Helping Canadians work together to build stronger, more sustainable communities is at the heart of Genworth Canada’s commitment to social responsibility. Recognizing that affordable homeownership is a luxury many Canadian families do not enjoy, in 2014 Genworth Canada partnered with Habitat for Humanity to launch Canada Builds to help change that reality.
The program allows Canadians to be part of a Habitat build within Canada, immersing them in the local culture. Each year, volunteers, including Genworth Canada employees, help complete projects in communities that have been struck by disaster, have a limited build season or are in rural areas.
Last year, Brian Kelly, a Genworth Canada board director, led a team of 12 to the Yukon. The group, which included seven Genworth Canada employees and three youth members of the Curve Lake First Nation, located near Peterborough, Ontario, spent eight days in Whitehorse, learning new skills and forging new bonds. Together, they built a duplex for two local families: Jeff, Tanya and their four children, and Brendan, Jasmine and their two children.
For Brian, a great supporter of the program, what made this build special was the participation of the First Nations youth. “It added so much to the cultural experience, as 25 per cent of the Yukon population is First Nations.”
Zac McCue, head of the Curve Lake First Nation Youth Council, agrees. The experience enabled the group to reconnect with the long-held traditions of trading and working together among First Nations people. “They say it takes a community to raise a family, but at the core of that is a good home,” Zac explains.
And as the community came together to build something tangible, something else happened, says Brian: “It’s always a great Habitat experience to move from simply understanding that we ought to be more appreciative of what we have to understanding how happy others are who have so much less.”
Genworth Canada has also been a huge supporter of Habitat for Humanity in Halton, with Genworth employees participating on build days for homes in Oakville and Burlington. Teams of Genworth employees will soon be returning to the build site, this time to help at the 13-townhouse complex on Plains Road.
“Partners like Genworth continue to make an incredible impact on our community,” says Sharron Riley-Pearson, HFHHM’s Director of Resource Development. “Not only do they gather together to raise a hammer on our builds, but they also hold the annual Meaning of Home Contest for local schools in support of Habitat for Humanity and have come on board as a sponsor of our Women Build and our new Exceptional Evening Out Series. We are incredibly grateful for their support.”