Hands-on learning meets community development: RMCTC students partner with Habitat Berks

In a move set to revitalize the Ninth and Douglas Street area of Reading, Habitat for Humanity of Berks County and the Reading Muhlenberg Career and Technology Center have officially joined forces in a groundbreaking partnership. The initiative is expected to not only breathe new life into the neighborhood but also provide invaluable hands-on experience to students while bolstering community pride.

The focal point of this partnership is the renovation of a home located at 924 Douglass Street, directly across the street from the Reading School District’s upcoming STEM-themed school. Habitat Berks, a well-known nonprofit dedicated to affordable housing solutions, has made the Ninth and Douglas neighborhood a priority for their revitalization efforts. This renovation holds particular significance, as it marks their inaugural project in the area.

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The RMCTC students are set to play a pivotal role in this ambitious endeavor. Their tasks will include remodeling the kitchen, updating the bathroom, upgrading windows for enhanced energy efficiency, and replacing the boiler. This hands-on experience allows them to apply the skills they’ve acquired in the classroom, ultimately preparing them for future careers in their respective trades.

Timothy J. Daley, the Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity of Berks County, expressed his excitement about the project Monday speaking to a group of local leaders and students from inside 924 Douglass Street. He spoke passionately about the magic and potential of the Ninth and Douglas Street area, citing the new STEM-themed school being built by the Reading School District and the blighted properties in the vicinity. Daley also highlighted the importance of community engagement in ensuring the neighborhood’s self-sustainability.

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Perhaps the most significant component of this project is the involvement of RMCTC students. They will not only learn valuable construction skills but will also contribute to the betterment of their community. “We’re going to have the opportunity to have students in the Reading Muhlenberg Career and Technology Center understand how important it is to invest in their own community. You’re gonna be doing this knowing that you’re making a difference in your own town. The things you’re going to learn, you’re gonna be able to use for the rest of your lives” said Daley.

Eric D. Kahler, the Administrative Director of RMCTC, echoed Daley’s sentiment to the group. He stressed the real-world impact this partnership would have on the students, moving beyond theoretical learning to tangible community development. “We’re so excited for them to have the opportunity to do that work and give back in their own community. This is more than just learning the skills, it’s helping to rebuild your community, where you live. It’s about building pride in the community” said Kahler

During the project, students like Placido Sorieno, a 12th grader at Reading High School, are given the opportunity to transition from the classroom to hands-on work. The ability to apply classroom knowledge to real-world projects is a source of excitement for students like Placido, who appreciate the opportunity to learn and work simultaneously.

“I always liked hands-on type jobs which is what drew me into the program. Right now we’re focusing on plumbing and heating, which includes water heaters, toilets, and how to maintain bathrooms. It’s really cool to go from the classroom to be working on a house” said Sorieno

The partnership between Habitat for Humanity of Berks County and the Reading Muhlenberg Career and Technology Center is a testament to the potential for positive change that can be achieved when community organizations and educational institutions join forces. This collaboration not only promises to transform a neighborhood but also empowers students to build a brighter future for themselves and their community. As the project unfolds, it serves as a beacon of hope and inspiration for other communities looking to make a lasting impact through similar partnerships.

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Jason Hugg
Jason Hugghttps://huggmedia.com
Editor and photographer at Berks Weekly.
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