Wednesday, June 20th was the longest day of the year – the first day of summer – the Summer Solstice. Although this day is not historically the hottest day of the year, temperatures did break records in most areas of Ontario.
Did you “call in” and spend the day by the pool, sipping cold beer or icy tropical beverages? Perhaps, you had to work, safely inside with the air conditioning set to keep you comfortable. Or, maybe you just kept your face in front of the fan.
There were probably not a lot of you who took on building a house like these ladies did.
When Janice Parish, Owner and Broker of Record of Royal Service Real Estate Inc. opened her new office in downtown Port Hope, Ontario, one of her agents mentioned a Habitat for Humanity Canada build in town. She knew instantly, “It was definitely something I wanted to get involved in.”
Janice started by sponsoring a week. Not just any week, mind you. She decided to sponsor the “Women Build” week.
According to habitat.ca,
Habitat for Humanity Canada’s “Women Build Program” promotes the involvement of women in the construction of Habitat homes by hosting build projects with the majority of the planning and execution undertaken by women volunteers. The “Women Build Program” is not about “excluding men” but is all about “including women”!
Well, Janice just happens to have a lot of women on her team, including her good friend Sherry Baker of HOPE LoanPort®, and they decided they would participate in the actual building for a day and participate they did.
Although the temperature in Port Hope did not reach Ontario’s record mark, it did get as high as 32º Celsius (32 º C = 89.6 º F) without taking the Humidex into account. Having visited the site in the afternoon, it sure seemed a lot hotter than that. Too hot for hard hats and steel-toed boots to be the couture of the day.
Meaghan Macdonald – Executive Director at Habitat for Humanity Northumberland, explained that experience is not required. All you need to be a volunteer is “an open mind, a safe attitude, and a willingness to have fun.” A good part of the morning was spent on safety training. Then the ladies were partnered up and put to work. There is a Site Supervisor as well as certified Trades people (carpenters, electricians, plumbers, etc.) involved but pretty much everyone else is a volunteer, learning as they go along in a very hands-on fashion.
At this particular location (Harcourt St.) several homes are being built. Two semis are already completed. The work started in May on the foundation for the one we visited today and the plan is to finish this one and a fourth home in August.
These homes are for families in need of safe, decent and affordable shelter. While there is a misconception that the homes are free to the new owners, nothing could be further from the truth. Habitat for Humanity Canada offers families who qualify ― and are able to repay an interest-free mortgage on the fair-market value ― the hand up they need to break the cycle of poverty. In addition, future homeowners are expected to contribute 500 hours of sweat equity and participate in valuable training and preparation sessions. In return, their lives are transformed by the positive experience of working with their community and by the many benefits that come along with homeownership.
Their lives are not the only ones transformed by participating in this experience. There were smiles, laughter and good humour in evidence throughout the day. I’m sure there were some aches and pains on Thursday, but for the women of Royal Service Real Estate Inc. there was also a sense of community, of accomplishment and of a job well done.