By Kevin Haas
Rock River Current
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He put those skills back to use this year to help a new class of Guilford students build what will be his mother’s first new home. It’s located on the same street as the one he first helped build as a high-school student.
Burnell, now 22, would send regular updates and pictures to his mom, Tamara Wofford, as the house was built from the ground up.
“I was able to kind of live through him because I wasn’t able to get over here as much as I’d like to,” said Wofford, who works as an office professional at Ellis Elementary School, keeping her away during most construction hours. “He was my eyes.”
Wofford was handed the keys to her new home on Tuesday during a ceremony that celebrated the completion of two homes built by volunteers and high school students. Wofford’s house was built with Guilford’s help and a second home on Carol Place was completed with East High School’s construction trades class.
“It’s just amazing to see it all come together,” said Wofford, a mother of four, ages 24, 22, 14 and 6. The younger three will live with her, she said. “I’m happy that my family and I have an actual home that we can call our own.”
Rockford Habitat’s construction program is designed to give access to homeownership to people who may not otherwise be able to afford their first property. Recipients must pay 30% of their monthly gross income as mortgage.
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Photos: Rockford Habitat for Humanity high school build dedication
By the time Rockford Habitat completes its work in the neighborhood, there will be 31 homes constructed, including 10 by Rockford Public Schools students, according to Keri Asevedo, executive director of the nonprofit. There are 26 built or under construction so far and five lots will be left for Jefferson’s projects.
“This really is about generational work,” Rockford Public Schools Superintendent Ehren Jarrett said. “To hear the story of how one of the former students is now living in one of our homes I think is a really powerful example of what this program can become.
“Our students build skills, our families benefit and ultimately our community grows stronger.”