More than 2,000 vocational students across the state put their trade skills to work building tiny homes for survivors of the June 2016 flood.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin presented 15 families with keys to those new homes Tuesday in a ceremony at the 130th Airlift Wing of the West Virginia National Guard.
Through the “Big Hearts Give Tiny Homes” project, 15 homes were constructed by students of Simulated Workplace programs across 12 schools, an initiative of the West Virginia Department of Education’s Career Technical Education division.
“Time and again, in the aftermath of this tragic flooding, I have seen the spirit of West Virginians make a difference for their neighbors. These students have shown that spirit in a truly remarkable way,” Gov. Tomblin said. “I know how eager the students have been to meet the families whose lives will change for the better because of them. And I join them in hoping these homes provide warmth and a sense of place and home to these families – this holiday season and beyond.”
In an interview earlier this month, Dr. Kathy D’Antoni, chief officer of career and technical education, said the project was created to ensure those displaced by the flood have heat, shelter and a home before the holiday season.
“It’s not just a nice thing to do; it is the right thing to do,” she explained.
Students completed the homes, each around 700 square feet, over seven weeks, and many students and teachers worked evenings and through the Thanksgiving holiday to get them completed.
Through West Virginia’s Simulated Workplace programs, high school classrooms have been transformed into companies, giving students the opportunity to gain hands-on training and learn high-demand skills. All Simulated Workplace companies – from HVAC to electrical, plumbing and carpentry – collaborated to make the tiny homes construction possible.
“This was a true collaborative effort among our Simulated Workplace programs and their communities,” said Dr. Michael Martirano, state superintendent of schools. “These incredibly talented students, along with their teachers and communities, worked tirelessly to help families in need. Their work is a true testament to both their skills and their generosity.”
West Virginia National Guard units from across West Virginia transported the tiny homes from each Career Technical Education center for the ceremony and will transport the homes to their final locations for the families.
“This is another example of how West Virginia comes together in times of need,” said Maj. Gen. James Hoyer.