Before reaching out to welcome her new boss, Geri-Anne Seaforth spent her last day of an extended period acting as Antigua & Barbuda’s top diplomat in Toronto using her hands to help those in need.
With hard hat, work boots and tools, she joined female law enforcement officers and community members last Friday helping to build six Habitat homes in support of this year’s 2013 Women’s Build.
The buildings, located in the Dixon Rd. & Kipling Ave. community, are scheduled to be completed next month.
“This is something I have always wanted to do,” said Seaforth who has been at the consulate for over two decades. “When an e-mail came into our office saying volunteers were needed for this build, I jumped at the opportunity. I am good with my hands and this is a good way of using them for a charitable cause. It was not difficult motivating me to come out to this site and put in a day’s labour.”
Habitat for Humanity Toronto’s fourth Women Build is part of a global campaign that brings women together in a shared mission to build simple, decent and affordable homes alongside families who are in need of adequate accommodation.
Single mothers make up nearly 80 per cent of single parent families in Canada and 33 per cent of Habitat Toronto’s partner family homeowners are single mothers.
“When you look at those statistics, it’s not hard for me to put aside a few hours and make a contribution that will make a difference in people’s lives,” said Seaforth.
For single mother Tricia Wedderburn, owning a home would be a dream come true. The Jamaican-born mother of four teenagers is living with her family in a low income and unhealthy unit.
“A home is a place where you can go to any time to rest, cry, just feel the love and always feel happy because we are together with family and friends,” said Wedderburn.
In the past four years, a total of 51 Habitat Toronto Women Build homes have been constructed and over 2,700 women have volunteered their time to the program.
After nearly seven hours of hammering nails and measuring and cutting wood, Seaforth completed her work day by attending the St. Kitts & Nevis 30th independence celebration in Toronto. It was her last official duty acting as consul general before Ann-Marie Layne assumed the role last Monday.
Layne comes from Washington where she was her country’s Minister Counselor since July 2006. Prior to that, she held the posts of first secretary for five years and senior foreign service officer in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for five months.
A graduate of St. Mary’s University in Halifax with an undergraduate degree in international development and Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy in Massachusetts with a Master’s of Arts in international relations, Layne replaces Janil Greenaway who left the Foreign Service last March to join the United Nations as a team manager.