Darlington High JAG students at Darlington ReStore for 2nd year

JAG students with Darlington County Habitat for Humanity ReStore manager Ben Schmeltz. Left to right: Ashton Truett, Raven McCall, Ben Schmeltz, Emily Truett, and Cristina Ramirez.

JAG students with Darlington County Habitat for Humanity ReStore manager Ben Schmeltz. Left to right: Ashton Truett, Raven McCall, Ben Schmeltz, Emily Truett, and Cristina Ramirez.

By Jana E. Pye, Editor, editor@newsandpress.net

For the second summer in a row, the Darlington County Habitat for Humanity ReStore were helped by students from the JAG program from Darlington High School.

“I don’t know what we would have done without these girls this June,” said ReStore manager Ben Schmeltz. “We had more donations than ever, and without their hard work we would never have gotten so much done!”

Noreen Wingate, JAG Coordinator at Darlington High School, shared that the program started in 2005-2006 school year. JAG, “Jobs for America’s Graduates,” is a school-to-career transitional leadership/drop out prevention program that focuses on helping students achieve academic success, graduate from high school, and improve career readiness.

The curriculum focuses on cultivating skills identified by businesses as essential to successful employment. At Darlington High School, the multi year program is made up from 9th – 12th grade.

For this summer program, four students worked five days a week during the month of June, three in the morning 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and one in the afternoons from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. The students gain work experience, which helps to create a resume.

After the completion of assigned weeks, the students complete a resume, and receive payment.

Raven McCall, Cristina Ramirez, Emily Truett, and Ashton Truett were selected for the project, and were busily working on their last week when interviewed by the News & Press. During the previous academic year, the girls shared that JAG helped with many projects at the school, including the Flood Relief, Old People’s Christmas, Clean Up Day at DHS, a Domestic Violence Walk, Special Olympics, and more.

The JAG students receive credit for the classroom time, and learn important job and life skills including public speaking, how to create a resume, job interview skills, dressing appropriately, and developing maturity and strong work ethic.

Raven McCall is a recent graduate of Darlington High School, and will be attending Francis Marion University in the fall to study nursing. While at the ReStore, she helped with the clothing, and running the register.

“My favorite part was meeting the people,” said Raven. She attributes the JAG program for helping her develop more confidence, and break her shyness. “When I first started I was so shy, and hated to speak in class,” said Raven. “Now I feel more confident. This will really help me in college, and in my future career.”

Cristina Ramirez is a rising senior, and will be the Vice President of the community service of JAG in the fall; she was historian last year. This was her first year in JAG, and this was her first experience working in retail. Although she doesn’t really enjoy working in customer service, she did enjoy working with her best friends. Her duties were sorting in the back and helping with create displays and pricing. She is an artist, and enjoyed helping with signs. “I was surprised by what people donate, I was amazed by some of it – some items are really cool.”

Emily Truett has been in JAG for all her years at Darlington High School, and will be a senior this year and the President of the club. She worked several years with the JAG work program and had another job she acquired on her own, using skills she learned with JAG to be successful with her resume and interview. She helped with the ReStore last year working in the back room, but this year she helped with putting out clothing and pricing. She is also an artist, and painted on the windows and door. “I think it’s really good to be in JAG, when I first got in JAG I was very shy and now it’s easy. This helps teach skills you cannot get in other classes.”

Truett says the CVC conference in April will be heavy on competition for awards. She assists with recommending students for the program; the two classes last year had about 50 students.

Ashton Truett, Emily’s sister, will be a junior this year and has been in JAG as a freshman. She enjoys the cash register more than other duties, although she enjoys all the aspects of retail. “I have to say, I really like working in air conditioning,” said Ashton. “I always call this job first!” She has a bad back due to a previous car accident, so lifting is an issue for her, another reason she would rather work with customers. She will be the Treasurer this year.

The other ladies love being in the back, enjoying the treasure hunt of seeing the donated items first.

Although there were only four students this year, Ben Schmeltz, ReStore manager said that they worked very hard. “We’ve been overwhelmed with donations this month, and the majority of it was clothing,” he said. “And that is mostly what they do. I’m going to miss them they made a big difference. We were able to get more out and display it better.”

In Hartsville, Coker College and the SC Governor’s School for Math and Science help at the ReStore. Both ReStores have help from community service hours, and help from Vocational Rehabilitation for job training. The Boy Scouts did a few projects years ago, and church members often help as volunteers.

A Habitat home in Promise Acres is ready for kitchen cabinet installation, and in Darlington a home on the corner of Edwards Street near Mayo High School is ready for foundation. The home will be large with four bedrooms.

Groups from all over the country come to Darlington County to help with building homes, and the proceeds from the ReStores help residents of Darlington County become homeowners and move from being renters to property owners.

To learn more about Darlington County Habitat for Humanity, visit them at: www.darcohabitat.org, Office: 843-383-8500. To arrange for a donation pick up, contact:

Darlington ReStore: 843-944-0314 or the Hartsville ReStore: 843-383-8517.

What is Habitat for Humanity International?

• Habitat is a nonprofit, Christian housing ministry.
• Habitat believes that every person should have a decent, safe and affordable place to live.
• Habitat welcomes all people to work with us in partnership.

What does Habitat for Humanity do?

• Habitat helps to build, renovate and repair houses all over the world using volunteer labor and donations.
• Habitat advocates to increase access to decent, affordable housing around the world.

Does Habitat give houses away?

• No, Habitat for Humanity is not a giveaway program. Habitat’s partner families buy the houses that Habitat builds and renovates.
• Habitat makes no profit on the sale.
• In the United States, Habitat homeowners purchase their houses through affordable monthly mortgage payments.
• In other countries, Habitat also works with partner organizations to serve even more families through innovative financing methods.
• Habitat’s homeowners also invest hundreds of hours of their own labor, called sweat equity, working alongside volunteers and other Habitat homeowners.

How are Habitat’s homeowner families chosen?

• Families in need of decent, affordable shelter apply to their local Habitat organization, called an affiliate.
• Each affiliate’s family selection committee chooses Habitat homeowners for their local area, based on three criteria:
• The family’s level of need.
• Their willingness to become partners in the program.
• Their ability to repay the loan through an affordable payment plan.
• Every affiliate follows a nondiscriminatory policy of family selection.
• Neither race nor religion is a factor in choosing Habitat’s homeowner families.

Author: Duane Childers

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