Building trades program at BOCES partners with Habitat for Humanity

Posted 5 January 2021 at 10:33 am

Provided photo from Orleans/Niagara BOCES: Pictured from left include Casey Lefever (Newfane), teacher Matt Anastasi, Robert Morehouse (Medina) and Kim Haas (Lockport).

Press Release, Orleans/Niagara BOCES

MEDINA – Last year, Orleans/Niagara BOCES Building Trades teacher Matt Anastasi was approached by Habitat for Humanity to work with them on building modular homes. Since Mr. Anastasi was already giving his Orleans Career and Technical Education Center students various skills to prepare them for a career in the construction field, the opportunity was too good to pass up.

“Habitat for Humanity’s mission is such an amazing one as far as transforming families’ lives through affordable home ownership, so it’s a real honor for me and my students to be able to help them with that,” Anastasi said.

With the pandemic curtailing class trips, such as visiting a building site, the opportunity to build the house at the center turned out to be very beneficial especially for this school year.

“The plan is to build a house every school year with the specifications given to us by Habitat for Humanity,” Anastasi said.

The 1,366-square-foot modular home is built from the ground up and the electricity/electronics program gets a lesson in wiring the house as well.

“Thanks to our administration and maintenance team we have a designated space in our classroom to work on it and my students are really able to see what is entailed in building a house and also the inspection process as well,” Anastasi said.

Both the junior and senior classes are working during class time to get the house completed by the spring.

“The seniors are handling the more detailed aspects of the house like the kitchen, bathroom, cabinets and countertops,” Anastasi said. “The juniors are working on the bedrooms, closets and sheds since they are just starting to learn about tools and techniques. It has also become a little competitive with the juniors asking what the seniors completed that day and wanting to top their efforts. I am also fortunate that some of my seniors will stay for the other half of the day to be peer-mentors to the juniors. It is just awesome the dedication I am seeing and the sense of pride.”

Student Kim Hass said she is really enjoying the class, but the process of building the house has made her a little nervous.

“Knowing that someone will be living here and this will be their home makes me want to do my best and make it perfect for them,” she said.

“An inspection company from Pennsylvania has been coming to our classroom to see that we are following code and they are very impressed with the students’ hard work,” Anastasi said. “They have driven 200 miles each time for the four inspections as we move on to the next layer of completion. Their inspector said he was so impressed with the students’ work he said he would buy the house himself. That is very gratifying as a teacher that the students have been able to pass every one of those inspections with flying colors and get that kind of validation. I am really proud of them.”