YouthBuild Philadelphia goes to Washington!

Today, YouthBuild Philadelphia led a “green” home building initiative at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. in celebration of YouthBuild USA’s 30th anniversary. Roughly 20 students and instructors joined more than 100 other young leaders from YouthBuild programs across the country, in addition to public officials and community leaders, to frame the walls of an energy-efficient, affordable home for a low-income family in Brownsville, Texas. The participants raised the walls of the house during the afternoon, after which the pieces were sent to Brownsville for completion.

First Lady Michelle Obama keynoted in a special afternoon ceremony, commending the students on their commitment to green initiatives and community service. Obama was introduced by YouthBuild USA Founder and President Dorothy Stoneman. Senator John Kerry closed the ceremony, speaking about his long-time friendship with Stoneman, and reminiscing about his participation in encouraging the first federal funding support for YouthBuild.

While in the District, students also participated in a “green” school, learning about green collar jobs, green schools, energy responsibility and environmental awareness.  We incorporate many green practices into our rehabilitation projects, such as the installation of Energy Star Appliances and high efficiency heating systems, and the use of energy efficient insulation and windows. The March green building project exposed students to new green techniques and enhanced our stake in green initiatives in the Philadelphia community.

In fact, we’ve already identified one house rehabilitation project (in the Nicetown area of Philadelphia) for the 2009-2010 program year, where our students will incorporate all green building techniques.  Read more about our green building initiatives in the Philadelphia Inquirer (May 21, 2009).

See more photos here.

Inspiring Communities Through Service on MLK Day

More than 200 of our students and staff members joined 65,000 volunteers throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware on Monday,mlk2009 Jan. 19, 2009 for the 14th Annual Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King Day of Service. YouthBuild students and staff organized and served as project leaders for a number of service projects around Philadelphia.

Green Playground Construction Project
At Greater Philadelphia’s signature MLK Day service site at Temple University’s Liacouras Center, YouthBuild students and staff led 150 community volunteers in the construction of a green playground structure and picnic tables, using recycled materials and lumber from sustainable woodlands. The playground structure and tables will be donated to Winchester Recreation Center in the spring. This project was sponsored by Hope worldwide.

YouthBuild students put the finishing touches on a picnic table
YouthBuild students put the finishing touches on a picnic table

The materials used for the playground structure were created from recycled, consumer household plastics. The wood was acquired from a sustainable woodland system. Read more about the materials used in the green playground project.

Highlights for the day included a visit by Senator Robert P. Casey, who stopped by for a few minutes to help drill in a few screws for the playground structure.
Read more from the Philadelphia Inquirer Online Desk and KYW Newsradio.

Vanguard Mentoring Project

Also at the Liacouras Center, nine professionals from Vanguard kicked off a long-term mentoring project with YouthBuild (with an emphasis on post-secondary preparation) by facilitating a skills training day. Vanguard volunteers facilitated four student workshops, including resume writing, mock interviews, basic presentation skills, and a group discussion about how education and career training are related to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream of equality for all citizens.

Volunteers from Vanguard give students advice on college, career training, and personal development.
Volunteers from Vanguard give students advice on college, career training, and personal development.

RHD Ridge Avenue Shelter Painting Project
YouthBuild joined volunteers from fellow programs currently housed in the Philadelphia OIC Office Building (in North Philadelphia) to clean and paint 20,000 square feet of the RHD Ridge Avenue Shelter (1360 Ridge Ave.). Collaborative Partners included Youth Empowerment Services (YES), North Philadelphia E3 Center, Philadelphia OIC, MOCS – Mayor’s Office of Community Services and National Student Partnerships.

Weatherizing Homes for the Elderly
In the West Oak Lane area of Philadelphia, students and staff provided weatherization services for roughly fifteen low-income, elderly homeowners. The volunteer service included applying plastic sheeting to windows in order to seal in warm air and reduce the influx of cold air from outside. This project was coordinated in conjunction with PennSERVE: The Governor’s Office of Citizen Service.

Mural Painting
YouthBuild staff and volunteers designed and supervised the painting of a mural to commemorate MLK Day 2009. The mural was completed by a group of happy youth volunteers.

Volunteers painting the commemorative mural
Volunteers painting the commemorative mural