Being part of the Chamber’s Construction Industry Council is a natural fit for Habitat for Humanity of Forsyth County. After all, Habitat has been nurturing the next generation of tradespeople for years — right in line with the goals of the Council, which seeks to recruit more young adults for construction jobs.
Each year the Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools’ Career Center builds a Habitat house as part of its curriculum, giving high school students the chance to learn valuable skills in carpentry, masonry, plumbing and electrical trades. At the Chamber’s Construction Career Days field trip, students from WS/FCS and surrounding counties experienced hands-on learning by building the framing for the home of Wevell Valentine through a partnership with Habitat.
Many of Habitat’s youngest volunteers encounter Joe Brown, Habitat’s director of construction and land development. “I really enjoy working with young people, and I have met college students from everywhere, from as far away as India and Korea. I like to say I have ‘grandchildren’ all over the world,” Brown said.
After spending the better part of 30 years running his own general contracting business, Brown has been enjoying a second career at Habitat since 2009, putting his skills to use guiding volunteers on construction sites. He is particularly excited that, thanks to connections made through the Construction Industry Council meetings, an official Boy Scouts Explorer Post for youth ages 14 to 20 is being established at the Habitat construction warehouse.
“Young people who enjoy working with their hands are ideal for the construction trades, and there will be many job opportunities for them in the near future as current tradespeople are retiring,” Brown said.
Habitat’s membership on the Council is also invaluable for forming relationships with construction companies and potential vendor partners, said Mike Campbell, Habitat Forsyth’s executive director. As one of the Triad’s most active residential builders, the organization generally builds or remodels 15 homes a year for Habitat partner families. And, as part of its overall Neighborhood Revitalization strategy, Habitat also performs critical repairs on another 25 houses owned by other families in its target communities.
“The Chamber recently helped us secure an in-kind donation of materials for a wall build from 84 Lumber,” Campbell said. “Gifts like this, as well as the volunteer time committed to Habitat by many of our local builders and tradespeople, allow us to do our work of providing badly needed affordable housing for local working families.”
The Chamber’s Keep it Local initiative promotes community support for local business ventures. Spending locally creates a strong economy and a sense of place which gives our town its unique lifestyle. The Keep it Local campaign will feature a different segment of businesses each month in 2018. May is Real Estate/Home Services Month.