For the many students and community leaders who helped raise money to build a new home for a Southview High School student with disabilities, the project was summed up by its slogan: “Turning dreams into reality.”
Project HAVEN, or Home Accessibility for Val’s Exceptional Needs, was chosen as the annual project for the local chapter of the Professional Remodelers Organization, which agreed to help fund and construct a new, 1,553 square-foot home for Tom and Veronica Taylor and their daughter, Valerie, 16, a sophomore. The home replaces their current one bedroom and one bathroom, 540 square-foot house.
Crews broke ground on the house today.
Photo gallery: Work begins on new home for Southview student
Carly Conover, intervention specialist at Southview High School, said the project illuminates the compassion the students have for each other.
“I have the honor of having Valerie as a student. Project HAVEN was started out of compassion. They saw the daily struggle Val had accessing her home. As a teacher, it makes me proud,” she said, adding that Valerie faces “every day with a smile.”
Southview High School students applied after hosting the annual Dance for a Chance fund-raiser earlier in March to start raising funds for the family. An amount totaling $32,000 was raised to go toward the project at the event, which was a student-organized dance marathon.
It was difficult for Valerie to maneuver around the home in the 3000 block of Cason Avenue, as she uses a 400-pound wheelchair for mobility. She has multiple disabilities, including spastic quadriplegia, cerebral palsy, epilepsy and glaucoma.
Southview students noticed how difficult it was for Valerie to go in and out of her home. They noticed that her chair would get stuck in the mud in the driveway and she would have difficulty maneuvering it around the property, so they organized the dance marathon fund-raiser.
PRO, formerly the Toledo Home Remodelers Association, is a non-profit trade association made up of more than 40 contractors in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan. The group chooses an annual project — called the President’s Project — in which it works with other professional remodeling professionals to help community members in need.
David Rumpf, current president of PRO and a contractor with more than 30 years of experience in construction, said the students seemed very motivated to be part of the project.
“These high school students are on a mission,” he said. “We hope to make a difference.”
According to press materials, “the total value for Project HAVEN will exceed $150,000, which includes temporary housing, the house and more.”
About 40 local business have donated either materials or labor to the project. Southview students will also assist with construction.
Southview High School principal Dave McMurray also agreed that he was amazed at the outpouring of support from his students.
“We are starting to reach out to members within our school community,” he said, adding that he saw the motivation of the students as “very, very, very powerful.”
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Sylvania Township Trustee Neal Mahoney, who had an active part in helping secure title work for the home, addressed the crowd before ground was broken.
“It was emotional to be able to hand over title work,” he said, speaking of when the Taylor family came to his place of employment, Midland Title, the previous day. Township Trustee John Jennewine also helped by working with the zoning department to make sure everything went through.
After a drum roll from the Southview band, community members and students plunged their shovels into the ground, marking the start of the project, to the applause of the crowd.
Mr. McMurray said the event was also successful in bringing together community members.
“As an educator, I’m just so very proud that it’s apparent here today that the community has come together to make life easier for Val,” he said.
Contact Kelly McLendon at:
firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-206-0356 or on Twitter at @MyTownSylvania.