Chip joined the MennoHomes board in 2014. He is currently employed as a counsellor with Interfaith Community Counselling in New Hamburg, and as the visiting chaplain at Conrad Grebel University College.
He became aware of the need for affordable housing while employed by The Working Centre in a position that supported the persistently homeless population in Kitchener. Prior to joining MennoHomes, he served on the board of directors at the House of Friendship.
He has served as a pastor in two different urban Mennonite congregations (Ottawa and Waterloo), and as an addiction counselor for the House of Friendship in the Addiction Supportive Housing (ASH) program. He has also gleaned some building knowledge through two long-term stints with Mennonite Disaster Service, operating a renovation business for a number of years, and undertaking extensive renovation projects on every home he has owned.
His education includes theological studies in Winnipeg and Waterloo, where he received his MTS from Conrad Grebel University College as well as the psychotherapy program at Martin Luther University College, which led to becoming a member of the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario. He has also been trained as a coach and as a spiritual director.
Chip continues to learn valuable lessons from his wife, Wendy Janzen, and their two children with whom he shares a residence in downtown Kitchener.
John believes the research—the single most important factor in reducing the impact of poverty is affordable, stable housing. He wants to be a part of that process in Waterloo Region.
John joined the MennoHomes Board in 2017 after a 30 year career owning and managing a small business in the service sector. In addition to his volunteer commitments, John instructs skiers at Chicopee, plays squash at the YMCA and enjoys his time on a family recreational property near Hanover.
John has extensive experience at the Board level: 10 years on the Better Business Bureau, 7 years on the Condominium board where he previously lived, 6 years on the executive of a trade association and 6 years with the leadership team at his local church.
These board positions, business experience, and life lessons have taught John that goals are achieved best through partnerships when like-minded people and organizations come together and join forces.
Jennifer is concerned about the current housing crisis Waterloo Region (and much of the country) is experiencing and she sees involvement with Beyond Housing as a way to contribute in a positive way.
A CPA by training, with a specialty in income taxes, Jennifer’s current role with BDO Canada LLP primarily involves tax education, writing and research. Although work and personal obligations (as well as the COVID 19 pandemic) have prevented her from much volunteer work in recent years, she served as treasurer of Stanley Park Rosemount Preschool when her children attended there around 1999-2000, and prior to that she served on the board of Conestoga College, as well as the Finance Committee of Waterloo North Mennonite Church.
Saleh joined the board in January 2021. He is currently employed with the City of Kitchener in the position of Director of Revenue and Deputy City Treasurer and has three professional accounting designations,
an undergraduate degree and a Master of Business Administration degree.
He currently chairs the Region of Waterloo Tax Collectors group and has also taught courses at Conestoga College for over eight years, allowing him to connect with some amazing students and help mentor them to achieve their educational and career goals.
Saleh is very interested in being part of a solution to provide more affordable housing for residents in the Region. He truly believes that providing affordable housing for all and having a diverse community where everyone’s housing needs are met is something that we should strive for. MennoHomes’ defined vision, mission and values resonated with him as they are all geared towards ensuring affordable, safe and supportive housing is provided to those who need it. Many people just need a place to call home to improve their health and quality of life. For all these reasons, joining the MennoHomes board and community appealed to him.
Saleh is a resident of Kitchener where he lives with his family, including three children. He has been a volunteer soccer coach for the Kitchener Soccer Club for many years and is very passionate about the game. He also happens to be a big fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Jennifer joined the MennoHomes board in January 2021. She recently joined TW Insurance Services as the VP Finance & Integration. She had previously been at Gore Mutual Insurance as the Manager, Financial Reporting and Cowan Insurance as the VP Finance.
She had previously been with Cowan Insurance for 14 years where her last role was VP Finance. Jennifer has an Honours Bachelor Business Administration degree and is a Chartered Professional Accountant. Her interest in serving on the board of MennoHomes grew out of broader concern for issues related to social justice. She had been keenly following updates from MennoHomes related to new projects and saw the board opportunity as a chance to contribute and be more directly involved.
Jennifer believes that access to secure and affordable housing is a key factor in determining physical and mental health and is a fundamental right for everyone in our community. She believes that “everyone’s life story begins at home”.
Jennifer and her family live in Waterloo. She is also actively involved in fundraising for Big Brothers Big Sisters, Out of the Cold, and volunteers as a ski instructor for the Waterloo Region Track 3 Ski program for disabled youth.
STEVEN REESOR REMPEL
Steven joined the MennoHomes board in 2014. He works as the Director of Finance & Human Resources at Rockway Mennonite Collegiate in Kitchener.
