Home building industry gives Kids Kottage a makeover

The snoezelen room at Kids Kottage helps sooth emotions. Supplied / Postmedia

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The event had a hint of what you would expect to see on TV: just two days to renovate a space before the cameras swoop in for the reveal.

Except instead of celebrities from your favourite home renovation show, this time local builders were front and centre at an unveiling to help a worthy cause.

“Kids Kottage had a need for support from the industry,” said Bryce Milliken, president of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association-Edmonton Region. “Our renovating committee — for the past five years — has put on a two-day renovation project as part of the CHBA’s renovation month where our renovator members come into the community and we pick one organization and they donate their time, their labour, supplies, and funds, in order to make some really impactful renovations on different community organizations around the Edmonton region.

“The CHBA-ER always wants to give back to their community and this is one example of something the association can do,” added Milliken.

This year’s project, completed in the first week of October, involved refurbishing high-traffic areas of Kids Kottage including significant upgrades to the intake area, outdoor courtyard, and the snoezelen/staff room. While the courtyard gives children a space to play, the snoezelen room is a sensory-calming area with lights and soft toys designed to provide comfort and tranquility.

“The renos were desperately needed,” said Janine Fraser, executive director of the Kids Kottage Foundation. “I don’t think this has been renovated in many years and so it was time for the children to have that space renovated for them.”

Kids Kottage Foundation provides families with a bridge from crisis to calm. They support families in crisis by providing safe shelter for children, a 24-hour crisis telephone line, positive parenting education and in-home follow-up support. Kids Kottage works with parents to prevent child abuse and neglect and helps to strengthen and preserve families.

In 2018, 1,000 children came through the Kids Kottage doors. The organization, which relies on fundraising and donations to cover the 55 per cent of its budget that isn’t funded by the provincial government, expects to help a similar number of children this year.

“Every October we choose one non-profit organization that we can help and do a small-scope renovation that we think will be very impactful for that organization,” explained Kendall Judd, of Diamond Contracting, and the CHBA-ER project lead for this renovation month undertaking.

In order to meet the two-day schedule, which Judd notes actually became four if you don’t include the planning leading up to the renovation, close to 100 people worked on the renovations that also encompassed the staff bathroom, intake office and intake bathroom.

“We ask for volunteers from our CHBA membership and they all come in and 90 per cent of them are skilled trades so I have carpenters, plumbers, electricians and then we do have some volunteer staff who came in to do the painting and prepping and more demo,” said Judd. “We try to put everyone in a skill set that they’re comfortable with.”

But it wasn’t only CHBA-ER members that pitched in.

“We also had a group of high school kids from Jasper Place Composite High School that came — we had 20 students — they did the demo on this courtyard so they ripped off the old siding, they lifted old rubber tiles, it was a muddy mess and they put it all in the front bin outside and they just got this place prepped for us.”

As for a verdict on the renovations, Milliken was impressed with what he saw on reveal day.

“It looks fantastic,” he said. “The kids are going to have a great time in the new courtyard, in the sensory room and, of course, the staff room is going to be a really nice place for down time for the staff.”

But in this case, the kids would be the ultimate judge and they are thrilled, according to Fraser.

“I had asked the children before anyone else came, (and said) let’s go look at the space,” said Fraser. “I want you to be the judge and you tell me, and their faces just lit up. The first thing they ran for were the open ended toys — those ball spouts where they can put the balls through and watch them come through (the other end). Then they ran to the sensory tables and then they ran to the little mushroom seats. They were so happy and they wanted to continue playing and that’s what it’s about. I know they’ve done well and we’ve done well when the kids are just being kids.”

And did Fraser think they could get it done in such a tight timeline?

“I wasn’t sure,” said Fraser. “It was a big job they assured me so we just had to put our faith in them and they have exceeded our expectations.”