ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Rockford Area Habitat for Humanity has partnered with Rockford Public Schools for seven years.
It is in an effort to give students real world career experience while providing stateline families a home. RPS 205 and Habitat celebrated the seven-year milestone on Tuesday with their 10th and 11th houses built during the collaboration.
“Oh, the best feeling is stepping outside and looking at the house and, you know, it just fills you with joy,” said Reponse Shema, student at East High School.
“It’s so cool seeing how well it came out,” added Elijah Stanley, student at Guilford High School.
Guilford and East students got to see their finished product on display after a year of hard work. Two Rockford families now have a place to call home.
“Seven months ago this was just vacant land, and today this is a finished and completed home for a family, which is unbelievable,” said Keri Asevedo, executive director of the Rockford Area Habitat for Humanity.
During their seven-year partnership, the nonprofit and RPS 205 have built 11 houses from the ground up.
“We just as a school district feel tremendous pride,” said Dr. Ehren Jarrett, superintendent for RPS 205. “We’re grateful to Habitat for Humanity for their partnership, we’re grateful to our faculty and staff the way they support our students, but we’re ultimately excited to see a family get a home. And, to see our students build that home is just the absolute pinnacle of what great public education can look like.”
Forty students, all studying construction, had the opportunity to get real life experience this school year in an industry that they might pursue.
“At first I didn’t know anything about construction, and with the teachers, what they’ve taught me, they’ve helped me so far,” said Gerardo, student at East High. “They helped me to end up liking construction, so it’s something I like to checkout more into the future for my future, my life and everything.”
“You know, someone is going to live in that house, and you were a very, very big part of it, which is a nice thing to carry in your life,” Shema added.
“It’s a really good opportunity, and it’s been really fun doing it,” Stanley said. “I hope to come back next year.”
“If they join up and decide, ‘this isn’t what I want to do for the rest of my life,’ they are going to take away a lifetime’s worth of real, high-quality skills that they can use in their own home someday,” Jarrett added. “And, if they decide to build it into a career, it’s an incredibly high paying career.”
The project began in September and took just one school year to complete.