Habitat gets bank boost

BRUCE BELL/THE INTELLIGENCER The Royal Bank sent 17 employees to the Habitat for Humanity on Donald Street in Belleville on Friday. Not only did they spend the day helping with the build, the bank also donated $11,000.

Most people would rather play with cash, but local Royal Bank employees seem to prefer hammers and nails – at least they did on Friday.

Employees from a number of Eastern Ontario centres including the Quinte region were at the latest Habitat for Humanity project – a pair of side-by-side bungalows on Donald Street in Belleville’s west end – hammering away trying to get a pair of families into their new homes before Labour Day weekend.

While the bankers forked over a cheque for $11,000, local Habitat executive director Bob Clute said their participation was equally or more important that the donation.

“Obviously an organization like ours can’t go forward without the generosity of the community and we certainly appreciate their financial support, but look at all these people here and all the hard work they are putting into this,” he said. “The families moving into these homes have to put in their (500) hours of sweat equity, but these people from RBC don’t have to – they’re here helping their community be a better place.”

Adam Brown, a commercial account executive at the RBC branch on North Front Street, said employees can’t sign up fast enough to volunteer at the bank’s Habitat Build Day.

“Everyone wants to come and pitch in because our mission statement is very similar to Habitat’s and our employees feel as though this is a reward to be able to come and participate in this day,” he said. “It’s not just Belleville, but branches from all over this area that come to participate, so we are very proud of our involvement.”

The race is on to finish the two 1,240 square-foot bungalows before the next school year as two families, one with five children and another with four will move in upon completion.

“Not so long ago this would not have been possible,” said Clute. “Our banker could not see past keeping us to one build when really we want to get to five or six a year,” he said. “Since we joined forces with RBC, they’ve been instrumental in helping us get more families into their own homes. We finished our last project at the first of April and broke ground here the next day I think. We are scheduled to finish these by September 1, and we are going to start three more builds at the same time. RBC has shared our vision in doing that.”