We Build Strength, Stability and Self-Reliance through Affordable Home Ownership

Ben Gawletz February 18, 1990 - December 07, 2023 & McKenna

We are so very sad to share this news.

We have recently lost a valuable member of our Habitat Southeast BC team.

There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that Ben Gawletz was destined to become a leader within the Habitat for Humanity family in Southeast BC and beyond. Ben was our future.

Deeply loved and respected by his co-workers, volunteers, and ReStore customers, Ben shared his good nature, passion, vision, and commitment to making our two Habitat ReStores a great place to work AND visit every single day.

His obituary is below, it says everything you need to know about what an incredible person Ben was.

We are so grateful to have been a part of his life.

In loving memory

Ben Gawletz died in Grand Forks on December 7, 2023, at the age of 33 after a short battle with neuroendocrine cancer. Known best for his deadpan sense of humour and gorgeous hair, Ben will be dearly missed.

He was born in Cranbrook, BC to Kent and Nancy (Eugster) Gawletz on February 18, 1990. He is survived by his parents, wife Cari Lynn (Postnikoff), cat McKenna, brother Nic (Noelle), nephews Logan and Cooper, grandparents Ron and Opal Gawletz, and many more family and friends.

For the last years of his life, Ben worked with passion and dedication as the manager for Habitat for Humanity Restores in Grand Forks and Castlegar. Here he made many friends and a few enemies while working tirelessly to raise funds for the charity. Under his care, the stores flourished and became more profitable than ever before. The staff and volunteers that he leaves behind have their work cut out for them as they try to maintain the momentum he started.

In his spare time, Ben made the most of life. He spent as much time as possible in nature. He loved the outdoors in all seasons and conditions. Some of his favourite things to do were birdwatching and outdoor photography. Ben has taken countless stunning images of the outdoors that we will always treasure. Although often irritated by the tedium of birdwatching, Ben's wife Cari could forgive him because was always willing to stumble around the dark corners of the woods helping her search for mushrooms, which he didn't even like to eat. He also loved biking and hiking and spent lots of good days having type 2 fun climbing many mountains with his best friend, Jared Johnson.

Ben was good to his friends and family. He was always available to help someone move an appliance, break into their own shed, or play a prank on an innocent party. Even in his last days, his main concern was the well-being and comfort of those closest to him. Although he could drive everyone crazy with his constant ribbing and tricks, everyone knows that Ben could be relied upon for practical or impractical support any time.

Most importantly, Ben loved his cat, McKenna. His special kitty went everywhere possible, riding along in a backpack on hikes, bike rides, and road trips. While Ben was in the Grand Forks hospital, McKenna spent hours cuddled at his side, right to the end.

There are so many reasons to love Ben and so many people who love him. Gone far too quickly and far too soon, he will live on carried in our hearts and actions. Donations in Ben's name can be made to Habitat for Humanity Southeast BC. A celebration of life will be held at a later date.

Latest News

Our Castlegar build is complete!

On September 28th, Habitat for Humanity Southeast BC celebrated the completion of their new affordable housing project in Castlegar with a Key Ceremony. The keys to the homes were presented to the four selected families in celebration of their new homeownership journey in newly-built, energy-efficient homes. These families will be given the opportunity to achieve the dream of affordable homeownership thanks to the generous support and involvement of our supporters, volunteers, and staff, all of whom have contributed to Habitat for Humanity’s newest build project in Southeast BC.

“It is crucial for our government to partner with organizations like Habitat for Humanity to provide safe, sustainable, and energy-efficient housing across Canada,” said the Honorable Sean Fraser, Minister of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities. “This investment through the National Housing Strategy will support four families in Castlegar with homes that meet their unique needs, giving them the opportunity to live comfortably and thrive within their community. Our government is proud to share news like today that demonstrates the NHS at work.”

In March 2023, the Government of Canada and Habitat for Humanity Canada announced an additional $25 million investment to build 500 new affordable homes across Canada over the next three years. This brings the total federal investment in Habitat for Humanity to $80.8 million through the Government of Canada’s National Housing Co-Investment Fund.

