One of the things I absolutely love about the SFI program is our work with communities – it’s a natural extension to any forest management activities. Our partnerships with local Habitat for Humanity affiliates capture this spirit perfectly.
At last count, the SFI program and its SFI Implementation Committees have been or are involved in Habitat projects in Minnesota, Maine, Tennessee, Manitoba and Ontario. Program participants have volunteered hundreds of hours of their time, and companies have donated thousands of dollars worth of products.
There are so many pluses it is hard to know where to start. Through Habitat, we are helping put low-income working families into their own homes. I was given a chance to wield a hammer at a Build Day in Hibbing, Minnesota, last summer, and saw for myself how much it meant for the new homeowner to build her own home with the help of her community.
The Manitoba and Ontario projects are special because both involve Aboriginal organizations – Habitat for Humanity Winnipeg has partnered with the Manitoba Métis Federation and Habitat for Humanity Northumberland is working with Alderville First Nation in southern Ontario to build the first Habitat for Humanity home in a First Nation community in Canada.
This is a great way to provide safe, healthy housing for First Nations people. Chief James Marsden of Alderville First Nation put it perfectly when he said: “We are very pleased to establish partnerships like these with businesses and the community because it allows us to create an affordable home for an Alderville First Nation family. Partnering with SFI also allows us to reinforce our respect for land and forests.”
Habitat for Humanity is a fantastic organization, and I am proud we can support them. Their guiding principles – simple, decent, affordable – say a lot about what they represent. And our involvement is a great fit because Habitat is increasing its emphasis on sustainability, and our donated forest products are from responsible sources.
I want to thank all the SFI companies and individuals who have pitched in to promote Habitat partnerships, and encourage you to check out the Habitat for Humanity website to see if there are opportunities to help out in your area.