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By Heather Sanson

Your child is invited to submit a creative piece to the Share the Love exhibit about poverty and insecure housing.  Share the Love is a campaign to raise awareness about insecure housing and rural poverty.  We hold it in the month of February because of Valentines and Family Day.  Despite the warmth of these festivities, many local people are ‘out in the cold’ in many ways.

Last year, we ran an art exhibit in Geronimo Café in Old Town Kemptville for the entire month.  We featured art from children in Kemptville schools, wrapping up with a fun and successful fundraising auction for Habitat for Humanity.  There is a great Facebook page with photos: go on Facebook and type in ‘share-the-love-kemptville’.

This year, our campaign has grown and coincides with a Habitat ReStore coming to Kemptville.  Three local businesses are sharing the love:

Geronimo Café Children’s Art Wall is back: your child/children are invited to make small creative pieces that can be mounted on the Geronimo wall, reflecting on their understanding of what it means for a child not to have a secure, safe, warm home or enough to eat. The public will be invited to drop by Geronimo’s anytime during the month to see the children’s art. Having their own art hang in a gallery exhibit can be an exciting moment of achievement for a child.

Brewed Awakenings Community Cookies: Brewed Awakenings café on Highway 43 will be offering heart shaped cookies for sale by donation of any amount for the month of February. This makes the yummy cookies accessible to all income brackets, while supporting the Habitat ReStore.

Branch Restaurant Information Evening: An information evening featuring free hot chocolate and treats is being planned for Monday, February 22.  Families and individuals are invited to hear about how poverty and insecure housing impact areas like ours, about Habitat, and how the community can be involved with the new ReStore.  The ReStore represents sustainability and accessibility on many levels: profits generated go directly to local Habitat house builds, costs are kept down by working with volunteers, used building materials and furniture become available for sale at low-income friendly price-points, and materials are recycled.

We hope you and your family can get out and enjoy the cookies, art and hot chocolate. We also hope your child will consider reflecting on the poverty issues and submitting their creation for the Children’s Art Wall.

We also hope that you can voice your concerns about poverty and insecure housing in our area by contacting the Municipality. The strategic plan and policies are currently in review, and can still be influenced by citizen concerns.  You can find out more at:www.leedsgrenville.com/en/live/housing/affordablehousing.asp

Some facts about insecure housing, rural poverty and Habitat for Humanity:

Children in low income or unstable homes are at higher risk of lower mental and physical health, school results and prospects for a solid future. One out of four rural households are in the lowest income categories.  An unbelievable number of local families in North Grenville live below the poverty line and with insecure/inadequate housing which is usually associated with family instability, and even food insecurity affecting child development. Providing stable housing and mentoring for families changes their present, and it changes their future to the next generation by breaking the cycle of poverty. Breaking the poverty cycle for families strengthens communities, reduces public costs and risky youth behaviours, improves the economy and makes our town a great place to live.

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