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Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home

Construction students build tiny houses for at-risk youth

This year, construction students at Washington Square built the first of five tiny homes. These homes will go to young people who are aging out of foster care.

“I think the idea is cool because we’re not only able to learn about construction elements, but we’re also able to give back to our community,” says Luca Mastroeni, one of the students building the tiny homes in the Advanced Principles of Construction class.

The tiny home has a loft sleeping space, living room, kitchen and bathroom, all compacted to make the most of the small space. The home is only 190 square feet but offers a world of independence to its new owners.

The class instructor, Aaron Cooper, is proud to prepare his students not just to build a home, but to build a career. The Construction Pathway takes students through courses over several years where they’ll learn and hone skills in areas like HVAC, plumbing and electricity, and ends with a professional internship with a local business.

“We’re doing everything in the tiny homes that we do in the real world,” Cooper says. “Our students are learning a trade where they’ll be able to go to work right after high school.”

The project has helped the students build not only their skills, but also their confidence and sense of connection to their community.

On May 10, 2022, students cut the ribbon on the first home. They proudly stood in front of the house, each one of them cutting a piece of the ribbon to take home to remember the time they spent on the project and the contribution they made to their community.

“It’s been amazing to see this year of hard work come together. Today we turn this house into a home,” said student Joselyn Lechuga at the ribbon cutting.

The project was originally planned to be built and sold to cover future costs, but a local donor (Bob Lembke of 70 Ranch) passionate about helping kids in foster care made expanding the project possible with his large donation to the Five Star Education Foundation.

Foundation Executive Director Shannon Hancock is working with Access Housing and a coalition of local nonprofits to create the tiny home village for young adults to finish their education and launch into the next phase of their lives in their very own home in Adams County.

“There’s a large population of our students that are experiencing homelessness, and those aging out of the system have nowhere to go,” says Hancock. “These houses are going to create a place that they can call home and they can thrive. It’s about the
community wrapping big arms around these kids to have a place they call home.”

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