Habitat for Humanity Vancouver Island North is changing things up.

Adam and Kiley Panziera and Marisa Anthony were disappointed, but understanding, when their March 27th key ceremony in Campbell River was cancelled amidst COVID-19.

The two families had worked with Habitat VIN to become homeowners and were looking forward to the celebration.

The ceremony marks the hard work of families, volunteers and donors.

It also signifies that the families can now move into their new homes.

As the virus progressed, it became clear that Panziera’s and Anthony’s move-in date could be in jeopardy.

“It was heartbreaking to us,” says Karen McKinnon, Habitat VIN’s family services manager. “We kept in constant communication with the families. They knew they weren’t the only ones this crisis has affected, but providing their children with a suitable home became even more important.”

Luckily, move-in came quicker than expected.

Once finding out the units passed final inspection, Habitat VIN updated the two families and quickly began planning how they could move them in safely while following social distancing procedures.

The nonprofit then decided to host a ‘virtual key ceremony.’

“Habitat is all about building community,” says Pat McKenna, Habitat VIN’s executive director. “It isn’t just about one family who moves into their house, it’s about everyone who worked together to make that happen. These two families have worked so hard, and deserve to be celebrated. And I think everyone is looking for some good news right now.”

Volunteers, staff, and fellow homeowners submitted videos from home congratulating the families, and the two families offered their thanks in return.

The video includes well-wishes from Mayor Andrew Adams, North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney, and MLA Claire Trevena.

“This crisis shines a light on the importance of a safe, decent, and affordable place to live,” McKenna adds. “We want to continue partnering with local families, but with our ReStores closed and fundraising efforts diminished, we can only do this with the support of our community.”

To watch the virtual key ceremony or to make a donation to support affordable housing projects, click here.