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Eastern Iowa area students building home for adults with disabilities

Governor praises partnership at Iowa City groundbreaking

Gov. Kim Reynolds talks with Kirkwood Community College officials — board chairman James Mollenhauer (from left), college president Mick Starcevich and board member John Swanson — on Thursday at a groundbreaking for a home being built in Iowa City for clients of Reach for Your Potential. The nonprofit provides housing for adults with disabilities. The house is being built by area students. (Rebecca Miller/The Gazette)
Gov. Kim Reynolds talks with Kirkwood Community College officials — board chairman James Mollenhauer (from left), college president Mick Starcevich and board member John Swanson — on Thursday at a groundbreaking for a home being built in Iowa City for clients of Reach for Your Potential. The nonprofit provides housing for adults with disabilities. The house is being built by area students. (Rebecca Miller/The Gazette)
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IOWA CITY — Area students on Thursday broke ground for a nonprofit that helps adults with disabilities live independently.

The clients of Reach for Your Potential will live in the house, at 1881 Dickenson Lane, once it’s completed this fall.

The project is overseen by the Greater Iowa City Area Home Builders Association’s Vocational Training Council. Participating students will earn college credit while learning job skills and helping build the house.

“This is a great example of collaborations and really providing options and career pathways to our young people,” Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said at the groundbreaking.

“And here’s the benefit — by you doing what you’re doing, not only are we providing opportunity for people to learn a skill, to provide a pathway to a great job, a great career, but they’re building relationships with our job creators and our businesses that are in this state, and they’re also providing a great public service as well.”

Ron Schieffer, executive director of Reach for Your Potential, said the nonprofit serves around 100 adults with disabilities.

“I think it’ll be neat for the members to come and see the changes,” he said. “ ... (It’s) just an opportunity to serve more individuals that need accessible homes.”

Karyl Bohnsack, executive officer of the Home Builders Association, said 13 students from seven area schools are participating.

The students are paid for their part-time work while earning two construction credits from Kirkwood Community College.

Participating students range in age from 16 to 38. Most of the students are high schoolers but a couple are older and making a career change, Bohnsack said.

It’s a way for students to see if they might enjoy construction as a career, she said.

“The students will get to see what they’ve built and who’s living in the house that they built,” she said.

Students also may find themselves interested in another job they see while working on the project, said Tim Rouse, industrial technology teacher at Durant High School and the students’ supervisor.

“It’s a great way for them to get some experience with all the different trades all in one place,” he said.

As a teacher, Rouse said he thinks the program is a great opportunity to see material taught in the classroom put into practice.

“I think it gives them a tremendous amount of hands-on experience,” he said.

l Comments: (319) 398-8332; marissa.payne@thegazette.com

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