Canton, Ohio — Working on the YouthBuild USA program is the favorite part of Felicia Melvin's job.
“I love YouthBuild,” said Melvin, communications specialist at Saint-Gobain North America, a major building products company whose operations include Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics in Solon, Ohio. “It's always fun to come out and work side-by-side with the students and get involved. We always say they end up teaching us things every time that we work with them.”
It's easy to see why the project is so rewarding. On April 27, more than a dozen high school age students from Canton gathered in the city's Vassar Park neighborhood for a kind of pep rally to celebrate the latest YouthBuild project.
There was music, cheers and student-led tours of a building that until recently had been abandoned for at least a dozen years — not counting families of raccoons and squirrels that had taken over the two-story home.
Through YouthBuild USA's Green Initiatives program, young adults learn construction and job skills while earning their high school diplomas or GED. Saint-Gobain has supported the program since 2010, with green home renovation projects in four communities where the company has operations: Philadelphia; Worcester, Mass.; Schenectady, N.Y.; and Canton.
The partnership calls on the company to provide donated energy-efficient building materials, technical expertise and volunteer support.