Saws, Scaffolds and Service

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 21, 2013

KANNAPOLIS — If you’re going to plan a service project, why not plan big?
That was part of the thinking behind the A.L. Brown High School Interact Club’s service project.
Last year, the club joined students from area colleges in working on a Habitat for Humanity building project in Spencer.
Jonathan Farmer, math teacher and Interact Club adviser, said students realized that could do such a project in their hometown.
Farmer, along with fellow teacher and adviser Lindsey Walborn, helped gather volunteers.
It didn’t take long for the plan to come together.
Farmer said the students’ efforts have been realized thanks to the help of local businesses, the city of Kannapolis and school officials.
Jessica Rojas, a 2013 graduate of A.L. Brown, said she wanted to be involved in building a Habitat for Humanity house after experiencing the project in Spencer.
“We kind of came in late on that project, when most of the work was already done,” Rojas said.
This time, students were involved from the beginning.
The new home is located on Lowe Avenue in the Carver community, just a minute’s drive from the campus.
It’s a neighborhood that’s revitalizing itself. On the next block, the city recently ordered the demolition of some dilapidated structures.
Also, Habitat for Humanity of Cabarrus County has helped rehabilitate existing homes in the same neighborhood, besides new construction.
It took a little time for the Lowe Avenue project to get underway, Farmer said.
The city had to relocate sewer lines so that the foundation of the house could be built.
Then, rain and bad weather delayed construction.
Bob Lamarche, site supervisor for Habitat for Humanity of Cabarrus County, said the end is in sight.
“We’ve got (the dedication) set for July 9 right now, as long as the weather holds,” Lamarche said.
Even with delays, students said they were impressed with the magnitude of the project.
Jennifer Bowyer, rising junior at A.L. Brown, said she was amazed “by how quickly it’s being done.”
In all, about 30 students have worked on the house at some point during the project, Farmer said.
Bowyer and other students, being teenagers, weren’t able to do some of the more challenging parts of the build.
As with any Habitat for Humanity project, specialized work such as masonry and electrical wiring was handled by professionals.
But students had plenty of opportunities to help with painting, hammering and the like.
Earlier, Bowyer helped nail together the moisture barrier that helps insulate the walls.
Last weekend, volunteers were helping measure, cut and install siding.
Some, including Kannapolis City Schools Superintendent Pam Cain, climbed onto scaffolding two stories off the ground to help with the process.
Cain said seeing students getting involved in the community was “very heartwarming.”
When she became superintendent three years ago, Cain said, students at A.L. Brown High School told her they wanted to do more community service projects.
Cain praised Farmer and Walborn for their leadership, saying that efforts like this help show the caring schools have for students.
The Interact Club is the high school service club of Rotary International.
Volunteers from the Kannapolis Rotary Club joined students, school officials and other volunteers on the job site.
“It’s a great experience to be part of it,” said Robert Kanofsky, Kannapolis Rotary Club’s liaison to the A.L. Brown Interact Club.
At first, Kanofsky said, “I was a little shocked to see them take on such a large project.”
But he praised them, and their advisers, for putting forth the effort to seek donations and sign up volunteers from around the city.
“They’ve taken this club to a new level,” Kanofsky said. “My job as liaison has been to pretty much get out of the way, and let them make it happen.”
Among the volunteers is the homeowner-to-be, Carissa Mouton of Concord.
She and her two sons, ages 5 and 3, will soon move into their new house.
“The kids are real excited,” Mouton said during a break from work. “Last time we brought them over, they cried when we left. They actually get to have their own room now!”
Lamarche said it was uncommon to see a high school group provide the motivation for a Habitat for Humanity build.
There are events geared toward local high schools and colleges, Lamarche said, but this project was different.
“It makes you believe in the future, you know, to have leadership like that, the initiative to help other people,” Lamarche said.

Contact Hugh Fisher via the editor’s desk at 704-797-4244.