For a lot of Tradespeople, there is a place in their hearts for sharing their skills and knowledge with others. It feels good to be able to say: “I can make that happen”, and then demonstrate it. It’s part of what makes working in the trades so much fun! You learn as you go, and you share your knowledge too. It is very empowering to go through your apprenticeship learning so much about your trade, only to realize that the learning doesn’t stop once you reach journeyperson, as getting your ticket is usually when the real learning begins! Honing in on these skills is how tradespeople build their own sense of power, their agency. Sharing your personal power happens every day you go to work and perform in your trade.
There are some groups of people that get together and they love what they do so much that they do next level power-sharing. They must have overfilled their personal power vials because they are on a mission to spread the power by helping those less empowered. They find people who need help, and they help them out for free. We’ve all heard of these nonprofits…
Habitat For Humanity
Habitat for Humanity (Habitat) has been around since 1976, building homes for people in need. Habitat is an international nonprofit housing organization, working in local communities across all 50 states in the U.S. as well as in approximately 70 other countries. Habitat’s vision is a world where everyone has a decent place to live. Habitat works toward their vision by building strength, stability, and self-reliance in partnership with families in need of decent and affordable housing. Habitat homeowners help build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage after its completion. Sometimes on a local level, they unofficially send you to volunteer with another local nonprofit, such as Herowork in Victoria BC Canada.
HeroWork is growing non-profit that renovates buildings for other non-profits. They like to call what they do “modern barn raising”, where they get a community together to take older, run down non-profits, and renovate them over the course of a few weekends. Since their first renovation in 2011, they have renovated food banks, counselling centers and housing for homeless and at-risk facilities. Their current project is a Young Moms Kiwanis House.
To date they have produced $1,900,000 worth of nonprofit renovations in the Capital Regional District (CRD) of Victoria Canada, with the help of volunteers, many of whom are skilled trades people.
Sometimes contractors will donate money to charities to give back or organize small local scale community drives and events on their own. These community building initiatives come from the contractors’ personal desire to help and feel empowered knowing they can.
But why stop at the local level?
Builders Without Borders
Builders without Borders (BWB) is a group that takes their vision international. They are project managers and construction workers that design and rebuild to improve the safety of homes, schools, medical and community facilities for vulnerable populations in need, particularly after natural disasters. Their current projects, which you can view on their website, include building a trades school in Haiti and building tiny homes in Bella Bella. They have participated in over 50 projects in 12 countries since 1998. They are volunteer-based, registered Canadian foundation that partners with local and international non-governmental organizations, corporate and private organizations, and governments to improve living conditions of vulnerable populations, both in Canada and internationally.
Engineers Without Borders
Engineers Without Borders (EWB) is another international helper group, that was created in 2000. EWB-USA builds a better world through engineering projects that empower communities to meet their basic human needs and equip leaders to solve the world’s most pressing challenges. The EWB-USA International Community Program collaborates on more than 370 projects in 40 countries. These projects are driven by 233 chapters across the United States, partnering directly with communities to meet their self-identified needs. Their current project list is too long to list here, [but it] ranges from developing potable water access and education infrastructure to energy development.
Construction For Change
Construction for Change (CFC), created in 2007 by three Construction Management graduates, takes yet another spin on sharing their power vial to help others internationally. CFC partners with nonprofit organizations to build spaces where people can become healthier, better educated, and increase their economic mobility. They have been involved in projects such as a Women’s Protection Centre in Nepal, healthcare facilities in Kenya, and Caribbean solar projects to name a few. CFC also makes sure to source materials from the community they serve, saving them an average of 20% in project costs while helping the local economy. In case you were wondering why these groups don’t all team up, it turns out they do! The list of partners on CFC’s website includes many of the groups listed in this article and many more!
There is probably a nonprofit group for just about any trade if you’re feeling motivated to travel and want to help empower other people. For instance, Plumbers without Borders connects and mobilizes volunteer plumbers with resources and organizations to dedicate projects for safe water and sanitation. A recent project listed on their website was a project in Kenya where they constructed a rainwater harvesting and distribution system to serve their school and families with safe clean water.
Electrical Workers Without Borders North America
Electrical Workers Without Borders North America (EWWBNA), is a group that seeks to live in a world where the benefits of electrical power are available to everyone. They take their electrical skills and knowledge and provide electricity to building projects. They have volunteered on projects within the United States in partnership with Habitat for Humanity, in addition to projects in countries, such as Haiti, Angola, Surinam, and St. Kitts. This group is based out of Washington D.C. and is affiliated with a few other similar electrical groups throughout European countries like France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Switzerland. You can find out how to contact those groups via the EWWBNA website.
Electricians Without Borders USA
Electricians Without Borders USA, based in the San Francisco, California area, is an offshoot of the larger EWWB umbrella. EWBUSA also has a mandate to assist under-served communities, often working with health care sectors in Dominica, Honduras, Philippines, and Haiti. They take volunteers to install solar electrical systems and other innovative energy solutions.
As you can see from this short but detailed list, there are many ways for people who want to help empower others to do so by getting out and putting their trades to use. But if you haven't quite filled your own power vial yet, that's okay, we’ve got to take care of ourselves before we can take care of others. Just in case you were feeling the urge to do something a little extra, or even want to just follow online to see what these nonprofits are up to, now you know they exist.