On an overcast day earlier this summer, 12 excited Calgary McGill Alumni and friends joined together with Habitat for Humanity construction supervisors, other volunteer tradespeople and the prospective home owner in Airdrie, Alberta to put the finishing touches on a Habitat home.
At 8:30 a.m. we suited up, got our hard hats, steel-toed boots, gloves and safety glasses and participated in the safety talk by the Construction Manager. Next they let us loose with paintbrushes, glue, table saws and staple guns! Under the expert guidance of skilled volunteer tradespeople, we spent the day inside the home painting, putting on door trim, laying flooring, pushing brooms and vacuuming to get the floor ready to lay carpet.
One of our volunteers, Charles Hammel, BEd’78, MA’84, provided the most sweat to the project with his assigned task of loading all the build equipment into the truck to transport to the next build site. He had his own personal fitness workout for the day!
Among the volunteers was Doug Dirks, BEd’86, the host of our daily Calgary CBC show, The Homestretch. He spent the last day of his holidays working with us and was the expert painter in the crowd. It gave us a chance to invite Doug to sit at our head table at our fall Leacock Luncheon and we’re excited that he has accepted.
Our volunteers were treated to a short talk by one of the prospective homeowners and her two young children joined her. Their excitement was palatable and appreciation very sincere.
Alumni friends, Farrah and Melissa, enjoyed learning more about Habitat and their work in Southern Alberta, including that all houses are Platinum Green Builds, that 500 hours of sweat equity are required, that the homeowners must pay 30% of their income as monthly payment toward the mortgage and that Habitat has first right of refusal if the homeowner wishes to sell.
Bertin Leblanc, PEng’12, registered for the event because he had enjoyed himself at his first alumni event, our St. Patrick’s Pub Night, and he wanted to continue the trend. He also wanted to give some of his time to help someone else. Bertin told us that a team member had been working above him and decided to imitate monkey sounds as we were working. He quite succeeded in making Bertin believe a monkey had entered the house.
Our fellow volunteers explained that a desire to help others had inspired them to sign up for this event. Dennis Lee, PEng’75, had recently retired and was looking for worthwhile ways to spend his time. He has been interested in Habitat for Humanity for a while and this gave him a chance to try it out before venturing on to register for their Global Habitat program in far-off lands.
Karin Webster, BCom‘03, our chapter VP, introduced this event to our executive who all wholeheartedly agreed to the idea. Karin coordinated our efforts for the day and was our liaison with Habitat for Humanity.
As branch president, I found the day to be another great one! I had previously worked on another Calgary build with the “Do Crew” of CBC. She enjoyed the experience so much that she was keen to do it again with the McGill group.
Other alumni who shared the day were Suzanne Boisvert, BCom’83, Michael Gaudet, BCom’07, and Elaine Almeida BEng’09. They helped out by gluing and painting the floor, and picket up a lot of tricks along the way.
Based on the success of the day, we plan on making a charity event an annual endeavour!
Story and photos by Kendy Bentley, BScN’71, Calgary Alumni President.