By Glenda McCarthy
One person’s actions can have a detrimental effect on the lives of countless others, however the opposite can also hold true – and those lives don’t have to be those of your neighbour, friend, colleague or stranger.
This particular decision was made by Ron Budgell, Carpenter instructor in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, and involves the dozens of animals who call the local SPCA home.
Since September the Carpenter class, under Ron’s supervision, have been lending their skills to the construction of the new animal shelter. It’s a project that’s close to Ron’s heart and began over a year ago – long before he was even living in the area.
A self-professed animal lover, Ron and his wife rescued a dog from the shelter in Happy Valley-Goose Bay early last year while he was home from Halifax visiting family. When he entered the shelter, he witnessed first-hand how desperately the SPCA needed a new building.
“I learned about the SPCA’s plans to build a new shelter and about their fundraising campaign,” Ron says. “That campaign has been widespread, long-lasting and extraordinarily effective.”
Up until August 2013, Ron had been living in the Halifax area, working for himself as a renovating carpenter. His family connection to Happy Valley-Goose Bay brought him back to his hometown and he began working with CNA in August 2013.
“My family comes from around here and I was tired of working as a renovating carpenter. I wanted a change,” noting that being an instructor at CNA is certainly a change – a change for the better – where he can impart wisdom he’s learned from 40 years in the industry.
“I do have a lot of tricks of the trade because I’ve been working at it, with few interruptions, since about 1970.”
He knew those tips would come in handy for the yearly project the students take on. Shortly after starting his position in August, Ron began brainstorming ideas for projects the class could tackle – ones that would make a permanent contribution to the community. While previous classes had built substantially sized sheds, Ron wanted to do something that would make a difference.
Recalling his visit to the area in March 2013 and his tour of the SPCA shelter, Ron knew there was a desperate need for skilled workers for the build. At that time the SPCA was planning to bring in a crew of volunteers, similar to a Habitat for Humanity construction where low-skilled volunteers are supervised by a few professionals.
“When I learned that the SPCA was ready to build, I proposed the idea to the class first. They were enthusiastic about it, so I called the SPCA and we met to talk about it around the end of September,” Ron recalls.
“The class was thrilled with the idea that they could build something that could be a permanent contribution to the community. They were really enthusiastic because it’s so worthwhile. It is a perfect fit. We have tools, time and hands and we were looking for a learning opportunity. They have materials and a worthwhile job to accomplish.”
Ron says the SPCA leaped at the opportunity to have the students involved. “They thought it was a great idea. It’s good for us too because we need practice and experience.”
All 13 students in his Carpenter class began work on the project, putting the skills they’ve learned during their time at CNA to good use for this very commendable cause. The class has been on a hiatus from the project since completing the load-bearing walls in December, and there had been a couple of complications standing in the way of the students working on the roof.
“One hitch was that we couldn’t work at the roof before completing required training in Fall Protection. That’s done. Another is that that roof is too big for an inexperienced crew to tackle. My gang will assist, but I can’t take them to a roof that big for their first trussed roof without more professionals on the job.”
Once the roof is in place, the students will still have to complete interior framing, as well as install windows, doors and siding. CNA hopes to expand its assistance further with the Construction/Industrial Electrician class lending a helping hand for the project.
“Only the journeyperson Electrician can make the final connections but students can drill holes and run wires under the supervision of the appropriate number of journeyperson,” Ron says. “There’s a lot more we can do there yet, but we just have to get that roof on. We hope to work on that building right up until the end of the school year.”
At any given time, the shelter is filled to capacity so the organization is looking forward to getting the expanded shelter which will boast an addition 1,000 square feet. Bonnie Learning, vice-president of the Happy Valley-Goose Bay chapter of SPCA, says the help they are receiving from the college on this project is invaluable.
“It was unexpected when Ron contacted us to offer help but it’s a great thing to have happen. It means a lot because without that class we probably wouldn’t be at the stage we are now so it’s an excellent partnership. It’s also great that the class can take advantage of the community for their course but also help a non-profit organization.”