Before this summer, Ashley Curcic had never been on a construction site. Now, as Habitat for Humanity Halton-Mississauga’s Hospitality and Events Coordinator, she spends most of her days on the Bett-Knowlton site in Acton, overseeing Habitat’s Adopt-a-Days. “When teams come out, I’m the hospitality girl who oversees the day,” Ashley explained. Her days begin with gathering the volunteers, introducing herself and thanking build participants for spending their day with Habitat.
“Then we’ll get geared up, we’ll get hard hats, steel toes, gloves, safety glasses and for the machinery we’ll put vests on,” Ashley said. “After that I leave them with the Construction Site Manager, who then does a safety orientation with them. And then I’ll take pictures of them, ask them how they’re doing. We’ll take snack breaks and water breaks. I make sure they’re refreshed and have their sunscreen on. We do group photos after lunch. Then when the day’s done, we do a goodbye speech and I send them on their way.”
Sometimes at the end of the day volunteers feel like they haven’t done enough to help. “My goal is to make them know that they’ve done enough. Because even if they haven’t accomplished everything they wanted to do in a day, no matter what they do building the houses, it is definitely enough,” Ashley said.
Ashley’s work at Habitat “definitely relates with volunteer management” which is something she said she is interested in pursuing in the future. Other than that, “I don’t think I have a certain career or job that I aspire to be,” Ashley said. “I just aspire to be someone who can make a difference in the lives of people who I work with.”
She has already begun to do this at Habitat. Her co-workers describe her as a huge asset to their team.
“Ashley is the best sidekick a coordinator of volunteers could ask for,” Karen Paget, Habitat’s Construction Volunteer Coordinator, said. “She takes ownership of all she does and seems to have fun doing it. Her positive attitude and kind spirit ensure every volunteer who walks onto our site feels like they are the only one.”
“Her work behind the scenes to support the entire construction, resource and volunteer staff is immeasurable.” — Karen
“Ashley is a terrific example of good people giving their most valuable assets to a great cause. She is terrific with the corporate volunteers who arrive each day a little shy. Ashley makes them all feel at home. She is always cheerful and eager to help out. I’m so glad to see her smiling face every day,” said Rick Sirisko, volunteer Crew Leader.
Ashley completed her high school co-op placement at Habitat. During her placement, she created a program for local schools to raise awareness of poverty. The program included challenges such as building houses out of recycled items. Ashley said that her positive experience as a co-op student made her eager to apply to Habitat this summer.
“I definitely believe that affordable housing for local people is important,” Ashley said. “I had a life-changing experience when I went to Ghana when I was in high school. I went to build a school, and I lost all my connections. I don’t know how people are doing, I don’t know if people are doing OK—it’s sad. I don’t know anything about the people living there, whereas Habitat’s mission is really to keep those connections; you know how the families are doing, you know that they’re safe.”
In the fall, Ashley is going into her fourth year of Global Studies at Laurier, minoring in Women’s Studies. Her favourite areas of study are peace and conflict. “I always like to think of it as math because there’s always a problem and you can find a solution. It may not be something you can find in the next couple of weeks, it may not be something you can find in the next month or so but it’s something to work towards. It gives me hope in a way, that you can always find a solution,” she said.
Ashley’s first Habitat construction site was Mariner Court in Mississauga. “I had never actually used a drill before,” she recalled. “Our volunteer Jeff was actually really nice and he taught me how to do that properly. It gave me encouragement, even though I haven’t used power tools before.”
Ashley said the thing she likes most about her role at Habitat is “meeting new people every day. So many people come from different aspects so we have insurance people come out, we have people who work in grocery stores. My favourite part is learning the different aspects of life that people come from, and then how everyone comes together” to make a difference with Habitat.