After more than a year of negotiations and delays, the Habitat for Humanity partnership with the Adams County Technical Institute (ACTI) is underway. Site preparation work on the lot in Hunterstown has been completed and the students are now at work on the project, gaining practical skills while also increasing the county’s store of affordable housing.
In the new partnership, Habitat purchased a building lot from the Gettysburg school district and is providing the house design, purchasing materials or obtaining them by donation, selecting and mentoring the family, and underwriting the mortgage. The vast majority of the construction labor will be provided by ACTI students, under supervision of ACTI faculty.
“We’re very excited about this project,” said Habitat’s first vice president, Bill Tyson. “It lets us double our impact on the community while at the same time giving the students practical experience.”
Sue Pindle, the Habitat chapter’s president, sees other benefits. “It helps the students, who might not otherwise understand the critical need for affordable housing in our community. By meeting the family that will eventually move in, the students can also appreciate the importance of housing and learn about volunteering, sweat equity, and fellowship,” she said.
Dave Snyder, who teaches in the ACTI Building Trades program, is eager to see the fruits of the students’ labor. “Every project has delays, but the students really looked forward to getting out there on the job site,” he said. Snyder anticipates finishing some time next school year. “Most of the work will be done by the seniors,” he said. “I have them in the afternoon and we’ll mainly be on the job site. I’ll take the juniors out to show them things, but they have to learn in the classroom about techniques and job site safety.” He added, “They’ll get to finish the job next year.”
Pindle recently spoke to the GASD school board saying that a perfect partnership is one where everybody benefits and nobody has to give up anything important. She said this will be that kind of partnership: Habitat gets to extend its reach to a second housing project and ACTI appears to have a project perfectly suited to its curriculum, which stresses hands-on instruction, career-ready skills, and real-world job experience.
“I know you have two more building lots, so we look forward to two more projects with you,” said Pindle. Board president Ken Hassinger said the school system was very proud to be involved in the project.
Adams County Technical Institute provides hands-on career and technical education in seven areas: Allied Health, Culinary Arts, Criminal Justice, Building Trades, Early Childhood Education, Computer Networking, and Diesel Mechanics. Juniors and seniors from Bermudian Springs, Conewago Valley, Fairfield, Gettysburg, and Littlestown attend the program while also taking classes at their home school.
Leon Reed, freelance reporter, is a former US Senate staff member, defense consultant, and history teacher. He is a seven year resident of Gettysburg, where he writes military history and explores the park and the Adams County countryside. He is the publisher at Little Falls Books, chaired the Adams County 2020 Census Complete Count Committee and is on the board of SCCAP and the local Habitat for Humanity chapter. He and his wife, Lois, have 3 children, 3 cats, and 5 grandchildren.