They say home is where the heart is, but when the home you’re living in isn’t safe, the heartache can be a real headache. That was the situation for one Nova Scotia family—until neighbors stepped in to turn things around.
When Alvero Wiggins was diagnosed with kidney failure it created a domino effect. The rigors of treatment meant spending nine hours a day on dialysis. That meant giving up work. Unable to earn a living, Wiggins, his wife, and their four children were forced to move into public housing. The hazardous conditions they faced there made for a harsh adjustment.
Fortunately, Wiggins had forged strong ties to his community. Prior to his illness, he’d earned his stripes as a neighborhood activist with two local youth-related organizations, Hope Blooms and LOVE Nova Scotia.
Sarah MacLaren had worked alongside him for years. Having seen how much of himself Wiggins invested in the pursuit of helping others, she felt he more than deserved to get something back. Finding his family a safe and healthy place to live became her top priority.
This past spring, MacLaren launched a GoFundMe campaign in hopes of bringing in enough money to purchase the house and defray some of the Wiggins’ living expenses. Though donations came in by the thousands, it wasn’t nearly enough to make a dent in Halifax’s red-hot housing market.
While MacLaren fretted her efforts would fall short of hitting the mark, she wasn’t destined to be the only fairy godmother in this story. Enter real estate agent Brenda MacKenzie.
MacKenzie heads a local housing initiative, A Home For Everyone. For the past 15 years, she and her peers have donated a portion of their commissions to various housing-related charities.
For MacKenzie, who is likewise on dialysis awaiting a kidney donor, the Wiggins family’s story struck a special chord. Along with her charitable board, the decision was made that this year’s earnings would go toward helping Alvero, his wife Chelcie, and their kids Alaya, Javier, and Jaden find a new place to call home.
But even with the boost in capital, hunting down an appropriate dwelling was proving to be a challenge. Yet again, fate stepped in.
One of MacKenzie’s Halifax listings—a four-bedroom townhouse in close proximity to a park and swimming pool—had been inundated with multiple offers when it hit the market. All of them fell through.
“Team Wiggins” rushed in with a bid, which was accepted.
“This specific house was a miracle house, it was a unicorn house,” MacLaren told CBC News. “It’s probably the most beautiful thing I’ve been a part of in my lifetime.”
The family expects to be able to move into their new digs by month’s end. In the meantime, A Home For Everyone has rounded up a volunteer attorney and home inspector, as well as a crew of businesses to donate a slew of home upgrades and furnishings.
“It will mean everything, it will be a sense of security to live here, to have a home, to have a place to call home. My kids love it here. It will be so joyful for them,” Wiggins told CBC. “I don’t even know how to find the words to thank everybody who has supported this dream.”