The Official Online Newspaper of NAHB
Home Builders Institute (HBI) Job Corps students have helped transform a once-rundown block along Vernon Street in Worcester, Mass., by renovating and repairing two three-story halfway houses for the Latin American Health Alliance (LAHA).
Working under the supervision of HBI instructors, trainees from the Grafton Job Corps Center helped repair the houses as part of two separate community service projects, one completed several years ago and one begun earlier this year.
In 2009, dozens of plumbing, electrical, facilities maintenance and carpentry trainees — working alongside trade contractors — helped renovate the Hector Reyes House, a halfway house for Latino men recovering from alcohol and drug addiction.
The students provided 24,640 man-hours for the project — working eight hours a day, five days a week for several months — and saving LAHA about $121,400 in labor costs, according to HBI carpentry instructor Butch Nadeau, who led the project.
Then, three months ago, after LAHA purchased a building adjacent to the Hector Reyes House that needed repairs, LAHA Executive Director Dr. Mattie Castielle contacted the Grafton center for assistance.
For this much smaller project, 14 HBI plumbing, electrical and facilities maintenance students and their instructors spent two weeks in May and June fixing up the house, which will serve as a transitional home for the men who have progressed and are ready to move out of the Hector Reyes House.
Students arrived by bus at 6:30 a.m. each day and worked until 4:00 p.m. They removed brush from the front yard, repaired and painted the front porch and interior, hung new light fixtures, installed custom countertops and completed other finishing work.
Nadeau estimates that this project took the students 300 hours to complete and saved LAHA $6,280 in skilled labor costs at an average pay rate of $11 per hour.
“Participating in community projects is a great way for students to not only practice the career and technical skills they are learning, it also helps them develop a work ethic and the social skills necessary for securing a job,” Nadeau said.
LAHA’s Castielle said she appreciated working with the HBI students because the projects provided the students with valuable hands-on training that prepares them for home building careers.
“Working on the Hector Reyes House allowed the students to come back and see what they have done to help their community and the impact it has made,” Castielle said.
Students and instructors will continue to help maintain the two LAHA shelters and provide the necessary upkeep on the properties.
For more information about the HBI Job Corps program, email Keith Albright, or call him at 800-795-7955 x8911.