Teamwork builds homes
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.”