Friday, June 12, 2009

Faith Works 6-13

Faith Works 6-13-09

Jeff Gill


Putting Youth To Work For the Summer


If you have a teenager about the house this summer, now that school is done – and let's be brutally candid: jobs are hard to come by.


So they don't have work to do, and even a teenager is liable to the sorrowful cry of summer plus a day or a week or so, "I'm bored! I haven't got anything to do!"


A very interesting and worthwhile option is to wander out the east side of Newark, turn at the KFC on Tuscarawas Street, behind Blessed Sacrament School, and then left on Penney Street, going past the old historic Penney Mansion, until the road runs into the vast berm of Route 16.


You may have noticed, if you glance to the right driving east on Rt. 16, just after crossing Cedar Street, that a new house is being built on the last lot next to the highway. This is a Habitat House, a project of the Licking County Habitat for Humanity, a key part of our community response to housing and homelessness since 1988, and this "build" is the 21st the local chapter has put up.


But this project is a bit different: it's called a "Youth Build," a special invitation is out to young adults, ages 16 to 21. Project supervisor Allan Smail is welcoming young people – who will, of course, need to sign some waivers and such, and a parent signature for those under 18 – regardless of skill level or experience to come and help build a house.


The house will be occupied by a family chosen by the local Habitat chapter, whose director, Sarah Oneson, has worked with the board and Habitat team to select. They need to get to where they have a clean credit record, and be willing to put what's called "sweat equity" into the project, whether that's labor on the house itself or office support with Sarah, but in return for their participation, they get a house with an interest free loan that they pay back into Habitat's revolving fund, so their "mortgage" payments actually go to help build the next house, and so it goes.


Habitat for Humanity is a Christian-based ministry open to the entire community; in fact, a number of area churches are looking at teaming together to do a "church build" for the 22nd house that Licking County Habitat for Humanity will build. But right now, the interest is in bringing together young adults, 16 to 21, to learn a bit about homebuilding, a great deal about teamwork, and perhaps more than a little about faith in action.


Obviously, you might want to call and find out more, and the office number for Habitat locally is 788-8778, but Allan assures me that if you can bring a parent to start out the process (particularly for 16 and 17 year olds), just come on out today to the end of Penney Street, and say "hey, can I help?"


The project will be under roof shortly, and interior work will create many options for building trade "newbie's" to help out. Allan and the team will be on site Wednesdays and Saturdays, 8:30 am to 3:30 pm; he'd really like to thank C-TEC and the students with Mr. Kirschner for the work building the exterior walls and framing before the school year ended.


If you'd like to see this project through to completion, or help a youth in your family know what it's like to see a house finished that you helped to build, put down the paper and come on over today . . . or give Sarah a call and see where you can pitch in later.


Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and supply preacher around central Ohio; he's proud to have helped with a half dozen or so Habitat projects, but has never swung a hammer next to Jimmy Carter – maybe next time. Tell him about your celebrity carpentry experience at, or follow "Knapsack" @

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