In 2021, Allstate Canada officially announced a new partnership with Habitat for Humanity Canada – providing support for the organization as they bring communities together to help families build strength, stability and independence through affordable homeownership. Since the start of the partnership:
- $63,000 were donated to five different Habitat Affiliates for six different home builds;
- 54 families, which included 100 adults and 124 children, were supported through the donations; and
- 146 Allstate Canada employees clocked in 280 hours of volunteer work through virtual and in-person activities.
Within Allstate, there are many employees who actively support their local communities. An example is Melissa Marquis, director of business development in Southern Ontario as well as a former national recipient of our Community Hero Award.
Since 2015, Melissa has volunteered with Habitat for Humanity’s Niagara Affiliate and now sits on its board, where she also chairs the governance committee. To get a better understanding of how she is helping Habitat for Humanity create a path for homeownership, the Good Hands Advice team spoke to Melissa – here’s what she shared with us.
How did you get involved with Habitat for Humanity?
I started volunteering around 2015. Build Days are really a great exercise as a team. It was a great experience, especially because we got to meet the family members of the home we were helping to build, and we saw the impact we could have on their lives. I kept on doing volunteer work on my own (and with support from Allstate) and joined the board of the Niagara Affiliate in 2019.
What made you decide to keep on doing volunteer work with Habitat for Humanity?
When we met the families on the first Build Day I participated in, it felt like something I had to do. After meeting with them, I learned that other than their unfortunate circumstances, they’re just like you or me. They’re individuals struggling to make their situation work for them and their families. Many work multiple jobs, and even then, there have been many factors that prevent them from owning a home. Being around these families made me think of how fortunate I have been in my life.
As an example, one family I met was a mom and dad and their 3 children. The children were young, and one was in a wheelchair and required full-time care. They had no family to support them, and it was through no fault of their own. They were good people; working hard to get ahead. We know that having a home is a good investment (not only financially, but for your family to grow). However, not everyone is fortunate enough to have that opportunity – some had life deal them a difficult hand.
I also found it rewarding to learn about the ripple effects that happen when people have a safe, decent, and affordable home to live in. As an example, it positively affects the graduation rates of their children.
How do Habitat for Humanity values align with yours?
There are so many good organizations that I could align with, but the appeal of Habitat for Humanity is that it is universal. Everyone can relate to the need for secure housing.
What was your most memorable moment volunteering for Habitat for Humanity?
Home dedications are all memorable. But if I had to pick one, there was this time we had a project for two families of immigrants from Somalia with 11 children, combined. While the young kids ran and played, one of the dads spoke about the miracle of immigrating to Canada. Had they stayed in their country, there was no doubt that his sons, the little boys running around, would be soldiers in the war and the daughter would have had to be sold. They could not have been more grateful and happy and really wanted to pay it forward.
It made me proud to be Canadian and proud that I could help within the organization. To change a story that could have been so tragic. It feels so good to be part of it, it’s a big reward.
How has volunteering for Habitat for Humanity impacted you as a person?
You learn so much. You have no choice but to become more self-aware and grateful for the opportunities you’ve been given. I didn’t used to volunteer before joining Habitat for Humanity but now I know that I’ll always be a part of this organization. You’re always surrounded by the best group of like-minded people who are just there for the greater good – it’s almost like self care.
What’s coming up next? Anything to look forward to?
As an organization, we’re really excited to be back physically. Build days are back, which let us interact and engage with families and communities. In the long term, I’m excited to see the evolution of the organization.
This information has been provided for your convenience only and should not be construed as providing legal or insurance advice.