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EAST LYNN, W.Va. — High school students and volunteers came together to build a family a new home Monday and Tuesday, giving them the chance to learn real-world experience while doing a good deed.

Students from the Cabell County Career Technology Center (CCCTC), along with volunteers from Missouri, Ohio and the Washington, D.C., area, worked together to build a new home for an East Lynn family. Sophomore Nash Ryder said it was a great chance to learn and help people.

“It’s nice because we get to learn what the workplace can be like and get a little prepared for the future,” he said. “And it feels good to help people, too. We may have more opportunities like this in the future, and it’s nice to start off in high school.”

The CCCTC program helps high schoolers gain experience in the field before they graduate, which can help them decide if they want to go to college, a trade school or straight into the workforce once they get their diploma, Ryder said.

Hugh Roberts, instructor for the CCCTC students, said they have spent the past few months prefabricating the walls and flooring structures for the new home. The prefabrication of the structure meant time spent building the home was cut significantly, Roberts said, sometimes going from days of construction down to just hours.

CCCTC students also worked with Christian Builders and the Cabwaylingo Appalachian Mission to construct the home.

Dunlow Community Center manager Bill Likens said they typically build one new home each year for a family in need, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the family had to wait an extra year.

“We were ready to go last year and had already built the foundation for the house when COVID hit,” Likens said. “We were going to be constructing in March of last year, but since the pandemic began, this family had to wait more than a year for this house.”

Likens also said he has decided to build two houses each year now, and this year’s second house will begin construction in late July.

Likens said he appreciates the help from the CCCTC and thinks the projects are beneficial for students.

“They’re getting a trade, and it’s one thing to do it in a classroom, but when you see it in a situation like this, it’s a totally different experience,” he said.

The students are also a big help, Likens said, because he typically has crews of about 150 people, but this year he cut down for safety and has around 30 crew members.

Likens takes applications for home repairs and newly built homes each year to decide where they will build the new homes, and he said people are often shocked when they find out they have been chosen.

The families also sometimes receive donated furniture for their new homes. This year, Likens said, he received confirmation that a Catholic parish in New Jersey will pay for all the appliances to both homes.

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