07/15/08 — Teens give helping hand to Habitat for Humanity build

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Teens give helping hand to Habitat for Humanity build

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on July 15, 2008 1:51 PM

Wayne County teenagers will get the opportunity to help out some of their neighbors later this month as the local Habitat for Humanity will host its first-ever Teen Day.

Habitat for Humanity Volunteers

News-Argus/Bonnie Edwards

Seventeen-year-old Jun Tsuda, in the foreground, from Our Savior Lutheran Church in Haddonfield, N.J., is helping build a house this week for the Habitat for Humanity of Goldsboro-Wayne County. The younger members of the group are doing projects that do not involve hammers and nails.

Traditionally, said Lee Gray, development director for Habitat for Humanity of Goldsboro Wayne County, people under 16 are not allowed to help build houses. And Wednesday is not a regular construction day, with volunteers usually building the homes on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

But on Wednesday, July 30, the teens, ages 14 to 18, will be at the work site just like the grown-ups. They will not have any hammers and nails in their hands, but they will be doing what they can, like painting, landscaping and clean-up work.

"We're excited about Teen Day," Mrs. Gray said. "(Volunteer Coordinator) Adrienne Strickland is getting phone calls from parents who are tired of their kids watching TV all day."

Already, Mrs. Strickland said, 10 registration forms have been requested.

Registration and a $15 fee, which includes costs of lunch and a Habitat for Humanity T-shirt, are due at the Habitat Office by 131 E. Walnut St. by Friday, July 25.

There is, however, a limit to the number of teens they can have working on the site.

"We hope it's a problem," she said when asked if there would be a limit to the number of teens signing up to work on Teen Day.

But Mrs. Gray said the organization has had a very unwanted problem.

Thieves recently went under two Habitat houses on Stephens Street and stole an unknown footage of wiring worth about $1,500. Although the damage listed on the police report was only $1,000, Mrs. Gray said it could costs multiple thousands of dollars before the houses are ready for occupants. She said it will cost Habitat $2,000 for the electrician alone to rewire both houses.

And that is not all.

Although the thieves just clipped wires underneath the houses, Mrs. Gray said the wiring will have to be completely redone. That means pulling down all the sheet rock, and nobody knows yet whether the kitchen cabinets will have to be torn out and replaced.

"That set us back," she said.

To make matters worse, one of the houses had been dedicated, and the new owner, Tawanda Hawkins, and her two teenage sons, had received the keys.

But now that the wiring has to be redone, Mrs. Gray said it looks like it will be a while before the closing will take place.

"This family worked hard for this house," she said. "Her two sons worked every Saturday. They didn't complain about all the sweating work every Saturday working on their house when they could have been doing other things. They did everything they're supposed to do. It's a shame."

On the brighter side, Habitat does have another group of teenagers in town helping build the organization's 30th house this week.

The 26 students and chaperones from Our Savior Lutheran Church in Haddonfield, N.J. were putting in the flooring Monday at the house on Stephens Street. The older teens hammered boards into place, while the younger ones sanded some chairs that had been donated to Habitat.

But, she said, there will still be plenty of work for local teens to do on the 30th.

For information or to request a registration form, call Mrs. Strickland at 736-9592.