Since 2006, Maine West High School Building-Trade students have touched the lives of residents, young and old, with various challenges, noted Argus.
“Utilizing their construction skills to build ramps, decks, picnic tables, and paint houses, and during winter even helped shovel snow for those with various challenges,” Argus said. “They have come to the aid of many residents that needed assistance.”
The newest offering to Des Plaines residents is an 8-by-10-foot yard storage shed covered with vinyl siding. The cost is about $1,800 and the profits from the shed will be used to continually fund the Maine West student programs.
The students also create custom shelving for garages and basement storage. All of these are available for Des Plaines residents to purchase.
Headquarters for the Home Maintenance Class students is The Homestead, an old farm house that has been converted through the efforts of the Building-Trade students for life skills classes.
“What makes the program so successful is the cooperation among students,” said Paul Bartholomae, a 30-year veteran instructor at the school. “They divvy up tasks and each brings different strengths to the table. And, they work—just like a real-life crew. They have even expanded to building sheds and minor cabinetry.
It is really a hands-on experience for some of these students and can turn into a future career.”
The Des Plaines Community Foundation buys the supplies, including tools, lumber and vinyl siding, while the students provide the labor during 45-minute class periods. The program is great for students who are eager to learn construction skills and helping the community is an added boost.
“We just completed our 26th ramp, several new sheds, shelving and a picnic table at Maine West,” said Bartholomae. “The ramps are the most important thing we do for the Des Plaines residents in need. It becomes a problem when the elderly or disabled can’t get out of their homes to get to the doctor.”
It can take anywhere from six weeks to three months to build a ramp, depending on the size. The city’s Department of Health and Human Services forwards request for wheelchair ramps to Argus and the Des Plaines Community Foundation, which relays them to Bartholomae.
Bartholomae said he would like to see more students volunteer at The Homestead, including students enrolled in the Applied Technology class from Maine West.