January 26, 2012 Wisdek SEO

Volunteering to Make a Difference

Volunteering to Learn and Make a Difference

by Fardid Biglar

I became involved with Habitat for Humanity just as I graduated from the University of Toronto Architectural Studies program, a little late for my own liking. My impression of the foundation was one that I had acquired from what I had seen on the television and newspaper coverage. I decided to get my feet wet in Habitat by jumping right into the construction.

My first build experience was anything but ordinary. I expected a construction site crowded with volunteers, like what I had seen on television, but instead I found myself in front of a couple of house foundations and a muddy construction site on a cold and cloudy April morning. Dave, who was the construction manager for the Toronto Affiliate at the time, showed up at 7:30 a.m. with a cup of warm and much needed coffee for me to start off my first day as a Habitat volunteer. My first task was to move water pumps out to the houses, connect all of the hoses, and pump out water that had been collecting around the newly poured foundations.

Most people don’t realize how many different tasks there are and that need completing in order to construct a house. I didn’t like my task, but as a team player, I lugged a mammoth gas pump behind me into the trench that was dug around a newly poured foundation. This was my first time working on site as a construction worker and not a designer or managers, dressed in a black suit. I was learning what it’s like to actually do the work; the cherry on top was stepping knee deep into quick sand (which was another interesting discovery… the existence of quick sand here in Canada). Fourth year lectures on Romanesque architecture definitely had not prepared me for that, but thank goodness for all of those hours spent watching the discovery channel.

My day was filled with many challenges that were definitely humbling. On many occasions, veteran volunteers who saw my struggles would walk over, likely out of embarrassment for me, and tell a trade trick.

I was humbled and encouraged by the fact that the majority of Habitat volunteers were middle aged adults who somehow found the energy and time to help this great cause.

It was a great first day! I learned that even though we may know a lot, with a great education and with many successes, there is a world of knowledge and experience that we have yet to discover. Through a day of working hands-on in construction, I learnt trade secrets that I would’ve never known by watching contractors work on site. Hopefully we will all continue to experience these new lessons throughout our lives.

Since my first build experience with Habitat, I’ve continued to volunteer on other build sites and have served on various Habitat committees for the Toronto Affiliate and the University of Toronto Chapter. I have learned much from the amazing volunteers who I had the privilege of meeting through Habitat for Humanity.

Forming Biglar Kinyan Design Partnership, a design and construction firm, I couldn’t forget the experiences gained and people met at Habitat for Humanity. At BKDP, we continued to appreciate the work and mission of Habitat by supporting its cause. We donate all of our salvageable construction materials such as old kitchen cabinets to Habitat for Humanity ReStore and we strongly encourage you and everyone else you know to do the same.

If Habitat for Humanity is to continue helping good people around the world, we must all take a foot forward to make Habitat a part of our everyday lives.


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