Challenger gives a Helping Hand at Habitat for Humanity

Many of you are familiar with the wonderful work done by the international organization known as Habitat for Humanity, however did you realize that there may be a local branch at work in your own community? For those of us based in Challenger’s Cambridge terminal that couldn’t be more correct. Referring to Habitat for Humanity’s website here is a brief description of what they do: “Established in 1988, Habitat for Humanity Waterloo Region (HFHWR) is a non-profit housing organization working to break the cycle of poverty by building simple, decent and affordable homes for hard-working, low-income families. This is all due to the love and support of volunteers and community partners.”

HFHWR is currently working on a new town-home complex in Kitchener for hard-working, local families. Volunteers are the key to being able to provide these homes. Challenger employees have stepped up again and gladly put in the physical effort to help complete the actual construction. Through our connection with Trucks for Change, arrangements were made for five Challenger team members to lend a helping hand. The team members did not spend the day in their usual work environment but on the construction site for this new home.


On Tuesday, September 12, Emma Larente, Senior Yield Analyst; Brian Bartlett, National Key Account Manager; Chris Iveson, Director of Maintenance; Steve Newton, Director of Safety and Brian Schnider, Manager of Claims, each spent their day on site. Activities included wielding, hammering, sawing, moving lumber, and moving building supplies, but most importantly they were supporting and encouraging each other and the rest of the HFHWR crew on site.

The best way to convey the message of this experience is to share some insight directly from the participants.

Emma had this to say about her experience, “My day working with the Challenger team at the Habitat Build Day can be summed up in two words: rewarding and exhausting! Although I am exhausted from the heat and covered in blisters and bruises the feeling of satisfaction when we were done was amazing. I cannot say I had a lot of experience with a hammer prior to this, but after lots of tips from the Challenger crew as well as the site organizers, I can say that I was much more efficient by the end of the day when we had completed all of the sub-flooring, which was a great sense of accomplishment!

Habitat has been working in this particular development for several years and have built numerous townhouse style homes for many families. As we were finishing up for the day, we saw some children who live in this development coming home from school. Lots of them looked excited to be running into their homes, waving, and laughing with the site crew who are onsite every day.

Personally, this really put in perspective for me how valuable that day of volunteering was and the positive impact we can have in our community and for our neighbours. I want to say a big thank you to Challenger for supporting this initiative and allowing me such a great opportunity personally.”

Steve enjoyed the day from start to finish and provided us with his humorous point of view, “The staff and volunteers were outstanding! Though I have minimal experience with many of the tasks we performed, I do consider myself handy in some areas of building.  It was interesting to see many aspects of construction have been replaced with automatic tools (air nail guns for example), however most of the tasks performed by this group were still done the old fashion and manual way like swinging hammers, as Emma pointed out.  Of course I can see how providing one of us with air tools could have ended badly.

Our Challenger team was awesome!  It was great working with the team outside of our normal day to day work.  Believe it or not, Brian Bartlett is pretty handy with tools and Emma, well she knows how to use a hammer now!  I didn’t see Chris or Brian S very much so I assume they never left the break room.  ‘Nothing provides for better bonding than manual labour’, I believe that was a quote from Tim the Tool Man Taylor.

The day was very rewarding though working all day in the hot sun was very exhausting, I still felt very energetic at the end of the day mainly due to the overall feeling of accomplishing something more than just laying a floor of a house.  As I watched the kids come home from school and the smiles on their faces, it provided me with the feeling of purpose, which surrounds this organization and the hard work they put in to ensure everyone has a place to call home. 

And from Chris: “About 10 years ago I had the privilege of working closely with Habitat for Humanity in the Toronto region. I helped set up an employee fundraising and volunteer program with Imperial Oil and was awarded their Golden Hammer award as a result.  I have worked on many build sites across Ontario and logged hundreds of volunteer hours with them. Tuesday was a proud day for me to be involved with Habitat once again with a brand new team on a local project. I was happy to see the basic premise of Habitat remains constant: ‘A hand up not a hand out’.

I strongly encourage anyone at Challenger to donate a day where possible and share in the uplifting feeling that you helped make a difference to a family. On a final note I would remind everyone of Habitat’s RE STORES, we have one in Cambridge, Waterloo and Guelph. Re Store is the Value Village of building supplies. All products are donated by people like you and I. You may have an old door or a window or perhaps some lumber you did not use on that deck project. Habitat will accept all of that and re sell it. The proceeds from these sales go to fund the expenses and administration costs of the build sites.

Great day, great people and great results.”

Having just celebrated Employee Appreciation Week here at Challenger, this is a re-enforcement of why we are so proud of our people. Teamwork and community support are part of the People First culture at Challenger and this is one example of how the words are put into action. As a Canadian Trucking Company there are many opportunities for Challenger to support our local and national communities and although you may not always hear about them, know that we are out there doing just that.

Karen Cardillo

2017-09-22T14:58:26+00:00 September 22nd, 2017|