Students Freshen Up Putnam Habitat For Humanity Truck

Volunteers donated 1,915 hours making critical home repairs through Putnam County Habitat for Humanity in 2022. They rebuilt floors and leveled toilets, installed bathtubs so that people wouldn’t fall through cracks in the old ones, repaired roofs and replaced windows, doors and installed accessibility ramps. This year, thanks to students studying auto repair at Vantage Career Center, they can transport tools and materials to-and-from job sites in a shiny red pickup truck.

When Putnam County Habitat for Humanity was established in 2009, the organization was dedicated to the biannual building of a new home in partnership with an income-qualifying family in need. In 2018, this affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International launched a Critical Home Repair program to make essential repairs and improvements to ensure safe and healthy homes in our communities.

Transportation of tools and building supplies to and from work sites has required careful planning during last several years due to the lack of serviceable vehicles. Volunteers generously carted supplies in their own cars and trucks to facilitate the workflow. Then in 2022, Dan VonderEmbse donated a cargo trailer to the cause and the PCHFH board of directors approved the purchase of a reliable used 2002 Ford Super Duty Truck. Both were put to work immediately, even though the truck had some substantial body rust.

In order to keep the vehicle roadworthy for years to come, PCHFH Executive Director, Anne Coburn-Griffis, reached out to Dan Edwards, Auto Collision Instructor at Vantage Career Center. Edwards, who sees himself as more of a coach than a teacher, saw the body repair as an opportunity for his students to work directly with a customer. He presented the project to them and Hunter Stevens, a senior from Van Wert, took it on. He went to work on a heavily rusted wheelhouse in fall 2022 and completed the repair in January.

“I was up for the challenge,” said Stevens. He worked with other classmates to cut out the rust, made the panels, primed, painted, striped and assembled. “I like the finished process. I can say I did that.”

(story and picture courtesy of Putnam County Habitat for Humanity)