Gerrad B. Oishi, president and CEO of Habitat for Humanity Southern Alberta, purchased his first home 18 years ago and still happily resides there today.
“Perhaps my first home story is less about the physical house and more about the experience and life it has provided” said Oishi. “I was 30, we were expecting our first child and we were ready to buy our first home.
“Like most working couples, we aimed to be close to downtown.”
Their search began in Sunnyside, followed by Hillhurst and then Kingsland, but searching farther outside of the core allowed the couple to find the right balance of space, price and location.
Together they chose a three-bedroom house in Strathcona Park and immediately fell in love with the property. Their possession date ended up being the same day Oishi’s wife was due to give birth for the first time. “I wouldn’t really recommend that as a strategy,” he said, laughing.
“I was 30, we were expecting our first child and we were ready to buy our first home.” – Gerrad Oishi, Habitat for Humanity Southern Alberta
“When we bought, we were focused on the structure. We wanted three bedrooms, close to a good school, and a basement we could develop. We didn’t think too much beyond that.”
Fast forward 18 years and that house has provided a safe, stable place for Oishi’s family to grow.
“I don’t think my wife and I fully appreciated it until recently when our daughter graduated from high school,” he said. “At her grad, hundreds of students crossed the stage and we were amazed at how many we knew. The house has been this amazing sphere of life.”
“Birthday parties, sleepovers, forts in our living room, science projects. The home is all those experiences. It’s what the home enables you to do and experience, that is the real power of the family home. We are very grateful to have had this experience.”
Now Oishi has the privilege of leading an organization that works with families who haven’t had that same experience.
“I better appreciate those private struggles of many families in our city,” he said. “It might be a single parent who is working full time, or a situation where a family is continually moving and chasing stability. Families’ lives are transformed once they purchase a Habitat home.”
Now, Oishi hears stories about many first-time sleepovers, at-home birthday parties and families’ first pets.
“These are the wonderful things you’d like every child to have,” he said. “It’s very meaningful that we can help foster those feelings and stability for others.”
CREB® Charitable Foundation has made a commitment of $1,000,000 to Habitat for Humanity Southern Alberta over the course of a three-year partnership.