Building Community with Habitat for Humanity

Building community is so important to Dufresne that it’s one of the pillars which support our company’s foundation. One of the best examples of putting that pillar in action is our partnership with Habitat for Humanity Manitoba. For over a decade, we have supported Habitat’s work in Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario through product donations and volunteerism—building community, one home at a time, and changing the lives of all those involved.

Dufresne began its long relationship with Habitat for Humanity Manitoba in 2008 with the donation of appliances for new Habitat-built homes. In the 12 years since, our company has provided high-efficiency washers, dryers, and dishwashers to 188 Habitat families, helping parents manage laundry and dishes for over 800 kids.

Habitat for Humanity Manitoba’s vice-president of marketing, communications, and philanthropy, Michelle Pereira, says her organization prides itself on building the most energy efficient homes in Manitoba and being able to equip them with energy efficient washer and dryers has been a part of that success. In addition to keeping energy bills low, she says the appliances have had a profound effect on the homeowners, most of whom are coming from social housing and are accustomed to using coin operated machines.

“Dufresne is doing more than donating appliances; it's changing how our families feel when they get to use them,” says Pereira. “I remember walking into a home and the Mom saw the washer and dryer and broke down into tears. She never thought that she would ever be able to afford a laundry set like that, ever.”

Over the years, many of our team members have taken the opportunity to don hardhats and tool belts, providing dozens of hours of volunteer labour to Habitat builds in Winnipeg, where our head office is located.

This aspect of the partnership has been beneficial for both organizations. Pereira says not only do volunteers help Habitat keep its hard costs down—when used to do some of the framing, for example—the volunteers themselves benefit from the experience. Jessica Smithson, one of our category managers who has participated in three builds with her colleagues from the purchasing team, says the experience of working on a build goes far beyond the immediate impact that it has on the community.

“It is such a strengthening exercise for us because we are able to take on a challenge together,” she says. “It’s great to see others push their limits and, in some cases, fear of heights and closed spaces because the entire team—made up of both Dufresne and Habitat staff —is there to encourage and support!”

Although she may not use the building skills that she has picked up through volunteering in her everyday life, Smithson says she loves being pushed mentally and physically out of her norm and gets great satisfaction from seeing the results of her team’s hard work.

“I did attend the key ceremony of one house we helped build and that was the best part,” she says. “To come back to a place that went from a house to a home for a family, and to see them receive their key, makes me proud to be part of my team and energizes me further to keep building!”

To get more information on Habitat for Humanity, including ways you can get involved, visit your local chapter. We’d love to see you at a future build!

Every day, Dufresne is helping to build the communities we live and do business in.
Learn More at In Our Community.