Jeff Botham’s been building community in Waterloo Region for a long time.

The University of Waterloo alum volunteers at local events like the Kitchener Blues festival and the Waterloo Region Air Show. He’s an Oktoberfest committee member. He’s a lecturer at Wilfrid Laurier University.

He’s been a CFO and a COO. He’s worked for breweries and luxury resorts.

Most recently, Botham has been part owner in Reality Cave, a virtual reality studio startup based at the Communitech Hub.

He’s added a new acronym to his resume this year. Botham is now CEO of Habitat for Humanity Waterloo Region.

The 26-year-old non-profit isn’t necessarily known for innovation. Rather, it excels in bringing the community together to help break the cycle of poverty.

“We are a hand up but not a hand out,” Botham said. “It’s incredibly rewarding to meet new homeowners and watch them work alongside you.”

Habitat for Humanity uses community partners and volunteers to build affordable housing for low-income families, who also invest their own “sweat equity” during construction.

Botham is looking forward to injecting Habitat for Humanity with some of the energy and ideas he learned during his time at the Communitech Hub. He would also like to see more of us out volunteering with the Habitat crew.

“We help families build equity. They don’t pay in money. Their down payment is sweat equity. Every family has to give 500 volunteer hours to Habitat. When you work on a site you are building right next to the homeowner.”

Habitat has built more than 100 homes in Waterloo Region, and Botham wants the number to grow exponentially. In order to meet his lofty goals, he needs new ideas and new volunteers to come on board.

“We have to innovate or stagnate,” Botham said.

To that end, you’ll start to see the Habitat team out and about in some new venues, including a family day at Oktoberfest and a Kiwanis-sponsored social night.

The team will also be bringing some new technologies into the office. They’ll begin using Salesforce this year. While Botham would be glad to see familiar faces from the technology industry out on build sites, he also has other volunteer opportunities available (a Salesforce expert may be needed!).

Botham is also in constant need of volunteers and supplies in the ReStore – the Habitat-owned retail outlet that sells new and gently used furniture and building materials donated by the community. The ReStore’s profits cover Habitat’s administration costs and helped to divert 854 tonnes of waste from the landfill this year.

Botham sees a common link between his past technology-focused hats and his new CEO hardhat.

“At the end of the day we just want to build a better community – with whatever tools we have.”

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It’s back to school and back to a busy calendar this month. I see and hear that… a new exhibition called Distance by Cathy Farwell is up in the Rotunda Gallery at Kitchener City Hall. Farwell’s copper panel exhibit will be open to the public daily during September… it’s going to be noisy up at Chicopee Ski Club this Saturday, Sept. 6 as the Mighty Machines Showcase takes over the hill. Open to kids of all ages, the showcase invites you to get up close and personal with large construction vehicles, service vehicles and big machinery. The day runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets are still available online or in person at Chicopee… HackerNestKW’s next tech social is happening Monday, Sept. 8 beginning at 8 p.m. at Sweet Tooth’s new office at 305 King St. W. Drop by for free drinks, and conversations….

Have suggestions about events I should be checking out? Drop me a line or tweet me @write_girl.

About The Author

Kayleigh Platz

Kayleigh Platz is a storyteller and community relations manager for Communitech. Born, raised and schooled in Waterloo Region, she holds two degrees from the University of Waterloo and is interested in new media, social networks and making connections.