Te Puke housing development under way

Te Puke housing development under way

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Artist’s rendition of Evergreen House. Image/ Supplied

A property development in Te Puke designed to provide much-needed housing for elderly residents is entering the next stage of the project.

Directors of the charitable company The Jabez Initiative gathered on June 2 to break ground and hold a site blessing for a new community housing development adjacent to Te Puke Baptist Church at 8 George St.

The land, purchased by church leadership in 2000, housed a dwelling they rented out to community members until its demolition in 2022. Five years ago, a dedicated team began exploring how best to develop the land to benefit the community.

“God soon steered us to His plan,” team leader of the initiative, Amy Cumming, said.

“Our church whānau quickly partnered with us, voting unanimously to start a charitable company named The Jabez Initiative to construct Evergreen House – Whare Katoa.”

The Evergreen House development will feature six residential units designed to provide warm, dry, healthy, and accessible homes for elderly residents aged 65 and over. The project has received recognition from the Western Bay of Plenty District Council, which has reduced development contribution costs significantly.

In 2022, Te Puke High School teacher Armand de Villiers and Year 10 student Kaleb Withey collaborated on a 3D printed scale model and a 3D fly-through of Evergreen House as part of a design and visual communication school project.

“This early visual aid was instrumental in communicating the vision to stakeholders,” Cumming said.

Additionally, Harry Turner, a 13-year-old member of the church, built a website for The Jabez Initiative, showcasing the involvement of the next generation in the project. The website, along with their Instagram page, serves as a resource for updates and information.

The Jabez Initiative team.
The Jabez Initiative team.

Part of the team’s vision included engaging church children in planting and growing vegetables in a community garden located between the buildings. This initiative was inspired by 1 John 3:17 which encourages practising real love through action.

Over the last three years, the team has simultaneously established The Jabez Initiative and advanced all aspects of the Evergreen House project in their spare time.

The charitable company is led by directors with diverse backgrounds: Leyton Dowman, GM of Jalco timber mouldings also has experience in farming, horticulture, and automotive; Cam Martin, a surveyor with expertise in land development and project management; Airdrie Grylls, with a background in law enforcement and youth work; and Amy Cumming, an architectural draughtswoman with more than 22 years of experience of which the last 15 years have been spent running her own business, Cornerstone Design.

“Each of us can recall countless times when God has answered prayers, aligned our thoughts, brought people into the room with the skills we needed at just the right time, and supplied funds to cover bills – almost to the dollar,” Cumming said.

“Our company tagline is ‘Blessed to be a Blessing,’ and we strive to give our time, expertise, and resources with the sole intention of blessing others.”

Since the team formed in early 2020, they have not solicited donations from their church whānau, yet many have generously contributed to the vision, enabling the project to progress with financial stability.

Now entering the fundraising stage, the team is excited to see the project come to fruition. For more information, visit the website www.thejabezinitiative.org.nz.

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