After retiring from his teaching career, Ken Manning still wears many hats in the community.
Four years ago, Ken started volunteering on his first Habitat for Humanity build and now, is back at their construction site. For the past 15 months, he has been putting in 40 hours of labour each week to get the current build finished. In 2018 alone, he volunteered over 1,300 hours on the construction site.
Though he puts in long, hard days, seeing the families move in at the end of the project makes it all worth it.
He describes watching a single mom and her young son move out of their one bedroom basement suite into a Habitat home. The mom had a mortgage she could afford and the son got to have a pet dog.
“It was just a wonderful feeling to see a family get a great helping hand up and get established in their own home, rather than living in a single one room basement suite,” he said.
But if Ken drops his tools and makes a bee-line to his truck, other crew members know he is off to an accident scene or fire as a volunteer firefighter.
Since 2011, Ken has been a consistent face at emergencies and is the only member of the Comox Valley Fire Department to have achieved 100 per cent call attendance in a single year.
“At the firehall, we see people who are having the worst day of their life. It’s a helping profession,” he said. “It’s just helping people in a crisis and trying to make their day a little bit better.”
For the past two summers, Ken has also volunteered to head to the BC interior to help fight forest fires.
Even Sundays are not a day of rest for Ken. His third volunteer commitment is with St. George’s United Church. For three years, Ken has been a part of the Ministry and Personnel Committee, leading small groups and adult education sessions. He says working with the church has exposed him to different viewpoints.
“It’s important to be a good listener and you discover that there are many different points of view on any given topic,” he said.
Ken says he has always preferred team sports over individual sports and loves working with others towards a common goal.