Members of the Orange County School district administration joined Orange County Habitat for Humanity, a class from Orange High School and financial partner PHE Incorporated to announce the 11th annual Hands for Habitat event Thursday morning.
The event, which took place at 545 Homemont Avenue in Hillsborough, will see the construction traits class from Orange High School partner with Habitat for Humanity—with the help of a $50,000 donation from PHE Incorporated—who was represented by Katy Zvolerin, Director of Public Relations, to build a home at the site location.
Some of the notable OCS administration present to celebrate the kickoff were Dr. Chris Gammon, Executive Director of Curriculum, Dr. Dena Keeling, Chief Equity Officer, Jason Johnson, Executive Director of Schools, and Shannon Braxton, Director of the Arts and Career & Technical Education.
“Ten and a half years ago, former superintendent Patrick Rose worked with Habitat for Humanity of Orange County on an idea of how Orange County Schools and Habitat could work together,” Johnson said to the assorted crowd at the build site. “We wanted the focus to be through our academic curriculum, on the issue of affordable housing. I am proud to announce that since then, 12 schools have participated, 74 classrooms have been involved in in-service learning initiatives and more than 2,000 students, teachers, parents and community members have participated in the educational fundraiser and building components of this program.”
This year’s batch of students will spend the first two periods of each school day at the site, building the house which will become the foundation for a family in need. One of the former families who received a home from this annual partnership three years ago was present at the event. Nortbert Runyambo smiled and thanked Habitat for Humanity for helping give him the ability to support his eight children.
He also thanked Habitat for "teaching our kids to do a good job for the future, not only for us, [but] for their own future, thank you.”
Before the event officially kicked off with Campbell, Zvolerin, Johnson, class teacher Bob Therman and a Habitat for Humanity worker hammering nails into a piece of wood, Therman addressed the attendees, specifically his students.
Therman discussed the strides his students had made in the last year. Two of his former pupils were hired to work full-time at a gas company, and another got an internship there.
Yet Therman said he wants his students to continue working hard, to get to the next level and know that they are capable of doing great work and pushing themselves.
He said he’s seen his former students return to him at Orange High School, having morphed from children into mature adults. He had a message for the students that will be under his care for at least the next year working at the build site.
“Believe in yourself, believe who you are,” Therman said. “When you're doing this job out here, you can do it anywhere, and you're all really good at it, too. That's my point I want to make this year and that's our stride this year. To have these guys have the feeling that 'I can go out there, I can work for a company. I know I can do 40 hours a week. I'll have my weekends off and I'm right back at it on Monday, working.'”