Habitat for Humanity house

Habitat house taking shape

Posted December 5, 2016

The siding is on the house that Plymouth High School students are helping to build for a district family.

Thanks to a new partnership between the Plymouth School District and Habitat for Humanity Lakeside, students are getting real-life building experience by serving as work crews.

“Students have had a small sampling of each step involved in the building process,” said PHS teacher Jim Meinen. “They have also experienced working and learning from a variety of experienced adults.”

The students have been involved with most of the construction so far, helping to set floor joists, apply decking, build interior and exterior walls, set roof trusses and sheeting, apply roofing and siding, apply soffit and fascia, backfill the foundation, and insulate exterior walls.

The Service Learning class taught by Mr. Meinen and Construction classes taught by Greg Gritt and Beau Biller have been scheduled to allow students several hours at a time on the job site, several days a week. They are under the supervision of their teachers, but also learning from the Habitat construction manager and retired tradesmen who volunteer.

“Teamwork, patience, frustration, problem solving, acceptance and organization have been part of the experience,” Mr. Meinen said.

Work has been progressing steadily since a groundbreaking ceremony Sept. 26. Basement footings were in by the end of that week.

On Oct. 10, volunteers joined PHS students at the school to assemble walls, which then were trucked to the site at 510 McColm St. Main sponsor Sargento sponsored a five-day blitz build that week to get the floor and walls in place.

By the end of October, windows were installed and the roof was on. By the end of November, doors and siding were in place.

The house is for the Russell family of Plymouth. Heather Russell works as an educational assistant for Horizon Elementary School and for the Community Education & Recreation child-care programs. Her son Michael is a second-grader at Horizon, and Noah is a fifth-grader at Riverview Middle School.

Michael has retinitis pigmentosa, a condition that has left him largely without peripheral vision and spots in what field of vision remains. His vision is expected to continue to deteriorate, though no one is sure how quickly. The new house will be built with his current and future needs in mind and will feature innovative lighting technology.

Mrs. Russell has put in countless hours helping build her new house (and others), in exchange for a zero-interest mortgage.

"This is just an amazing opportunity,” she told Habitat. “I thought that I wouldn't be able to buy a house unless I would get remarried someday and have a second income in my family. I am so grateful to be able to provide a forever home for my boys and have that home built with consideration of Michael's needs. This home will give him what he needs to be safe and independent as his needs grow. It will also give each of us a little bit more personal space as the boys grow. I will never be able to express my gratitude to Habitat for Humanity and our community for giving us this opportunity and fulfilling a dream!"

Also working on the site have been area CEOs, religious leaders, Redeemer Lutheran Church members, Sartori employees, and Van Horn Auto Group employees. There was a special build day for women from Sheboygan County on Oct. 29. The city of Plymouth donated the site for the project.

Learn more:
Read an article about the groundbreaking ceremony.