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Habitat Families building sweat equity, from home

COVID-19 has changed the way we live in our homes. Home is now our workplace, our children’s classroom or summer camp, and the place where we spend most of our days and evenings. A lot of our day-to-day tasks and activities are now being done in new ways, from home.

Since the introduction of COVID-19 restrictions and public health orders, a lot has changed at Habitat for Humanity GTA. Our build sites are operating at a reduced capacity with new safety measures in place. Habitat ReStore introduced a new in-store shopping experience. And many of our regular volunteer opportunities have been reduced or put on hold for the time being to ensure a safe environment for all. It has also impacted our future Habitat homeowners’ ability to complete their 500 hours of sweat equity.

A unique element of the Habitat homeownership model is what we call: sweat equity. As part of the Habitat homeowner partnership, a family volunteers 500 hours with the organization. Whether on the build site, at a Habitat Restore or in the office and at community events, there are a variety of ways family members can work towards their sweat equity hours.

From our experience, sweat equity strengthens a family’s connection to Habitat for Humanity GTA’s mission. It makes parents and children feel proud as they take ownership and work towards their future home. It also allows them to feel a sense of community, and get to know their new neighbours through their experiences. We often hear stories of parents and children discovering a passion for giving back through the work they do while building sweat equity.

The arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic forced us all to adapt to living and working differently.  Navigating a safe path forward posed a challenge for families looking to complete their sweat equity hours. With this in mind, our Family Services team came up with a creative solution to put forward new projects and initiatives that future Habitat homeowners could do from home.

Some families shared their unique story about coping with their current living conditions through COVID-19 restrictions. Others shared beloved family recipes to be included in a cookbook that will be distributed to our Habitat community. We also gave families the option to come up with their own ideas about how they can do their sweat equity from home.

Maya and Nicole, a mother-daughter duo who will be moving into one of our future projects at Old Weston Road proposed the idea of making cloth masks for Habitat volunteers.

“We have been sewing masks to donate to local healthcare facilities as well as family and friends,” said Nicole.  “My husband cuts the fabric and measures and ties the elastics, and I do the sewing. We decided to make 100 cloth masks to distribute to Habitat volunteers as part of our sweat equity.”

In July, Maya and Nicole met up with members of our Family Services team to deliver the completed masks (picture above). Our Volunteer Services team has started distributing the homemade masks to volunteers on the build site and in ReStores.

We salute all of the businesses, charities, and clients who continue to find new, creative ways to give back to the community during COVID-19.

Interested in learning more about how we are responding to COVID-19?

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