Evanston, OH, June 7, 2016
EVANSTON, OH – At a news conference Tuesday morning, Easter Seals TriState introduced the first cohort of YouthBuild apprentices who will work on a property owned by Easter Seals TriState (ESTS). The news conference marked the formal beginning of renovations on the Evanston property.
The Cincinnati Enquirer featured the event. Read their article here.
"We are really excited about this project because it’s a first for us,” said Pam Green, President and CEO of Easter Seals TriState, speaking to partners and supporters. “We’ve rehabbed houses for folks. This is the first time we’ve taken possession, we’re wholly responsible for the project and for the sale of it to a deserving family.”
YouthBuild is a Department of Labor program offered locally by ESTS. Apprentices, all aged 16-24 and facing various barriers to academic and employment success, refocus their futures by participating in a construction training program while completing high school. The current team of young men face barriers like poverty, being a young parent, and grade repetition. Participants learn hands-on trade skills, build a respectable work history and character references, sample a variety of career options, and develop leadership skills—all while beautifying and rebuilding the surrounding neighborhood. After the projected June 2017 completion, the one-family property will become a low-income housing option.
“This house is like a reflection of their lives,” said Debbie Smith, ESTS Vice President of Education to Employment. “It may not look great right now…but with determined effort and focus, this house will become a home. And each of the youth that work on this house will have that same internal change: They will be transformed.”
The YouthBuild cohort has already put in one month of work making the property safe for public viewing by removing unsanitary carpeting, moldy cabinets, broken glass, and forgotten drug paraphernalia. Future plans include extensive basement work and comprehensive updates like moving a staircase for better traffic flow, enlarging bedrooms and closets, and redoing bathroom plumbing.
ESTS took ownership of the Brewster Avenue house on May 6 with the help of the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority. Speaking to the YouthBuild students on behalf of the Port Authority, Director of Housing Development and Inclusion Deborah Robb said, “We are happy to be in this partnership. We could have demolished this house. But we didn’t because we knew it had a purpose, and that purpose was to train you.”
Before giving tours of the house, YouthBuild Apprentices led guests in a daily tradition: The Start Your Day Board. Every day on the worksite, the students hammer a nail into a sawhorse as a way of releasing frustrations and starting fresh, ready to work. Apprentice Randell Campbell started it off, followed by ESTS’s Pam Green, then several other community partners, all demonstrating their commitment to the project and the community.