entertainment will be watching the World Cup Soccer Game:

England versus Uruguay

John will be PVR’ring the game, so, dear friends, please do not, under any circumstances, tell him the score. As a matter of fact, this invitation will be cancelled if you even give hints. Unlike you lot, we are not the forgiving, patient or full of sense of humour kind of friends when it comes to England football. I kid. Sort of.

Please RSVP by Tuesday.

You friends, Shelley and John

PS: To celebrate the last few months of the build, I put together this

Habitat for Humanity, North Island, BC, Canada, gets Happy with Pharrell Williams ” video.


PPS: Here’s one of John being recognized for volunteering over 150 hours. IMG_5323 PPSS: Am also very excited and honoured to have received recognition for my efforts. Watch out Steven Spielberg.

Karen presenting my award

Karen presenting my award

PPSSS: Also, if you missed the first Habitat video, check out,

Hammer Time with Habitat for Humanity, North Vancouver Island, Comox Valley

37 thoughts on “Open Letter to Habitat for Humanity

  1. Nice, Just plain nice. Thank you for your volunteering and contribution. Giving gets returned!

    And on an unrelated note, your and John’s community efforts HAVE to get you on Ellen, now.

    And your teeth. Seriously. Blinding. 🙂


    • Thanks. I believe service is a constant theme in your posts. That Ellen. If not me, then at least little Maya. As for the teeth, must have been all the extra products we purchased. 🙂


  2. Such a wonderful gift of labor and love you all gave. I hope your Thursday chili with football (ie, “soccer”) friends is fun, that England comes out on top, and that no one gives the score away!


  3. Seriously ugly crying Shelley. Thank you for your lovely letter. I shall try to attend on Thursday…be sure to let peter know so he can spread the word :). Love you!


  4. Shut UP, Shelley! This is amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I love every single bit of this post! The fact that you and John took this on, the other volunteers, the recipients, the smiles, the dancing, the singing, the pictures, the videos, the music, the happiness and more! WOW! That energy just reached me here in Massachusetts. In fact, the hair on my head stood up thanks to the static of this post. Wonderful. I am definitely feeling Happy right now! Excelente!


  5. Hey Shelly,

    I love this, and all the pictures and videos!! You and John are wonderful, caring, and thoughtful. I am honored to call you both friends!! I will do my best to pop in on Thursday. Thank you soooo much


  6. Congratulations to both of you!! You should be very proud of the work you have done. From the things your Mom tells me, you all impress me as a great family! Thanks for sharing all the beautiful photos of your travels, I really enjoy them! Judy Boyd

    Sent from my iPhone



  7. Shelley, have you got the word out to the volunteers who, ahem, might be a wee bit too upwards in age to perhaps have the ability to foloow your blog? I am hopeful that Peter will spread the word, though there was no one on site today….


  8. Shelley, this is so awesome! Habitat is such a wonderful organization, and experience too! And you made friends in addition to the experience. I worked on a Habitat house years ago in San Antonio, and the key ceremony brought me literally to tears. I wish I could come to your party, even though I didn’t volunteer! 🙂 Have a wonderful time.


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