“We know that the housing crisis has made it difficult for families to envision themselves owning a home in British Columbia,” said Ravi Kahlon, Provincial Minister of Housing, “This project shows that through collaboration and partnership, we can help people connect with their communities and create a lasting future for themselves in British Columbia. We will continue to support families by investing in affordable housing options.”

“Castlegar is a community that looks after its own and this project is just the latest example of that,” said Katrine Conroy, Provincial MLA for Kootenay West. “By partnering with Habit for Humanity Southeast BC, our government is helping to provide affordable housing for people in their home community, while preserving the land for future generations.”

Neil Coburn, Volunteer Chair for Habitat Southeast BC, is incredibly proud of this project: “This remarkable building will be a legacy for the city of Castlegar. Many thanks to the community support and commitment from our supporters and members who believe in the mission of Habitat for Humanity".

Neil Coburn continues, "Not only will four families now live in safe and secure housing, but this build project is also a first of its kind for Habitat for Humanity in all of BC. It has achieved the highest environmental efficiency rating available for a residential building – Step Code 5. The limited environmental footprint and the subsequent savings in utility costs that our families will receive is another great benefit to this unique build.”

When the construction of the multi-family build project began in April of 2022, the search for partner families began immediately. Elaine Pura, Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity Southeast BC said: “There is a clear need for affordable housing for families here in the Kootenays. Finding partner families who were in need of safe and secure housing is a high priority for us. We are pleased that we have identified and selected families who we feel will thrive as partners and become involved community members, contributing to building a strong community here in Castlegar.”

Neil Coburn added: “Selected Habitat families are not given the home. They buy it at market value.”

Habitat homeowners must satisfy several criteria: have the ability to pay an income-appropriate monthly mortgage, be in need of decent, affordable housing, and be willing to partner with Habitat. As part of that partnership, the family must also volunteer a total of 500 hours toward helping - either with the build or as a volunteer within the community for other worthwhile organizations. Habitat for Humanity believes that access to affordable housing is a basic human right, that should be available to all. Habitat Southeast BC is committed to helping families forge a path out of poverty and into safe and secure housing they can call their own.

This project has been funded by many national, provincial, and local donors. In particular Our Funding Partners:

  • The City of Castlegar donated the land.
  • The Columbia Basin Trust made a contribution of $150,000.
  • Through the National Housing Strategy, the Government of Canada has invested $260,000 into this build project in Castlegar, bringing Habitat for Humanity one step closer to creating 414 new affordable homes across Canada.

  • BC Housing contributed $200,000.

More about the homes:

Four units make up the project, featuring Two, 3-bedroom town house units, and two, 2-bedroom condo units. One of the 2 bedroom units is adaptable into an accessible unit. The homes are built to BC Step Code 5 Energy Efficiency and have waterwise (xeriscape) landscaping. In the exterior, there is 7 parking stalls with bicycle storage. They also feature an outside common area and Public Pedestrian Right of Way. Considerations such as building form and character, height, landscaping, screening, and impact on immediate neighbors have been considered in design and integration into the neighborhood.

Over the last decade the demand for affordable housing in the Kootenay Boundary region has been dramatically increasing. Affordable homeownership already in limited supply, has become even more scarce in recent years and months, making affordable homeownership an impossible dream for most low to moderate-income families. Habitat homes provide affordable Home Ownership The homes are designed in accordance with the Habitat for Humanity Canada Guidelines, and Partner Families selected meet Habitat’s housing eligibility requirements for affordable homeownership.

March 30, 2023

Owning a home of your own IS possible!

You may become a Habitat for Humanity Homeowner!

Are you:

  • A family presently living in rental accommodations that for any number of reasons is unsuitable?
  • Paying your rent, but not able to save any money to one day buy a home of your own?
  • Have good credit?
  • Have a moderate family income?

You may be able to qualify for one of our available homes in Grand Forks

The links below to some information will help you understand what becoming a Habit Partner Family is all about.

Applications are still being accepted for our properties in Grand Forks.

When you are ready, click on the “Home Ownership” section of our website to start the application process toward owning one of the Zero Down payment homes we have available.

Questions & Answers about becoming a Partner Family

Our Homeownership Program Explained