A group of students from North Shore Country Day learned a thing or two about home renovation — and contributed to a good cause — when they helped rehab a Wilmette home with the nonprofit Rebuilding Together of North Suburban Chicago in November.
Similar to Habitat For Humanity, Rebuilding Together relies on volunteers to improve the lives of low income home owners. But instead of building new homes, Rebuilding Together renovates homes that have fallen into disrepair. The Wilmette home in this project is owned by an elderly low income man whose wife is in a wheelchair and daughter has a disability.
“Seeing the progress we made was amazing,” Patrick Murdock, a junior at North Shore Country Day who organized the effort, told DailyNorthShore.com.
Murdock has been a member of the junior board of Rebuilding Together for the past few years and decided it would be a great project for North Shore Country Day students to take on during the school’s “Interim Week” held every November. During Interim Week students have six days off from class to do projects of their choosing that range from service to travel to local learning experiences, Drea Gallaga, a teacher at North Shore Country Day who oversaw the project, told DailyNorthShore.com. “Every student has to do a service project for at least one of their Interim Weeks, but many do more,” she said.
Murdock hoped to get other students involved with Rebuilding Together and presented the Wilmette rehab project as one of many students can choose to do during Interim Week. “I thought it would be a good idea to do it in Interim Week with North Shore Country Day because (the school) emphasizes service,” he explained.
As turns out, many other students were interested in the project and a total of 12 students from varying grade levels participated. “I think the fact that it was a student led interim — there aren’t very many — people were excited about that,” Murdock said.
The students spent the morning renovating the house and in the afternoon, they visited social agencies to learn more about the type of work people do locally. The renovation project included a complete kitchen renovation, bathroom updates, landscaping and fresh paint in the second floor bedrooms and hallway. The group also cleaned out the basement and other areas of the house.
The project required demolishing the old kitchen, putting up new drywall, taking down wallpaper, painting and laying a laminate flooring. The students worked with the home owners to clean out a full basement, creating piles to keep and other piles to give away. The kitchen was also reconfigured to make it easier to navigate in a wheelchair.
Two skilled tradesmen — including Murdock’s father, who has been involved with Rebuilding Together for at least 20 years — worked on the project as well. The students had the opportunity to see how more technical work is completed, such as electrical wiring and laying tile.
Murdock has found that each time he works on a renovation project he learns a new skill — this time he learned how to lay down a laminate flooring. He also honed his management skills by working with other students and ensuring that they used their time productively. “The most challenging thing was that we had 12 people. Just managing everyone and making sure we were productive was challenging,” he said.
But seeing a job well done made any challenges well worth it. “The owner was so happy and thankful and I could see that we were changing his life,” Murdock said.