Tech students give back while putting skills to work
UH technology students in the Construction Management program will showcase their generosity by renovating an elderly woman’s house this weekend.
“A group of our students volunteered their time over two weekends to power-wash the home, replace all broken windows, rotted trims, broken siding, cracked sealants, as well as scraping and painting the house siding and the trim. This should make the house more livable and more energy efficient,” Director of the Construction Management program Neil Eldin said.
The event will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.
The project started with a simple idea.
“Scott Vlasek, our advisor, suggested that I look into this program as a community service project, as the UH student chapter of ABC has not done a lot of community service projects in the recent past,” Associated Building and Contractors Student Chapter President Katherine Murphy said.
The team is partnering with Rebuilding Together Houston.
“Rebuilding Together Houston is a part of a larger national group,” Eldin said. “It is Houston’s largest community outreach organization working to preserve affordable homeownership and revitalize neighborhoods. It provides home repair and renovation services at no cost to low-income homeowners in need, such as (the) elderly, veterans, (the) disabled and people impacted by natural disasters.”
Students working on the project said it is about helping the community and not what this project will do for them.
“Our students decided to get involved in some work that confirms that the pleasure of giving is more than the pleasure of taking,” Eldin said. “They wanted to help, awaiting no monetary or tangible benefits.”
There are about 390 students in the Construction Management program, including 350 undergraduate and 40 graduate students.
“The characters of our students tend to be outgoing, movers and shakers, team players, willing to help and enjoying the touchy feely work environment,” Eldin said.
The elderly woman set to receive help was chosen by the Rebuilding Together Houston organization. The opportunities for these types of projects are brought up based on the amount of available volunteers.
“In this instance, the Construction Management students voiced their willingness to commit their time, offer their tools and volunteer their expertise in the art and science of construction,” Eldin said.
To qualify for assistance, the property must be a detached, single-family dwelling in Harris County that is in need of repair. The owner or occupant must be elderly or disabled and within the income guidelines. All repairs must be necessary, and the owner or occupant must be financially and physically unable to complete them on their own.
The woman whose house was chosen for this project was a longtime bus driver for HISD and had also worked at the Veterans Affairs hospital.
“In her youth, she did her share of contributing to the society, and now it is time to be recognized and dignified by the society,” Eldin said.
This weekend’s project will be a benefit to the homeowner, the students helping her and UH as a whole, Eldin said
“At UH, we focus on building characters as much as we focus on building technical expertise,” Eldin said. “This exercise/event serves both. As good citizens, our students are experiencing first-hand the joy of caring for the community of which they are a part. At the same time, their volunteer work provides additional opportunities to further sharpen their skills and knowledge.
“In addition, this event and similar exercises raise the UH banner high in the local community and indirectly in the whole nation. For the lady that was recognized, it is an affirmation of the feeling of belonging to our great city and state.”
Murphy said the opportunity to work in this weekend’s project will give participants valuable field experience, as well as the joy of helping the Houston community.
“It’s a booster to our chapter and our Cougar pride to get our name out there in the community that we will eventually be working in,” Murphy said. “We have the opportunity to better the lives of our neighbors and add to the rich culture of this city.”