Washington High students under construction build Habitat house

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MASSILLON – Kayla Newman dreamed of owning her own home, but never thought it would be possible.

But with a little help and a little elbow grease, his dream comes true.

Habitat for Humanity East Central Ohio and students in the Washington High School Building Trades Program have teamed up to build Newman’s dream home.

The juniors and seniors in the high school’s career technology program will spend the next few months building the one-story, three-bedroom home at 1311 13th St. SE, for Newman and his 3-year-old daughter, Annalee Williams.

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With the help of Habitat construction staff and construction trades instructor Jason Werstler, students gain hands-on experience.

On Thursday, Newman was joined by Habitat officials, donors and officials from the town of Massillon and the school to raise the first wall of the house.

A dream team

The project would not have been possible without the help of many people, including school leaders and the city of Massillon, said Habitat CEO Beth Lechner.

“In a world with a lot of headaches,… that’s only positive,” Lechner told the crowd.

Washington High School student Cas Jackson nailed a wall bracket last week to the Habitat for Humanity home that she and her construction trades classmates are helping build.

Each year, over 6,000 volunteers come together to build homes in Stark County for Habitat.

The group of volunteers gathered for this project is quite special.

The house will be built entirely by students of the construction trades. They started work recently by completing the foundation and the basement.

Students will participate in tasks such as landscaping the patio, building walls, installing doors and windows, siding and siding.

Lechner said years ago that trades students partnered with Habitat, but that is no longer the case. She hopes Massillon can act as a catalyst to re-establish the partnership with Habitat and local school districts.

“It’s more than just putting wood together. It’s building a house.

High school student Zach Wilhelm never thought he would build a house for someone to live in.

“It’s crazy,” he said.

After the first wall was installed, Wilhelm and his classmates took care of reinforcing the wall and installing another wall.

Wilhelm said that they will be able to learn much more during the experience than what can be taught in a classroom setting.

But more than the construction skills they’ll learn from working alongside licensed contractors, there are the life lessons they learn from helping someone else.

Working with Habitat opened the eyes of senior Jaiden Woods.

“It’s so much more than putting wood together. It’s building a house,” said Woods.

Her classmate Kurtis Miller agreed, adding that the reason they are building the house is “pretty awesome.”

Career Technical Director Jamey Palma said they take every opportunity to integrate students into the community.

The partnership allows students not only to hone their skills, but more importantly, they learn to give back to the community, he added.

“They will remember this for the rest of their lives,” he said.

The owner too.

“Without Habitat, I wouldn’t build a house for my daughter,” Newman said, fighting back tears. “To the students, you are part of my family. You make my future as we speak.”

Renovation project in the south-west and south-east of Massillon

The construction of Newman’s house is part of a Habitat renewal project in the southwest and southeast neighborhoods of the city.

The project started a few years ago and so far around six houses have been built or are expected to be built, including another house under construction along 13th Street.

Since 1998, the organization has built 575 homes in the five-county area of ​​Stark, Carroll, Tuscarawas, Jefferson and Harrison, the majority of which are in Stark County. Habitat officials said by the end of the year that 591 homes will have been built.

Washington high school students Kurtis Miller, left, and Matt Reighard carry sheets of paper while working on a Habitat for Humanity house in Massillon last week.  Construction trades students work alongside Habitat construction crews to build a one-story, three-bedroom house for a mother and daughter.

Lechner said community members have answered the call to help fund the renewal project, including Bob Rice and the Gessner family. Approximately $ 2.6 million was raised for the project.

The renovation project will focus on building new homes, renovating existing homes and helping homeowners with essential repairs.

Together with the city and the Stark County Land Bank, the land for Newman’s house was purchased and a dilapidated house was razed to the ground, Lechner said.

Ricebelieves in Habitat’s mission and has worked with the group for two decades.

Safe and affordable homes are essential for a healthy and prosperous community, he said.

“We don’t just build houses, we build houses for families,” Rice said.

Bob Gessner encouraged students to stay on track and stay in the construction trade, adding that local businesses need employees with their skills to fill stable jobs that can fetch $ 60,000 to $ 70,000 per year. year.

He also encouraged them to stay in County Stark.

“It’s a great opportunity,” he said.

The work is helping to put the city’s neighborhoods back on track, said Mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry.

She spoke about her experience volunteering for Habitat.

“You are learning something that you can keep for the rest of your life,” the mayor told the students. “It filled my heart with joy and I hope it will do it for you too.”

Just keep doing it

After seeing a number of signs pointing to Habitat homes, Newman asked the organization if they could help.

Habitat offers low and moderate income families a chance to have affordable housing.

Houses are not gifts. Participants are offered zero percent 30-year loans to purchase their home.

Kayla Newman spoke last week about the great opportunity she has to finally have a home for herself and her daughter during the wall raising ceremony for her new Habitat for Humanity home in Massillon.

To be eligible for the Host Program, families must need housing, have a stable income and be prepared to partner with Habitat.

Newman has spent months attending various courses offered by Habitat, including courses in financial management and home management. She will also spend time every Friday with the students to build her house.

It was a long process. It started in 2019, but Newman encourages anyone who thinks of a home to stick with it.

Newman hopes to be home in time to celebrate Christmas with her daughter.

“It’s worth it,” Newman said as he stood on the skeleton of his future home. “Just look at this backyard.”

Contact Amy at 330-775-1135 or [email protected]

On Twitter: @aknappINDE


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