Much of the work done by Disaster Ministries centers on rebuilding – specifically, rebuilding homes. When teams are working on a job site, they are repairing the damage done by the ravages of wind and rain. Making the house safe and livable is the goal so that we can help people return home and regain a sense of normalcy.
But what happens when the home cannot be repaired? What if the damage is too great? What happens if simply repairing the home won’t be enough the next time a storm roars ashore? How then do we fulfill our mission to “rebuild homes, lives, and communities”?
One answer might be to build a new house in place of the damaged property. In a recent story, we shared one such project, where Disaster Ministries built Miss Ada a new house on her property. Two of our Disaster Ministries centers (Washington and Whiteville) were involved in that project. But behind the scenes, another group of people helped bring that project to life.
Len Van Staalduinen and Bill Hofler teach in the Architectural Technology program at Pitt Community College in Greenville; Len also chairs the department. Amy Stasuk and Reese Barkley are students in the program. Along with Disaster Ministries staff Rev. Cliff Harvell (Director of Interagency Collaboration and Assessment) and Tommy Gilbert (Construction Management Coordinator), these instructors and students worked to transform a handful of sketched plans into much more.
The initial conversations around the project started back in early 2018. Cliff Harvell was serving a church at the time; it so happened to be the church that Len Van Staalduinen attends. As the two men got to know one another, Cliff discovered Len’s profession and his connection to the school. And so, when the time came to upgrade the plans, Cliff approached Len with the idea to collaborate.
Miss Ada’s house in Columbus County is the most recent house to be built with the plans, and one of the first with the updated plans. But these plans have been used in eastern North Carolina for a number of years – there are houses all over North Carolina that have been built with different versions of these plans. For many people returning home after a disaster, these simple sketches have turned into something amazing.
Students in the Architectural Technology program had a vital role in the development of the architectural plans and three-dimensional models. For this project and others that the program has taken part in, students had the opportunity to utilize what they learned in a practical way while drawing on the experience of their instructors. More importantly, these students have had the opportunity to directly contribute to the rebuilding of eastern North Carolina in the wake of disaster.
A new home means a new opportunity. A new home becomes a place of safety and shelter. Now, through the work of these teachers and students, the plans for these houses have been made new as well. While the basic designs remain mostly unchanged from the original sketches, some updates provide more security and make building the homes a more sustainable endeavor.
Disaster Ministries is grateful for all of the work done with our partners at Pitt Community College. These house plans and models will strengthen and enhance our work going forward as we continue to rebuild and recover in eastern North Carolina.