TRAVERSE CITY — Construction on the fourth home in Habitat for Humanity's Depot Neighborhood is underway, and volunteers are getting extra help from local high school students.
About 30 students spent the last three weeks in Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District's Career-Tech Center shop framing and sheeting walls for the house's first floor.
The students teamed up with Habitat for Humanity volunteers Tuesday to begin securing the frames to the home's foundation. In the next several weeks their work in the classroom will evolve into a family home in the community.
"It's extremely exciting, and it's fulfilling to see it get put up," said Samantha Geraghty, a high school senior. "You don't see a lot of people out here working in the winter."
The Depot Neighborhood is a collaboration between Habitat for Humanity and HomeStretch Nonprofit Housing Corporation. The goal is to build 21 energy-efficient, affordable homes in Traverse City to keep costs down for homeowners while leaving a smaller carbon footprint.
Habitat officials selected homeowners for the project based on their need, income and willingness to put in sweat-equity alongside volunteers. The first three families moved into their new homes before Thanksgiving.
Geraghty said the opportunity to give back to the community is one of the reasons she signed up for the construction course. She's only been enrolled for a week and said she's happy with her choice.
"I'm glad to finally be a part of it," she said.
Students build the frames in the school's climate-controlled shop, which means project timelines aren't at the weather's mercy. That's good news for Habitat officials, who want to continue moving families into their new homes.
"That means throughout the winter we can keep going. We don't have to stop," said Michelle Reichert, Habitat's volunteer and event coordinator.
Instructor Tom Sensabaugh said the ISD's partnership with the nonprofit also allows students to get out of the classroom and gain valuable work experience.
"It is nice to be out in the field getting hands-on experience for our trade," said student Steven Vam.
Last year students built sheds and playhouses, but this year's project will leave a lasting impact.
"It's going to be something that they're going to see for years to come," Sensabaugh said.