Habitat for Humanity student club nails Reading Week build

For the second year in a row, students from York University have won Habitat for Humanity’s coveted Golden Hard Hat trophy.

The group, who are members of York University’s Habitat for Humanity club, exchanged their Reading Week break this past February for some heavy work hammering and painting 12 houses in the Morningside and Kingston Road area. They won the trophy for spirit and raising the most funds to support the charity’s Habitat for Humanity Campus Coalition Reading Week building project.

Above: York students at the Habitat for Humanity Campus Coalition build in Toronto

In all, the intrepid York students raised more than $2,700 to support the construction of the homes – more funds than the other Toronto-area universities involved in the Reading Week build. “We had the best turnout in the history of the club for the Reading Week build,” says the group’s president Curtis Hector, “and this was the second year that we won the Golden Hard Hat Trophy.”

Right: Having fun is part of each Habitat build factor

The homes, which will eventually be owned by low-income families, are being constructed by volunteers working with tradespeople who donate their time. Each year, members of the Habitat for Humanity Campus Coalition, which includes York University, the University of Toronto, Ryerson University and George Brown College, participate in a friendly competition for the best fundraising effort and most spirit during the week-long construction project. Along the way, the students learn important skills in dry walling, painting and construction.

Hector says the group is thrilled with the trophy, which is on display in the Student Community & Leadership Development office in the Ross Building.

The initiative is part of an international campaign by Habitat for Humanity to mobilize postsecondary students to build affordable housing as a means to break the cycle of poverty.

Left: Painting and construction skills will come in handy for future home renovations and are a side benefit of the build

The victory is especially sweet for the students who are part of the club, which was formed in January 2010. Hector, who founded the club, is a third-year social work student. “We are hard at work raising more funds because we want to sponsor our own house,” says Hector. “That means we have to raise $80,000 to support the cost of the house.” Hector says he hopes to achieve that goal before he graduates in 2012.

More than 80 York students are active in the Habitat for Humanity student club, which Hector says formed a Glendon chapter this year. On top of this accomplishment, the club has held a number of other successful events including “hugs for humanity, donations for habitat” and a polar bear dip on New Year ’s Day.

“We have a lot of fun and the club has members from all of the University’s different Faculties,” he says. “It is really addictive and offers a great sense of community.

Right: The investment in sweat equity is a big part of the Habitat for Humanity experience

“Habitat offers low-income families the opportunity to own their home,” says Hector. “My mother got her home through Habitat for Humanity and I know first-hand what a life-changing experience it is to live in a Habitat home.”

When he graduates in 2012, Hector will be the first member of his family to earn a university degree. “My mother is very proud of me and she is very proud of the work the club is doing with Habitat for Humanity. I know she is really looking forward to my graduation and the legacy I hope to leave behind with this club. What could be better than that?”

For more information on the club and its activities, contact Hector at habitatyork@gmail.com.