Nfld. & Labrador

Volunteers needed to finish Habitat homes in Corner Brook by February

Two families are waiting to move into the Corner Brook duplex, but workers are still getting it winterized.

'We could use 4 or 5 volunteers every day,' say organizers

Dustin Parsons and Archie Cassell of Habitat for Humanity NL need volunteers to help finish a duplex for two families in Corner Brook. (Brian McHugh/CBC)

The committee behind Corner Brook's first Habitat for Humanity homes is looking for some volunteer muscle to help two families move in by February.

Construction started this fall, and the duplex on Petries Street is taking shape.

The exterior walls and roof are in place, shingling is just about done, and windows and doors are expected to be installed this week. Construction supervisor Archie Cassell says siding will be next.

"Get that done, and we'll have it ready for winter," says Cassell. "The snow could come and the rain could come, and we could work away inside, if that happens."

Habitat For Humanity recruits local volunteers to build homes, using largely donated building supplies. The relatively low cost of the homes allows families with limited financial means to buy them, with affordable mortgages.

The Habitat for Humanity homes in Corner Brook still need a lot of work on the inside before families can move in. (Brian McHugh/CBC)

Cassell said there wasn't a lot of need for volunteers while the roof was recently being put on by a contractor because of the special skills and safety training needed, but the next stage needs people power.

"We could do with a lot of volunteers now: bit of framing left to do, we've got four stairways to put in, insulating to do in the basement — we could use four or five volunteers every day." 

200 volunteers needed

The job of recruiting and scheduling people falls to Dustin Parsons. As volunteer co-ordinator, he'd like to have "a couple of hundred people" in the pool of names.

Parsons was responsible for organizing about 1,200 local volunteers for the national Special Olympics in Corner Brook in late February and early March. 

"When this opportunity came up, I thought, 'I'm sure we could get two hundred people to come and put this house together,'" he says, laughing.

[It will be] a great thing, I'm sure, for those families to get the call, to hear around Christmas time.- Dustin Parsons

Parsons says the committee's strategy of approaching schools and service groups to provide volunteers has been "working out great," but lots of individuals are needed to be put into teams, for the days when the large groups are unavailable.

He says to help keep things organized, people who want to volunteer should visit habitatnl.ca and register. 

Hoping to be done by February

Cassell says next steps will include wiring, plumbing and insulating. Since the Habitat duplex depends on donated labour and supplies from businesses to keep mortgages low, he says it's impossible to insist on a hard-and-fast completion date. 

According to Cassell, the work can sometimes fall behind, but "we don't mind that." Still, he'd like to see the keys handed over to the families by the end of February.

Contractors helped put the roof on and did big jobs, but volunteers are needed to finish the work. (Brian McHugh/CBC)

As Cassell and his crew of volunteers work on the duplex, families who put in their names to buy the duplexes await the decision of an evaluation committee.

Parsons says the committee is hoping to make its decisions by December.

"(It will be) a great thing, I'm sure, for those families to get the call, to hear around Christmas time."

Families are required to each put in at least 500 hours of volunteer labour on the homes. Parsons says if the duplexes are finished before that happens, families can put in the "sweat equity" elsewhere, by helping out with other projects in the community.

With files from the Corner Brook Morning Show

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