Adbur Choudury looks out onto Burton Street at the large crowd gathered in front of his new home. "Thank you to all the volunteers who made our dreams come true," he says.
His family joins two other families moving into their new homes on September 30, thanks to Habitat for Humanity Hamilton.
Since 1985 Habitat for Humanity has helped over 2,700 families by providing them with a safe and decent place to live. A non profit organization, its mission is "to mobilize volunteers and community partners in building affordable housing and promoting homeownership as a means to breaking the cycle of poverty."
These partners include Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP) students from the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board (HWCDSB).
The program allows grade 11 and 12 students to get hands on, career ready, experience in the trades. By working on real projects, their program offers a living classroom where students are properly trained for a specific trade of their choice.
According to the OYAP website, "In the next two decades, 40% of new jobs will be in the skilled trades and technologies." By providing these apprenticeship opportunities, the HWCDSB encourages students to explore careers in the trades, while earning two coop credits towards their Ontario Secondary Diploma.
However the uniqueness of working with Habitat for Humanity is that students are also able to give back to the community.
Countless months of sweat, hard work, and determination are finally paid off as students from the Board watch Choudury express his sincerest gratitude to all those involved in the building of his home.
"You're helping make our children's futures brighter and stronger and peaceful," he says.
For some students, like Daniel Jackji of Cathedral High School, he never imagined the impact completing this program would have, not only on the families receiving houses, but on himself.
"I just decided to do OYAP because I wanted to learn all about home building and get used to the trades," he says.
However after this experience he's been inspired to continue volunteering even after he's graduated high school.
Fellow OYAP student, Emilio Miranda, from St. Thomas More Catholic Secondary School feels the same way. This is his second year as a OYAP student, and helping out the community is one of the reasons he's continued the program.
With their OYAP hard hats worn proudly, they humbly accept their recognition.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you," Choudury concludes. "We have a new life."
To learn more about OYAP programs please visit: http://oyap.ca