BY: DUSTIN BATTY
The tiny house movement has been growing steadily since the economic recession of 2008. According to The Economist, people were drawn to these diminutive abodes because they are much more affordable and environmentally friendly than full-sized houses. Tiny homes have a greater appeal than just providing financial and ecological stability, though. Thanks to some innovative minds in West Virginia, they have recently provided both relief for flood victims and practical work experience for students from technical schools.
In November 2016, over two thousand students from twelve different technical institutions began working on a project called “Big Hearts Give Tiny Homes.” According to an article in The Fayette Tribune, fifteen tiny homes had been constructed and shipped to Charleston, West Virginia for a ceremony before being sent to various flood victims across the state by the end of December.
The flood that struck West Virginia on June 23rd, 2016 was one of the worst natural disasters in the state’s history.
The flood that tore through West Virginia on June 23rd, 2016 was one of the worst floods in the state’s history, resulting in the deaths of at least 23 people. According to CNN, well over a thousand homes were destroyed. In the wake of this devastation, many people and organizations stepped up to help those affected. According to The Inter-Mountain, the Big Hearts Give Tiny Homes project alone was orchestrated by the following organizations: “The Governor’s Office, West Virginia Department of Education, West Virginia National Guard and West Virginia Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster [and the] West Virginia United Methodist Committee on Relief.”
Everyone involved with the project seems to consider it a success. Though small, the houses include all of the necessary amenities, including a full kitchen and a bathroom. Students from various technical programs collaborated to build the houses. “The welding class built the skid frame for the house, the carpentry class built the structure, the plumbing class installed the kitchen sink and the bathroom and the electrical class completed all the wiring,” the Fayette Tribune article explains. Some institutions were even more inclusive; for example, the Fayette Institute of Technology brought in students from every program it offers. “Health Sciences, Pre-Pharmacy, Pro-Start, Early Childhood Education, LPN, JROTC, Forestry, Parks & Recreation, Automotive, Computer Aided Drafting, AIRES and Masonry. Contributions included time in constructing the home, collecting supplies to fill the home and decorating the home for the family.”
Students from technical schools across West Virginia built 15 tiny houses for flood victims.
The twelve institutions that participated in this project are 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
The success of this project, which provided fifteen homes in just over a month, may inspire the continued use of this technique to give students practical work experience while helping their communities. According to the Charleston Gazette, one of the participating institutions was approached by Habitat for Humanity, an organization whose mission is to provide “safe, decent and affordable housing” to everyone.
Hopefully the “Big Hearts Give Tiny Homes” project is an inspiration for future humanitarian efforts that combine practical work experience for students with truly impactful community aid.