NYC students spend February break building house for Long Island family

Kristin Thorne Image
Wednesday, February 17, 2021
NYC students spend February break building house for LI family
Kristin Thorne reports a group of high school students from Manhattan spent their February break helping to renovate a house for Habitat for Humanity on Long Island.

EAST PATCHOGUE, Long Island (WABC) -- A group of high school students from Manhattan spent their February break helping to renovate a house for Habitat for Humanity on Long Island.

The students from Xavier High School near Union Square are helping to renovate a home in East Patchogue for Nickesha Medley and her 12-year-old daughter. The students raised $4,000 to volunteer with the project.

"It just feels good to do something that's helpful to the community," student Caedmon Deem said.

Medley and her daughter, Shania, are currently living in an attic apartment in Valley Stream.

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Medley, who works in home healthcare, thanked the students for spending their February vacation helping her.

"They decide to come here to help a total stranger that they don't know, that's real good," she said.

On Tuesday, the students worked alongside Medley demolishing the inside of the house on Scherger Avenue.

"I see that I'm helping someone and I see the person, so it's quite meaningful," student Lorenzo Reetz said.

The group of students from Xavier usually travel for service projects during February break, but were unable this year due to the coronavirus.

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"Normally, we try to look kind of far and wide and travel," Xavier religion teacher Greg Stelzer said. "We go to places like Tennessee or we've gone as far as Mexico and Ecuador. I think, especially because of COVID, it made sense to look for something local."

Lee Silberman, the CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Suffolk, said this is the group's first time working with a high school from Manhattan. Typically, student volunteers come from Long Island.

"We hope it will be a new partnership that we continue with," Stelzer said.

Silberman said Habitat is happy for the help because COVID has decimated the group's volunteer programs and thus part of Habitat's revenue stream.

Organizations, companies and student groups, like the Xavier students, pay to volunteer with Habitat.

"Normally, in any given year we'll have 150 to 200 volunteer groups. This year we're expecting closer to 25 to 30," Silberman said. "Having that revenue stream cut off has had quite a bit of impact."

Silberman said Island Outreach Foundation matched $182,000, which Habitat raised through donations.

"That did make up a big hole," he said.

Silberman said Habitat for Humanity of Suffolk is not behind on any of its construction projects and said the group is on track to build eight houses in this fiscal year, which ends in June.

Medley should be able to move into her home by May.


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