Connecting with the Community in a new way - Habitat for Humanity build

Part of my job is working to establish relationships and connections with IT Professionals across Canada as well as support their community efforts.  I’ve met a large number of you through in person events like TechNet days – but also at User Group communities and online communities as well.  In case you hadn’t noticed, we also try to promote individuals to participate in their IT pro communities as well as their local communities and charities as well – kind of like making our world a better place both professionally and personally. 

A while back I got an internal email from Phil Sorgen (President of Microsoft Canada) talking about the importance to taking part in Communities and volunteering our time to charitable organizations. In case you didn’t know – every Microsoft employee is allowed (and encouraged) to spend 5 days of our time working with a charitable organization as a volunteer. After reading his email – I decided to register and participate in Habitat for Humanity here in Ottawa on a house build for two families. I requested a week long stint mid July – and I was approved! I’ve been a handy guy for years owning and renting old houses all my life and I love the fact that I can actually “build” something that you can see, feel and touch.  I’ve been “building” IT solutions for a long time, but it’s not the same as touching something or saying “look – I built that wall”. So if you have been wondering why there haven’t been any blog posts for a week or so – it’s because I have been busy swinging a hammer at the OPPI House 2006.

Spot the Geek

I spent last week working on salvaging the first floor back wall that got blown down (wasn’t braced properly) into the foundation hole for the new house during an evening thunderstorm. Once it was salvaged, we worked on finishing the ground floor walls and hanging the second floor joists.  One part of the build I was particularly happy to be doing was I was put in charge of building the Firewall that separates the two houses.  I was the crew chief for making that wall and it’s various parts that had to be to code. It was a blast. Here’s a copy of the design document I was using to get the specs right.

Firewall Design

For the most part it was great fun working with teams and getting the various jobs done, but damn was it hot! On a number of occasions it was 35C and we were drinking a lot of water while looking for some shade on the build site. I am not without injury… Yes – I still have all my fingers and toes, but I am typing a bit slower than usual right now because I ended up bashing my middle finger with my 18oz framing hammer as well as hitting my index finger knuckle. The week wrapped up on Saturday when I had the chance to meet BOTH families that will be moving in once the build is complete. It really puts it into perspective when you see the impact you are having while toiling away in the sweat and heat – they were right there with us, working together as a community.

What about you? What volunteer activities do you participate in? Have you done a Habitat build before? What do you do in your community? I definitely plan on staying connected with HfH and possibly branching out as time permits.