Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Hundreds of Retirees ReTool for Families Living in Need

900 retired volunteers build together in Canada's first-of-its-kind development

TORONTO, September 14, 2010 /Canada NewsWire/ - Retirees and boomers will gather September 20th to 25th to help build Habitat for Humanity Toronto's 225th safe and decent home at the organization's 4572 Kingston Road build site during Canada's inaugural ReTooling Build. This east-end development will provide 29 safe, decent and affordable townhomes for over 145 men, women, and children currently living in substandard housing in Toronto.

ReInvent, ReGenerate, ReTool!

Throughout Habitat Toronto's history, retired persons have been the backbone of the volunteer pool that has helped propel the organization's mission forward. The ReTooling Build will enable individuals in the process of moving into the second phase of their lives to give back to their community through a tangible and meaningful way. "When people, regardless of their age, with the will and determination to make a difference come together in a supportive environment, amazing things can happen," explains Neil Hetherington, CEO of Habitat for Humanity Toronto. "The hard work of these volunteers is testament to our common goal of eradicating poverty housing. We cannot value enough the contribution seniors and retirees make to our mission."

The goal of the ReTooling Build is to provide an environment in which retired individuals, with the time and commitment to give back, can feel comfortable learning skills, meeting new people, and developing a deeper commitment to volunteerism and philanthropy. The more volunteers and donors Habitat Toronto is able to engage long-term, the greater number of Habitat Toronto homes can be built each year for families living in need.

Volunteering is good for the body and the soul

Retirees and baby boomers are not often pursued as active event volunteers even though a recent survey shows that boomers accounted for 2.1 billion hours of volunteered time to charities. Moreover, 1 in 3 who donated their time also donated financially.(1)

The benefits to encouraging the retired community to volunteer are not only evident to the organization, but can also be felt by retirees as well. Senior citizens who volunteer in their community tend to be healthier overall and live longer than those who do not.(2) In fact, it's been revealed that 86 percent of senior volunteers surveyed said they feel younger than their age, compared to 72 percent of those who do not volunteer, and 92 percent say they have an enriched sense of purpose in life. Volunteering could even be part of a healthy lifestyle, as one study found a lower proportion of volunteers were identified as obese when compared to non-volunteers.(3)

Turning out to volunteer has always been a fantastic way to strengthen communities and Habitat Toronto hopes to unite seniors, their friends and families alike through their inaugural Retooling Build. "I am looking for support from friends, family, and colleagues to sponsor me for Habitat for Humanity Toronto's 2010 ReTooling Blitz Build," says Habitat for Humanity Toronto volunteer Jean Lew, "since I'm now a retiree and a Habitat Toronto volunteer, this go-live week would be a great opportunity for me and others to build fresh from the ground up!" Habitat for Humanity Toronto expects that 85 percent of the retiree volunteers will be first-timers, like Jean, attracted by the chance to meet new people and learn new skills.

Family Story: ReTooling Build Partner Family Homeowners

The building Antonio and Helen Garcia live in with their three children isn't a family-friendly place. "Recently, a break-in happened in our building and a youngster fell from the eighth floor and died. The apartment itself is also very bad. It has only two bedrooms and is very crowded with all five of us in it. There's no balcony, no storage spaces and the rooms are very small," says Helen. Their neighbourhood isn't much better. "A lot of crimes have happened here. Drug dealings are just around the corners and playgrounds," she says.

Antonio and Helen were desperate for a way out so their children wouldn't grow up in such dangerous surroundings. "We don't want our kids exposed to the bad elements and dangers in these high rise apartments," Helen says. Antonio and Helen's three children are 13-year-old Charles, 10-year-old Clarisse and six-year-old Hans. The family heard about Habitat for Humanity Toronto through Housing Connections. The family was ecstatic to be approved and have the opportunity to live in a clean and safe place. "My children will have their own separate room where they can study well and have their own privacy. They will be proud of their new home and it will inspire them to be at their best," says Antonio. According to the Garcia's, Habitat for Humanity Toronto has changed their lives for the better.

The support of retired volunteers from the ReTooling Build will help ensure hardworking Toronto families like the Garcia's will escape poverty housing and own a safe and decent home of their very own.

Please visit for more information on the ReTooling Build.

Please visit for more information on Habitat for Humanity Toronto.

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