Living on one income, with so many children to care for, made it impossible for the Michaelis’ to get a mortgage from the bank.
Enter Habitat for Humanity, an international housing charity. Fortunately, the family of seven will be moving into their brand new home in a Carleton Place subdivision, courtesy of Habitat for Humanity, in the new year.
Five Algonquin students, all female, put in a full eight-hour day on Saturday Nov. 19, volunteering at the Michaelis family’s future home as part of a Community Project hosted by the AC Hub.
“It’s a great experience,” says second-year law clerk student Sarah Ardito, who was participating in the project for the third time. “I get a little more comfortable on the job site each time, and I love working hard to help the community.”
The Michaelis family is one of four families receiving a home from the organization this year.
These homes, however, come with conditions.
“Contrary to popular belief, we do not just give away houses for free,” says Steve Walsh, building manager for Ottawa’s Habitat for Humanity chapter.
When the houses are built, Habitat for Humanity has them appraised and offers the recipients an interest-free mortgage based on the market value price.
Walsh calls this “a leg up, rather than a hand out.”
The families who receive homes from Habitat for Humanity have to put in 500 volunteer hours, referred to as “sweat equity,” whether it is at the building site, at the local office or a partner charity.
The student volunteers spent the day staple gunning airflow vents to the inside of the roof, painting on moisture protective sealant around the window frames and carrying concrete slabs from the basement upstairs.
Rebecca Sun, volunteer coordinator for the AC Hub, says that they try to run a different community project once a week.
“It’s a great opportunity for students to get out and help their community, while learning about local non-profit organizations,” she says.
Walsh says that the Michaelis home has been moving along quickly thanks to volunteers like those from Algonquin, as well as other community members. He says that since they broke ground this summer, he has only had a handful of workdays without volunteers on site to help.
“Our goal is that you go home with a sense of accomplishment,” says Walsh.