Stills from the St. Thomas University Women's Rugby team, building furniture for the homeless as a beneficiary act. (Submitted: STU Women's Rugby)

Throughout October, the St. Thomas University women’s rugby team helped build furniture for newly-renovated subsidized apartments, which will house some of Fredericton’s homeless. 

According to fourth-year player Brianna Bourgeois, the team got involved through rugby coach Rebecca Baker and Wilmot United Church’s Housing First program.

The program allows individuals facing homelessness to access social integration programs, recovery resources and permanent housing.

The team was tasked with building furniture for the apartment units, which were originally the church’s manse.

Bourgeois said her experience was about more than just building furniture.

“It was about coming together to support our community and make a positive impact in the lives of those most vulnerable,” she said. 

“Balancing a busy training and class schedule can be tough, but these volunteer opportunities have been incredibly rewarding and something that our team has really enjoyed and bonded over.”

First-year Vada Ann Benoit said volunteering with her team always brings everybody closer together as they learn skills like how to problem-solve and deal with the public.

“I think giving back to your community is very important as the community supports us as athletes,” she said. 

STU women’s rugby has been active in the community, as they recently volunteered at the National Bank Kids Tennis Day, as well as with Stuff-A-Bus Fredericton, where they collected non-perishable food items from around the city.

Rookie player Sadie Carter said the team’s local volunteer work demonstrates the team’s willingness to help.

“Even when we are not competing, we athletes and students remain committed to supporting our community,” said Carter. “It’s crucial that we give back to our community and set an example for other students, universities and athletic teams.”

Fourth-year player Sarah Hetherington said the experience was wonderful but also quite meaningful. 

“Our province is in dire need of affordable housing and to contribute in a small way to the housing crisis was important to us,” said Hetherington.