Habitat for Humanity of Marion County is in the beginning stages of a new home construction project in Pleasantville.
This project is unique from others that Habitat has done, as it will be built as a cooperative effort between Habitat for Humanity and the Pleasantville High School Building Trades Class, along with community volunteers in the Pleasantville area.
Robin Pfalzgraf, the Executive Director for Habitat for Humanity of Marion County, says she was approached a little over six months ago about the potential partnership with the Pleasantville Building Trades Class.
“I was excited because we can’t find contractors,” said Pfalzgraf.
Jeff Koerselman, the Industrial Tech teacher at Pleasantville, is starting a program where students will have the opportunity to learn the trades. Students enrolled in one of the class’s two sections will gain hands-on experience when it comes to learning and practicing the trades.
“For us, it’s not only the labor that we’re getting from the kids, but also maybe pouring some more people into our construction trades here in Marion County,” says Pfalzgraf.
The students will do a majority of the building on this project. Volunteers will be brought in around them to help complete the work the students do not finish.
Pfalzgraf hopes that the students will have a chance to experience every aspect of the home building process, even if they are unable to complete every task start to finish. She says this will help the students get all types of experience throughout the project.
This home build is different than others that Habitat typically does. During the typical home build, Habitat hires professionals to complete the roof, electrical, plumbing and HVAC work. Everything else is completed by volunteers.
In the case of the home in Pleasantville, the work that is typically completed by those volunteering with Habitat will now be done by the students. Although community volunteers will still assist on the project, a majority of the work will be completed by the students.
Pfalzgraf says the students working on this project will also get a more in-depth explanation into the building process and what they are doing. In addition to being a teacher, Koerselman is also a contractor, so he is able to explain to the students the significance of each task. Volunteers are typically not given the background on the importance of their work, so this serves as another way for students to learn more about the construction process.
“We’re excited about that,” says Pfalzgraf. “We’re excited to give the kids a chance to try this”
Pfalzgraf is hoping the students who help build this home will learn enough to do minor maintenance on their homes in the future, or at least feel comfortable enough to do some of it.
“It’s not as scary as you think it is, so I hope our students feel the same way,” she says. “If nothing else, if these kids come out and say, ‘hey, it’s no big deal to change my toilet or patch a piece of sheetrock,’ then it’s a win.”
Pfalzgraf is also hoping some of the students will discover a future career path in the trades. Most of all though, she is hoping the students will take pride in building the home. Pfalzgraf hopes that in the future, these students will return to Pleasantville with their families and drive them by the house they helped build.
“This building trades class, it’s one you’ll remember,” said Pfalzgraf. “It’s one they remember and kind of will ever be special to them, because they know they did it.”
The students enrolled in the Building Trades Class have shown lots of excitement and enthusiasm about getting started on the home build. Pfalzgraf is anticipating approximately 30 students being involved with the project between the two classes.
“These days, it was fun to see kids about that,” says Pfalzgraf. “It was really one they were excited about… this isn’t out of our students’ range of experience.”
Pfalzgraf says that, in a best-case scenario, construction on the home will be finished by the end of the upcoming school year. She cites Koerselman as someone who is a hard-worker and organized, and believes with his help the project will be completed by the end of the school year.
Applications for the Pleasantville home are available until August 23rd. Pfalzgraf says there has already been lots on interest in the home. Applications can be picked up Habitat for Humanity office at 114 W Robinson Street, Knoxville or The Pleasantville City Hall located at 108 W Jackson Street, Pleasantville.