CLEVELAND — Building homes may not be a typical summer job for teens, but for Chasity Maxwell, it's a dream job.
“I always wanted to do it when I was younger, but I couldn’t because I wasn’t old enough. I wanted to learn new stuff. I wanted to see how construction worked. I always saw it on the street and other people doing it,” Maxwell said.
Now at age 16, Maxwell is painting, nailing and renovating this home in Cleveland's Buckeye-Woodland neighborhood.
It is one of four houses in this neighborhood that will be renovated by the Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity with the help of teenagers as a part of the Building Great Futures initiative.
“We know how to put up drywall . . . and they taught us electricity, how to put the outlets in and out,” Maxwell said.
Fifteen teens from the Boys and Girls Club of Northeast Ohio have trained at Associated Builders and Contractors in Broadview Heights to learn construction trades and although they’re getting paid for this work, Maxwell said the true payoff is knowing the homes will belong to families who need them.
“I worked on a house and now somebody’s living in it and so it gives me confidence to do it again next year,” she said.
Tory Coats, of the Boys and Girls Club of Northeast Ohio, and John Habat, president and CEO of Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity, both said this experience gives teens life skills to put into their tool belts.
“Even in a nontraditional setting they’re learning during this summer, they're learning, not necessarily in the classroom but learning through hands-on working with the tools and just really getting their hands deep and dirty and they're learning that way," Coats said.
“It’s their first job. They learn work culture, showing up on time, how to resolve conflict with a team member, how to work together to work things out," Habat said.
“One of the best examples us as leaders can set for our youth is the importance of just reinvesting in our community and specifically reinvesting in the youth,” Coats said.