This year’s Wilton Youth United home-building project is already underway.
Over the summer, the chapter of Fairfield County Youth United — part of a national youth group focused on the Habitat for Humanity outreach program — began building on a home for a family of six in Bridgeport.
“It is exciting,” said Margie Holcombe, volunteer Wilton Youth United leader. “We broke ground in July on the home on Maple St. for the family that will be residing there.”
As part of the Habitat for Humanity program, families receiving a home must put in 500 hours of “sweat equity,” which the organization defines as “the hours of labor our homeowners dedicate to building their homes and the homes of their neighbors, as well as the time they spend investing in their own self-improvement.”
Holcombe said although the family receiving the home Wilton Youth United is currently working on has already “donated more than their requisite 500 hours of sweat equity before they acquire an interest-free loan on their new home,” they are still working alongside the volunteers.
Last year, Wilton Youth United built a home at 983 Kossuth St. in Bridgeport for a father and his teenage son, who moved in July 2014.
“They were thrilled and grateful for the opportunity to have a home in a safe neighborhood,” said Holcombe, “and the [Youth United] kids were able to see a full project to completion from start to finish.”
Wilton Youth United is comprised of elementary, middle school and high school students — the bulk of which, Holcombe said, are in middle and high school.
“Students who are 12+ may be asked to paint a fence, plant a garden, paint siding, build step stools or make bookcases,” said Holcombe.
“Students who are 16+ actually work with supervision on a home and get experience in laying installation, placing siding on a home, nailing lumber, demolition, painting, cement application and all types of chores.”
There are also activities for Wilton Youth United members of all ages, including making gingerbread houses, stools and bookcases, donating books for the bookcases, an annual car wash and annual holiday craft.
Holcombe said Wilton Youth United also works on various group events and fund-raisers with Wilton High School’s Habitat for Humanity Club.
Although the number of events and fund-raisers varies each year, said Holcombe, Wilton Youth United strives to do at least one local activity each month.
“Regionally, we participate in Hoops for Habitat in March, World Habitat Day and we’ve had a couple of members attend the national conference,” she said.
Holcombe said in addition to raising funds for the home-building project and working on projects for the family and house itself, Wilton Youth United also strives to make the community aware of the needs for adequate housing in the area.