Seven Stantec employees from Red Deer had the opportunity to contribute to a Habitat for Humanity build in Fort Saskatchewan near Edmonton earlier this summer.
Former President of the United States and Habitat for Humanity advocate Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn were both present and were helping build over 50 homes for people who need them.
Stantec Vice President Todd Simenson, who was part of the build, was inspired by the effort of the former president.
“President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn were the hardest working people there,” Simenson said.
“They were working on the build beside us. It was great to see, on our water breaks, President Carter and Rosalynn working and contributing.
“He was such a role model showing us that after 34 years of doing this, they still have that passion and they want to give back and make these places better for the people that need help.
“It was great to see him working and it was great to hear him delivering some messages to us during lunch. We took that energy from him and I found that after hearing him speak at lunch, it gave us an even stronger desire to get our tasks done.”
Simenson and his team were assigned the task of building basements for the houses.
“The cool part was that we got to start from square one,” he said.
“What we were doing was building the basements. They had an insulated form system for the concrete basements that we started. We got to build a whole basement over the week. It was really neat because we got there after leaving at 5 a.m. from Red Deer and arrived at 6:30 a.m. for the welcome breakfast.
“We got oriented in terms of where we were going to be and what tasks we would be doing. They went over a lot of the safety protocols because obviously a key factor to the success of any project is making sure people are safe.
“Safety was the emphasis of the morning and then we walked to the area of the build.”
The build required every member of the Stantec team to contribute in different ways, something Simenson said they were excited to do.
“We divided up to various teams with some of us were stacking insulated blocks, some of us were putting re-bar in and some were also building a walkway so people can enter from above ground,” he said.
“We put up interior scaffolding to support the rest of the build.”
Simenson said being able to be build homes for people and being directly involved with one of the organizations Stantec supports was an opportunity he enjoyed.
“From Stantec’s end of it, one of the key things about our company is that we build communities,” he said.
“We design with community in mind and we are a big supporter of Habitat for Humanity, not just in Edmonton but across the country. We are really passionate as a company to participate in these types of things. We are proud to be involved with not just the build, but also the design and planning stages long before the builds start.
“It was really easy to get excited about going and doing something that will give people the opportunity to not only have their own homes, but to also take on the responsibility of being a homeowner.”
Many of the Stantec employees who participated were excited at the possibility of bringing a build to Red Deer.
“It felt really good. We have people who have come back from it here in Red Deer and want to look at how we can organize one and maybe get some momentum and teams together to do something in Red Deer,” he said.
Simenson said he hopes to one day go back and look at the community that was built that week.
“It would be really neat to go back five years from now and see the neighborhood,” he said. “It will be done and families will have started to grow there and I really think there will be a real sense of community.”
The Stantec team also had the opportunity to build alongside many of the individuals who will take residence in the homes once they are complete.
“It is really great when you get to chat with the people who will actually be living in the homes after the builds are done,” he said. “They are very appreciative and it was impactful for us to know we were involved with something more.”
Simonsen said the build relates directly back to the vision of Stantec.
“It was really humbling and fulfilling to be involved with something that will make our community a better place,” he said. “We design with community in mind so it resonates with me that it is about building communities. It will be really great to see how everything looks in five years.”
After the day was completed, Simenson had the opportunity to thank President Carter as he was walking towards his trailer
“I said ‘Mr. President, thank you for a great job’,” he said.
“He engaged us and said, ‘No, you guys are the ones doing an amazing job and look what you have built here today’.
“It was a great moment for our team to hear him and his enthusiasm and support for us. We really appreciated that moment. We weren’t there for that; we were there to accomplish something – which we did. That was something that added a little extra special meaning to the event.”