The next generation: Engaging young Canadians in the Habitat mission
Habitat for Humanity Canada has enjoyed a rich history of success since it was first established in 1985. Volunteers and donors, along with welcoming communities, have built safe, accessible, and affordable homes for hundreds of Canadian families. While it’s easy to point to Habitat’s ‘years of experience’, Habitat Canada’s President and CEO Mark Rodgers says it’s important that we acknowledge the energy and enthusiasm that young Canadians contribute to Habitat Canada.
“There are youth across this country who recognize that affordable housing is a serious social issue for Canada and they are standing up and making a tangible change. They’re not just picking up a hammer. They’re raising funds. They’re raising their voice to say that this must change,” says Rodgers. “I think the future’s very bright for Habitat because of the number of youth across this country who are getting engaged at a national and an international level.”
In this episode of The Podcast, we meet three young Canadians who are leaders in their own right and examples of the Habitat mission in action.
Josh Morrison lives in Ontario. He was 12 years old when he walked into a local ReStore and he decided there and then that he needed to raise $100,000 to build a Habitat home.
“I honestly just felt that God was telling me that I had to help out with that. There was a family in need. They needed a house and the $100,000 didn’t really faze me. I just thought it’s perfectly achievable. From then on I just went for it.”
That, in and of itself, is a remarkable attitude. But Josh raised the bar for his fundraiser. He decided he would collect $100,000 in pennies! That’s 10 million pennies.
“I just knew, no matter how long it took me, I was going to get that money.”
And he did. Not all of it in pennies - mind you. As his campaign gained momentum, a number of donors came forward with cash, cheques, and matching donations. And five years later, Josh raised $120,000 to build a Habitat home in Durham.
Peter Oliviera and Alison Kong-Foon are both engineers who caught the Habitat bug while studying at the University of Waterloo in Ontario. Peter and some of his classmates actually spear-headed the effort to establish a Habitat campus chapter.
“It was something that me and my friends believed in so we just went for it. We were super excited and (the Manager of the Waterloo Habitat chapter) was right along with us. We found the resources and we were able to run with it.”
Alison is among the second generation of Waterloo students who jumped on the Habitat bandwagon. She says joining the campus chapter broadened her own education and university experience beyond the Faculty of Engineering.
“You get to meet people from different programs and it’s something that you’re all passionate about at the same time.”
Above all, Peter and Alison say their Habitat experience just goes to show that young people can make a significant difference in their communities and in the lives of others who need help.