Family – and community – celebrate key ceremony for new home

‘A place to call home’ ready for Rolfe family


The handing over of new keys, belonging to a brand new home, was a joyous, and highly emotional event this week for a local mother.

Katie Rolfe, along with her young sons Owen, Cayson, and Dawson, just became the official homeowners of a gem of a home at 206 Broadway – the town’s second Habitat for Humanity project.

The Killarney Chapter of Habitat for Humanity held a Key Ceremony and Open House on Wednesday, November 28, and the big kitchen (with lots of cardboard sheets protecting the spanking new floor) was filled with well-wishers, volunteers, and supporters.

“Today is the day,” said a tearful Rolfe. “I am overwhelmed on this day. It has changed my life. My dream has come true. We are finally here, in our home.”

Ervin Buhler, builder and chair of the local chapter, praised Katie for her hard work during the build, and also boasted lightly about the impressive energy efficiency reports on the house.

“We had an air exchange reading of .59, and we are really happy,” said Buhler. “A four kilowatt furnace will heat this house – that’s two hair blowers. It is a really efficient house.”

With only 980 square feet on the main floor, plus the same in the basement, what looks like a compact house is really quite expansive within its walls, and just waiting to be enjoyed.

And it’s a far cry from where the family of four has been living.

“My kids will now have a place we can call home,” said Rolfe. “We were living with my parents in Killarney for around a year.”

Steve Krahn, VP for Regional Development with Manitoba Habitat for Humanity, travelled from Brandon for the big day, despite the treacherous, icy roads earlier that morning.

“It takes an entire community to complete a project,” he said. “Building a home is not cheap. Habitat projects are right up there when it comes to being expensive. Habitat is about giving a hand-up, not a hand out. It’s about the dignity of the family moving into the home.”

Rolfe herself had to contribute around 500 ‘sweat equity hours’ into the build, often challenging her own fears and inexperience in the long process.

“There is blood, sweat, and tears right here in the fibre of this home,” said Krahn. “When the family moves into the home, they begin paying the mortgage. The difference is the terms of the mortgage: there’s no interest, no down payment, and the payments are based on family income. This is an opportunity for a family to get into the housing market. We provide the groundwork and the opportunity. And we know that Katie is going to succeed in her beautiful, heat-efficient home.”

For Habitat fundraising chair Johanna Friesen, the day was a heart-warming culmination of years of effort, she said, addressing Rolfe.

“I see it like the planting of a garden, with many people planting their seeds, and making things grow,” said Friesen. “We are so happy today to pass the torch. Today this building ceases to be the Habitat House. It is now your home.”

Around 40 more square feet of house-build-cost donations are still available, if you wish to support the project, at a cost of $150 each.

(And if you happen to have a twin bed to donate for Dawson, age four, or a dresser for Owen, age nine, and Cayson, age six, the Rolfe family would be very grateful. Pots and pans and dishes and cutlery would also be happily received.)

Excerpt from Katie Rolfe’s letter of thanks:

“How do you say ‘thank you’ to people who have literally changed my life for the better? How do you find just the right words to express your gratitude for everything they have done?

After much thought, I decided to just say what was in my heart.

I just want to thank everyone with all of my heart for everything you have done for my boys and I during this time. Personally, it has been a long, hard road, filled with sleepless nights and early mornings.

It has been said that the best things in life require hard work, determination, and a little bit of patience.

In this case, these words could not be truer. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. It has been an honour and a privilege to work alongside all of you. This experience and opportunity has benefitted me in many ways that I had never expected.

If it wasn’t for this opportunity, I would never have had the chance to learn things from you all.

I am very blessed for my kids to have their forever home, a stable foundation, and a place they can grow up, and make lifetime memories in.

Habitat for Humanity is more than a program to help families be able to afford their forever home. It’s a group that actually becomes a part of your family.

You grow with each other, learn from each other, and have a bond with each other that is forever. You laugh with one another; you share pain with one another after a long, hard day. You stand beside each other as one, and you stand tall and proud.

This is my life, and my life will forever be different because of all of you, and Habitat for Humanity. Not only do I feel like I received a beautiful home from this program, but I feel like I came out of this as a much better person.

Thank you for believing in me, and giving my family such an incredible opportunity. I can’t wait to continue helping with the future Habitat houses.”

A TEAR IN HER EYE – Katie Rolfe, with a tear in her eye, presents builder Ervin Buhler with a handmade present of an inscribed, plaqued hammer, for all his guidance in the Habitat house build. She also made one for Bernie Kroeker.

CUTTING THE RIBBON ON A HAPPY DAY – Four-year-old Dawson Rolfe helps his mom, Katie, cut the official ribbon on the family’s new Habitat for Humanity home at 206 Broadway on Wednesday. From left are: Ted Knight, Cayson Rolfe, Owen Rolfe, and Ervin Buhler.