With the sun shining brightly in the sky, sounds of laughter, chatter and drills filled the air as teams from Genworth Canada competed in Habitat HMD’s second annual Playhouse Build Challenge. The seven teams spent two days putting their all into constructing and designing mini homes to vie for the title of top playhouse.
About the Playhouse Build Challenge
The Playhouse Build Challenge is an annual event that provides corporate teams with the opportunity to get involved with Habitat HMD in a highly unique way. Teams spend the day building homes for Habitat’s youngest homeowners. Each team is given a theme they’re tasked with bringing to life, with the aim of creating a child’s dream secret hideaway.
The event was split into two days, with the first day used for constructing the playhouses and the second for decorating. The seven Genworth teams featured 10 members, with five members building the playhouse on day one and the other five executing the design on day two.
In addition to creating seven stunning playhouses to benefit deserving children, Genworth generously donated $20,000 to Habitat HMD to support our build fund. This donation will allow us to continue expanding affordable housing within our community.
Something special about this Playhouse Build is that Genworth has opted to donate the mini homes they’ve built to local charities.
The charities chosen by Genworth center on helping children, so the playhouses will be going directly into communities where they’ll be enjoyed to their fullest. They’ll be donated to: Art House, HIPPY Oakville, YMCA Oakville, Halton Children’s Aid, SafetyNet and Woodview Children’s Centre.
Don Pangman, founder and executive director of Art House Oakville, shared a few words about how meaningful the donation of the playhouse was for their charity.
“Art House is an organization that started 10 years ago, with the goal of helping young people who had no access to the arts,” said Pangman.
“This wonderful playhouse you’ve given to us is going to a very special location here in Oakville, called Oaklands. It’s a subsidized community… with a lot of young people there, specifically moms and (toddlers).”
The playhouse will go in their community room, for all children within the neighbourhood to enjoy.
Each team was given a theme for their playhouse, with full artistic licence to make it their own.
Widely known as the most magical place to be, the Disney themed playhouse is the ideal place for kids to let their imagination run wild. Genworth’s spin on the Disney playhouse was inspired by Moana.
“We like Moana because she’s one of the strong princesses,” said Audra Chin, team captain for the Disney playhouse. “It’s also gender neutral and as a recent movie we thought it would be a good choice.”
Donated to: Woodview Children’s Centre.
The little girl theme strays away from its traditional frilly pinks, featuring sky blue walls, decorated with delicate flowers. With words like “love” and “dream” painted across its side, this playhouse could convince any little girl she can take on the world.
“We didn’t want to do a typical little girl theme with the pinks… we decided to go with blue, partially because Genworth’s colour is blue,” said Maricelle Campbelle, team captain for the little girl playhouse.
Donated to: YMCA of Oakville.
The little boy playhouse took the theme above and beyond by bringing outer space down to earth. Its rocket ship-shaped windows and interior star decals left the impression that it was about to shoot off into space at any second.
Donated to: HIPPY Oakvile.
The Tim Hortons playhouse is the miniature version of the classically Canadian road trip stop. It was brought so vividly to life that you might even find yourself drooling over the intricately crafted donuts painted on the ceiling (but trust us, it wouldn’t taste like Tims).
Genworth will be keeping the Tim Hortons playhouse to be apart of their United Way auction in the fall.
Under the sea
This playhouse showcases all the colours and magic that you expect to find below the water’s surface. Creatures like seahorses and turtles make you feel truly immersed under the water, even featuring a familiar friendly clownfish, Nemo. The ceiling is decorated with sand and fishing net, leaving only the smell of the ocean to your imagination.
Donated to: Art House.
A little-known fact about kids: they love video games. Ungluing a child from their spot in front of a screen can be a challenge, but not with this playhouse around. It brings together the classic Mario and Pac-Man games in the perfect fusion that is sure to have any child eager to set their Playstation aside for a turn in this magical playhouse.
Donated to: Halton Children’s Aid.
This Genworth-themed playhouse beautifully highlights their company pride, even painted using Genworth’s shade of blue. As an organization with a key role in helping to shape the Canadian housing market, this playhouse embodies a picturesque home that any family would be overjoyed to call theirs.
Donated to: SafetyNet.
The judging ceremony
Horns blared at 1 p.m. on the second day, alerting builders it was time to lay down their brushes. Then, the judging began. Equipped with their magnifying glasses (to ensure no detail is left unnoticed) and judging criteria, they set to work.
The playhouses were marked out of 40 points, with 10 points per category.
Structure assessed the structural integrity of the home – will it withstand the normal wear and tear a child’s playhouse faces?
Creativity looked at the imagination put into the design by its team members – were they unafraid to take bold risks?
A member from each team also had the opportunity to give a “playhouse pitch” to the judges. This allows the judges to determine the appeal of this playhouse – how much will the child enjoy their new secret hideaway?
Theme determines whether the team has done a successful job matching their playhouse to their given theme – when looking at the playhouse, is it clear which category they were catering towards?
Every playhouse was brilliantly executed, with so much creativity and effort going into each home.
In the words of Habitat HMD CEO John Gerrard, “As the second annual Playhouse Build, you really have raised the roof.”
Friendly competition for a fantastic cause
“The competitive spirit is alive and well at Genworth,” joked Debbie McPherson, the senior vice president of sales and marketing at Genworth. “(It was clear to see) the sense of camaraderie, the collaboration and the fun. Discovering who was a talented builder, who wasn’t and who tried to be – it didn’t matter. We had a great time.”
While some teams might have walked away with a trophy, everyone walked away from the Playhouse Build a winner. Genworth’s incredible employees came together and spent two days out in the blazing heat, putting their all into giving back.
“This was a really rewarding experience, it wasn’t just fun… It was nice to put some sweat and muscle into something that’s going to be for a good cause,” said Chin.
The playhouses will be enjoyed by local children within the charities they’re being donated to, enabling these kids to immerse themselves in their imagination, inspired by these highly creative homes.
Genworth’s team experience
Beyond being an impactful way to support Habitat HMD, our Playhouse Build Challenge also provides an incredible team building experience.
For president and CEO of Genworth Canada, Stuart Levings, the teams’ collaboration really stood out to him.
“This year we decided to bring teams together from different departments… and frankly, it just proves the point that when we collaborate, we do better.”
For Chin, this has been a fantastic opportunity to work with co-workers she might not have otherwise collaborated with and was an experience that will enhance their relationships moving forward.
Despite its competitive nature as a Playhouse Build Challenge, the teams found that the build actually brought them closer together, even across teams vying for the title of first place.
“No doubt we’ve raised the bar on this initiative and I don’t know how you’re going to beat this next year,” said Levings.
A lasting impact
“Genworth has been a very strong supporter of Habitat for Humanity… You’ve been a major participant in our home sponsorship program for a number of years,” said Gerrard during his speech, after the judging had concluded.
Genworth has sponsored three Habitat HMD build projects. They have also donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to us from programs like the Playhouse Build Challenge.
“You truly have changed the lives of many, many families,” said Gerrard.
“(Habitat) is our charity of choice. We’re involved in putting people in homes and that’s exactly what they do too. I always take great pride in knowing that we, as a company, can give back to such a meaningful cause,” said Levings.
Genworth is Canada’s largest private residential mortgage insurer, with a significant impact in shaping the Canadian housing market. They make homeownership more accessible to first-time homebuyers by providing mortgage default insurance to Canadian residential mortgage lenders.
To learn more about Genworth Canada, visit their website.
By: Olivia Kabelin
Updated: July 2, 2021