The weather may have been cold and rainy, but that didn’t stop Arizona Coyotes staff and alumni from showing up in force.
The Arizona Coyotes Foundation partnered with Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona on Wednesday to help the continuing construction of a home in Tempe, doing everything from nailing together roof trusses to painting fascia boards.
The Foundation awarded $20,000 to Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona earlier this year, and is now showing up in force to help with the builds, as well. Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona has built more than 1,200 homes and impacted over 5,000 Arizona families since its inception in 1985.
“Today is an amazing day, because it might be a little rainy, but it truly is a bright day,” Coyotes President and CEO Xavier A. Gutierrez said. “The work they do is so impressive and so incredible to make a difference in the lives of families and the lives of communities, and we are proud to be a part of it.”
The build, which will take roughly 40 weeks to complete, will benefit a single father, Djibril, and his two-year-old daughter. The organization requires future homeowners to contribute at least 400 hours of their own time to the project, of which Djibril has already exceeded.
The single father moved to Arizona from Baltimore, Md. a few years ago, and he said owning his own home at an affordable price will help him go back to school to pursue a career in public health. The process has been a full circle moment for Djibril, who actually volunteered with the organization in 2012.
11 years later he’s working on his own home, in which the organization sells to the homeowner interest free, while ensuring the monthly payments do not exceed 30 percent of their gross monthly income.
“This house is a dream for me,” Djibril said. “Without that, I don’t know when I’d be able to own a house. It would be super, super hard for me, but this gives me hope and exactly what I need right now.”
Jason Barlow, President and CEO of Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona, said thousands of hours of volunteer labor go into building each home, in addition to the work the homeowners put into them.
“Our homeowners are in their homes for over 20 years, and that’s probably because they’re invested in it,” Barlow said. “It takes volunteers like our partnership with the amazing Arizona Coyotes Foundation, and I just watched about 30 of the staff go by to get hard hats and work on this home.”
Various former Coyotes players showed up to help as well, including Dallas Drake, who played seven seasons in the Winnipeg/Arizona organization, from 1993 – 2000. The now-retired Drake said he hadn’t participated in a build previously, but when former captain and current Chief Hockey Development Officer Shane Doan called, he didn’t hesitate to join in.
“It’s for a great cause, and for us, to give back to the community is something we always try to do,” Drake said. “Doaner reached out to the alumni and we wanted to get involved. He’s such a generous guy, he tries to give back as much as he can, and that’s why we’re here.”
Gutierrez said giving back to the community is at the core of who the Coyotes strive to be.
“We are more than just a hockey team,” he said. “We are a community leader. We have taken very seriously our mission to make an impact.”
Djibril could hardly contain his excitement while nailing trusses together on Wednesday, thinking about his move-in day that’s in the not-too-distant future.
“I cannot describe it,” he said. “It’s more than amazing. It’s a dream. I feel proud, and I feel super happy, and I feel like my daughter will have a home, and I will be able to secure everything for our future.”