Women Build Niagara

Women learn cabinet assembly while assisting Habitat for Humanity 

Anne Lennard-Otto is no stranger to kitchen cabinets.

The owner of Distinctive Designs and Cabinetry Inc. has spent 23 years selling them to homeowners from her St. Catharines-based  business.

But Lennard-Otto had never actually assembled a kitchen cabinet.  I never get to do this,” she said. “It’s nice.”

She was one of a team of women who were at Niagara College in Welland assembling enough kitchen cabinets for two homes.

Within the next few weeks, the newly assembled cabinets will be installed into two semi-detached homes being constructed on Bald Street by Habitat for Humanities Niagara.

The homes are being constructed as part of the Habitat Niagara’s Women Build initiative that began in June, bringing together the skills of about 300 women volunteers who are participating in the construction.

Lennard-Otto said she teamed up with several of the cabinet manufacturing companies her company deals with such as Unique Cabinet Concepts from Hamilton to supply the cabinets and other items needed for the kitchens of the two homes.

On Wednesday six women – volunteers from Cotton Construction, designers from her own company, and college staff – most of whom had no carpentry experience – were at the college’s Rankin Technology Centre learning to put the cabinets together.

“They have never done this either,” Lennard-Otto said.

But they were quick learners, said college instructor Colin Robinson who showed the women how to assemble the cabinets. Within an hour, the volunteers had completed all of the drawers, and were starting to work on the cabinets.

“They’re doing a terrific job,” Robinson said. “They all bring different prior learning and prior skill sets to the table. We’ve already made tons of progress.”

He said assembling enough cabinets for two days was a big order for anyone, but the women “were energetic, eager and enthusiastic.”

While Lennard-Otto is relying on professionals to install the cabinets, “I’ll probably help out,” she said.

“There are certain things that the volunteers can do do, but the installation, in my opinion, is too difficult,” she said.

In a news release, Habitat Niagara chief executive officer Alastair Davis said Women Builds have been done by Habitat affiliates all over Canada for many years.

“We are thrilled to finally have one here in Niagara,” he said, adding it was made possible by the members of the Women Build Steering Committee.

“This build is not about excluding men, but actively including women,” he added.

The college’s dean of media, trades and technology, Misheck Mwaba, said college students will start work on their 11th Habitat for Humanity project this fall.

“Each year, the construction of a new Habitat home becomes a ‘living classroom’ for students in our construction programs who gain real-world experience while making a difference in the community,” he said. “Now, we are pleased to welcome volunteers from the community into our classroom, to guide them as they embark on the same rewarding experience.”

Courtesy of PostMediaNetwork – Welland Tribune Cabinet Assembly Team