‘Birdhouse Build’ breaks ground

Published 10:29 am Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Farmville Area Habitat for Humanity held the groundbreaking Friday for the “Birdhouse Build,” a build which is named as such due to the participation of both Prince Edward County High School, which features an Eagles mascot, and Fuqua School, which features a Falcons mascot.

Regarding what students will be able to do in terms of participating in the build, Habitat Community Outreach Director Sam Rabon said, “Beyond just coming out and working on the build site, which students will be able to do, we’re also excited about the opportunities this will allow, as teachers and administrators can use this kind of learning lab, if you will, however they see fit in their classrooms across all levels of the schools, to get the students involved beyond just swinging a hammer — helping design T-shirts, helping come up with creative ideas for fundraising, creative ideas for publicizing this build across social media and generally just learning more how this whole process works.”

Prince Edward County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Barbara Johnson thanked Habitat and the students for their willingness to enter into collaboration on the build.

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“This is a phenomenal opportunity, and when we presented it to you, you said, ‘Yes, we want to be a part of this,’ and that takes a special kind of person and a special kind of heart,” Johnson said.

Fuqua Head of School John Melton said that after arriving at Fuqua School, he had begun to meet with Johnson on a monthly basis, and during those meetings they started to identify ways the two school communities could collaborate with one another.

“So when Sam came to us and said … we have this idea of students being involved in Habitat builds, I think our immediate answer was, ‘Yes,’ and then our next question was, ‘Can we do it together?’”

He said it was his hope that this was the beginning of a long series of builds that could be a collaborative effort on the parts of all the school communities.

TeOnna Robertson, the prospective resident involved in the build, thanked her family, co-workers and the schools.

“More than anything I thank God for … placing us in a situation to receive such a blessing, because it is a huge blessing, and I mean our immediate family knows how much of a blessing it is because they know our situation,” TeOnna said. “Coming from a two-bedroom home with all of these little ones and getting to be blessed with this land for one, and then a home big enough for all of us to be comfortable in is just even more of a blessing.”

She said even her family was excited to put in more work alongside those who will participate in the build.

“We’re thankful for all of you guys being here because our community is a rich community, and a lot of people don’t get to see that, so seeing, like, everybody pulling together is a good thing,” TeOnna said.

Families living in Habitat houses have to put in sweat equity hours, which means they have to work on their house as well as someone else’s house. The Robertson family will have to put in 400 hours of sweat equity and will be provided an affordable mortgage made possible by the contribution of volunteer labor, which reduces the cost of construction according to Rabon.

The Farmville Area Habitat for Humanity was established in 1990 and has built or repaired more than 30 homes since then.