When a homeless veteran of the Gulf War entered Weber State University, he knew it would change his life. What Travis Parsons didn’t know was that fellow Wildcats would also help build him a home.
In a partnership with Habitat for Humanity, Weber State’s Design Engineering & Technology students designed two homes at 129 and 141 30th Street in Ogden. Various groups of Weber State volunteers helped turn a dream and a design into reality for Parsons. The home will be dedicated Saturday, Feb. 3 at 10 a.m.
“I just cannot believe that this is true,” Parsons said. “I am getting a new house. Seems too good to be true. Sometimes dreams happen.”
The project has received a great deal of community support. Donations of labor, materials and discounts from local merchants helped save $50,000 in construction costs. Weber State University students and faculty provided 1,000 hours of free labor. Also, they contributed another 1,500 hours to ReStore, (3111 Wall Ave., Ogden), a home-improvement store and donation center run by Habitat for Humanity. ReStore sells new and gently used furniture, appliances, home accessories and building materials that help fund Habitat’s new home construction.
Design engineering technology associate professor Jeremy Farner has helped oversee the two new Ogden homes from the plans all the way through construction.
“This is a wonderful example of community engaged learning at Weber State,” Farner said. “Students take what they learn in the classroom and apply it in the community to address a social issue that affects all of us. This has been one of those life-changing projects, not only for those who are receiving the homes, but also for those involved in design and construction.”
Like all construction projects, there have been plenty of obstacles to overcome.
In September, thieves broke into a locked trailer and stole $6,000 worth of Habitat for Humanity construction tools. Then in December, they carried off ladders and planks.
Fortunately, businesses and individuals quickly donated money, tools and surveillance equipment to help replace much of what was lost and to get the project back on track.
“Our partnership with WSU has been invaluable,” said Jeannie Gamble, executive director for Habitat for Humanity Weber and Davis Counties. “The students, faculty and staff who have supported us on the build sites, designing our homes or helping with our repair projects, have impacted both our clients and our organization in ways we cannot even explain. ReStore would not be as successful without the students who have volunteered and helped us keep it running. These two homes are a testament to how universities, communities and local non-profits can make a difference in the world. We look forward to several new projects in the pipeline that are going to make an even greater impact on our community.”
Parsons is majoring in electrical engineering, has a job in Weber State Veterans Services office and is the Veterans Student Senator. He is thrilled to have the security of knowing that soon every night after school, he will return to a home he can call his own.