Hunley’s modest bungalow perfect habitat for Rocky family

Nine-year-old Jasmine Crawford poses in her family’s new home.

Jolene Millis

Jolene Millis

ROCKY MOUNTAIN HOUSE — Nine-year-old Jasmine Crawford poses in her family’s new home.

“I’m a natural,” says the eldest of Austin Crawford and Jolene Millis’s three girls shortly after the family received the keys to the modest bungalow that once belonged to the late Helen Hunley, former MLA for Rocky Mountain House and Alberta’s lieutenant-governor from 1985 to 1991.

It’s everything the family had wanted — a solidly-built, older home with a big yard in an established neighbourhood, close the pool, the school and the town centre, said Crawford.

Bonus: it even has a garage — all the things Crawford and Millis could never have afforded on their own, and the three girls get their own bedrooms.

“You know, when a couple is talking about buying a home, this is exactly what we had spoken about. We couldn’t have picked anything better. Houses like this don’t go on the market here, and even if they did, we wouldn’t be in a position to buy,” said Crawford.

For the past few months, Hunley’s great niece, Tammy Coté and her husband, Wayne, have been working with local volunteers and suppliers to renovate the home her great aunt, who died last Oct. 22, had bequeathed to Habitat for Humanity Edmonton.

The group selected Crawford, Millis and their daughters to become its new owners. The family is completing 500 hours of volunteer work as a down payment and will now pay a monthly mortgage at reasonable interest to the charity, becoming the first family in Rocky to be awarded a Habitat for Humanity home, said Alfred Nikolai, president and CEO of the Edmonton chapter.

If the home needs to be sold in the future, it will be sold back to Habitat Edmonton, said Susan Green, chairwoman of the group.

Officers with the Rocky’s municipal traffic patrol blocked off both ends of the street to maintain security during the Thursday morning dedication ceremony, attended by Premier Ed Stelmach and Lt.-Gov. Donald Ethell.

Besides being the first Habitat home in Rocky, it is a continuation of Hunley’s legacy in public service, said Stelmach.

“This generous gift speaks to her love for Rocky Mountain House and its people, and it also speaks to the power of community,” he said.

Ethell said having Hunley’s house turned into a new home for a hard-working and deserving family seems to him a fitting way to honour her memory and her approach to life.

“I hope that Helen’s compassion, strength and dedication to serving the greater good will continue to inspire everyone who enters this beautiful home,” he said.

Coté said she felt grateful for the opportunity to help prepare the home for its new family and proud of her association with Habitat for Humanity through the process.

“The ongoing legacy of a helping hand would definitely suit Helen Hunley’s sense of values,” said Coté.

“We are hopeful that our community will see the value of this service and take up the cause through other worthy projects, to continue to help more families in Rocky to achieve the dream of home ownership.”