By RICH REZLER
When the Bond family cut the ribbon on their new beginning on Sunday afternoon, it also signified the culmination of the three-year YouthBuild program administered by Washtenaw Community College.
Calvin and Andrea Bond, along with their children Noah and Teya, welcomed visitors into what will soon become their new home on Auburndale Avenue in Ypsilanti Township. While temperatures dipped into the single digits, the bright sunshine — a rarity in southeast Michigan in mid-January— better captured the mood inside the cozy three-bedroom home.
Andrea Bond stopped to compose herself and dry her eyes several times while thanking the many volunteers and contributors to the project – a partnership between Habitat for Humanity of Huron Valley and the WCC YouthBuild project.
“Congratulations and ‘welcome home’ to the Bond family,” WCC Vice President of Student and Academic Services Linda Blakey said during the brief home dedication ceremony. “WCC is honored to have had the opportunity to be part of the exceptional team providing this home.”
A total of 52 students participated in the YouthBuild program, which WCC operates through an $899,000 grant received in the fall of 2015 from the U.S. Department of Labor.
YouthBuild is designed to offer young adults ages 16-24 the ability to earn their GED, obtain construction credentials, receive leadership training and have an opportunity to construct housing for low-income families in their community.
Final numbers are not available, but Blakey confirmed “a majority” of the students who participated in the program completed their GED credential and have gained employment in the community.
“So many of the YouthBuild students are working jobs – in many cases, multiple jobs – that we sometimes struggled to get them to this work site to complete their required house-building experience,” Blakey said.
Participants in the no-cost, 22-week program were involved in numerous community service projects and helped remodel a house on Woodruff Street in Ypsilanti last year. But building the brand-new home on a formerly vacant parcel on Auburndale Avenue was the pinnacle achievement.
Lou Kovanis, a faculty member in WCC’s Construction Technology program, served as the project’s general contractor and coordinated with Habitat for Humanity staff and volunteers to ensure the energy efficient house was completed in a timely fashion. Habitat staff also worked to identify and assist the Bond family with purchase of the house.
Blakey also took the opportunity to thank other WCC staff members who worked hard to ensure the YouthBuild program was a success: Construction faculty member Cristy Lindemann, who served as the YouthBuild program director; construction lab assistant Evelyn Hernandez-Jordan, who served as the YouthBuild Student Success Coordinator; YouthBuild counselor Kari Mapes; and Financial Services employees Karen Parker and Lisa Adams for helping to follow the guidelines of the grant and getting payments processed.
The college’s long-standing training relationship with the United Association also led to the donation of labor and materials from journeymen and apprentices from UA Local 190 to complete all the heating/cooling and plumbing systems in the home.