Getting involved with Habitat Niagara is personal for the owners of JW Furness
Since 2015, JW Furness has been owned by Steve and Tracy Czichrak, located in the heart of Stevensville, they are a full-service plumbing and HVAC company. With only ten employees, they have a small but mighty team who work together to give quality service to the Fort Erie community and beyond.
Steve and Tracy began their relationship with Habitat Niagara during their first year of business - and have no plans of stopping. Their involvement of donating licensed HVAC, sheet metal technician’s and plumber’s labour as well as coordinating with their suppliers for donations of product has helped Habitat Niagara keep its home building costs low.
Their involvement with Habitat for Humanity has been personal. Steve’s grandparents fled Ukraine during WW2, and after having spent time in separate work camps, they were united and had the opportunity to move to Canada through a sponsorship funded by a classroom of school children and their teacher. Without their generosity, their story may have been a different one.
“If someone hadn’t of had it in their heart to help someone in need, our family would not be here today,” Steve tells us.
Even though his grandparents were sponsored to come to Canada, their living conditions were less than acceptable. “They faced many hurtles upon arrival,” explains Steve. “Learning a new language, new customs, uncertainty with housing, food, education, and homesickness - everything was strange and different. They lived in freezing garages and sheds, and moved from farm to farm seeking work, and it took them many years of hard work and determination to eventually afford their own home.
Steve and Tracy got involved with Habitat Niagara to be able to remove the stress and worry for a family who is living in substandard housing or fleeing a dangerous situation. “We like to help families get a head-start and not have to endure the same tests that my grandparents had to take,” said Steve.
Habitat for Humanity’s vision and homeownership program reminded Steve of how his grandparents were given an opportunity to start a new life in Canada and worked hard to achieve their dreams of homeownership – similar to Habitat’s model of a ‘hand up, not a hand out’.
All Habitat homeowners go through a rigorous application process to determine their level of housing need, their ability to repay Habitat’s interest-free mortgage, and their willingness to partner with Habitat, which includes 500 hours of volunteering.
We believe that by investing in the families of Habitat, you are investing in not only their future, but your own,” said Steve. “The young child that you help today, might become a nurse or a doctor, and be the one helping you in the future - you just never know. We are all walking this path of life together. If you can help someone's path become a little easier to walk, why wouldn't you? In the end, it's not about what you have, but what you have given.”