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Indiana Community College Students Volunteer to Install HVAC in Affordable Housing

For a service learning project, Ivy Tech pupils volunteered time to install an HVAC in home that was renovated by nonprofit Community One.

by Megan Erbacher, Evansville Courier & Press / October 23, 2017

(TNS) -- Evansville, Ind., needs more affordable housing, according to Community One community engagement director Courtney Mickel, and community partnerships are making it possible.

Five Ivy Tech Community College Evansville students last week visited the house at 610 Madison St. They assessed the situation at the recently renovated home, and developed a plan.

The five students in the class – Brian Farber, David Hall, Jeffrey Haskett, Charles Landrum and Daniel Suddarth - are studying in Ivy Tech’s School of Advanced Manufacturing, Engineering & Applied Technology. For a service learning project, they are volunteering time to install an HVAC system in a home that was renovated by Community One.

The work includes installing an air duct system, furnace and air conditioner.

Ivy Tech Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning chair, Don Merle, said students get hands-on experience and give to the community.

Plus, Merle said, it’s beneficial for students to complete an entire project. He estimates students will finish it by Dec. 15.

“In the classroom, we do pieces of projects,” he said. “But with an assignment like this, they see it through from start to completion. ... This helps the students put all the puzzle pieces together in a sequential order, giving them a better idea how the HVAC industry works."

Community One provided materials students needed to complete the HVAC work.

Typically, Merle said equipment and materials for a new HVAC system could cost $3,500 to $4,500, plus labor. He estimated Community One is saving between $6,000 to $9,000.

Mickel said partnerships like the one with Community One and Ivy Tech are “extremely important.”

Community One is a Christian nonprofit that addresses local housing restoration and community development needs through removing blight and decay. Their work is privately funded, volunteer-based and collaborative.

“In our whole-house rehab model, we acquire vacant dilapidated houses, completely gut them, fully restore them and then sell them affordably to low-income homebuyers. … We would not be able to sell these rehabilitated homes affordably without volunteers and partnerships just like this one with Ivy Tech,” Mickel said.

Merle sees Community One investing in neighborhoods and changing people’s lives by “bringing a house back to life.” He believes in passing this lesson onto his students through annual service learning projects.

“We, as students and as human beings, get to make a difference by participating in projects like this and helping each other out,” Merle said.

This is the first service learning project between Community One and Ivy Tech, but Mickel hopes to see more in the future that could

“Opportunities (like this) could potentially expand beyond HVAC systems and into other programs at Ivy Tech,” she said.

©2017 the Evansville Courier & Press (Evansville, Ind.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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