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WE Build Waterloo debuts first renovation project on home built back in 1896

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WATERLOO, Iowa (KWWL) -- Hawkeye Community College hosted an open house showcasing for their first completed project of 'WE Build Waterloo.'

WE Build Waterloo Building Trades Pre-Apprenticeship program is part of Hawkeye Community College's Business & Community Department, and the program is designed for students to learn high demand construction trades and apply them in a 12-week housing project to put their skills to work on the a job.

By the end of the 12-week apprenticeship, students will not only have vital construction experience under their belts, but they will have employers lined up for them that will provide job opportunities with sustaining wages and benefits.

Throughout the past year, three circuits of apprenticeships put hammers to nails, and worked on a vacant home off of 414 E. First Street in Waterloo that was built back in 1896.

"So they had to demonstrate that they could use various power tools, hand tools, and safely do it," said Val Peterson, Workforce Development Coordinator at Hawkeye Community College.

This home is the first completed project by "We Build Waterloo."

"We did brand new utilities, brand new wall finishes, trim doors everything," said Mike Hayworth, Construction Manager.

All the pieces came together after a full year of construction, from workers to sponsors who gave around $190,000 in grant money for supplies and materials.

"Campbell Supply helped donate some of our tools, Sherwin Williams donated all of the primer and paint you'll see in the house, and we received a lot of grants," said Peterson.

As the program supplies the future workforce for construction, Hayworth said that there is always room for more workers. Many of the students who came in had no prior construction experience.

"And it ranged from people who people who just didn't even know if they liked construction to now working for framing companies," said Hayworth.

"WE Build Waterloo" is also an opportunity for workers who need a second chance, and the construction industry has always been forgiving to people from all walks of life, including those with criminal backgrounds.

"It's a good industry for them to be able to get their foot in. And we've even heard from the employers, "I'm willing to take a chance on somebody, but being able to show that they've finished this 12-week program," said Peterson.

The student's hard working hands restored this three bed- two and a half bath home , and 'One City' who selected this home for the project has a very intentional type of homeowner in mind.

"We really want it to go to someone who's involved in one of our programs, someone who we've worked with and possibly couldn't buy a home either way," said Dean Feltes, Executive Director at One City. We really want to have someone who couldn't qualify for conventional mortgage; someone who has made some changes in their life and seeing success in their life.

The new homeowner will be selected by the end of June.

The course is certified by the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) which is a national recognized provider of construction trades curriculum, assessments, and safety conscious programming.

Daulton Graph was an apprentice in the first apprenticeship circuit, and he saw the finishing touches on the home Friday afternoon.

"It's pretty amazing. It's really come along way. When I was here, it was all just studs, no drywalls, just all 2 x 4s, so it's real crazy to see all the finishing work done," said Graph.

"It's helped me a lot. I recently just got out of federal prison, so I'm just trying to come back into the community and make myself a better person. I feel like it's helped me out."

Graph said he really believes he has a long and successful future in construction.

One remarkable thing that happened during the construction project was the workers found historical trinkets in the house such as a hidden post card, a key, and an old tool among other things.

It inspired Hawkeye Community College to make their own time capsule which they've hidden in the home. It even includes a letter from the President Dr. Holcomb of Hawkeye Community College.

While the location of the time capsule will not be revealed, one thing is certain, whoever renovates this home again in the future, will uncover a piece of today's history.

If you're interested in learning more about this apprenticeship and joining for the next building project, CLICK HERE.

WE Build Waterloo will be partnering with Habitat for Humanity on their next project.

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Dani Miskell

Weekend Anchor & Reporter

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