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It was a perfect fit.
Bedford Habitat for Humanity and Bedford County Public Schools have entered into an agreement that will benefit both entities—and most importantly a future Bedford County family in need of housing.
Every two years students in several BSTC programs work together to build a home, which the school system then auctions off. Now, however, Habitat for Humanity will purchase the materials for the home and the students will then build it. Once finished—it will continue on a two-year rotation—the home will be used by Habitat for Humanity to provide a home for a qualified applicant for its program.
Representatives of the school system and Bedford Habitat for Humanity officially signed the partnership agreement during an assembly at BSTC Thursday. “Today our groups come together to begin a journey to build an energy efficient home for a deserving family in our own community,” stated BSTC administrator Barbara Rezzonico.
Rezzonico added that selling the homes has been a struggle in the past for the school system, because it is constructed on site at BSTC and must be moved. By joining the two groups together, Rezzonico said it brings the strengths of both groups—an eager, hardworking set of students with an eager, community-minded group of mentors.
Dr. Douglas Schuch, superintendent of BCPS, and Gardner Simpkins Jr. of Bedford Habitat for Humanity signed the partnership agreement in front of the students at the assembly.
Students working in the programs involved in the construction—electrical, construction and building and grounds—gain vital experience they can take with them in their future career or educational plans, stated Dr. Schuch. “What a great opportunity we have to meet some real needs here in our community.”
And, he added, “We don’t have to worry about selling (the home).”
“This is a positive for us; this is a positive for Habitat,” Dr. Schuch said.
Overton McGehee, executive director of Habitat for Humanity in Virginia, said the home will be built to EarthCraft standards, which are based on green building practices for energy efficiency and sustainability. “They will build an affordable home, but it’s cutting edge,” he said of the standards the students will use. McGehee said those efficiencies will ultimately save the homeowner a considerable amount of money on their energy bills.
Luke Fastabend, a senior in the Building and Construction II class, said it feels good to know that the class will be helping out a family in the community, “a nice home, too,” he added.
Hunter Toms, also a senior in the program, agreed.”I think it’s really cool to be able to help out people and learn in the process.”
Simpkins is also excited about the partnership. “I think it’s great,” he said.
Simpkins said Bedford Habitat will continue to build and work on homes in the county. He added that, one day, the students helping with this home will be able to drive their children and grandchildren by the home and tell them how they helped provide that home for a family.
Building and Construction instructor Danny Thomas just recently attended an EarthCraft Standards certification program in preparation for the new processes he’ll include in the construction of this home.
The students in the BSTC programs might also partner with Habitat during one of its ongoing home repair projects in the county. The next one—in which four to six homes will be worked on—is scheduled for Oct. 12.
Thomas said he hopes the program will mean a lot to the students as they “team up with an organization that supports the community as much as Habitat does.”
The home that will be constructed will have about 1,000 square feet of living area.