In the same way that it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a host of dedicated hands to build a home.
Here in the Ottawa area, an army of some 800 volunteers assists Habitat for Humanity Greater Ottawa (Habitat GO) in helping local families achieve homeownership. Corporate sponsors also lend a hand through sponsorship and team Build Days.
These groups of corporate and traditional volunteers, who arrive with a wide array of skillsets, perform tasks that include raising walls on a construction site, working in a retail store and serving on committees, among
It’s all connected to a common purpose: Building a stronger community through affordable homeownership.
Habitat homes are built with donated labour, resources and funds before being sold to a family through a geared-to-income, interest-free mortgage. The family contributes volunteer hours towards their home’s construction.
For volunteers, their work with Habitat GO is a way to develop new skills, strengthen the connection to their community and meet new people. The return on investment for corporations is substantial as well, as corporate teams band together with local volunteers to achieve a common goal.
Building teams while building homes
The benefits for companies in partnering with Habitat GO are myriad. Not only is it a great way to help local families and communities, it’s also good for business. The Harris Poll 2016 Equitrend Equity Score, which
scores companies based on brand health among consumers, ranked Habitat for Humanity as one of the world’s most recognizable brands.
Habitat brand perception quality scored within the top 10 per cent of all brands tested, and was scored as one of the top five brands considered when choosing a charity to engage with. Additionally, the international non-profit received top scores for emotional connection and social impact.
“Both individuals and corporations have been tremendously supportive of what we’re doing in the community,” says Alexis Ashworth Habitat GO’s CEO. “Habitat for Humanity provides a unique opportunity for businesses to engage their team members in a meaningful experience that offers visible and tangible results. There’s nothing quite like seeing walls go up and knowing that your team is helping a family in need build their safe and affordable home.”
The Harris Poll study also found that:
- 84 per cent of Canadian consumers would switch brands to one associated with a good cause if price and quality were the same;
- 95 per cent of people agree that companies should support good causes;
- 80 per cent of employer supported volunteers believe that group volunteering strengthens their relationships with colleagues and clients, and that hands-on, employer supported volunteer programs result in higher productivity and engagement scores.
At Habitat GO, teams leave the build site refreshed and engaged with their community, and get to meet some of the dedicated volunteers who give hundreds of hours each year.
Tangible impact for volunteers
Linda and Jacques LeBlanc are retirees who volunteer with Habitat GO, though their first experience with Habitat for Humanity was in Winnipeg. Upon moving to Ottawa five years ago, the couple decided to continue volunteering with the organization and engaged with Habitat GO.
“Sure enough, it was a very vibrant organization in Ottawa,” says Linda.
The pair help out on Build Days, with Jacques acting as a crew lead and Linda working as a site liaison. They help teams of corporate volunteers – many of whom have never set foot on a construction site – to understand the work and stay safe.
For the LeBlancs, volunteering with Habitat GO is a way to fill their time with meaningful activities while having a permanent, positive impact on the community.
The families that become Habitat homeowners are required to contribute 500 hours of their own labour (350 for single-parent families) to the organization. It can be spent either working in one of the ReStore locations, which sells donated home renovation supplies and furniture, in the office assisting with administrative tasks or on the build site of their home.
This means that volunteers often get to meet the families they’re helping build homes for and learn their stories.
Jacques also explains that Habitat GO is the perfect volunteer opportunity for weekend DIY’ers who want to learn more about construction and renovation. One need only show up, and Habitat GO’s extensive team of volunteer contractors and builders will teach you what to do.
His one word of caution?
Jacques defines this condition as signing up for one day of volunteering with Habitat GO and winding up there again and again because you can’t stay away.
Want to get involved or set up a Build Day for your team? Head to HabitatGO.com to learn more.