Lamar Texas Academy for Leadership in the Humanities (TALH) students volunteered their time Saturday, Jan. 26, to a Habitat for Humanity project in Port Arthur.
“The house is for a woman named Pearl Harmon and her 10-year-old daughter, Faith,” said Uliana Trylowsky, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Jefferson County. “Faith suffers from cerebral palsy and is wheelchair bound. The house that we’re building is completely wheelchair accessible.”
Savannah Layfield, a 16-year-old Lamar freshman from Lumberton, said that her favorite part of helping out with the project was the chance to work side by side with Pearl.
“She’s a very nice lady,” Layfield said. “It was very touching to get to talk to her about (Faith). To know you are doing it for a good cause and to see it directly influence a person’s life is rewarding. (Pearl) said that it was amazing that she got the house because there are like 300 people on the waiting list. Her and her daughter will have a place to live, and I think that’s awesome.”
Lamar freshmen Ryan Huff, 17, of Singleton, Texas, and 16-year-old Ashleigh Ray of Rowlett, Texas, also helped out with the project.
“It’s a new service project,” Huff said. “Every fourth Sunday of the month we can go (and work on the house.)”
Huff said that she chose to volunteer for Habitat because she believes it is one of the most impactful service projects available.
“I really enjoyed working beside (Pearl) and getting to see her so excited about the house,” she said. “That was something that was really invigorating.”
Although she never thought she would like labor, Huff said the experience was fun.
“You’re working with all these people and you’re getting to know them and getting to know the people you’re building the house for,” she said.
Ray said that there were other reasons for volunteering besides receiving service hours and hanging out with friends.
“I thought it would be a good opportunity for me to do something that would actually impact someone else,” she said. “No other program has the impact on someone who is in so much need, and it’s just awesome to be able to pick up a hammer and see how all the work you’re putting into this project is going to better help someone else.”
“Central to TALH’s identity is service,” said Scott Stevenson, assistant director of TALH. “It’s hard to imagine not having a home and to be able to provide a service that concludes with (the beneficiary) getting a home — it’s a remarkable experience to witness.”
All three students said they plan to continue to work with Habitat for Humanity in the future.