YouthBuild students start working on Habitat projects across East Texas

NACOGDOCHES COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - Their pasts' are littered with mistakes but these Goodwill Industries YouthBuild students are taking advantage of an opportunity to turn their lives around, learn a trade and give back to their community.

It's been a bumpy road for many of these YouthBuild students but after 2 months of classroom training they are putting their skills to the test.

YouthBuild construction trainer, Stephen Hammonds, says his 9 students are adding valuable skills to their tool belt.

"We show them what to do and they do it," said Hammonds. "They're getting their hands on experience that way."

Hammonds says, "Our students also get to learn modern construction techniques, energy efficiency and that sort of thing as they're designed into the house and built into that."

This past week students at the Nacogdoches County Habitat for Humanity job site Hammonds and his students were installing hardy plank siding onto a shell of a house that the YouthBuild students and Habitat for Humanity will eventually finish.

Andreas Kugler got into some trouble in the past but since joining YouthBuild he see's a brighter future for himself.

"I have something under my belt now," said Kugler. "It's just great. To be able to put this hard hat on and this tool belt and these gloves and work with an actual team it's amazing. It's the best feeling in the world."

Kugler says the most challenging part of the job so far has been learning to work with others.

"Working with others. It's a big deal. To be able to work with a crew everyday and keep the same pace you have to have a lot of tolerance for it,"said Kugler.

Kugler says, "It feels great to know that we're building this place perfectly. To be able to have somebody to live in it and be able to meet that family in the future, actually one of our instructors just got through thanking one of the families and telling him how good he feels about building the house next door."

Stephanie Sargent is the only female working on the construction job site.

"I think it's pretty cool," said Sargent. "You don't see a lot of females out here and it just shows that I'm brave enough to do it."

Sargent says she's thankful YouthBuild has given her a second chance and she's glad she can use the skills she's learned in the program to help others.

"For me you know, you do get in trouble and stuff happens and then you get to have a chance to come do something like this, it's really touches you."

Goodwill Industries partners with Habitat for Humanity to find projects for the YouthBuild students to work on.  

YouthBuild of the Pineywoods is a 24-month program for educating and training at-risk youth in Angelina and Nacogdoches counties.

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