Editor's Note: This story was corrected at 12:50 p.m. on June 6, 2018. A previous version incorrectly identified the agency for which Elizabeth Mazanek is a spokeswoman.
Before getting their hands dirty, students from YouthBuild Schenectady began with a pledge.
“As a community, we are engaging in a united struggle to overcome the social, political, economic, educational and spiritual inequities which threaten to destroy us as a community,” the group chanted in unison at their construction site on Prospect Street in Schenectady. “We pledge our commitment to transform our lives and communities, to get up, dress up, show up, and to never give up.”
Seeking to hone skills for the modern workforce, all of the YouthBuild volunteers at Tuesday's session had discontinued their formal education for one reason or another, but along with their mentors, they see their futures as bright.
“I’d like to start my own business one day,” YouthBuild student Jesus Cosme said.
“I was confused between the medical field and the construction field,” Nasia Bondes said. “I noticed that [medicine] wasn’t for me … Then I chose construction. I like to get down and dirty.”
Young folks from Schenectady are here today to become versatile in construction skills, building a carbon-neutral home on Prospect St. pic.twitter.com/dNllaAEdHq— Jake Lahut (@JakeLahut) June 5, 2018
Working with volunteers from Saint-Gobain, a global manufacturer of building materials, students learn from professionals in the field who give career and life advice on the job.
Jennifer Lawrence, YouthBuild’s executive director, also stressed that the career and life skills students learn on projects like these keep them versatile enough to compete in the modern economy.
“This is a group of people who have never held a hammer before,” Lawrence said. “So they’re learning about the latest technology in HVAC and solar, framing technology, insulation … Every step of the way, they’re learning something.”
“All while understanding what it means to minimize the size of our carbon footprint,” added YouthBuild Green Initiative Project Manager Chris Cato said. He pointed out that the house will be carbon neutral, once complete, meaning it will be efficient enough to offset any negative environmental impact it creates through energy use.
The house was supposed to be completed in April. Saint-Gobain spokeswoman Elizabeth Mazanek said the long winter, as well as a delay in supply deliveries, contributed to the delay, pushing the completion date back to late 2018 or early 2019.
The current phase features a whole new crew, learning skills like drilling and hanging drywall.