Building Hope: Faculty of Medicine partners on Habitat home
When an e-mail circulated asking for volunteers to participate in a Habitat for Humanity build on Bannatyne campus, third-year medical student Ashleigh Sprange was quick to sign up.
“It seemed like a good way to give back to the community, and give back in a way that helps a population of people that we commonly see in medicine as needing things like proper housing,” Sprange said. “There are a lot of reasons why they present us with medical problems. As a student, the patients we see are giving to me by letting me learn from them. So this is my way to give back to them and hopefully a new house for a new family gives them a healthy start at life.”
Nearly two weeks into the build a mix of burning hot sun, the odd rain shower, and even hail hadn’t cooled Sprange and the other student and faculty members’ enthusiasm for the project. Every volunteer committed to a full eight-hour day to tasks assigned by the Habitat team ranging from framing to installing windows to roofing. The build attracted 125 volunteers and many donations.
“We were proud to see such a high level of commitment to the build from our students, faculty and staff,” said Brian Postl, dean of Medicine. “As members of the community, it’s important that as a Faculty, we take on projects that are socially accountable to our neighbours.”
The Faculty of Medicine at the University of Manitoba is the first in Canada to sponsor a Habitat for Humanity build. The home was built in a parking lot on Bannatyne Campus and moved to its permanent location in August.
“The Faculty of Medicine sponsorship of the Habitat for Humanity Build was recognition of the faculty’s awareness that housing is an important determinant of the health and well-being of families,” said Bruce Martin, associate dean, students, and lead organizer of the Habitat build project.
He added the support shown from across the campus — including Aramark’s sponsorship of refreshments and meals throughout the build and physical plant’s assistance- ensured the project’s success. So did the volunteers on the ground floor.
For Sprange, it was just what she needed to take a break from the pressures of medical school.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to grow up in a family where my dad’s done some building and I’ve been able to help out, but it’s really neat to see people from all different backgrounds and skill levels getting together to help each other and work as a team,” she said, “I just wrote an exam this morning so to get out and bang a hammer is a nice stress relief.”