- Created on Wednesday, 15 January 2014 13:20
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By JESSE COLE
After months of preparation glasses clinked and cameras rolled as the annual Many Hands Project got underway with a ground-breaking ceremony at the Upper Deck Youth Centre in Vineland, Ont., last week.
Dignitaries and loads of media, both connected with the college and independent, braved frigid weather for the launch. Among those attending were Dan Patterson, president of Niagara College, Glen Sparks, director of the Upper Deck Youth Centre, Mayor Bill Hodgson, of the Town of Lincoln.
Many Hands Committee Chair April Tyrrell served as emcee. Many Hands has been involved in 17 projects to date in communities across the Niagara region, including Fort Erie, Niagara Falls, St. Catharines and Beamsville to name a few.
The program connects students from the college’s Construction program and Events Management Graduate Certificate program with the surrounding communities and gives them the workplace skills and life experience firsthand.
Patterson spoke to Niagara News about the importance of such programs and how they involve the college with the community saying, “We’ve had a very successful launch. … It is a great example of the power of applied learning and how the college has been able to integrate into their curriculum an opportunity for students to work with a non-profit agency and totally transform it.”
He added that the experience makes Niagara College students “very employable and speaks to the values Niagara College attaches to social responsibility.”
Hodgson spoke on behalf of the Town of Lincoln saying, “Quite simply, the whole project is wonderful for our community.
“Places like the Upper Deck Youth Centre are very important for small towns because we really do struggle to meet the needs of our young people.
“We just don’t have the resources or they aren’t concentrated due to the number of different urban areas in the region, so this center is really important.”
Hodgson added that the Many Hands project was one he was personally familiar with saying that it’s an “awesome” experience for the students who get to “learn on the run.”
“It’s really wonderful to see the community college get involved in the community. I’ve seen the great success that the program can bring and I’ve met a number of the graduates who are actively working. … It’s a real win-win scenario for everybody and we’re very pleased they selected us for this year’s project.”
Dave DeFelice, the vice-president of customer service and operations of Canadian Tire Financial Services, presented a cheque for $5,000 to the project to help get the renovations underway.
Canadian Tire has been the financial backbone of the program since its inception in 2001. It’s a relationship DeFelice and Many Hands hope will continue in the coming years.
Not only were politicians, businessmen and faculty there to launch the project, but a great many of the student body associated with the program turned up for the inaugural ceremony as well. Katie Croucher, of the Events Management Graduate Certificate program, said that the experience, while “busy, challenging and hectic”, was rewarding.
“It’s been a great experience. It’s a real world experience and we’re getting great hands-on experience and planning live events, so it’s absolutely fantastic in that sense,” adding that “it’s busy, but it’s realistic.”
And busy it has been. Besides Canadian Tire’s financing, project students are also required to organize and operate fundraising events of their own – all of which will be taking place throughout the renovation process.
Some of these events include: Runway Art Hair, a fashion show at the Hilton Hotel in Niagara Falls on March 29, a Many Bands for Many Hands concert at L3 in St. Catharines on March 20 as well as Many Soups for Many Hands; a soup festival at the Welland Community Wellness Complex on March 15.
The Many Hands project will run until April 12, when a “Reveal Day” ceremony will be held showcasing the renovations which include the replacement of the entire upper flooring, new kitchen cabinets, counters and a kitchenette. Also being updated will be the men’s and women’s washrooms as well as the addition of a new set of washrooms downstairs.
The entire building will be repainted and a storage shed will be built to house sports equipment.
For more info, visit www.niagaracollege.ca/manyhands.