Kids and construction: Youth build habitat houses


By Tamara Edwards
NCCU Staff Writer
the Durham VOICE
thedurhamvoice@gmail.com

Youth United, a program that inspires schools and youth organizations to fund and build Habitat for Humanity homes, will begin construction of a Youth United home on February 6, 2011.

Youth pictured with local State Farm agent Roosevelt Elivet sharing a grant check that was used to help fund the construction of the Roberts house in Northeast Central Durham in 2009.

In Durham, over the past five years over 20 school and youth organizations, led by a youth leadership committee, have partnered to build five Youth United homes.

“There is power in kids. Everyone says the future is ours,” said John Hopper, Youth United volunteer.

This program allows these school and church youth organizations or partner groups to teach leadership skills while participating in teambuilding opportunities with others from different organizations, faiths, age groups and backgrounds.

Partner groups also raise part of the funds for the housing and increase awareness about substandard housing issues by educating schools, faith institutions or other organizations.

The groups provide build site construction volunteers, ages 16 and up and non-construction activity volunteers, ages 16 and under.  Groups are also required to send a representative to all planning and organizational meetings related to the Youth United House.

“My experiences working with Youth United have been…the most rewarding and fulfilling of my career in public education.  I have not seen this much excitement and school pride since I have been teaching,” said Patrick Welsh, teacher and Youth United volunteer.

The first Youth United home was built to preserve its historic look, in the Golden Belt Historic District during the 2006-2007 school year by youth in partnership with the Holland family.

“This home is a dream come true.  Thank you to everyone that helped,” said Cynthia Holland 2006-2007 Youth United Partner Family homeowner.

During the 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 school years, youth funded and built homes in Hope Crossing, located in East Durham.

“Our family has been through a lot and owning our own home is an answered prayer…” said Ann McRae Youth United Family homeowner.

“Habitat was willing to take a chance with me, and I am thankful for this opportunity,” said Felicia Roberts Youth United Partner Family homeowner of the 2009-2010 home.

Youth must raise $50,000 before they can begin construction of a habitat home for another family on February 6, 2011.  Youth United partner groups may develop their own fundraising ideas or participate in one of the fundraising activities organized by the Youth United leadership team.

A Youth United monthly meeting was held last Thursday, October 14, 2010.  Any school or youth organizations interested in joining Youth United can attend one of their monthly meetings.

Contact Roxanne Little or Jennifer Reinhardt through e-mail at rhall@durhamhabitat.org or jrinhardt@durhamhabitat.org or by phone 919-682-0516 ext. 113 or 121 for more information.



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