HeroWork Hero Series: Vance Smith


“I’ve found since joining HeroWork my way that I can help people out.”

In this day and age, it can be difficult to find ways in which we can have a positive impact in the world around us. With so many new fields of expertise in the work world, finding a way to extend your personal and professional skills set to your community often takes some searching.

That was the case for Vance Smith, the soft-spoken and modest owner of Core Drafting Services in Victoria, BC. Vance has been in business for himself for about ten and a half years. Almost four years ago, he incorporated, moved his business out of his house and into office space, and started hiring staff. “We’re just constantly in the process of evolving and building our business,” says Vance, “not as a traditional design office in any sense… we help architects, designers, and structural engineers do their drafting—almost as a contract service, but more than that, so they don’t need to hire when the workload increases. They can subcontract out or farm out a project or two, or perhaps they have a project that is more challenging that their staff can’t handle…it doesn’t exist in the design field right now, so we are filling in a kind of niche area.”

Vance is an active volunteer in a number of capacities. Along with his involvement with HeroWork, Vance has donated his time and skills to Habitat for Humanity, where he has worked with designers to help them prepare building permit drawings for the next housing project planned in Saanich. In 2010, Vance went to Talanga, Honduras with a design team to prepare a master plan for a school to house children rescued from the streets of Honduras through Engineering Ministries International. Working with a Senior Architect and Structural Engineer, a site plan, building plans, and a 3D model were prepared for the Manuelito Project that cares for the children of Honduras.

Seeing that Vance volunteered quite extensively in his community, I asked him what compelled him to volunteer and what drew him to HeroWork specifically. “I’m a draftsman at heart. I love drawing buildings and I love creating projects fictionally and then seeing them built in real life… I like to help people and I guess deep down that’s a trait in my family and I look at my siblings and my parents — we like helping people. And I always felt like I’ve got this skillset that I enjoy doing, but I’m never able to use that to help people…I’ve done Engineering Ministries International, where you go off to another country and help somebody else, but I never felt like there was something locally I could do to help people around me. As much as we’re a rich city and a rich country and first world and all this wonderful stuff, we still have a lot of problems. There is a strong need to help out around here in our own community, but I never felt a way to do that and use my skills. Then along came HeroWork—someone liked it on Facebook—there was nothing tangible I could help with, there was just a labour position available to me, so I thought whatever I can do, I want to be a part of it. So, I volunteered for that and quickly morphed into more than just a labour position. I teamed up with Kent as a right hand man…and then morphed from that into the other roles of preparing the permit drawings and working with the design team. And then Habitat for Humanity came along since then and I helped out with that as well.”

“…I’m finding ways that I can contribute to my community using my skill set.”

Vance Smith ready to tackle a Radical Reno.

Vance Smith ready to tackle a Radical Reno.

But it isn’t just charities that Vance helps out, as his generous nature compels him to seek out opportunities to give to his community however they may arise. “Last week I had a fellow come in the office and he said, ‘I’m wanting to do some buildings for homeless people. The city of Victoria’s got a workshop coming up and I’ve got an idea, but I need it drawn, I don’t know how to do it.” So I sat him down and I said, ‘Here’s an hour of my time. Let’s do it.’ And after the hour I had a full drawings and a model prepared and he was off to see the city. Indirectly I’m able to further that cause with the skillsets that I have…I’m finding ways that I can contribute to my community using my skillset.”

While working alongside other volunteers, Vance always finds time to ask them about who they are, how they came to be volunteers. He has also had the chance to work with a number of designers and contractors he’s met at HeroWork projects outside of Radical Renos. “[The level of trust with fellow HeroWork volunteer contractors], which in a normal business relationship does take years to build, has actually been built in a very short period of time, purely because of their involvement and seeing their work ethic and seeing them in that setting at HeroWork. I think that’s very valuable, because what I’ve achieved with those clients has taken years to achieve with other clients.”

“…you go to this HeroWork site and here’s a hundred people that are ready and eager and they’re like, ‘What can I do to help you?'”

With a clear respect for the HeroWork cause and everyone who is involved with it, Vance is consistently amazed by the dedication of the volunteers. When asked what the most moving thing to him was on the Radical Reno worksites, he told me, “Just seeing so many people wanting to help—I think seeing a willingness that you don’t normally see. If I were to stand outside of the Citizens’ Counselling Centre as people were walking past, and if I were to stand there and say, ‘Hey, could you come in and help me paint this wall, or could you come in and help me sand this piece of wood down?‘… I don’t know that I’d get a lot of people that would jump up and say, ‘Yep, I’ll come and do it.’ I’ve put out Facebook requests saying, ‘Hey, I’m going to do this, can anybody come and help? And you get one or two people. But you go to this HeroWork site and here’s a hundred people that are ready and eager and they’re like, ‘What can I do to help you?‘ Or, ‘Oh, it looks like you’re struggling there—what can I do to help you? And it’s like wow, that feels cool! That’s something that’s not always apparent in our society. And people are there, for a lot of the time they don’t have a vehicle to show that attitude. So, again it filters out and brings these people to the top and puts you together in an atmosphere that’s enjoyable. And I think just seeing so many people like that, likeminded people, you feel like you’re part of a family.”

Vance is yet another of a growing collection of HeroWork Heroes who make it their personal mandate to be stewards of their community. HeroWork is proud to have someone like Vance on the team and we look forward to seeing more of his amazing community contributions in the future!


You can find Vance’s business, Core Drafting Services, along with many others in the HeroWork Sponsorship Directory.

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