After working with Mennonite Central Committee in Bangladesh for 1 year, and with the Mennonite Coalition for Refugee Support in Kitchener for 5 years, he returned to school for his Masters of Business Administration, graduating in 2014. He subsequently worked at Shalom Counselling in Waterloo as the Business & Operations Administrator before moving to Rockway in 2022.
As an avid soccer player, Steven captains the “Mennos in Black” soccer team. Steven and his wife Jessica have two children and live in downtown Kitchener.
Brian joined the Beyond Housing board in 2016. He is president of VCT Group, a local solar project engineering and construction firm.
His work experience and education reflect his wide-ranging interests and skills including a Bachelor of Environmental Design, Masters of Business Administration, as well as being a Chartered Professional Accountant. He has worked as a consultant, business owner, teacher, and in finance.
In addition to his work with VCT Group, Brian is President of Community Energy Development Co-operative which offers impact investment opportunities to residents of Ontario, investing funds in solar projects and sharing returns. He also serves on the board of directors of Enova Energy Corporation, the local electric utility for Waterloo Region.
Brian and his wife Jennifer have three children who enjoy living in Haysville (near New Hamburg). He sees his role with Beyond Housing as an opportunity to further use his skills in shaping financing/business models while integrating this with his interests in design and the built environment. Brian is excited by the opportunity to look at energy efficiency and building systems in creating both sustainable and affordable housing.
Fadhilah currently serves as the Executive Director for the African Women’s Alliance of Waterloo and contributes as a board volunteer to several organizations in our region including the Community Coalition on Refugee and Immigrant Concerns, Highland Stirling Neighbourhood Association, and Together Waterloo. Fadhilah proudly identifies as a “community volunteer”. Her passion lies in contributing to the well-being of our community through active engagement.
Her deep-seated concerns revolve around housing insecurity and inadequate infrastructure, issues that have been close to her heart for as long as she can remember. Fadhilah is an internationally trained medical doctor with over 20 years of experience in the grassroots sector, both locally and internationally. Growing up in Nigeria exposed her to the profound impact that decay and neglect in the housing system had on the people around her. This experience instilled in her a strong desire to be actively involved in initiatives that strive to ensure proper housing and security for individuals.
Throughout her career, she has collaborated closely with women, a significant number of whom were victims of gender-based violence. It is evident to her that the lack of secure housing plays a pivotal role in hindering women from escaping such dire circumstances. This realization has propelled her to actively seek opportunities where she can effectively represent and amplify the marginalized voices of our community.
Rae believes that housing is a basic human right. She is excited for the opportunity to be part of the work Beyond Housing does to provide affordable quality housing in our community.
Rae is retired. In her career as a lawyer, she specialized in civil litigation, life and health insurance contracts and plain language communication. Rae has been on different boards including Women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo Region (WCSWR), The Volunteer Action Centre, The KW Athletic Association (Granite Club) and The Waterloo Region Law Association. Rae recognizes the importance to funders of a stable organization like Beyond Housing. She looks forward to supporting Beyond Housing’s governance board so Beyond Housing continues to achieve its objectives well into the future.
A Brief Overview of Martin’s Legacy
In late 2000 at the initiative of Mennonite Central Committee, a small working group was formed to explore how best to respond to the need for affordable housing in Waterloo Region. Martin Buhr had just retired after serving as the Executive Director of the House of Friendship from 1978 to 1998. He agreed to lead this new initiative along with his wife Pauline.
In May 2001, the working group invited local Mennonite and Brethren in Christ pastors, together with members of their churches who were community leaders in health and social services, into the discernment process to determine how best to respond. There was strong support for a collective response to the need for affordable housing.
The name MennoHomes was chosen and the decision was made on June 11, 2001 to incorporate as a not-for-profit organization and apply for charitable status. When an incorporation and registration process that often could take up to a year was accomplished by September 2001, a short three months later, Martin Buhr say, “We realized something very unusual was happening. God’s blessing was at hand.”
From the onset, the inspired leadership of Martin Buhr ensured new opportunities would be pursued and the stock of affordable housing increased. Upon Martin’s retirement in October 2013, MennoHomes had created 105 affordable rental units in Waterloo Region housing hundreds. Recognizing that residents needed more than just a building, MennoHomes also provided connections to social services through Community Support Workers.
As MennoHomes moved into its second decade, the organization thoughtfully considered whether a new name could better reflect the growing scope of its work. By 2023, a name change to Beyond Housing was completed. Today, as the need for affordable housing persists, Beyond Housing continues to draw inspiration from the foundational work of Martin Buhr.