Habi­tat seek­ing help with fi­nal push for Welles­ley build

Vol­un­teer num­bers dropped off when September brought a re­turn to work and school rou­tines

The Woolwich Observer - - LIVING HERE - ALI WIL­SON

HABI­TAT FOR HU­MAN­ITY WATER­LOO Re­gion’s build in Welles­ley is look­ing for vol­un­teers to help com­plete the homes in time to get their fam­i­lies in be­fore win­ter.

The semi-de­tached homes are the first the or­ga­ni­za­tion has un­der­taken in Welles­ley Town­ship. Or­ga­niz­ers broke ground in April with the site see­ing vol­un­teers be­gin their build in June.

“We look for things that make it a com­mu­nity set­ting: it is eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble to things, be­cause we don’t want peo­ple to be stuck out in the mid­dle of nowhere. We want them to be close to ameni­ties and stuff of that sorts, and Welles­ley is a nice lit­tle town, it is an out­stand­ing town,” said Deb­bie Hind, vol­un­teer ser­vices as­sis­tant at Habi­tat for Hu­man­ity Water­loo Re­gion, of their de­ci­sion to take up the build in Welles­ley.

The sum­mer months yielded many en­thu­si­as­tic vol­un­teers for the project.

“In Welles­ley it has been great. It has just been peo­ple around the town knew, every­body just knew – we have had a lot of lo­cal peo­ple vol­un­teer­ing, which has been lovely,” she said.

But since September rolled in, the or­ga­ni­za­tion has seen a dip in vol­un­teers able to help with the build. It was not un­ex­pected, with peo­ple get­ting back to work and school rou­tines, but the tim­ing was un­for­tu­nate for the build, said Hind.

“It just kind of dropped off, so we are look­ing at ways right now to en­cour­age peo­ple to come out. Sum­mer­time is nice: the weather is nice, peo­ple have va­ca­tion time they can use. I think September, es­pe­cially the be­gin­ning of September with school can be busy, but it has dropped off a lit­tle bit, so we are hop­ing to en­cour­age peo­ple to come back out again,” she said, not­ing that their homes take longer to build and are at this time un­sure of when it is go­ing to fin­ish. “It is de­pen­dent on the amount of vol­un­teers they have; we are hop­ing be­fore De­cem­ber.”

Habi­tat for Hu­man­ity homes are 98 per cent built with vol­un­teer labour, with the team bring­ing in trade workers to do the plumb­ing and elec­tri­cal.

Hind says they wel­come vol­un­teers from all back­grounds, skill lev­els and stages of life, over 16 years of age.

Build vol­un­teerism can come from a few dif­fer­ent sources, the first be­ing an in­di­vid­ual vol­un­teer.

“We want our vol­un­teers to have a re­ally good ex­pe­ri­ence,” she said. “We talk about build­ing homes, help­ing to build com­mu­ni­ties and as a non-profit who is build­ing homes for low in­come fam­i­lies we are try­ing to make it a com­mu­nity en­deav­our to help do this, so it’s the ex­pe­ri­ence for the vol­un­teers that we are of­fer­ing.”

Al­ter­na­tively, Hind says if you have a group in mind – whether that be neigh­bours, com­pany em­ploy­ees or friends – there is the op­tion to par­tic­i­pate in a team build for the day.

“Teams pay to come, but it’s for a good cause,” she said not­ing that team rates are $2,500.

Hind ex­plains that it is a great way to change a cor­po­rate busi­nesses scenery, shift­ing em­ploy­ees tasks to work to­gether and bond out of the of­fice.

“And then they bring back good feel­ings to the com­pany. They find that the staff tend to be more pro­duc­tive and they feel en­er­gised, and they feel pos­i­tive about the com­pany that they are work­ing with. The team days are paid for – it is an­other way to do­nate as well.”

Although the homes are built based on vol­un­teer ef­forts, those re­ceiv­ing the homes are re­quired to also con­trib­ute a to­tal of 250 vol­un­teer hours each over the course of the build.

“When they are spend­ing time on their house, they see their home be­ing built, they are more likely to take care of it and take pride in it. And that is some­thing that we en­cour­age,” she ex­plained.

Fo­cused on pro­vid­ing a hand up and not a hand out, Habi­tat for Hu­man­ity Water­loo Re­gion has worked to built more than 100 homes for low-in­come fam­i­lies. For more in­for­ma­tion on vol­un­teer­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties visit www.habi­tatwr.ca.

[ALI WIL­SON / THE OB­SERVER]

Habi­tat for Hu­man­ity Water­loo Re­gion is ask­ing for vol­un­teers to help fin­ish their Welles­ley build, which they hope to com­plete be­fore De­cem­ber.

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