Earlier this year, we made a commitment to the Homes for Heroes Foundation to supply much of the lumber required to build the foundations and the interior structures for the 15 to 20 “tiny homes” in one of the villages for veterans.
While Vanderwell has often provided lumber to worthwhile causes, this donation represents the largest one the company has ever given to any organization. For more than 20 years, Vanderwell has donated lumber to Habitat for Humanity builds across Alberta, including Habitat homes in Slave Lake after wildfire destroyed about one-third of the town 11 years ago.
The Homes for Heroes Foundation started in 2018 with a mission of building unique and affordable urban villages in major cities across Canada where homeless veterans will be able to successfully integrate back into civilian life. To date, a 15-tiny home village opened in Calgary in 2019 and another one in Edmonton in 2021.
“Vanderwell’s donation is pretty incredible,” said Jacqueline Howard, Director of Planning and Development. “It represents the first major lumber donation for any of our villages. Given how lumber prices have skyrocketed, the money spent on lumber can now go to other areas that benefit our veterans.”
“All of this started with my twin-sister Laura Ross,” said Ken Vanderwell, President of Vanderwell. “She saw Homes for Heroes being showcased on an episode of Property Brothers and she contacted my other sister, Theresa Ross, who is the Executive Director of the Vanderwell Family Foundation,” says Ken.
“Theresa made the first contact with Homes for Heroes to inquire if they had everything for their builds,” said Ken, “And when we heard there existed a need for building supplies, such as lumber, we made the decision to become involved.”
Which veterans’ village will use the lumber donated by Vanderwell is still being decided. The next villages planned are in Winnipeg, Manitoba and Kingston, Ontario.
Veterans selected to live in a village range from those with no home to others who might have been staying at friends and relatives’ homes for a period. “Our goal is to provide a sustainable place for them to live and over time support them as they integrate back into civilian life,” said Jacqueline.
In addition to the “tiny homes,” each village has services and amenities such as a central resource center, counselling office, community garden and other features.
Support for Canada’s veterans is something the Vanderwell family feels deeply. Just before the First World War, their great grandparents and extended family left Holland, with some settling in Ontario and others home-steading in Alberta. During WWII several family members signed up to serve.
“From my perspective, assisting and being a small part of helping our veterans obtain homes is an honor considering what they have given up to ensure our safety and freedom,” said Ken.
Click below for Homes for Heroes Video featuring “Property Brothers” Jonathan & Drew Scott.