Greenville Public School employees give back at Women’s Build Day

By Kelli Ameling • Last Updated 6:32 pm on Thursday, July 12, 2012

Jamie VanSyckle, left, who works in the food and nutrition department, helps Lincoln Heights Elementary fourth-grade teacher Fran Gibbs cut insulation wrap to be put around windows at the build site on Fifth Street in Greenville during the fourth annual Montcalm County Habitat for Humanity Women’s Build Day. — Daily News/Kelli Ameling

GREENVILLE — The fourth annual Women’s Build Day took place Wednesday, however, it was the first time all the workers were employees of Greenville Public Schools.

Mo Beach, executive director of the Montcalm County Habitat for Humanity, said she was approached by Lori Hostetler to see if the teachers from Greenville could have their own build day.

“She recruited the teachers, and after talking to the teachers today, this will now become an annual event,” Beach said.

Second-graders from Lincoln Heights Elementary School raised money to help the Montcalm County Habitat for Humanity. The money raised went toward purchasing 50 2-by-4 boards that were used to build a “love wall” by Habitat for Humanity. The students signed the boards, which were used to build the home. — Daily News/Kelli Ameling

The Women’s Build Day is designed to bring women around the community, country and world together to build and work towards abolishing substandard housing, Beach said.

“They were eager to pitch in,” Hostetler said of the teachers.

The house, located on Fifth Street in Greenville, is being built for Brandon and Tristen Augustine.

Hostetler sent out an email to the employees in the district asking if they wanted to help. She said by a few hours later, both the morning and afternoon shifts were full.

“It’s all about the community,” Hostetler said. “This is a way for us to give back.”

The volunteers did a little bit of everything from roofing to installing windows, to using tools and cutting lumber.

Lincoln Heights Elementary School Principal Michelle Blaszczynski said the teachers always try to find ways to help out during the summer.

“They try to reach out as well,” she said.

For Blaszczynski, her time at the Women’s Build day was a learning experience. She was able to put shingles on the roof, cut 2-by-4s and work with a nail gun for the first time.

For Cedar Crest Elementary School paraprofessional Lorie Hollenbeck and secretary Alice Hool, it was their first time working the Women’s Build, but they noted they have done other volunteer events.

“It’s always important to help,” Hool said.

Hollenbeck agreed stating it is important to volunteer.

Director of Student Services Linda VanHouten said she had a great time working at the Women’s Build and she tries to look for ways to give back.

“We are making a difference for a family in the community,” VanHouten said.

Beach said it takes about six to eight months to complete a home. The house for the Augustines is set to be complete by November or December.

She said close to 100 people have worked to build the home including groups who have already helped, the regular construction crew, the Habitat board of directors and upcoming groups.

Beach said the Augustines will each contribute 250 sweat-equity hours working alongside the volunteers.

“God has blessed us,” Hostetler said. “We have to find ways to help.”

Cedar Crest Elementary second-grade teacher Deb Homant, left, and Walnut Hills Elementary paraprofessional Melissa Curtis work together to weather strip the home. — Daily News/Kelli Ameling

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