Roofers gain experience with Habitat project

PARKERSBURG – Students got real world experience as they are doing roofing work on a house being built for Habitat For Humanity.

More than a dozen individuals working as apprentices with a local roofers union did roofing at the 64th house being built by the Wood County Habitat Chapter.

The project is at 1333 Ridgeway Ave. in Parkersburg. The students were there all day Thursday and will be there all day today.

Habitat Executive Director Alvin Phillips said this kind of assistance benefits everyone involved.

“It is a huge help,” he said. “This is difficult weather to get our regular volunteers up on the roof to do roof work. With these students, it gives them practical experience.”

Construction supervisor Chad Ray said these guys helped the project tremendously.

“All construction is tough,” he said. “Roofing is really tough. To be able to get professionals in provides a big boost to all the other volunteers.”

In addition to getting practical work experience, the students get a better understanding of what Habitat is and what is being done, Ray said.

“Most people don’t understand what Habitat is,” he said. “Many think it is a handout, but that is not the case.”

Houses are built in partnership with families who meet qualifying criteria, and are then sold to them with an interest-free mortgage and a manageable house payment. Families are expected to provide a minimum number of “sweat equity” hours toward their own houses and others.

Wood County Habitat built four houses in 2012 for 19 people, with the help of approximately 85 volunteers and 2,500 hours per house.

The students worked shoulder to shoulder with the homeowner and saw what this project is doing for someone who needs it.

“It inspired them to work harder,” Ray said. “It boosts everyone’s morale.

“These guys are training for a trade and they are using it to help the community. This experience adds a special dimension to what they are doing,” Ray said.

Students from the union have helped on projects in the past, Phillips said.

Habitat has received help from students from the Washington County Career Center and Morgan County High School.

The students get valuable work experience in real-world conditions while Habitat gets more houses built.

“The most important thing is the families buying these homes gets them out of substandard housing quicker,” Phillips said. “It is a win-win situation for everyone.”