Conestoga College has teamed up with Ray of Hope for the second straight year in a community building project. This year Conestoga, the Waterloo Region Home Builders Association and a handful of construction companies are rebuilding Ray of Hopes’ headquarters located at 659 King St. E. in Kitchener.
Second-year students in the renovation technology program spent two weeks working at the community centre, taking what they have learned from the classroom and applying it in the real world.
“Now it’s time to take their talents from the classroom and bring it into the community,” said Doug Lockston, who teaches carpentry at the Waterloo campus. He added the community benefits, the college benefits and the students do as well.
For seven years now, Conestoga’s School of Trades and Apprenticeship Training has given back to the community. Lockston estimates that in the seven years the school has donated well over $14 million worth of working hours to the various projects.
Ray of Hope focuses on those within Waterloo Region who are overcoming addictions, people with troubled pasts or homeless youth. With the help of various members of the Waterloo Region Home Builders’ Association and Conestoga students, Ray of Hope will be able to provide meals and services more efficiently, thanks to a new layout and larger area, making it easier for social workers and volunteers to hold multiple programs at the same time.
Starting March 3, students work Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. The first students to work on the community build were in women in the skilled trades program (WIST), and the second-year renovation technology students split into two teams of 15 to work on the rest of the project for the last two weeks.
“A lot of projects we take on and get as far as we can – we will only guarantee the company who hired us a certain component and they know that,” Lockston said.
That’s where a lot of other contractors come in handy (pun intended). One is Pioneer Craftsman, a company that has been building and renovating homes in Waterloo Region for over 60 years.
“We focus mostly on residential areas, so this is a little bit outside of our expertise, but it’s a nice challenge for us,” said Jamie Adam, president of Pioneer Craftsman.
With the number of people working on this project, Adam predicts the whole thing will take about a month to complete and will be operational by the time the warm weather is finally here to stay.
“We wanted to do something that benefited the community,” he said. We sat around like we would any project and discussed what we thought would be near and dear to our hearts and we took on this task.”
This is the only project Conestoga has taken on thus far this calendar year, however, Lockston and other program advisory committee members are always looking for the next project through various social work agencies.
“One year we took on four projects and that was absolutely crazy. Four different job sites, splitting up students, it was nuts. We cap it to one or two a year max,” joked Lockston.
For more information on Ray of Hope visit their website, www.rayofhope.net