School News

Young Volunteers Integral to Habitat Homes

from The Fairfield Ledger, written by Lacey Jacobs:

The Greater Fairfield Area Habitat for Humanity broke ground on its ninth house May 3. As construction has progressed, the local organization has had a steady stream of teenagers eager to lend a hand.

“We’re so happy with them,” said Pam Ausman, who serves on the volunteer committee. Construction chairwoman Kathy Brown agreed the young volunteers have been integral to the project.

“I’ve been impressed with the kids that show up,” she said. “They bring an abundance of enthusiasm and energy. … It just makes the whole work day more enjoyable.”

Maharishi School senior Coco Clark played a key role in engaging the high school students. Clark decided to become involved with the local Habitat chapter early last year. After attending a few board meetings, she realized the significant impact recruiting additional volunteers could make.

She started organizing classmates in the spring, and her friend Anna Brett, also a senior at Maharishi School, took over while Clark was away on summer vacation.

“It’s just fun being out there on Saturdays,” Clark said.

“I really like it,” said Brett.

About a dozen high school students showed up the first time — so many, Clark said, that there wasn’t enough for everyone to do. Since then, a few have volunteered on each of the work days — both Wednesdays and Saturdays during the summer months.

Local teens have helped with Habitat homes in the past, but Brown said the dedication of the teens helping with this house is what sets them apart.

The students keep the atmosphere light and energized, she said.

“Sometimes it makes you feel younger to be around young people,” Brown said, also commending the teens on their positive approach and willingness to try any new task.

She recalled one morning when a window needed to be removed, and two of the young volunteers cheerfully removed the many nails without complaint.

“They want to learn as much as they can about the build,” Ausman said.

Brett said it’s definitely been a learning experience. She’s provided basic labor that doesn’t require a skilled worker, such as nailing and helping with sheeting around the base of the home.

Even organizing volunteers has been a challenging learning experience, Brett said. Clark said getting the young volunteers to the work site is the hardest part, but once there, most of them are happy to return.

Both Clark and Brett have found it to be a great experience. Brett enjoys tackling the project with the other volunteers, handful of professionals and family that will eventually occupy the home.

Clark also has enjoyed getting to know the family and picking up a few general building principles.

“It’s just such a good organization and a really easy opportunity to help the community,” she said, adding it’s a simple way to make a “tangible, concrete difference” in Fairfield.

“I feel like some people are not in as good of a situation as I am — it’s kind of our duty to help out,” said Brett.

This is the third Habitat for Humanity home being built on North Ninth Street, where six lots have been donated to the organization. Brown said completing a home usually takes about nine months, but because volunteers are working on the home two days per week this time, they hope to move the family in by Christmas.


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