In one Austell neighborhood on Saturday morning, the air smelled of freshly cut lumber and echoed with the sounds of dozens of arrhythmic hammers clacking on pieces of wood. It was the local Habitat for Humanity chapter’s first build day of the year, and students from seven Cobb high schools got together to build a house for a deserving family.
George and Comfort Baidoo, the future homeowners, worked alongside the teens, first erecting the exterior walls, then covering them with plywood and setting up porch supports. The Baidoos are teachers from Ghana who have been married seven years and have an 11-month-old daughter, Blesson. “We are grateful for this opportunity to be homeowners,” George Baidoo said. “We are excited that we will live in a safe area.”
Some of the hardhat-wearing students struggled at first to hammer their nails in straight, but a team of volunteers led by volunteer house leader Vincent Schager let them know which end of the hammer to hold, and within a few hours, they were pounding nails with the best of them.
Schager said he has been a part of over 20 Habitat for Humanity projects, including eight high school projects, and there is always a bit of a learning curve. “It’s going to take a little while because, frankly, many of these students have never been on a habitat site before, and many of them have not done this type of work, so you have to bring a certain amount of patience to the game,” he said. “But they’re anxious, they’re eager, and by the end of the day, they’re all going to feel good about what they’ve learned and what they’ve done.”
Sprayberry seniors Ty Scott and Neda Masreshi cracked jokes to keep their spirits up while hammering the houses frame.
“It’s definitely a lot harder than I thought, but I expected it to be hard because I have no muscles,” Mareshi said.
“But it seems really cool what they’re doing, and I’m glad to be a part of it,” Scott said.
Mareshi agreed. “When it’s done, I think I’ll feel more accomplished than I ever have, proud if I drive down the street one day and see the house,” she said.
Katie Tucker, a Hillgrove junior, has done a few Habitat for Humanity projects before, and she had some advice for her new colleagues.
“The hardest part is, I guess I would just say it’s a really long day, so you just have to keep up your stamina and work all day,” she said. “My favorite part is painting the house at the end and then picking out the stuff that you did. You’re just really proud of all that you did.”
The students on the build represent Pope, Walton, Wheeler, Sprayberry, Campbell, Kennesaw Mountain and Hillgrove high schools.
They will come back to the site for eight more Saturday work days, and expect to complete the house by late April.
The Northwest Metro Atlanta Habitat for Humanity has plans to build 12 additional houses in Cobb County this year.