ESHS students volunteer for Echo Village project
Eureka Springs High School students aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty, especially if it’s for a good cause.
Over the past month, the students have been volunteering at Echo Village, an affordable housing project on Passion Play Road. High school teachers Jason McAfee and Nancy Stainer helped out, too. McAfee said high school principal David Gilmore has been pushing for more volunteerism, saying students can receive one full credit for 75 hours of volunteer work.
“We’re trying to promote volunteering and reaching out to the community for good causes,” McAfee said. “It’s important to take part in projects locally, especially big things like this.”
Active volunteer Dee Rude said it’s nice to have the students help out.
“It means getting some more work done,” Rude said. “Right now, I have some young men out back that are putting up siding and cutting around windows.”
It’s critical to complete the outside of the house, Rude said, before finishing the inside.
“It’s so the house is properly weatherproofed,” Rude said.
Seniors Kayden Eckman and Cole Rains said they’re applying what they learn in the classroom to the project. Eckman said he worked in HVAC last year and learned a lot about how to construct things.
“A lot of this stuff is measuring and putting it up,” Eckman said. “It’s pretty much the same.”
“When it comes to siding,” Rains said, “you have to be pretty precise on measurements.”
Sophomore Wade Grassley said his shop skills have come in handy for the volunteer work.
“When we’re in shop, we’re building and repairing shelves and building projects like clipboards or cutting boards,” Grassley said. “Now we’re over here building houses. It’s a much different experience, but it’s the same concept.”
There’s a big difference from competing in masonry, said sophomore Preston Hyatt, and helping build a home.
“We went from a tiny project and jumped straight to a huge project like this,” Hyatt said. “That’s a big accomplishment for us.”
It’s rewarding to work on the project, Rains said.
“It’s something you can come back years and years later and remember, ‘I put the siding on that part of the wall,’ or ‘I did the insulation on that,’ ” Rains said. “And it benefits people who don’t necessarily have the money to pay a lot on rent.”
“Doing this means a lot to me,” Hyatt said. “It will mean a lot for other people, too.”
Rains acknowledged he can get a credit for doing volunteer work but said that’s not why he’s doing it.
“I’m just doing it to feel good and help someone else,” Rains said.
Gilmore said he’s proud of the students for volunteering, saying he has students volunteering all over Eureka Springs.
“We have great students and teachers that are willing to give back to the community that has given us so much,” Gilmore said. “We appreciate the new school and all the support we get from our community, so it’s our way of giving back.”
Echo Village won’t be complete on any specific timeline, Rude said.
“It all depends on how many volunteers we have. This is all volunteer-based,” Rude said. “We have five more houses that need insulation. There’s still plenty of work to do. We’re trying to get it so we’re all indoors before the weather gets bad on us.”
Anyone can volunteer, Rude said, regardless of skill level.
“I was a novice when I first started four months ago, and now I’ve done siding, decking, roofs and shingling,” Rude said. “Don’t think you don’t have skills. We’ll put you to work doing something fun.”
For those who would like to see the progress, Echo Village will have an open house from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 28.