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Residential Construction students use skills to support local family
Okanagan College Media Release

Armstrong Res Con Oct 2014A team of 15 Okanagan College trades students put their skills to good use for a worthy cause this summer.  

The students, who took the Residential Construction Foundation program in Armstrong, which ran from February to August, were working digging holes and laying backfill at a project house when it was delayed due to weather conditions. 

Residential Construction Instructor Les Shuert needed to find an alternative project to fill the gap. When he was telling John Aarestad, building supply manager at Shepherd’s Home Hardware about his problem, Aarestad suggested the students try out their new skills building two 8-by-10 foot garden sheds and the store would donate the materials. 

As the students began building the sheds, tragedy struck Okanagan College Carpentry Instructor Gerry Leverrier when his four-year-old granddaughter Megan was diagnosed with a rare liver disease and sent to the Hospital for Sick Kids in Toronto for treatment. Megan lives in Salmon Arm with her parents, Gerry’s son Jamie, who is an RCMP corporal with the Salmon Arm detachment, her mom Michelle, and her younger brother Gavin.

Shuert and his colleague Okanagan College Tool Room Attendant Brian Thomas jumped on the opportunity to help the young family and asked Aarestad if they could donate the sheds to an auction that the RCMP was holding to help the Leverrier’s with expenses related to the family’s extended stay in Toronto. He agreed and together the sheds were sold for nearly $1,000 at the auction in July. 

“Building the sheds gave the students an opportunity to do things they wouldn’t otherwise have had the chance to do, such as affixing roofing material, hanging doors and building rafters, which really helped develop their on-the-job skills,” says Shuert.

“While it’s hard to beat the pride you feel from seeing a finished project, knowing it was helping a family going through a really difficult time made it even that much more rewarding for the students,” he says.

Okanagan College is currently accepting applications for the next intake of its 30-week Residential Construction program in Salmon Arm, which starts February 2015. The program provides students with the necessary theoretical and practical knowledge to seek employment as an Apprentice Carpenter in the residential construction industry.