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On Friday, June 21st, 2013, 47 of RINA’s employees donated a day of working together as a volunteer team to assist Habitat for Humanity’s East Bay/Silicon Valley for the firm’s annual Community Service Day. The Habitat for Humanity project location is a site called the Pleasant Creek Homes, located just off of the 680 freeway in Walnut Creek. The Pleasant Creek Homes site is an affordable housing complex comprised of ten two-story duplexes and triplexes with very convenient access to public transportation, as BART is located less than a half mile from the complex.
Construction began on the Pleasant Creek Homes on Saturday, October 27th, 2012 and is slated for completion between October and December of 2013. This is the first affordable housing project to take place within the city limits of Walnut Creek in over ten years.
Habitat for Humanity offers an opportunity to achieve the American dream of owning a home through its unique, global program to a greater range of people than are normally afforded such an opportunity. Habitat homes are not simply given to people in need. Recipients of Habitat for Humanity homes qualify for the homes in three major areas: need for shelter, willingness to become partners in the program, and ability to repay the home loan. The benefits of qualifying to receive a Habitat home include the price of the home (being at cost), and the nonprofit mortgage held by Habitat. One of the most notable parts of the Habitat home ownership process is the “Sweat Equity”, in which homeowners are required to work for a specified number of hours on the home that is to become theirs, typically a total of over 150 hours of manual labor on the home. Not only does this demonstrate the homeowners’ willingness to partner with the Habitat organization, but surely it also strengthens the bond between homeowner and their future property.
As we received our task assignments and demonstrations of the work to be done in the morning, many of us believed we were in for a relatively easy day of work. Our tasks on RINA’s Building Day included hammering nails into the frames of two of the under-construction homes, and lifting large, fifty pound boards from the ground up to the second story. The work was actually pretty taxing, but really, any time you take accountants out of the office and apply them to day labor, the sight will be an interesting one to say the least. Regardless of our collective lack of training and experience in the area of manual labor, we were able to accomplish the goals set forth by our Habitat team leaders by day’s end, and had an enjoyable experience working together on the building of the homes.
Our Building Day with Habitat for Humanity not only benefitted the future residents of the Pleasant Creek housing development, but the project was also incredibly effective as a team building exercise for us as RINA employees. Throughout the day, employees who work in different offices and hold different positions that may not typically have the opportunity to collaborate with one another finally got that chance, and new skills and bonds were formed throughout our day in the sun. The experience facilitated new opportunities for the acknowledgement of talents by superiors and subordinates alike, and served as a fun way to bring our employee body closer together.
For more information about Habitat for Humanity East Bay/Silicon Valley, please visit their website at www.habitatebsv.org