By Sophia Ricco
Students from John Glenn High School were happy to lend a hand to help build the frame for one of Habitat for Humanity of Suffolk’s future homes.
Glenn students have been involved in Habitat for Humanity of Suffolk’s “Student Build” program since 2012. Those who participate in the club raise funds for the organization and volunteer time building. The program also includes the Commack, Half Hollow Hills, Harborfields, Northport and Huntington school districts.
“It means a lot to them, because it allows them to see the fruits of their labor, especially because the family is present,” Habitat’s executive director Tracey Edwards said. “They can understand how their contributions both financially and sweat equity, actually help a family.”
“When I came to the work site and saw that we had John Glenn students helping, it absolutely warmed my heart,” said Edwards, herself a Glenn grad.
The chosen family worked alongside the students to construct their home. They will be able to move in within a year.
Habitat is expanding the program to include more students. Middle school students will get involved by building playhouses for the new homes. Habitat will also offer financial acumen workshops to students about home ownership.
“We will be partnering with educational and banking institutions, so students learn the cost of owning a home and everything that goes into it,” Edwards said. “Anything that we can do to educate our children on the responsibilities and practical applications of becoming an adult and how hard their families have to work to maintain a roof over their heads is a big benefit.”
Habitat for Humanity of Suffolk also has a Women’s Build and Vet’s Build set up that brings groups together. In her role as executive director, Edwards’ challenge is bringing in volunteers. She plans to do more with school districts and civic groups.
“Affordable housing is critical, especially on Long Island,” Edwards said. “The more people we can get involved is a benefit to not only them, but also for our region… We are trying to open our doors of volunteerism to anybody”
Currently construction is underway on six homes that should be completed by June. The house Glenn students worked on is a “GeoThermal” house that will be heated and cooled by the earth’s underground temperature rather than gas or oil.
“We are building as much of an environmentally friendly and energy efficient home as possible,” Edwards said. “We are putting in new cesspool systems and they are energy efficient, solar where we can, because not only is it good for the environment but it’s a lower cost to maintain for the homeowner.”