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Work continues on W&M house build

  • Many hands
    Many hands  The work may not be light, but the many volunteers - staff, faculty, community members, students from W&M and other institutions - has made the progress steady.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
  • Heave-ho
    Heave-ho  With roof trusses in place, volunteers work on getting the house under roof so spring showers won't slow progress.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
  • One nail at a time
    One nail at a time  Volunteers work on skinning the frame of a house being constructed for a senior citizen in James City County currently living without indoor plumbing or central heat.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
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Two weeks after the College’s Office of Community Engagement and Scholarship (OCES) and Williamsburg-based Housing Partnerships, Inc. (HPI) teamed up to build a house on Jamestown Road everything has been moving on schedule, despite some heavy wind and rain. Passersby can now see that what started as mere woodblocks on Jamestown Field have morphed into the full fledged frame of a small house.

This week, the house’s trusses and roof were being assembled, and students worked to make sure that nails around the house were spaced more than three  inches apart as required by James City County building codes.

The majority of the house is being constructed on-campus but will be moved to its final James City County location on April 24th where finishing touches will be made.

Brandie Weiler, volunteer coordinator for HPI, said she was really impressed with not only the turnout, but the wide variety of people that have come to lend their expertise to the building effort.

“We’ve had everyone from housekeeping staff and professors helping out,” she said. “We’ve really only lost one day to the weather, but we’ve made up for it today.”

In addition to faculty and staff, Weiler said that as many as 80-90 students participated from the College in the last eight days. Students from other institutions that have joined up with Housing Partnerships in the past, such as West Virginia University, have also agreed to lend a hand to complete the structure by its April 24th deadline.

At the end of the project, HPI and OCES will have constructed a 490-square-foot house with a living room, kitchen, bathroom and bedroom. The house will also come equipped with indoor plumbing and central heat/air conditioning, two key amenities its new owner, a single senior citizen, currently does not have.

HPI, led by William & Mary alumnus Abbitt Woodall ’02, aims to repair or replace houses lacking in basic amenities such as indoor plumbing or air conditioning. In the past 25 years, the organization has repaired over 1,700 homes in the Historic Triangle area.

Angela Farkas ’13, a member of Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity, was one of the volunteers working to make sure that the building was following building code. As her fourth time working on the housing project since its beginning, she said that in addition to learning how a house is built, part of the reason why she has repeatedly come out to volunteer is simply to meet new people.

“It’s definitely a good feeling to volunteer, but it’s also fun to meet different people who are here for different reasons,” she said. “Whether it’s because of a fraternity thing or because they have to, people are just enjoying being out here on a beautiful day.”

Those interested in volunteering should contact Liz Gentry in the Office of Civic Engagement and Scholarship at