Hands on Learning: The Barbara A. Kay Foundation Sponsors Habitat's Teen Build 2016 with Local Students

 Two students from the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind Building a Tradesman program hard at work on a Habitat for Humanity build site. 

Two students from the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind Building a Tradesman program hard at work on a Habitat for Humanity build site. 

The second annual Teen Build event, sponsored by the Barbara A. Kay foundation, encourages local students to get involved in their community and is meant to expose high school aged teens to Habitat for Humanity’s purpose by their involvement in the construction of homes for low income families in St. Johns County.

During the first week of November, students from the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind (FSDB) and students involved in St. Augustine Youth Services (SAYS) were hard at work on a Habitat build site.  On Wednesday, November 2, teens in the Building a Tradesman program at FSDB worked the first of two Teen Build events, both located at a Habitat home on Holmes Boulevard in St. Augustine.  Students enrolled in the program were in attendance, supervised by Randall Hancock, FSDB’s career and technical instructor, as well as other adult interpreters and instructors.  Interestingly enough, the homeowner-to-be is a FSDB Food Service staff and as Hancock says, “it struck a chord—FSDB students helping FSDB staff!”  It is also this Habitat affiliate’s first time building a two story home.

“Today was a boon for these curious students, they received actual hands-on training in the real world of the construction sector” said Hancock.  “These students learned fraction measurements, but their real lesson learned was when they made cutting mistakes of the sidings too short. Mistake-learning is the best teacher, they improved the second time around after a white-knuckle mentality struggle to troubleshoot and solve real-word measurements problems.”

The second build day took place on Friday, November 4 with students from St. Augustine Youth Services.  They were supervised by Doug Richner, who is the Employment Education Coach at SAYS.  

The necessity for this project is two-fold: we need volunteers to help build our homes in order to make them affordable for Habitat homeowners and teens of St. Johns County need an opportunity to serve the community while learning new skills in an engaging environment.  In partnership with the Barbara A. Kay Foundation, Teen Build is meant to teach teens a trade and cultivate a drive to build something which instills a sense of accomplishment while also nurturing and supporting the youth of St. Augustine.

Our goal, at the end of the day of Teen Build, is for the teens to feel accomplished after their long day of sweat and hard work contributing to a local families dream of homeownership.  We hope they feel empowered with their tools and abilities to build more, learn more, and volunteer more.  We hope that they feel proud in having learned a new skill and being part of a newly constructed home for someone in need.  We hope they feel challenged to understand the need for affordable housing in our neighborhoods.  Most importantly, we hope that the experience builds hope inside each student for the endless possibilities their future holds and a sense of comfort knowing that their community believes in them to succeed.

The Barbara A. Kay Foundation, Inc. is a not-for-profit private foundation headquartered in St. Johns County.  The Foundation focuses on igniting imaginations, rewarding creativity and advancing skills through promoting and supporting projects which will assist young people of St. Johns and surrounding counties by extending their horizons and by expanding their ideas about themselves and their world’s possibilities.

 Student from St. Augustine Youth Services measuring and cutting Hardie Plank siding.

Student from St. Augustine Youth Services measuring and cutting Hardie Plank siding.