The Journal Register (Medina, NY)

January 11, 2013

HANDS-ON HELP

By Jim Krencik
Medina Journal-Register

Medina Journal-Register — MEDINA — The Orleans Habitat for Humanity’s 14th housing project has proven to be a big one, but the students at the Orleans Career and Technical Education Center are up to the task.

A group of two dozen seniors from the OCTEC’s building trades and electricity/electronics programs are gaining educations complete with a wealth of hands-on experience thanks to their participation in the Orleans Habitat’s West Oak Orchard Street project.

For the rest of the semester, students will be spending two to three days each week providing the manpower for the rehabilitation of the house.

On Monday, they arrived early in the morning on a Community Action bus and got right into work. Electricity/electronics instruction Bill Leggett made sure there were more hands working and than in pockets on the chilly morning.

“This is real work, it’s not a simulation,” Leggett said. “In our classroom, the wires are in a 3 ft. by 3’ ft. booth; here they are running spools of wire — one mistake ruins 40 ft. of wire.”

Building trades instructor Matt Anastasi’s students worked to stay one step ahead of the classmates, building out walls so the wiring, and later the rough-ins can be installed. They apply lessons learned in class to secure the home.

“Students learn how to go from the ground up to a finished house,” Anastasi said. “They learn about home energy and safety —if the home is too tight that’s deadly combination with the furnace. They know the signs of heat loss.”

That’s a lesson that has sunk in. As students filed in, some pointed to the icicles hanging above the front door and said “look, heat loss.”

The environment is one that mixes old and new. While much of the gutted interior is now filled with new materials, some of the support-bearing interior walls are just 1” by 7” pieces.

“They don’t do that in modern construction — this shows the old way of doing things, getting things to match. There were no straight corners here,” Leggett said. “It’s an amazing reconstruction.”

The help is greatly appreciated by the Habitat volunteers who began working on the house in 2011. Orleans Habitat Kay VanNostrand said the project has proven to be a complicated one.

So far, they’ve torn down two rooms off the back of the house and replaced them with two bedrooms and a bathroom. The building has been completed gutted, with a completely new set of roof trusses and a new roof on the west side of the house.

“You don’t know how much work you’ll have until you start to tear things out,” VanNostrand said. “We found that there was more work involved than we imagined.”

The remaining work for the house is still filled with big tasks — installing the furnace, water, heating and plumbing. But VanNostrand said it’s all possible because of the community’s support, be it the students, agencies like Community Action and the United Way of Orleans County; or the private donors who assist with the projects. 

“We jump and by the time we’re finished the homes are paid for,” VanNostrand said. “We’re fortunate to have them.”

For more information about the Orleans Habitat for Humanity and it’s West Oak Orchard Street Project, visit www.orleanshfh.org or contact VanNostrand at 798-2329. Donations can be made to the Orleans Habitat for Humanity, P.O. Box 288, Medina, N.Y. 14103.

Contact reporter Jim Krencik at 798-1400, ext. 6327.