Tuesday, 10 January 2012


Emily, all geared up!
Hard hats and boots
are required for all!
I interviewed Emily, a Habitat for Humanity house recipient in Muskoka. The build is nearing completion.

 The requirement for house recipients is that they put 500 sweat equity hours into their new home. They feel a part of the whole process by investing their time and energy into the project. Sometimes, for many reasons, individuals are unable to put in the physical sweat equity, in this case family and extended family members put their time in, too.

With many myths about people who belong to the working class, we face many from other walks of life who belong to the NIMBY camp. Not In My Back Yard.  For newly single parents, as I was in 1993 who had to cough up first and last month's rent, only to be handed over to a landlord, paying a mortgage is a much better way of spending your hard-earned money. Mortgages are geared to income for Habitat recipients. 

Emily is a delightfully positive person. More visibly fitting to wield her camera, rather than a hammer and hard hat. She is slim, petite, but determined. I love her energy and spirit, which comes through in her contact with me.

My visit, Aug. 7th, 2011
July 6, 2011!
I visited the site in August, 2011, but it is a 6-hour drive from my current home. We called Muskoka our cottage country for 50 years. I visited Torrance to see my parent's gravesite, and popped in to see the build site.

The interview was done long-distance, as I have never met Emily, but have become friends through Facebook's Habitat Muskoka website. 
I admire her strength, her energy and her commitment to her home. She just jumps in and grabs a hammer wherever needed.

My daughter worked on the Bala Build when we were living there. 

Marks Work Warehouse team, Bala, 2010
I know what it meant to the groups who put time into the Bala Build: Marks Work Warehouse sent a team. They dug trenches, got their hands dirty, and had a great time. 

It is a profound feeling to be a part of this kind of a project.
Here is Emily's interview:


What does it mean to you to have a home like this?

The sensation of peace on a cozy, rainy Sunday; the feeling of relief when you pull into the driveway after a long day; a quiet kiss on the head of my children asleep in bed.  Home has been many places for me over the years, but its comforts are defined by simple, blissful moments like these.

What does it mean to your immediate family?

Home is being around people who can drive you absolutely crazy one moment and make you feel like a million dollars the next. It’s knowing that no matter how hard times get, someone is there for you.

What has your life been like until now and how will it change, owning your own home?

The security and piece of mind that comes with home ownership is a great accomplishment in many people’s lives, and once they have overcome the obstacles, they find that other goals they had set out to achieve become much easier to attain.

What do you do for a living?

I am a dietary aide at an upscale retirement residence and a freelance photographer.

Can you estimate how many volunteers have been involved in this project?

I would say close to 50 different people from all walks of life have appeared on site.

How many hours do you think you've spent working on your own home so far?

I have personally worked nearly 300 hours, and have enjoyed every minute.

Can you speak to the 'not a hand out but a hand up' phrase?
December, 2011
A hand out is something you just give someone. A hand up is offering something to someone that teaches so much more. It's like the old saying teaching one how to fish so they may catch their own.

What have you learned about building a home? 
Who can you count on, to maintain your home once you own it?

I have myself, and my many new-found skills, plus many, many new friends more skilled than I.

Has your family put in sweat equity?

Yes, nearly all of my children save for the youngest has swung a hammer or two.

How does your extended family feel about this project?

Everyone is thrilled and excited.  They know, like us, it is a dream come true.

Photo credits: these are Emily's photos, except for my Aug. 7th visit and Bala photos. Courtesy to Emily for granting me permission to post her photos and taking the time to respond to my interview!


Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Habitat for Humanity is a wonderful thing.

Christine said...

How great for Emily, what a wonderful project and a good interview!

Happy New Year Jenn!

Kay L. Davies said...

Fabulous, Jenn. I remember when Habitat for Humanity started and I was so impressed. Looking at and thinking about and making my own changes to house plans is my favourite hobby. I've been involved in the building of more than one house in my lifetime, and I love it.

Kay L. Davies said...

I think I accidentally closed my comment box. It's past my bedtime, but I have been impressed by the idea of Habitat for Humanity since it started, and I've always wished I were in a position to help build one of the houses.

SandyCarlson said...

That's a beautiful post. What a great thing Habitat does.