MennoHomes marked the completion of its first home construction project in Elmira, and first partnership with students at EDSS, with a celebration Jan. 20. With their efforts, there are now two homes for low-income families on Centre Street. Martin Buhr, president of MennoHomes, said the idea for an Elmira build started several years ago as the non-profit organization became aware of several local families in need. The group then teamed up with the 15 students from the high school, with supervision from teacher Scott Shantz, to help complete the project. is our first build with the high school and the mindset that develops having students from the high school involved here was different. We really felt a community connection with this project, from the guys building the house to students raising money for the home; it was great to see the school get behind this project. I am just thrilled that this has all happened,” said Buhr.
EDSS student council’s outreach committee took on the task of raising funds for the build, encouraging students to help their community through a door-for-door campaign: each student in their homeroom had the chance to buy little paper doors for a dollar, with the proceeds going to help purchase doors for the houses under construction.
“We knew they were building this home and it was going to a family in the community and we wanted to be able to spread our school support out into the community,” said Alyssa Tomlin, a member of the outreach committee. “A lot of students knew the guys that were in the home build and they were supporting their friends as well as the community.”
The school raised $1,000 towards the purchase of two front doors for the semi-detached homes.
The build also received a $6,000 donation from the Mennonite Savings and Credit Union.
This was the first time EDSS students took on the task of building a semi-detached home and the first time the class was able to build a home in Elmira. Instructor Shantz, who has completed 25 builds with students to date, said he was pleased with the outcome.
“The build went very well, and we were surprised to see the guys working well together. They were a pretty energetic bunch of teenagers,” said Shantz. “This has been very good for the guys because they see the outcome and know that it is going to someone who really needs the home. It meant a lot to the guys to know that and they really get the fact that they are helping our local community.”
Jordan Soehner, a Grade 12 student who helped on the build, said communication was key when it came to the students working with each other.
“Finishing this place took a lot of teamwork between everyone in the class,” said Soehner. “It is pretty cool to know that there was nothing here before, and we built it all. We definitely worked as a team to get this done. At first there were a lot of different ideas on how to do the work but we eventually found our groove and started working together. I am glad we did it and were able to experience what it is like to build a house because that is not something everyone has the chance to do.”