Volunteering…giving back. That’s a major component of the property maintenance training program at JEVS Human Services’ Project WOW. Students gain hands-on skills–and life lessons about working hard to get life back on track–while participating in community service projects to improve the homes of people in need.
On Veterans Day this month, Project WOW students worked with Rebuilding Together Philadelphia to make critical repairs to the Port Richmond home of a Vietnam veteran and his wife. They both suffer from COPD and their old, dusty carpet made breathing more difficult for them. Our students were up for the challenge, removing the carpet and installing new vinyl flooring in the living room, dining room and kitchen.
“For two years, JEVS Project WOW students have been incredible partners in our home repair projects for low-income homeowners across Philadelphia,” said Brandon Alcorn, operations manager of Rebuilding Together Philadelphia. “The students’ enthusiasm is infectious, energizing the Rebuilding Together staff and volunteers along with the homeowners we work with. As an organization that is dedicated to community revitalization, Rebuilding Together Philadelphia is not only grateful for the work that Project WOW has done with our organization, we are proud to offer practical experience to Philadelphia students.”
“Our students enjoy the opportunity to help people in dire need of repairs,” said Beth Lacher, program manager of JEVS Project WOW. “Our students see how the skills they learn in the classroom are coming to life. They realize they are truly making a lasting impact in the community with their new knowledge.”
The students also recently volunteered for JEVS Human Services’ Community Living & Home Supports program, which operates homes for individuals with disabilities. Just prior to Thanksgiving, students went to a home of JEVS residents to remove a rotten fence and replace a deck railing so that they can enjoy a safe outdoor space.
For the Project WOW students, volunteering motivates them in another way too. These are city youth from low-economic backgrounds who have dropped out of high school. There was a time in their lives when they gave up.
“The gratitude from the residents, the pride of completing projects, and students working side-by-side in some of the neighborhoods where they grew up, all of these facets give our students a tremendous feeling of accomplishment and accountability,” said Lacher.
Students’ positive, can-do spirit carries through to their GED test prep, the final component of Project WOW’s curriculum. Upon completing the 6-month program, a majority of students pass the GED and are then placed into self-sustaining careers (not just jobs!) with assistance from a JEVS employment specialist.
The value of giving back, and the virtue to succeed…the credo of today’s Project WOW students. The program is currently enrolling for its January 2017 class, which is no cost to Philadelphia youth who meet eligibility requirements. Click here for more information and to apply.