Giving back to the Community

Halifax Regional Search and Rescue volunteers join with dedicated members of the NSHBA to share in the excitement of the official opening of their new three-bay garage - a project built and donated through the Homebuilders’ Care Program.


Leo Senz always liked giving back to his community. As the president of A&H Renovations, the way Senz gives back is to use his building and repair skills on community projects. Since 2006, Senz has been contributing to community projects through the Homebuilders’ Care Program offered by the Nova Scotia Home Builders’ Association (NSHBA) to help non-profit groups improve the spaces they work in.

“It’s just what I like to do,” Senz says of his efforts with the program. “There are people willing to help out, but they don’t have the skills. We have the knowledge to help them out.”

Paul Pettipas, CEO of the Nova Scotia Home Builders’ Association, says creating the program in 2006 was an easy decision for the organization.

“We live in the community. We make our living in the community. It makes sense that we give back to the community.”

Under the program, organizations can apply to have their renovation or building needs taken care of by a team of volunteers and donors recruited from the NSHBA’s membership. Each application is evaluated and brought before a steering committee, which if they decide to go ahead with a project, put out a call for donations of both time and materials. Pettipas says there is never a shortage of offers to help.

Since its beginning, the program has helped with $1 million worth of renovationand building work. That included two energy-efficient homes that were built and donated to Habitat for Humanity. Another group of volunteers helped renovate the kitchen area for the Halifax-based Wee Care Development Centre, which helps prepare special and regular needs children for public school. The kitchen upgrade came with new appliances as well as with a half door so the kids could check in on what’s happening with the much-loved cook.

Still another ambitious project saw a team build a large three-bay garage for Halifax Search and Rescue, whose emergency vehicles were previously stored in three different locations. Adsum House, which provides housing and support for homeless women and children, got a kitchen upgrade, including new cabinetry. The Boys and Girls Club in Dartmouth got help updating their space to meet current fire codes. Pettipas says the NSHBA tries to do one project a year.

And like any effort there is always a payback to those who help out. Senz knows well how his industry will take care of its own. As he now recovers from cancer treatment, his industry colleagues pitched in to get him a custom bed with specialty mattress that will help him remain comfortable during his recovery. Still another NSHBA member’s home is being reconstructed after it was destroyed by a fire last year. Within two days of putting out the call, the NSBHA had $5000 in cash donations as well as plenty of materials for that project. Pettipas says for him and the members, it’s all in a day’s work.

“We will always help our own members. We are a family,” says Pettipas. “It means we are here to stay, we’re committed, we build for our community and this is our way of saying thank you.”


Suzanne Rent

Suzanne Rent

Suzanne Rent has been working as a freelance writer for the past 12 years. Her work has appeared in The Chronicle Herald, The Coast, the Daily News, National Review of Medicine and Lawyers Weekly. She also works as the editor of Ocean Resources/Earth Resources and Atlantic Boating News

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