Local employees trade desks for hammers, saws

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — More than a dozen volunteers — many of them Bank of America employees — ditched the office confines Friday and stepped outside their working comfort zones.

“No matter the skill or what they know, they’re all ready to go and willing to work,” said Chuck Drumsta, site supervisor for Habitat for Humanity.

Joining forces with Habitat for Humanity in Buffalo, they handled saws and hammers rather than money, and counted nails instead of pennies.

“We’re wearing many different hats today,” said Heidi Cowles, who is the lead coordinator for neighborhood preservation and community development for Bank of America. “Everyone looks forward to it. They like to come in and get some hard work, some hard skills on. And they look forward to it. They’re not sitting in front of a computer all day, so they enjoy it.”

Heidi Cowles usually handles consumer deposits at Bank of America. On Friday, she was coordinating the effort with Habitat for Humanity to build a home for local veteran Truman Muher-Irwin.

Even the bank boss got in on the effort.

“We try to do at least one every year, and it’s worked out really well for us,” said Bank of America’s Buffalo Market President Kevin Murphy. “It’s a great way to get people together for a really good cause, so we’re really excited about this project. “We build a house for somebody and it’s a veteran on top of that, so it’s a real positive outcome for us.”

Friday’s event marked the bank’s second Global Build Week, which kicked-off on United Nations’ World Habitat Day, intended to highlight  affordable housing challenges in Western New York.

But the challenge to build a home isn’t just for the adults. McKinley High School students have been working since *last September to construct the shell of the home…and local volunteers will take it from there.

“Habitat thrives on volunteers, we’re one of the few Habitat organizations that uses primarily volunteers to do all our work,” Drumsta said. “And so, the more the merrier.”

And who knows, maybe they’ll pick up a few tips along the way.

“They may learn something, and go home thinking that what they saw on HGTV really is possible for them,” Drumsta said.

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