Partnership with FHS Building Trades Program off to a Great Start

Greater Fairfield Area Habitat for Humanity’s first joint venture with the Fairfield High School Building Trades program has officially been underway since September. Great strides have been made with the project, according to Kathy Brown, board member and construction manager. The exterior is essentially complete, and students and their teacher, Trevor Smith, along with Kathy Brown and architect Holly Butler, have moved on to complete the interior. They are currently working with the partner family.

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Ms. Brown recently asked the students and Mr. Smith about their experience working on the Habitat build. “I like working with the kids,” Mr. Smith exclaimed, with his arms raised. According to Ms. Brown, “Mr. Smith really does get down and dirty right along side the kids. I think he loves building, and teaching, and it shows.”

The students have varied reasons for wanting to take the class. Several were very proud of the fact that Mr. Smith had recruited them, and many seemed to like getting “out of class”, preferring the hands-on experience of building to classroom work. Many of the students are eager to learn new skills and one of the most enthusiastic workers, according to Ms. Brown, said he likes bringing his summer construction experience to the class. Many are hoping to use the experience, skills, and knowledge they gain to help them secure jobs in the construction field.

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Students range from those looking to secure full time work after graduation to college bound students hoping to qualify for summer construction jobs to help finance their tuition. The class also includes a student who is from an existing Habitat for Humanity partner family. Some are quiet and reluctant to comment, others are boisterous and energetic, but all seem to be gaining something from the experience.

While the class is predominantly male, the class does include one female student. She declined to discuss her feelings about the class, but instead demonstrated her commitment to the class by staying late to finish the porch roof. “I preferred having the porch roof finished than pursuing an answer,” mused Ms. Brown.

Ms. Brown herself has been impacted by working with the kids. “I feel my 65 years in this build and pray each day I will be able to do my job,” she said. “Then I dress and go. As I prep, the kids arrive and I watch in wonder as they scramble up walls and ladders. They are bursting with energy and they attack each new job with fervor. I feel younger when I am with them, no thought of those aches. I feel thankful for what they got done that day, and what I helped with. Satisfied, I return home and go straight to the aspirin so I can do it again the next day!”

Perhaps the best “image” of the program comes from one very energetic junior, who was on the roof of the ice-glazed trailer when Ms. Brown posed the question to the students. While he shouted something down that she couldn’t quite hear, she thinks he simply said, “I like building!”

Greater Fairfield Area Habitat for Humanity is so glad you do!

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