Advancing National Service

Two Wrongs That Make a Right

May 16, 2014
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Two Wrongs That Make a Right
YouthBuild USA participants help build a house. YouthBuild USA
High school dropouts learn construction skills while renovating a house for homeless veterans.

When the going gets tough, perhaps you can get a hand from some else who knows what it’s like to be down.

That’s exactly what happened to five homeless veterans in Ogden, Utah. Soon, they will be living with a roof over their heads, thanks to students who remodeled a home as part of the Ogden-Weber Applied Technology College’s YouthBuild program. (YouthBuild is a national nonprofit that works with young people who haven’t earned their high school degrees to give them practical construction and renovation skills while at the same time, supporting their pursuit of a GED or high school diploma.) On April 25, the teens, veterans, and Ogden city officials were on hand for the spruced-up home’s ribbon cutting.

Collette Mercier, the president of the students’ college, told Rachel Trotter of the Standard-Examiner that the YouthBuild program “gives these students a second chance to make something of themselves…For some of these kids it is their last chance. They have to finish their hours and they learn teamwork and leadership skills. Some of these students have never completed a project before.”

The home will serve as a transitional unit for veterans trying to get back on their feet, according to Jeff Kane, the executive director of Homeless Veterans Shelter, an organization that helps Utah veterans that find themselves down on their luck. Kane told Trotter he’s happy the teenagers are receiving help, as he often works with people who have been coping with economic instability for years. “Sometimes it is hard to watch these veterans struggle, but we really try to work with them and I love it,” Kane said.

The Chamber Leadership Northern Utah Academy also contributed to the project, rounding up business sponsors to fund the work and supplying volunteers who added decorative and landscaping touches to the home. Also pitching in: Students in the Ogden-Weber Applied Technology College’s Construction Tech program. Beau Ellis, a volunteer who wants to work in construction, said that renovating the formerly dilapidated house was the perfect learning experience. “I really learned a lot…of new techniques I didn’t know,” he told Trotter.

This project demonstrates that great things are possible when an entire community works together.

MORE: Introducing the Nonprofit Whose Mission is to Help High School Dropouts and the Homeless

 

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