WHS students helping build the Habitat For Humanity house they funded
WENATCHEE — A team of Wenatchee High School students spent the weekend working on three homes being built by Habitat for Humanity on Methow Street in South Wenatchee. One house in this project has special significance for the students participating in the Interact Club at WHS, because the students raised money for the $52,000 initial project cost over nearly four years. Now that’s an audacious accomplishment.
Upstairs in the unit funded by the high school fundraising effort, Milagro Tello was working on the ceiling. It’s a requirement that those receiving Habitat For Humanity homes provide sweat equity in the project. Tello told me she was enjoying taking courses at Home Depot to learn basic construction skills. Even though she was working on a house other than her own, she was beaming with pride at being part of the project. She and her two children will move in when their home is finished. It’s tough on kids when they move around a lot, she said.
The Interact Club adviser is Jon Magnus, a French teacher at the school and the regional teacher of the year. One of his passions is finding ways to create meaningful engagement between Latino and Anglo students. The Interact Club has created a safe place for students to be themselves despite differences. The club is bridging the cultural divide, he said. “Everyone feels a part of this (club),” Magnus told me.
Reflecting back on the moment when students proposed raising $50,000 to fund a house, his first reaction was that it would be a daunting task. “But I knew what these kids are capable of” and he fully supported the idea, even though it would put more work on his shoulders. Obviously, none of the students who started the project are still at the school. It’s a project that leaders and participants in the club took on as their own personal challenge. They succeeded.
Flarity-White is a relative newcomer to Rotary, but said her son was involved with Interact Club when the fundraising started for the Habitat build. Working with the students regularly, said Flarity-White, has been a blessing. “I feel 10 years younger,” she told me.
Also on hand Saturday was Habitat’s volunteer coordinator, Ruth Dagg, who moved to the valley a few years ago and who teaches piano and voice. With the year-round building being done, they are seeking more volunteers to help get the houses finished. “The older you get, the more you want to make your time worthwhile,” Dagg said. I couldn’t agree more. For those who would like to donate their time to help this organization, contact Dagg through wenatcheehfh.org.
What’s amazing about this project is the way it brings students face-to-face with community needs and with an organization like Habitat For Humanity that is filling that need. These students will remember this project and the people they helped far better than what they achieved on standardized tests. Community is built when opportunities are created to help others.
“When I hear people criticize ‘teens these days,’ I immediately think of these Interact students,” Flarity-White told me. “They have worked so hard all these years, and they are all wonderful people. It gives me a lot of hope for our future and I know we (humans) are going to be okay.”
The students of the Interact Club, Rotary and Habitat For Humanity have collaboratively created something very special for our valley.