Apex Teen Builds Homes, Raises Money for Housing
Cole Keenan, a senior at Apex High School, discovered Chatham County's Habitat for Humanity chapter via a friend at church with whom he had taken mission trips. After meeting with Monica Berry, Chatham Habitat's volunteer coordinator for the Home Stores, Keenan signed up to help and spent an average of 35 hours a week working for the organization that summer.
Keenan says planning a car-wash fundraiser and meeting with the Chatham Habitat's board of directors gave him "an inside view on the real world." He, Berry and Samantha Brykailo, a senior at Jordan Matthews High School, worked together on the project.
"We had real time constraints and real deadlines, and held real meetings with real business and political officials to make this event come together," he says.
They also visited local businesses to ask for donations and sponsorships.
"I think the best part of the whole thing was being able to look back on the car wash, $800-plus and six hours later, and know that we made it happen," he says. "Not only did we raise enough money to change someone's life through Habitat, but we also initiated the CHAT teen involvement program and gained real world experience."
CHAT is comprised of six teens: Keenan and five seniors who attend Jordan Matthews High School in Siler City, including Brykailo, his CHAT co-chair.
CHAT, the core group, also consists of a sub-group called CHIT made up of younger students from middle and elementary schools in Chatham County.
"Being involved with 'Chabitat' has given me great friends, an opportunity to be a leader, and an opportunity to really be part of something bigger than myself," Keenan says. "It has made me see that there are an infinite number of things one can be involved with that can change a family's life."
Keenan also builds houses around Apex with the Apex Outreach Service Project, helped rebuild homes in the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina, and traveled with a group from his church to El Salvador during the last two years to build houses and a community center in the mountains of Ahuachapan.
Visit Chatham Habitat for Humanity at www.chathamhabitat.org.