The Answer Company Gives Back with a Company Wide Volunteer Day at Habitat for Humanity
On March 31st, The Answer Company continued its social responsibility program, ‘Answering the Call’ by volunteering at Habitat for Humanity, a non-profit organization that builds affordable ownership housing for families in need. A big part of The Answer Company’s culture is giving back and the company’s program includes donating services and software to two non-profit organizations each year, individual volunteer days as many of the staff have regular volunteer projects, as well as quarterly company-wide community days.
Habitat for Humanity was founded in Georgia, United States in 1976 with the simple goal of providing access to safe and decent housing for everyone and in the last 40 years more than 800,000 houses have been built worldwide. With 58 affiliates across Canada and the help of more than 300,000 volunteers, 2,500 of those houses have been built in Canada.
Raising Funds with ReStores
The organization thrives off of the help of volunteer labor and the donations of money and material and ReStores are an integral part. These stores sell new and gently-used home décor items and building material (i.e. – doors, lights, appliances, furniture, paint, carpets, etc) at discounts up to 80% of the retail value. All of the inventory is donated and the proceeds go towards the material and labor required to build the homes and run the organization.
Equipped with work gloves and ready to sweat, The Answer Company pulled together across three locations (Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary) for a full day on their feet with all three teams rolling up their sleeves and volunteering at their local ReStore. The Vancouver team, for example, spent the day at the Habitat ReStore in Burnaby, BC, with a full day of manual labour cleaning & organizing the outdoor storage yard, which included sorting & loading materials into recycle bins for metal & wood items and preparing things for resale. Habitat is extremely resourceful and the team was even tasked with removing nails from donated wood so it could be used again or resold. An indoor team built new shelving for doors & wood supplies to be displayed in, as well as measuring & re-rolling all the large carpets for easy resale.
While it was technically a day for Habitat for Humanity, The Answer Company teams thoroughly enjoyed the change of pace from working in technology and business management systems to getting their hands dirty and working as an even larger team with different departments. The CEO of the Greater Vancouver Habitat for Humanity affiliate, Dennis Coutts, said “We are a volunteer organization and could not possibly succeed in changing lives without volunteers on every level, be it in our social enterprise or on site building homes. The Answer Company rose to the occasion in a most significant way and helped us move ever closer to the life changing event of home ownership for our partner families!”
Opportunity for Affordable Housing
According to Canada Without Poverty, 1 in 7 people in Canada live in poverty. The low-income families that qualify for a Habitat home cannot afford suitable housing and in many cases rely heavily on social assistance, despite having a stable source of income. In providing affordable housing to these families, called ‘Partner Families’, Habitat helps them build assets in home ownership as a means to breaking the cycle of poverty.
Since Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) defines 30% of household income as the threshold for housing affordability, Partner Families are able to purchase habitat homes at 30% of their household income over a 20 year period. The mortgages are held by Habitat for Humanity, have 0% interest and require no financial down-payment. Instead of making down-payment, Partner Families are required to invest 500 hours of ‘sweat equity’ into the organization which can take many forms, whether assisting in building a Habitat home or working in a ReStore.
More information about The Answer Company’s Answering the Call program, including their work with Down Syndrome Research Foundation and Canucks’s Autism Network, is available at www.theanswerco.com/giving-back/ and to find a Habitat for Humanity affiliate near you, visit Habitat’s nationwide website www.habitat.ca.
This press release can also be viewed on the International Business Times.