Habitat for Humanity GTA Ontario Volunteer Service Award Winners in order from left to right: Linda Weston, Garry Gardiner, Marilyn, James, Louis Bannet, Kevin Deakin
April 10, 2018 was a very special night for Habitat for Humanity GTA. Six of our long-standing volunteers received an Ontario Volunteer Service Award for their 5+ years of supporting our mission. We’d like to acknowledge the effort and commitment of the following volunteers, and hear what volunteering means to them.
Linda Weston, Crew Leader, 5 years:
“I am always inspired by the example of other volunteers who have been volunteering far longer than me. Some are there day in and day out in all weather. I enjoy and appreciate the friendliness of the staff and volunteers. I value the opportunity to give back while doing something worthwhile: contributing to safe, decent, and affordable housing for families. Also, I grew up on a tiny remote island where the time honoured practice of ‘working overhead’ is still practiced: this is where one person helps another and the favour is returned without money being exchanged. Volunteering at Habitat for Humanity GTA is a variation of this – I volunteer my time there in acknowledgement of help I’ve received in the past.”
Garry Gardiner, Crew Leader, 10 years:
“I began volunteering when the former CEO came out to speak with the group I belonged to. He stressed the need for suitable housing. I enjoyed the day we worked on building walls. When I left that group, I had more time to volunteer and Habitat for Humanity GTA suited my talents or lack thereof. I had been retired from teaching for several years and wished to keep active. From the start, I found the people I met and worked with were great.
When people moved in to the build I saw the joy and value we had created in their lives. It pleased me that all I did and all of my donations went to the people in need of decent housing directly.
I keep coming back because I enjoy being a part of such a good team. I also enjoy meeting new people even if it is only for a day. It also allows me to keep teaching long after my teaching days have gone by. Volunteering at Habitat for Humanity GTA is flexible and so my wife and I could travel without interfering with the building Habitat homes.”
Marilyn, Crew Volunteer, 10 years:
“I keep coming back because it makes me happy. I see people in the homes we build — smiling. I get my exercise every week (who needs a gym when you’ve got three levels of stairs). I meet friends I’ve been building with and new people from different professions and viewpoints. I learn stuff. And it’s a good organization that’s doing what I think should be more common — build houses people can afford.”
Louis Bannet, ReStore Volunteer, 5 years:
“I’m giving back, number one. Number two, I meet interesting people constantly, which is a lot of fun. I’m enjoying the experience immensely. I find it keeps your mind sharp and that’s a good thing to start with. Also, it keeps me in shape as well.”
Edna Becker, ReStore Volunteer, 5 years:
I started at the Habitat ReStore in Etobicoke as a way to give my time to a worthwhile cause as I entered into retirement. I now realize what keeps me coming in each week is what the store and it’s people give to me.
I look forward to seeing the people I work with each week, both staff and volunteers. I particularly enjoy my time with other regular volunteers, many of whom have become good friends. Although we work hard, we support each other and take time to socialize.
The store is a very busy place with lots of variety and challenges as we try to find space and ways to display our ever-changing donations. But I appreciate the opportunity to engage in individual ways. This has never been a boring commitment and I really value my time there with friends.