YouthBuild students and staff joined our partners and Germantown residents on Greene Street last Thursday to celebrate the completion of our latest rehabilitation project. Not long ago, this house was an abandoned structure and an eyesore lamented by neighbors who passed by the corner of Greene and Sylvania. But in 18 months and with terrific support from the Saint-Gobain Corporation, YouthBuild USA, Philadelphia’s Office of Housing and Community Development, and Philadelphia Neighborhood Housing Services, YouthBuild students rebuilt the property into a energy-efficient and sustainable property to be sold to a low-income, first-time homebuyer.
The house was built using construction products made from recycled materials and engineered to promote energy efficiency and reduce its environmental impact. We have submitted the house to be certified for LEED Platinum certification! This is the first house to be completed under YouthBuild USA and Saint-Gobain’s Building Our Future Together partnership. About 125 students in the building trades program at YouthBuild worked on this house over the course of its renovation; additionally, students in our Tech program refurbished a PC which was donated to the house for the future homeowner to use.
In the process, students working on the house have learned advanced construction and green-building skills, and learned about themselves.
Advanced Construction student Ciera Russum spoke at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, and wrote the following about her experience working on the house this year:
In the past year, this house was completely transformed. So was my life. When I first saw the house, there were holes in the floor and the wallpaper was peeling all the way down to the brick. It was literally an abandoned house. I had a lot of doubts about whether I could complete the program, and a lot of doubts about whether a group of inexperienced students could rebuild the home.
Thanks to our instructors, the Saint-Gobain Corporation Foundation and the building scientists at CertainTeed, we’ve learned new building skills that have opened my eyes to what I can do with my life. Sometimes this year I would come home from working on the house and try out things I’d learned on my mom’s house – like fixing a hole in her ceiling! Before YouthBuild I’d never even picked up a piece of pipe in my life; now I will be attending Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology in the fall to study plumbing.
While we’ve refurbished the house on Greene Street, we’ve also refurbished our lives at YouthBuild. I’ve learned important life skills like teamwork, time management, and being able to trust others. I have learned how to take criticism, and how to be a leader who is responsible for the success of a project.
Working on the Greene Street Project has given me so much confidence. I had doubted that we could succeed in rebuilding this house, but we did it and it looks amazing. This makes me imagine all the things I used to doubt, that I actually can do.
This house makes me feel like I can do just about anything.