Holland College partners with Habitat for Humanity to build home in Summerside
It was Monday afternoon and Nicolas Graham was busy installing wiring in the shell of a small home sitting behind the Holland College Waterfront Campus in Summerside.
As Graham worked, a crew of about a dozen fellow students went about their business in the background, running wire, installing panelling and generally getting the proto-home ready electrically.
Graham, 18, of Charlottetown is a first-year student in the college’s electrical technology program and is working to build one of three small homes that the various industrial technology programs finish every year as part of their learning experience.
Normally the structures are sold off at the end of the school year, but this house is special.
This is a Habitat for Humanity home.
Graham and his classmates have been working on the house for months and expect to have it ready for a Summerside family by spring.
“It’s a cool thing, I really enjoy that we’re doing it and that Holland College is part of this,’ said Graham.
Holland College and Habitat for Humanity started talking about the possibility of working together about a year ago.
The two had worked together to build a couple of homes in Charlottetown, but that was more than a decade ago.
However, some logistical challenges arose and there has been no formal partnership since.
That changed after Kent Sheen, program manager of industrial technology and trades with Holland College, reached out to the Habitat organization again last year.
“We’ve done projects in the past ... for all kinds of different charities. This seemed like ... a good partnership,” said Sheen.
Habitat for Humanity is providing most of the materials for the home, while the Holland College students provide the labour and, at the same time, hone their skills.
It’s good experience for the students and a benefit for the community, said Sheen.
“There’s a lot of value in them knowing that this is a project that is going to go to a needy family and that it’s going to get lived in. I think it really makes (the project) that much more real,” he said.
Becky Mullen, executive director of Habitat for Humanity P.E.I., added the partnership saves volunteer time and resources for when they’re needed most — the summer construction season.
Mullen is encouraging any family who thinks they might qualify for a Habitat home to apply.
“We know there is going to be a house there, it’s already in the works, and there’s definitely going to be a family from Summerside who is going to be approved. It might as well be you,” said Mullen.
The family who eventually takes possession of the home will still have to put in their mandatory “sweat equity,” which is work they have to do themselves as part of the Habitat program.
They might do this by helping with the finishing touches, such as painting, or they could work on another Habitat for Humanity project.
Once the home is complete, it will be moved to a cul-de-sac owned by the organization off Tanton Drive in the city.
The last Summerside Habitat for Humanity home was built there two years ago.
Holland College student Morgan Fay installs a light fixture in a future Habitat for Humanity home being constructed at the school’s Summerside Waterfront Campus.