Perhaps there’s no better way to encapsulate the impact the Habitat for Humanity’s homeownership program has on a family than looking at the faces of Muhammad Arshad, his wife Saima, and 12-year-old son Hashir.
For most of us, a home is far more than bricks and mortar. There is a psychology behind it, that taps into an inherent human need for stability and community. Owning a home is a major life milestone, almost a rite of passage, symbolizing the achievement of a certain status. It’s an act of independence, a source of joy and pride.
That’s what was written all over the faces of the Arshad family, taking a tour of what will soon be their home, situated on a row of townhouses on Templeton Ave. in the heart of Amber Trails, a highly populated new community in Winnipeg. They’ll likely move in January 2022.
Young Hashir was a shy figure that day in September when family, folks from Habitat for Humanity, executives and staff from Westland Insurance, which is lead sponsor, and local media hosting a “radiothon” to raise money for the national charity, all gathered to celebrate and tour the new house, which is well into construction. He’s young, but he understands the importance of all this.
This home will be a life-changer for Hashir and will help alter his course in life. That’s the core of what Habitat for Humanity does, and that’s why it hits home with Westland Insurance employees, and why they support the organization on a national level. Habitat for Humanity is a national, volunteer-based, non-profit organization dedicated to building affordable housing in Canadian communities.
Westland sponsors the program so they can see the impact individual projects like this have on families who need them. It’s so they can see the looks on their faces.
The Habitat for Humanity homeownership program is for working families and individuals who need help buying a decent home. Those who are successful in being accepted into the program after an application process pay an affordable mortgage. They’ll get assistance with all the responsibilities of homeownership, such as budgeting and home maintenance. The new owners will also actively partner with their local Habitat, and volunteer to benefit the next family in line.
Muhammad emigrated to Canada from Pakistan in 2015. He’s a professionally trained accountant and currently works in accounts receivable for a local feed manufacturer. Saima is actively involved in her son’s schooling and is involved in her community doing volunteer work. The Arshad family are active members of their Mosque, particularly with programs for children.
They currently live in a small apartment. Hashir shares a bedroom with his grandfather. The Arshad family wasn’t able to save money for a down payment on a home. That was their only barrier to homeownership.
So imagine their joy when they were accepted into the Habitat homeownership program, with the opportunity to own a spacious new three-bedroom home. Hashir will get his own bedroom, where he can study, have friends over, and enjoy his downtime.
“It was just never in my mind that we would get an opportunity to buy a home in Canada,” Muhammad said. As he spoke, Westland Insurance employees were working close by, volunteering their time to help builders on the site.
“(Projects like this) really have an impact on families, and they really change the trajectory of poverty,” said Michelle Pereira, Vice President of Marketing for Habitat for Humanity Manitoba. “Hashir will likely go on to get a university degree and do great things. That’s what a Habitat for Humanity house is supposed to do. It changes the cycle, helps families be successful.”
That’s where the rubber hits the road as well for Westland Insurance, the lead sponsors in a collective of Manitoba property insurance sponsors, committing $50,000 to the Arshad home. The company’s national support of Habitat for Humanity means they are committing money to housing projects like this, benefitting Canadian families, all over the country.
The national insurance brokerage recently launched its Westland Amplifying Communities Initiative. The Amplifying Communities Initiative is designed to support community projects and initiatives across the country. Those projects will focus on wellness and mental health, equality and inclusion, homelessness, food insecurity and environmentalism. Westland has made $1 million available in 2021, so there will be other community support announcements in the months ahead, in places across Canada where the brokerage has a presence.
“This is a core value for Westland Insurance,” said Todd Peterson, Vice President, Prairies, Westland Insurance, on-site with the Arshad family. “It’s something we’re really excited about. We want to give back to the communities we do business in. It’s a critical part of who we are. Our goal is to help families in need, so this project is a perfect example of that.”
Meet the Arshad family and representatives from Westland and Habitat for Humanity Manitoba – view video here
Press release on the partnership here: HABITAT FOR HUMANITY-MANITOBA INTRODUCES WESTLAND INSURANCE AS LEAD SPONSOR – Westland Insurance
Westland Insurance is now actively inviting submissions from across Canada for community projects like the one in Winnipeg. For more information or to submit an application to Westland’s Amplifying Communities, head here, or send an email to [email protected]