"To be able to lend a hand in the community for something that I feel pretty strongly about, it was nice to be able to have the day to go do that"
When a hard working project manager takes a day off, you'd expect some much deserved rest and relaxation to follow. But Ray Tarnes, Project Manager for Avenue Living Communities in southern Saskatchewan, recently put his carpentry and construction skills to work helping a local charity organization, Build Love, transform a house into a fully accessible home for a woman with severe MS.
Tarnes feels blessed in his life for what he has. Because of that, he believes it's important to give back to those who are less fortunate.
"It just feels good to be able to help somebody out, to give of my time, especially in something in my capacity," says Tarnes, who is based in Regina. "I've been a Red Seal journeyman in carpentry and I was able to just jump in there. I brought some of my tools from home. To be able to lend a hand in the community for something that I feel pretty strongly about, it was nice to be able to have the day to go do that."
Why does he feel so strongly about the importance of giving back to the community?
"Just hearing the back story of someone that has to deal with MS. Seeing her have to go through so many challenges and thinking about how good I have it. I'm 38 years old. I'm still playing soccer. My health is good. My wife's health is good. I have four healthy kids. I don't have to deal with any of that. Sometimes it's easy to forget how easy we have it, I think."
Build Love is a home renovation project which improves the quality of life for a family who lives with non-typical challenges in Regina. The organization says it is inspired by the goal to improve lives and strengthen community through meaningful acts of empathy, compassion, and collaboration. The project is supported by Regina's builders and trades community, hundreds of volunteers, and fundraising partnerships.
"It's a bit similar to Habitat for Humanity. They take submissions from people requesting a renovation on their house. In this particular case, the lady that lives there has been battling MS for a long time. She's pretty much confined to a wheelchair and one of those power scooters that was donated," says Tarnes.
"It's a split-level house, so her husband had to carry her up the stairs. They didn't have a lift. Build Love gutted the whole house. Part of the roof structure was re-done. They put in an elevator. Everything is fully accessible in there now as far as wheelchair capabilities go, right down to the bathroom with the soaker tub. The door opens and you can actually just slide onto the seat.
"Everything there is donated, from the materials to the subtrades. Everybody that's involved is donating their time."
Tarnes' part in the reno was some framing work in the house for a back roof and a bedroom addition in the basement. This was Tarnes' first time volunteering, but he believes it's just the beginning.
"Definitely, I'd like to get more involved with Build Love. During the week I'm so busy with work, it's hard to take much time off. But on weekends or any special projects in the evenings, I definitely would like to help again," he says.
Build Love was formed by a group of six Regina-based entrepreneurs in 2018. Since its inception, the organization says more than 60 tradespeople, contractors, and suppliers from Regina's construction industry have stepped up to provide labour and building materials, and 130 people have joined Build Love's volunteer team to help complete this renovation and build love in the community.