College of Southern Maryland (CSM) construction management students recently had the opportunity to apply skills learned in the classroom to a real-world need. More than 20 students, faculty, staff and others joined 300 other volunteers across Charles County to provide critical renovations to selected homes as part of the Rebuilding Together Charles County’s National Rebuilding Day on April 27.
“This program brings an element of reality to the construction management degree program,” said CSM Construction Management Program Coordinator Tony Stout about the college’s annual involvement with Rebuilding Together Charles County. “Students are able to take what they’ve learned in theory and apply it to an actual project. These lessons not only apply to the physical construction process but also to the leadership and management aspects of construction. It is often these soft skills that employees lack when entering the workforce; so, any opportunity we can provide that enhances those skills for our students is also a win-win situation for employers in the community.”
The CSM crew repaired and replaced sections of a back deck on their project house in Nanjemoy and removed old underpinning and replaced it with new underpinning to reduce cold air flow to the crawl space of the home. They also repaired the soffit and fascia on the exterior of a home addition and repaired the front steps that posed a fall hazard for the homeowner. The team cleaned gutters, installed leaf guards and improved the landscaping by adding flowers and plants around the home.
“It was definitely an experience I was grateful to be a part of and will remember forever,” said CSM student Laura Lyon, of La Plata, one of the construction management students working on the project. “There were things we were able to work through as individuals and/or teams, and there were certain key milestones and goals throughout the day that we were able to meet. Everything we did – all our focus and everyone involved – was 100 percent tied to reaching that end goal and getting this project completed for the homeowner. It was a wonderful sight to see so many different individuals come together to work, learn and give back to the community.”
This past Saturday CSM faculty and students participated in Rebuilding Together day! The group worked to repair homes and revitalize communities. #CSMHawks #RebuildingTogether pic.twitter.com/67x8jSYPjj
— CSM Hawks (@CSMHawks) May 1, 2019
In addition to Lyon, other CSM students participating included Riley Taylor, of La Plata, Brittney Harris-Holloway, of Lusby, Neko Ennis, of Brandywine, Morgan Blackwell, of Waldorf, Jacob Fields, of La Plata, Jeffrey Gardiner, of Mechanicsville, Cregg Powell, of Chesapeake Beach and Jeana Papagno, of La Plata. CSM faculty and staff who helped on-site included Stout, Associate Professor Barbara Abdul-Karim, Facilities Coordinator Laura Dyson, Creative Services Director Lisa Jones, and Adjunct Faculty Mark Wenner. Master Gardeners Brent Burdick, Carol Teets and Paris Reed also assisted, along with several other volunteers.
This year, five home sites in Charles County received these kinds of free repairs organized and funded through Rebuilding Together Charles County, a program that works to rehabilitate the houses of low-income homeowners, elderly and disabled, so that they may continue to live in warmth, safety and independence. Rebuilding Together Charles County Coordinator Sandie Branan said the number of projects was kept low this year because of the extent of repairs needed at the selected homes.
“They are a joy to have,” Branan said of the CSM volunteers. “Our program has been repairing homes in Charles County since 1990 and this partnership with the college is a perfect fit for our organization. We appreciate the effort Tony gives as the house captain and coordinator of his group. They are great … to give their time to help a neighbor in need. They are also on a great learning event as the homes we work on can throw some huge surprises at you once you start to uncover a visual problem you discover the damage that happened underneath. Not always, but there have been many surprises over the years.
“This program allows a volunteer to see the difference they personally make in the lives of the elderly and there is nothing like the great feeling you get at the end of the day when you have a 97-year-old lady come and hug everyone and say thank you,” Branan said.
The Construction Management Program at CSM is an associate of applied science (AAS) degree program that enables students to become employable as a project manager, cost estimator, quality assurance manager or safety director. As part of the program of study, they become familiar with the various functions that a project manager will perform on the job, develop work schedules that result in cost reduction in numerous production cycles, complete documentation that complies with current trade practices and regulations, implement scheduling processes with tools such as master scheduling and other electronic computerized systems and plan, design and present projects that include tasks performed safely within all areas of the construction environment.
“This program not only enables students to transfer to a four-year institution, it allows them to enter the workforce with the requisite skills and knowledge to be effective leaders,” Stout said.
For more information on Rebuilding Together Charles County, formerly The Christmas in April program, visit http://rtcharlescounty.org.
For more on CSM’s Construction Management degree program, visit https://catalog.csmd.edu/preview_program.php?catoid=23&poid=4019.