YouthBuild to help HOPE expand its building

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By Chris Sardelli

HOPE in Lancaster, a charitable organization known for helping Lancaster County’s needy, will soon receive some assistance of its own.

YouthBuild, a youth program that helps low-income students learn job skills through construction projects, has agreed to build an addition to HOPE’s headquarters at 2008 Pageland Highway.

The program recently received a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor that allocated $70,000 towards the construction of a new building or renovation of an existing building for a nonprofit agency in the area.  

HOPE, which stands for Helping Other People Effectively, assists county residents with food.

Elaine Adkins, executive director of HOPE, said HOPE’s operations were quickly outgrowing its building and they were considering plans to expand. After discussions between the two organizations, members of YouthBuild realized that HOPE needed their help.

“We’re so short on space out here it’s awful,” Adkins said. “This will make it so much easier for us and we’re so excited. It will be a wonderful addition for us and we’re looking forward to it.”

The addition to the building will include two offices, a food room and a storage room.

One of the planned rooms will have space for several refrigerators, shelving for food donations and a place where food orders can be assembled.

Max Melton, executive director of Communities in Schools and manager of YouthBuild, said construction of the addition should begin within the next two weeks.

“HOPE always does really good work. With the current economic situation we’re in, the services they provide are seriously needed by a lot of people in the community,” Melton said. “There’s no better organization to try and assist and for our young people to help with.”

YouthBuild is a training program for young people between the ages of 17 and 24 who have not completed their high school education.

A national program, YouthBuild has operated in Lancaster County for the last six years under the direction of Communities in Schools and received its first funding as part of a literacy initiative by the J. Marion Sims Foundation. Through the program, students earn their GED and also receive job training at the same time.  

Students are enrolled in January and July each year, and at least 25 students are expected to enroll this month. The majority of students attend the program for one year. Through the program, students receive training in several areas, such as job site safety, carpentry and electrical and plumbing skills.

When working on construction projects, students are supervised by the program’s project director, who is also a licensed contractor. There is also a construction trainer on site.

Because this is a training program and work will likely move slower than a regular construction project, Melton said there is no expected end date for the project.

Adkins is excited about the project and is pleased it can help the youth in Lancaster County.

“It’s really great because the kids themselves will come and do physical work on the building,” Adkins said. “It’s also great because they learn a trade.”

Contact reporter Chris Sardelli  at csardelli@thelancasternews.com or at (803) 416-8416