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Baltimore Students “Build-A-Block” for Habitat

May 19, 2011 04:03PM ● By Anonymous
On Saturday, May 21, 2011 at 4 p.m., an anticipated 200 individuals will gather at 2420 Jefferson Street in East Baltimore to celebrate the dedication of freshly built homes by Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake volunteers.  The deserving new homeowners—Harry Braxton, Deborah Brown, Taja Cole, and Stacey Gray—will be receiving keys to their new homes at this celebration. 

Nearly 1,000 Baltimore area high school students from 16 public, independent, and parochial schools have helped raise walls and $200,000 in funds for the four homes in East Baltimore’s Monument-McElderry-Fayette (MMF) community.  Calling this project Build-A-Block, the students have partnered with Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake’s youth initiative designed to involve students in revitalizing viable communities with affordable housing in Baltimore City—one block at a time. Overall, the fundraising efforts from the Build-A-Block schools included over 10,000 Baltimore families.

"Habitat does not just build homes—they build families. My daughter and I are going to begin life together anew because these wonderful young people came together to build us a home," said new homeowner, Deborah Brown, who will move into 2426 Jefferson Street. 

This Saturday’s celebration for the Jefferson Street homeowners will include personal stories to a gathering of family, friends, Habitat for Humanity volunteers and staff, and pastors in a joyous commemoration of a new beginning with a safe, decent, affordable home.  The public is invited to attend. 

Students from the Build-A-Block coalition who built on the construction site range from 16-18 years old and hail from Baltimore City College, Bryn Mawr School, Calvert Hall College, Carver Vocational Technical High School, Dulaney High School, Edmonson-Westside High School, Herford High School, Independent School Local 1, Jemicy School, Mergenthaler Vocational Technical High School, McDonogh School, Mount St. Joseph High School, The Friends School of Baltimore, and Park School.

These civic-minded students donated over 5,600 hours in construction labor alone, along with thousands more hours spent on community mapping, advocacy efforts, and projects ranging from painting murals to planning a community garden in the neighborhood.  The community garden will be planted on the site of an abandoned garage that students recently helped demolish and clear. 

In addition to the $200,000 raised for these Habitat homes, Build-A-Block coalition members’ contributions of labor equal nearly $120,000, as well as the nearly 6,000 hours in volunteer construction work that the students provided. 

Prospective homeowners fulfill 250-350 hours of “sweat equity” through work on the construction site, at the Habitat office and at that Habitat ReStores. They also participate in at least 50 hours of financial education. 

For more information about the home dedications or the Build-A-Block program, please contact Jessica Drake, Advocacy and Youth Engagement Coordinator, HFHC, at 410.366.1250 x 133 or