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Housing charity taking polar plunge for construction program

March 24, 2023
Posted on: March 24th, 2023. By: Joseph Quigley,, Original Article. 
‘I want to give back,’ student says, seeking to help raise $10,000 for program offering wraparound services to those facing barriers getting into the trades

For Derek Perrott, the Construct program became a gateway to steady employment.

The program from York Region housing provider Blue Door offers trade training with many expenses covered, aimed at individuals facing barriers. After going through the program last fall, Perrott is now working as part of the team building a massive Loblaws distribution centre in East Gwillimbury. 

Now, Perrott wants to give back to the program by taking a dip into frigid waters in a fundraising effort.

“They helped me out considerably,” he said. “It meant a lot to me, and I want to give back.”

Construct aims to raise $10,000 with a first annual polar plunge event April 4, to supporting funding of the wraparound services the program offers for its students, including food, transportation and apprenticeship enrolment fees.

The 50-year-old Perrott said he was interested in getting into the carpenters union for years, but fees were an issue.

“Construct just relieved all that tension for that,” he said, adding the program helped get him a job that has made a big difference in his life. “Making $600 every two weeks at Walmart wasn’t going to cut it. So I had to find something better.”

The program offers eight weeks of rapid skills training to secure jobs in the trades and is now at 140 students per year. The $10,000 represents food support for 25 trainees or seat fees for 20 graduates to start their one-year apprenticeships.

“Raising $10,000 goes a long way in providing support to those experiencing some significant barriers to training programs and employment,” Blue Door social enterprise director Rudi Genovese said. “Our ability to offer this support to our trainees enables us to work with everyone’s unique needs, to meet them where they are at and ensure we can support them in the best way possible.”

The program opened a new classroom space in December where students will be able to learn going forward. 

The organization hopes to make this polar plunge an annual affair. Perrott said he is bracing himself to take on the plunge, but at least there will be a warm place afterwards.

“I’ll do it, as much as I hate being cold,” he said.

Since graduating, the trades worker said he is singing the program’s praises to everyone he can.

“Just to give back for their hard work,” he said. “I know there’s a lot of other guys that were in my group that are working as well. It’s great.”

You can donate through the event’s fundraising website.