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Students help build safe house for women

Chastin Barker speaking to Dwight Ford.
Chastin Barker speaking to Dwight Ford.

Around ten students are refurbishing a home in Rock Island for women survivors of domestic violence.

It's a collaboration between Project NOW and YouthBuild Quad Cities. The latter teaches young adults construction skills by building homes for people in need. Executive Director Rufus Greer says the students can turn those skills into careers.

"Within the projects that we are doing right now, they are learning carpentry, drywall, plumbing, heating, HVAC, and everything that is required to refurbish a home."

The students are from Thurgood Marshall Learning Center, Black Hawk College Adult Ed, and Rock Island High School. They get paid a stipend, and earn credits for their work.

Juan Cordova is a student working on the project. He says the skills he's learning will also help him save money as a homeowner.

"This is my first two years doing this, and these are like my brothers," he said. "It's gonna help me in the future, so when I do get my own house, I could fix things without paying for it."

In the past, the two organizations renovated houses for veterans in the area. Chastin Barker worked on that project, and is back for this one.

"I thought it was very helpful that we were doing something for the veterans, and it's helped me in the process, because my grandpa is also a veteran," Barker said. "So it's very heart-touching that we are able to help some students and help the community, and give back to the people that need."

Project NOW Executive Director Dwight Ford says the partnership will continue after this house is done.

"There's no lasting strength, except for the collective, but there's really no beauty in this world, except in meaningful relationships, and I'm glad that we have one with YouthBuild."

The house will eventually accomodate up to six people at a time.

YouthBuild Quad Cities works with students ages 16 to 24 who haven't graduated from high school yet.

Rachel graduated from Michigan State University's J-School and has a background in broadcast and environmental journalism. Before WVIK, she worked for WKAR Public Media, Great Lakes Now, and more. In her free time, she likes to cook, hike, and hang out with her cat.