Habitat for Humanity’s Edmonton Prefabrication Shop came alive with a sea of pink as a handful of women donned bright pink hard hats as part of Habitat’s Women Build Program. Over 5 days, over 100 community leaders gave 600 volunteer hours to raise a total of $140,000.
The program was launched in Calgary in 2001 to promote the involvement of women in the construction of Habitat homes. Now held at affiliates across the country, the majority of the planning and execution of each of the builds is undertaken by women volunteers.
Among the group of dedicated volunteers on hand at the Edmonton affiliate’s Neufeld Landing build in November 2015 were some familiar REIN faces: Connie Campbell, Donna Sylvestre, Erin Lafleur, Holly Reeves, Irene Heppleston, Tracie Gray, Valerie Pawluk, Janet Seniuk, Tiffany Young, Leah Scheelar, Anita Rudichuk, Kim LaChappelle, Gena Mymko, Donna McGuire, and Sherilynn Milsom. In total, the team raised an impressive $23,946 for Habitat, the highest amount raised of all the participating teams.
The day started bright and early at 7:30 AM and kicked off with a quick bite, coffee, and a lecture on safety. Then it was time to get down to work (armed with lovely Swarovski hammer charms no less)! Working in groups of five, the women of REIN rotated through stations where they learned how to measure as well as use an air hammer, skill saw, table saw, and chop saw. Next up was putting together all the walls for one of the units using lumber measured and pre-cut by previous Women Build volunteers. As volunteer Anita Rudichuk shared “Our groove was on! I have to say that I was a little disappointed that the day was over so quickly…and I don’t think I was the only one!” The women were commended for being fast learners and were even asked to “slow down a little”, noted Rudichuk.
One of the highlights of the day was being able to sign and write a message on the first section of complex wall that was assembled. As volunteer and team organizer Donna McGuire shared, “That really hit home – we just built a part of someone’s home!”
The day was full of emotional moments as short presentations were given by both Habitat for Humanity staff as well as a new resident of an earlier phase of Neufeld Landing. In the words of McGuire, “Habitat certainly knows what it’s doing, not just for making us feeling appreciated, but that we got a better picture of what Habitat does, from the inside out.” And on the women of REIN? “The women of REIN were a great bunch to work with! We’re looking at continuing the ‘community’ feeling and taking on some other projects.”
Once completed in the summer of 2016, the development will be home to 64 families, making it the largest development in the organization’s Canadian history. Since Habitat believes in providing a hand up rather than a hand out, all of the families moving into the development are required to put in at least 500 hours of sweat equity. They also pay an interest free mortgage that is dependent on their incomes and equal to fair market value. The payments toward the mortgage are then used by local Habitat affiliates to build more homes.
Families are selected based on level of need, ability to repay a Habitat mortgage, and willingness to partner with the organization. They are required to attend workshops that help prepare them for the financial, property, and community responsibilities that come with owning a home. Topics covered include: setting goals, budgeting, use of credit, problem solving, and how to be part of a strata.
REIN has been a long-time support of Habitat for Humanity, having raised $1.1 million dollars for the organization since 1992. All of the royalties from Don’s books go directly to the organization as do any funds raised from Member raffle ticket sales and direct donations.
For more information on Habitat’s Women Build please go to http://www.habitat.ca/en/how-we-help/programs/women-volunteer.