Six students who were enrolled in the Ulster BOCES Electrical Construction & Maintenance Program this past school year got both valuable real-world and community service experience when they helped a local family realize their dream of owning a home. By volunteering with Ulster County Habitat for Humanity, they learned to wire a whole house from start to finish!
Three of the students, Ian Foster, Jonathan Toth, and Dylan Senor, all from the Saugerties Central School District (SCSD), recently took the opportunity to welcome the Maragoudakis family to their brand-new home at a dedication ceremony held on Tuesday, July 20. Here, they saw both their labor fully realized in the beautifully finished new home, and how their contributions made a difference in the larger community.
“It’s more of a reality now,” remarked Foster, as he viewed the home he helped to make a reality for the local family. “It’s amazing to see the work that we have done in the finished product, and meet the family for the first time.”
“The last time I saw this place, it looked really different,” he marveled, referring to the new construction look of a home when electrical crews do their wiring.
Under the direction of SCSD District Advisor and Master Electrician Mike Catalano of Catalano Electric, the students invested countless hours helping to wire the house, installing electrical outlets, and wiring electrical boxes. Among other things, they learned about work ethics, protocols, working under deadlines, teamwork, and navigating challenging work conditions.
“It feels really good to help,” said Toth. “And as far as learning goes, we were able to go even deeper with the knowledge we had gained and put it in action.”
“It was so much more than just sitting in a classroom,” echoed Senor, who had quite an interesting role in the wiring work. Because of his stature, Senor was able to crawl into the smaller spaces that no one else could reach. Normally, this is a task that takes a regular crew of men much longer to accomplish, but with Senor’s help, the Habitat volunteer crew was able to save many valuable hours.
“I was like the guinea pig,” he joked. “I worked in the tiny areas of the attic that no one else could get into to see. It was really interesting!”
Ulster County Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Christine Brady LaValle said that the students’ efforts were indispensable and saved the homeowner thousands of dollars in labor costs. “The relationship with [Ulster] BOCES has been amazing for Habitat for Humanity,” she said. “Our crew got to ‘pass the baton’ to a younger generation, and these students were able to see how a community thrives by people working together to support each other.”
As is tradition for a Habitat for Humanity dedication ceremony, the house was blessed by a local pastor, stories were told, volunteers were thanked, and a special “Litany of Dedication” was recited. The students looked on proudly as the Maragoudakis Family took center stage at the closing of the ceremony.
With her husband Niko, and children Nicholas and Maddy by her side, and 3-year-old Olivia in her arms, Stephanie Maragoudakis expressed her overwhelming gratitude. “We have been blessed with this new beginning, a new chapter for us,” she said. “This has truly been a life-changing experience, and I am truly indebted to everyone who helped make this happen.”
“It feels great to give back and to see how happy this family is, and to know I helped contribute to that happiness,” said Foster.
- Career & Technical Education (CTE)