Gordie Sampson lends a hand to Habitat for Humanity

GLACE BAY — For Habitat for Humanity volunteers Wednesday, having a celebrity join in on a project was like music to their ears.

Singer-songwriter Gordie Sampson worked alongside volunteers at a Habitat for Humanity renovation project on half a former Dominion Coal company house on Mechanic Street.

“He is a supporter of Habitat and he wanted to help us physically and also draw people in and bring some awareness,” said Joyce Rankin, the Cape Breton manager for Habitat for Humanity Nova Scotia.

Sampson, a native of Big Pond who lives in Nashville, credited Bon Jovi for his interest in Habitat for Humanity.

A couple of years ago, he wrote a song with Bon Jovi for the band’s record.

Bon Jovi is a high-profile supporter of Habitat for Humanity. “Jon Bon Jovi spent the entire day talking about Habitat, that is all he wanted to talk about,” Sampson said.

“He is the one who got me interested in this.”

Sampson met some local Habitat for Humanity volunteers while performing at a benefit in Sydney a couple of years ago.

“We started talking about how I could get involved. I really liked the idea.”

Wednesday was the first time Sampson was on a project site.

“Anyone who has every built a house knows the time it takes and the detail that goes into one, and having people to build or rebuild a structure from purely volunteer resources is pretty amazing.”

Habitat for Humanity offers an affordable housing program to modest-income families whose members contribute volunteer time in lieu of a down payment as the homeowner assumes an interest-free mortgage.

Rankin said Ray MacLellan of Crew Productions was making a video of the afternoon to use as a promotion and fundraiser.

“The video will show how people are drawn in and how satisfying it is for them when they look at what they have accomplished.”

She said a Glace Bay family has been accepted for the house which is scheduled to be completed in September.

The renovation of the company house began in May 2011.

Rankin said although the project slowed down, it never stopped.

“It runs on donations and volunteers,” she said.

“We are a small group, raise money as we go and pay for things as we go. That takes time and effort.”

Rankin said one of the issues was that the Mechanic Street house was in bad shape.

A house renovation project can require more professional input than building a new house, she said. “It has been harder to get volunteers, contributions and donations.”

Rankin said volunteers are needed for this project, especially carpenters. For more information or to volunteer, call Rankin at 563-1139.

by Sharon Montgomery-Dupe, Cape Breton Post

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