Category: inspiration

habitat for humanity – women build toronto

Yesterday I had the privilege of participating in the Women Build Toronto with Habitat for Humanity. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures because I didn’t feel comfortable bringing my phone on the construction site but I still want to share my experience. 

Very briefly, Habitat for Humanity gives family living in poverty a hand up by allowing them to buy homes at low-interest and no money-down. The partner families commit a minimum five-hundred volunteer hours and all the proceeds from the mortgage gets put back into building homes for other families. This allows these families to have a quality, safe home that allows them to break the cycle of poverty for their families. It was noted at the groundbreaking ceremony yesterday that all children of the Toronto chapter have gone on to post-secondary education. This allows them to become productive members of society. The Women Build is an annual event held by the organization. It goes for ten days, and this year their goal was one million dollars raised for the organization. This event allows women to come together and build homes, from the ground-up. It provides a great service to the community while giving the women participating a rewarding and unique experience. I joined Team CAWIC, which is a non-profit organization enhancing the experience of women in construction, I do not work in construction but know someone on the board and thought this would be a great experience.

The day began bright and early with a groundbreaking ceremony. Over 80 women watched as the CEO of Habitat, title sponsors of the homes, local politicians and the partner families “broke ground” on these homes. Then we got to work. I’ve never worn a hard hat or steel toe boots, I have extremely limited homebuilding/renovation experience. I can hang a mean picture, and I can hang wallpaper but I was not prepared for what we were getting in to (in a good way). The home I was assigned to was just foundation. I was not expecting to be building a home, I thought there was no way I could do that. I expected that we would be painting, maybe if we got crazy, we’d hang some drywall. Instead, I climbed down a ladder in to what will one day be a family’s basement. At this point it was just gravel. We spent the day doing various tasks, we built stairs to get in and out of the site, we laid sills and shoveled gravel. We worked hard but it was rewarding. Some of the other groups had homes that were further along and they were able to put in floor joists and walls. Most of the women working with us didn’t have a ton of experience in construction but we were able to come together to accomplish an incredible task. Not only were we helping these families change their lives but we were able to prove to ourselves that we were capable of more than we thought possible. By the end of the day, we were aching but had smiles on our faces. We were proud of the work we had accomplished, even though we didn’t make a huge dent in the home, we still played our important role. 

The end of the day had us going back to ‘base camp’, taking off our heavy boots and receiving a great goody bag from some wonder sponsors. I was really impressed with our loot, which included some great coupons and a ticket for the home show coming in October. It was really nice that they were able to give us a token of appreciation, even though a thank you would have been plenty. 

Awesome goody bag from some awesome sponsors. Not pictured, the delicious chocolates I ate in the car on the way home (thanks Purdys!).

I would highly recommend looking into this organization, they always have events and builds going on and could use anybody’s help, even if they use the ladder upside down at first (don’t worry, we fixed it…) and if you’re a woman, definitely look into joining a team next year for the build. You can also still sponsor me for this worthy cause until the end of September, every dollar counts! I’d love to hear where other people volunteer in the community? I’m always looking for new experiences! 

Happy volunteering!

tedx talks: learning to fly

I had the chance back in July to see Bobby Umar speak at “Hello! My Name Is…”, I really enjoyed his talk that evening on ways to network. What really spoke to me was that networking is about what you can do for other people. Bobby has also done a series of TED Talks. For those who don’t know what those are (don’t worry, I only recently learned), TED talks are presentations that are a maximum of 18 minutes about any ideas “worth sharing”.

The presentation I watched this evening was called Learning to Fly, which was presented at UTSC back in February. I think this is an excellent video for university and college students, particularly at this time of year because this is the time to be asking questions about where you want to go on the path of life. For many students, this week was the first week they spent away from home and Bobby’s discussions on leaving the nest really put into perspective how important that is. Others, who are going in to their second, or third, or fourth, (or fifth, or whatever) year, may be wondering what their plans are for the next year and how these new classes, new groups and new experiences will benefit them throughout their life. 

In less than 18 minutes, Bobby gives the audience the steps to “learn to fly”. Bobby asks at the beginning of the video “Why not?” and goes on to say that it is a very important question. I thought that was absolutely true, while living overseas, I was constantly asked “Why are you here?” or “Why did you go?” and the best answer I could give any of those people was “Why not?”. He discusses how you can live your super life and how you can start right now. He discusses how people wait for the perfect time to leave the nest, to get lost, to get a life. The reality is, there is no perfect opportunity, there will always be reasons not to do something but you have to ask yourself, if it is worth fighting for and is it worth the risk – if the answer is yes then it is likely that the right time is now. You have to ask yourself “Why not today?” because unfortunately, we can’t go back and try yesterday again. I highly recommend this video for all the twenty-somethings out there who just aren’t sure about their next step.