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Plaster rained from the ceiling and chunks of wall tumbled down the stairs as a group of students eagerly tore through a decrepit Greensburg home Saturday.
Davina Broker, 18, of Irwin especially liked ripping up the lathe boards inside the walls.
“It's just fun to pull them all off,” she said.
The group of eight Central Westmoreland Career and Technology Center students started gutting two empty houses on Jefferson Avenue over the weekend on behalf of Central Westmoreland Habitat for Humanity, which will fix up the homes over the next year to give families who need a place to live.
“We love the college kids; they come out and they work hard,” said Chuck Quiggle, president of the board at Central Westmoreland Habitat for Humanity.
The organization purchased the houses from the Westmoreland County Land Bank in December for $5,700. The Community Foundation of Westmoreland provided a $25,000 grant that was used to buy the property and will provide money for materials to remodel the houses.
The two-story houses on the parcel each has two bedrooms. The remodeling will make the houses handicapped-accessible, including ramps, grab bars and raised toilets, according to Daniel Giovannelli, executive director at Central Westmoreland Habitat for Humanity.
Once the houses are renovated, they will be provided to low-income families who are able to put at least 360 hours of work into their new home and pay a zero-percent interest mortgage.
“These are vacant properties getting families and putting those properties back on the tax rolls,” Giovannelli said.
Morgan McFeely, 17, of North Huntingdon said she and her fellow students were looking for a service project to do together and decided Habitat for Humanity would be a good use of their efforts.
“What way would be better to give back to the community than to help rebuild a home?” she said.
None of the students had prior construction experience — they all study health occupations — but they took to the demolition work quickly, according to Dakota Clark, 18, of North Huntingdon.
”We're just a little bit out of our element,” she said.
Broker, Clark and McFeely organized the endeavor, recruiting their classmates to help out. They are all part of the career and technology center's SkillsUSA program and plan to present their work at a state leadership conference in April.
They previously helped put the finishing touches on a recently finished Habitat for Humanity project in Jeannette.
“That's what our school represents, student leadership through skills training,” said Brian Pegg, a teacher and Skills?USA adviser at Central Westmore?land Career and Technology Center. “These girls did a fantastic job.”
Staff Writer Joe Napsha contributed. Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6646 or firstname.lastname@example.org.