Last week, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin presented survivors of the June 2016 floods with keys to new tiny homes 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, an initiative of the West Virginia Department of Education’s Career Technical Education division.
More than 2,000 students from 12 high schools designed, constructed and managed the tiny homes project with guidance from certified industry instructors over the course of seven weeks. The students also worked with businesses and organizations within their communities to gather donations to equip the homes with linens, beds, washers and dryers, groceries, televisions and other appliances.
“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,” 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.”
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 State Superintendent of Schools, Michael Martirano. “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 Major General James Hoyer. “The West Virginia National Guard is proud to work with the Department of Education to help facilitate the tiny homes project. Our schools, local businesses, citizens and all aspects of our communities have come together to build these homes to help their fellow Mountaineers in the recovery and healing from this summer’s devastating floods. We are honored to participate in this program.”
The Governor’s Office, West Virginia Department of Education, West Virginia National Guard and West Virginia Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) partnered to make the project possible. The West Virginia United Methodist Committee on Relief, a VOAD organization, is providing the resources needed to put the homes in place and connect them to utilities.
The schools participating in “Big Hearts Give Tiny Homes” were Cabell County Career Center Calhoun/Gilmer Career Center, Carver Career Center, Fayette Institute of Technology, James Rumsey Technical Institute, Marion County Career Center, Mingo County High School, Monongalia Technical Center, Nicholas County Career Center, Putnam County Career Center, Spring Valley High School and Wyoming County Career Center.