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Brock employees help build community with Habitat for Humanity

THURSDAY, JULY 25, 2019 | by Jocelyn Titone

Psychology Professor Tanya Martini was one of six Brock University employees who volunteered their time with Habitat for Humanity Niagara Wednesday, July 24.

When Brock Psychology Professor Tanya Martini applied to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity Niagara, she was expecting a day of painting.  

However, project delays meant she and five fellow Brock employees spent Wednesday, July 24 installing trim in a semi-detached house on Bellevue Street in Niagara Falls.

Professional tradespeople taught the team how to measure and cut trim using miter and table saws, and how to nail trim into place around doors and windows using an electric nail gun.

“Teaching 1,500 intro Psychology students is significantly less intimidating than operating the saw,” said Martini. “When I learned we weren’t painting anymore, I was worried because I had no experience using power tools, but the crew leaders were very patient and encouraging.

“I always tell my students it’s OK to make mistakes,” she said. “Now I’m on the receiving end of my own advice.” 

This past April, Brock employees applied to win a spot on one of two Brock teams volunteering with Habitat for Humanity Niagara. Twelve faculty and staff members were randomly chosen in a lottery draw: six helped frame walls at the end of May and the other six volunteered their time this week.

Kirsty Spence, Associate Dean, Teaching and Undergraduate Studies with the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, felt fortunate to be selected and to work alongside her colleague Martini. 

“We’re both interested in how we can best teach students in a way that will help them feel like they can capitalize and leverage their new skills,” she said. “And here we are, learning a bunch of new ones ourselves.”

Kara Renaud, Interim Career Education Manager with Co-op, Career and Experiential Education, hopes to use her new abilities at home.

“Nail guns and saws usually terrify me, but now that I’ve learned how to use them, I might make my own planter boxes or start a home project,” she said. “My husband doesn’t know what’s coming.”

More than acquiring new skills, faculty and staff were interested in volunteering with the project as a way to give back to the local community.

“Working side by side with the homeowners was wonderful,” said Renaud. “It’s nice to know who you’re working for, and what makes the blood, sweat and tears worthwhile.”

The two-unit, semi-detached home will provide two large, local families. . . READ FULL STORY WITH PHOTOS