If I Had a Hammer…

January 17, 2013 at 3:52 pm

I am frequently reinforcing how we must, as a medical school, be socially accountable to our community. I believe that as physicians, we serve as role models, and ought to appreciate the stature and recognition we receive as health professionals throughout the community.

How do we ‘give back’ for the remarkable privileges we’ve been awarded? One way is through a Faculty of Medicine Habitat for Humanity house build planned for late May on Bannatyne campus (with the house later moved to its permanent location).

The Faculty will work with Student Life to have participation recognized on a student’s co-curricular record, noted Dr. Bruce Martin, Associate Dean, Students who is co-chairing the project with Dr. Gerry Minuk, Professor of Medicine.

University of Manitoba students, faculty and staff volunteers will be expected to commit a full day during the seven to 10 day construction phase (and staff can do so on work time with their manager’s permission). Habitat for Humanity will provide training, supervision, safety gear and tools to the 15- 20 adult volunteers required on site each day.

Dr. Wayne Paquin, a retired radiologist and past Habitat volunteer, recounted at a Habitat information session on campus earlier this week that “all volunteers wanted to be there. It was great to meet the homeowners and they were very enthusiastic and grateful.”

I am extremely proud that we are the first Faculty of Medicine in Canada to partner with Habitat for Humanity on building a house.

Sandy Hopkins, CEO of Habitat for Humanity Manitoba explained that his organization “does not give houses away,” but sells the homes at market value to low-income families that qualify.

Habitat for Humanity, which builds approximately 20 houses per year in Manitoba, is a self-sustaining organization.

As a partner, we must raise $125,000 by end of March to proceed with the spring build. I am confident that Faculty of Medicine Departments and faculty members will step up to this challenge. Students have also expressed support of this project.

And the potential impact is humbling. Hopkins reported that a recent survey of Habitat families in Winnipeg found since moving into their homes 93 % believe their lives are more positive; 80 % state their family’s physical health has improved; and 67 % say their children have excelled in school.

Other research cited by Hopkins indicates that “children of Habitat families are more likely to finish high school and continue in post-secondary education than children in the same economic bracket.”

Habitat for Humanity “truly breaks the cycle of poverty” noted Hopkins. As a Faculty, this should matter to all of us…In the coming weeks, you will find out how you can support this important project. Stay tuned!

If you missed the Habitat for Humanity information session, watch it here.

How would you like to contribute to our Faculty of Medicine Habitat for Humanity build?