Team­work builds homes

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FEATURES/COMMUNITY - scole@the­guardian.pe.ca

them many new skills. “By the end of the three weeks, I gave them the plans for the lay­out for all the in­te­rior walls and said ‘go to it’. And the two of them did. They built all the in­te­rior walls.’’

Then, when they left P.E.I., they went back home to New Brunswick and ended up build­ing their own sum­mer cot­tage.

“They were very mo­ti­vated, they wanted to learn and I have all the time in the world for peo­ple like that.”

More re­cently, there’s the story of Bethany Robin­son, a vol­un­teer/fu­ture home­owner who also ar­rived on the job site with no con­struc­tion back­ground.

“I was ab­so­lutely sur­prised with the things that I learned from Don,” says Robin­son who, with her hus­band, Michael, put in ap­prox­i­mately 500 hours of sweat equity with a team last sum­mer, be­fore mov­ing their fam­ily into a new HFHPEI home on July 1.

“He taught me ev­ery­thing from driv­ing nails to putting in vapour bar­rier to paint­ing and fill­ing in the trim.”

With his pos­i­tive, straight­for­ward ap­proach, he queries peo­ple about their abil­i­ties dur­ing an ini­tial in­ter­view.

“So if you can’t do some­thing it’s im­por­tant to be hon­est with him. He’ll find you some­thing else to do,” says Robin­son.

At the HFHPEI of­fice, the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor is pleased with the at­ti­tude and the skills that the con­struc­tion man­ager brings to his job.

“It’s won­der­ful to have some­one who is con­fi­dent and com­pe­tent, not only in con­struct­ing homes but in deal­ing with vol­un­teers,” says Becky Mullen.

It’s an un­usual com­bi­na­tion of at­tributes.

“We hear this from our af­fil­i­ates all the time. They can find some­one who can build a house or we can find some­one who can han­dle vol­un­teers but we can never to find some­one that can both. And Don gets glow­ing re­ports from all our vol­un­teers,” says Mullen.

For Gray, it’s an op­por­tu­nity to give back to his com­mu­nity.

“I do it be­cause I’m at a stage in my life where my kids are through univer­sity and I don’t have a mort­gage and, al­though I need enough to live, I don’t need mega dol­lars.

“I also en­joy con­struc­tion so it gives me plea­sure to do it.”

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