NORMAN — Carpentry students at Moore Norman Technology Center combined their training with community service to help a nonprofit agency furnish apartments for homeless teens.
It was a “win-win” for both sides, said Debra Krittenbrink, executive director of Bridges, which provides housing for high school students who live alone due to a family crisis.
Teens living at Bridges needed furniture, and the carpentry students needed experience.
The student apartments maintained by Bridges needed dressers and bookshelves — preferably built-in units that would prove decorative and useful.
With no money to pay for a custom woodworking job, Krittenbrink turned to Moore Norman Technology students for help.
“Saying yes was easy,” said Terry Williamson, the center's assistant director of technical careers. “It gave my carpentry students an opportunity to perform a community service and also get valuable training experience in cabinet making.”
Williamson said he was unfamiliar with Bridges until last year when he had a student who relied on the organization for housing and educational support.
“I agree strongly with Bridges' mission, and I was able to see firsthand the benefits of its service to high school students. I wanted to be a part of it,” Williamson said.
Money for the project came from Norman's Community Development Block Grant program. Manpower for getting the units installed once construction was complete came from volunteers participating in United Way's annual Day of Caring.
Carpentry students used a bus and a flatbed truck to move the furniture to Bridges on Friday. Volunteers and Bridges' staff members spent the day painting and installing them, Krittenbrink said.
“This is a great example of the generosity of spirit displayed by our community,” she said. “A number of people collaborated out of the goodness of their hearts so that our students could have a comfortable living space.”
Students at Bridges pay sliding-scale rent on one of 20 apartments maintained by the organization. In turn, they receive case management, mentoring and assistance with school and emergency needs.
The students are required to maintain appropriate grades and school attendance, keep a job and work toward high school graduation.