On a beautiful spring day, members of All Saints’ Anglican Cathedral traded in their clerical collars and office attire for hard hats and work boots to participate in the 7th Annual Interfaith-Habitat Works project. They were welcomed by friendly, safety-conscious and virtuously patient Habitat for Humanity staff tasked with transforming the faith community team into confident and capable home builders.
“Our day at Habitat was fun, fulfilling, uplifting and tiring, said Canon Barbara Burrows, after participating in her fourth Habitat build. “Each time I go, I come away with a renewed appreciation for home builders,” she said.
Burrows was working alongside long-time Habitat volunteer Ted McClung, Betty Benson and her daughter Lisa Blair, to install wire shelving units in the closets of three nearly complete units.
“Ted took us under his wing, and shepherded us through. There was a rather steep learning curve to begin with, particularly in using a power drill, but we made steady progress. Ted was a great and patient teacher,” she said.
First-time Habitat volunteers the Rev. Quinn Strikwerda and Mary-Lou Cleveland worked side-by-side to put the finishing touches on trim around interior windows and doors.
“As I painted, I tried to visualize a family moving in to their new home in a matter of weeks and, hopefully, not noticing all the mistakes I made,” said Strikwerda. “The house looks beautiful and comfortable.”
“Participating in the Habitat Build at Carter Place with the All Saints’ Team was energizing and confirming,” said Cleveland. She said she felt privileged to participate in a project that “lifts up others. It is possible to make meaningful change and we are all capable,” she said. “Also knowing this would be a residence for a special family, challenged me to personal excellence.”
Team All Saints’ encourages others to become involved in this relationship-building opportunity and contribute to the community at large.
“There were seven of us from ASAC, and we weren’t all working at the same jobs, but we did see each other at breaks and lunch time when we reveled in the sunshine,” said Burrows. “The Cathedral also took the lunch for all the workers and Connie McClung came to set it out for us, which was greatly appreciated.”
Church groups have helped provide lunch for volunteers and staff throughout Habitat for Humanity’s history, said Alfred Nikolai, president and CEO of Habitat for Humanity Edmonton. “Lunchtime at a Habitat build is a very spiritual part of the day. It’s a time to give thanks for what we have and to reflect on the need of others,” he said.
In Fort Saskatchewan, where Habitat is building 16 duplexes (six families have already moved into their new homes), St. George’s Anglican Church takes lunch to volunteers once a week.
Habitat’s concept of helping people achieve strength, stability and independence through safe, decent and affordable shelter, was developed in Georgia in the early ’70s. Today the international organization continues to follow the faith-based, no-profit, no-interest model that founder Millard Fuller called the “economics of Jesus,” said Nikolai.
Fullerton believed that everyone should have access to affordable housing and that the “Theology of the Hammer” - rolling up our sleeves and picking up a hammer to help our neighbor - is the most Christian thing we can do,” he said. “It’s a wonderful testament to neighbours helping neighbours. We are over the top grateful that local faith groups have chosen to support Habitat as one way of coming together.”
As of April 24, 17 different faith groups had participated in the 2018 Interfaith-Habitat Works project. The initiative aims to involve 500 volunteers by May 31.
Habitat for Humanity Edmonton has been giving hardworking families across northern Alberta a “hand up” since 1991. At Carter Place in southeast Edmonton, nine families have settled in to their beautiful new Habitat for Humanity-built homes. When the project is complete, a total of 58 families will reside in the community.