Habitat for Humanity GTA launched Canada’s first Pride Build three years ago and, since then, the event keeps growing in popularity, expanding each year. This year, Pride Build again offered a fun way for members and supporters of the LGBT communities to come together to spend a day celebrating our diversity in this city, learning new skills and making an important statement about the fundamental human right of a safe, decent, affordable place to live for everyone.
Teams from Pride Build’s Presenting Sponsor, TD Bank Group, Champion Sponsor, Fasken Martineau and from our Advocate Sponsor, Norton Rose Fulbright, as well as a number of other teams, all came out to support Habitat for Humanity partner families, raising close to $46,000 toward the Birchmount build project.
This was TD Bank Group’s second year as Presenting Sponsor for Pride Build, and a large group of employees were on site participating. Leading the charge was Al Ramsay, TD’s Regional Manager of LGBT Business Development, who spoke about the importance of diversity, looking outwards and supporting one another in the community. “What sticks in my mind when I hear inspiring stories from partner families [is that], I’m reminded it’s not a handout – it’s a hand-up. We’re working together on building a better community. The possibilities for these families and their children now are endless.”
Congratulations goes to Gary Westwood, the top fundraiser for Pride Build 2016, who raised a total of $3,481 and won the grand prize of two round trip flights to Hong Kong. When asked to share his fundraising tips, he said, “I started sending personal emails to people I know and the money started flowing in. Social media can get you so far, but I think the personal outreach is what made all the difference.” He added, “My friends all know that I’m not to be trusted around power tools, so they must have thought ‘It must be very important for Gary to be willing to do that’!”
Andrew Snow and Allen Lai were new to the event. When their boss at Roundabout Studio told them about it, everyone at the firm jumped in and agreed to help. “I’ve been on the saw most of the morning,” said Andrew. “Its been quite fun, but a little bit of a learning process. We work in the world of building, but on the design side of things, so it’s nice to see other side.”
Robyn Bond and Dialda Calce were members of the crew assigned to install the floor joists and sub-floor. Dialda enjoyed last year’s Pride Build so much she signed up again this year. For Robyn it was a day of firsts, “First time Pride Build, first time for Habitat. Hammering a nail for the first time. We’re using a lot of equipment that we’ve never used before and getting hands-on experience building. Using the saw for the first time in my life – that was awesome.”
Dimitra Hartsias, winner of Friday’s exciting Hammer Competition, admitted that she was already a pro with a hammer. Dimitra loves being outdoors, working with her hands, building fences and the like, when she’s not busy at her day job as Branch Manager for the TD in Liberty Village. She has participated on a number of Habitat builds before, but this was her first Pride Build. “It’s a lot of fun. It’s great to know that your efforts and volunteer time and hard work are going to help put people in homes. Not everyone has the financial means to afford a house on their own without some assistance, so it’s great that programs like this exist.”
We would like to thank all of our volunteers and sponsors who came out to support this year’s event and hope to see everyone back again next year!