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giving back

Lois Tuffin and the Poverty Reduction Network are turning a convent into apartments.FRED THORNHILL/The Globe and Mail

The gift: Co-founding the Mount Community Centre in Peterborough, Ont.

The reason: To provide affordable rental housing.

A few years ago, Lois Tuffin joined a non-profit organization in her hometown of Peterborough, Ont., which was looking into ways of reducing poverty in the city.

It wasn't long before the group, the Poverty Reduction Network, identified the need for more affordable housing. Ms Tuffin and other members, including Stephen Kylie, John Martyn and Su Musclow, began searching for some available properties to turn into low-rent units, when they discovered that a former convent run by the Sisters of St. Joseph was up for sale.

The group came up with the $5-million purchase price thanks to donations and the sale of special social bonds that pay 3-per-cent interest annually for five years. Now, the network is raising money to renovate the 132,000-square-foot building to include 100 apartments (the nuns are moving to a building next door). The complex, called The Mount Community Centre, is due to be completed next year and part of it will also be rented out for weddings, concerts and art studios. And the 10 acres of grounds will have new gardens.

"It's a really nice place to be," said Ms. Tuffin, who is editor in chief of Kawartha Media Group. "I do love it because I can see it coming together."