Nova Scotia

Surprise donation finishes campaign to buy home for Halifax family

A community fundraiser to buy a Halifax family a home has reached its goal with a surprise donation this week from another group of well-known advocates in the city.

Community raised over $100k to buy a home for Alvero Wiggins and his family

The North Central Community Council Association donated money to finish the campaign for the Wiggins house in Ron Pink's honour. (Rachael Scaravelli/Engel and Volkers)

A community fundraiser to buy a home for a Halifax family has reached its goal with a surprise donation this week from another group of well-known advocates in the city.

A Home for Everyone spent months raising awareness about Alvero Wiggins and his family.

Wiggins had to stop working after being diagnosed with kidney failure. He and his wife moved into a rat-infested unit in public housing with their four children.

Over the years, Wiggins mentored kids through his work at LOVE and Hope Blooms, so community members decided they should give back.

The family moved into their new home in June, but A Home For Everyone still didn't have enough to cover all the expenses – until this week. 

"Out of the blue, I got a phone call," said Brenda MacKenzie, the founder of A Home for Everyone.

On the other line, was Kathy Legge. Legge was a member of the North Central Community Council Association, a group that fought all the way up to Nova Scotia's Supreme Court to turn the former St Patrick's–Alexandra School into a community space. The court ultimately sided with the city's deal with a developer.

The association is now going through the process of formally dissolving, and one of the remaining issues was funding. The group had received government grants in the past for the project, and $6,600 was left sitting in the bank account. One of the conditions was that it had to go to another non–profit organization.

"We were trying to decide what would be best for the community," said Legge.

As that debate was underway, Legge heard CBC's coverage of the efforts by A Home for Everyone. She immediately perked up when she heard Alvero Wiggins' name. She and several other members of her group knew of Wiggins' work with Hope Blooms. They did some more research into the mandate of A Home For Everyone, and then put it to a vote.

"It was unanimous," said Legge. "We were very pleased to be able to help them out and bring some notice to the stuff that they're doing."

This week, members of the North Central Association met with A Home for Everyone and delivered the cheque. Legge says her group finally had a positive sense of closure.

"I'm just so glad that something good came out of all the work that the whole committee put together," she said, pointing to the countless hours people volunteered to work on the project.

She said the donation was made in Ron Pink's honour. Pink and his legal team had helped them pro-bono through their court battle, and this was a way to pay it forward.

"We want to make sure that [his] generosity has been noted."

Alaya, Alvero, Chelcie, Javier and Jaden Wiggins pose outside their new home in this file photo taken in late April. They are overwhelmed that so many people contributed to help buy the home to give them a safe place to live. (Steve Lawrence/CBC)

MacKenzie was thrilled, as the donation was just enough to finish fundraising for the Wiggins' house.

"It was just what we needed to cross the hurdle to pay for the improvements that we did at the house," she said. "We had electricians, we had a heat pump, we had all kinds of work done for them at the property."

The balance was put in a stipend account that will be used to maintain the property.

The donation also offered the chance to build connections, as the two groups share a passion for finding housing solutions in Halifax's tight market. MacKenzie says they discussed future solutions, including possibly investing in land and installing tiny homes.

"Maybe there will be more to hear about that once we've brainstormed some more," said MacKenzie.

The North Central Association agreed to share ideas, and will potentially suggest future families to support. MacKenzie's goal is to buy at least one home a year for those in need.

"We'll definitely be doing something. We'll do it the year after that, and the year after that, too!"

In the meantime, the Wiggins family has settled into their newly renovated home that was bought by the community.

"I've heard that everything is going well," said MacKenzie. "They're loving it there, they're feeling great."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carolyn Ray

Videojournalist

Carolyn Ray is a videojournalist who has reported out of three provinces and two territories, and is now based in Halifax. You can reach her at Carolyn.Ray@cbc.ca

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