Habitat for Humanity

Most of us at Key Tech thoroughly enjoy renovating things…it’s just in our blood as designers and engineers to take something old and outdated, and transform it into something new and useful.   Whether it’s refurbishing an old bike, or renovating a run-down vaudeville theater into our office, Key Techer’s are innately passionate about applying their talents and resources to improve something. Thus, it’s no surprise that a handful of Key Tech volunteers spent a day recently in the South Baltimore neighborhood of Brooklyn volunteering for Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake.

Brooklyn, like many neighborhoods in the city unfortunately, suffers from dilapidated housing, neglect, and increased crime.  It wasn’t always this way however.  In fact, the community once flourished in the 1940’s, when the Bethlehem-Fairfield shipyard was packed with Liberty Ship workers.  As part of an emergency ship-building initiative announced by President Roosevelt, the Bethlehem-Fairfield shipyard cranked out a staggering 385 ships in a four year period to support the war.  To achieve such astonishing production numbers, an influx of workers was needed, and quick housing was erected in Brooklyn to accomodate them.

Bethlehem-Fairfield Women at Lunch


Bethlehem-Fairfield Workmen at Lunch

Photos courtesy of the Library of Congress


However, once production halted, the excess workers fled the area, and that housing was left to decay over time.  That, combined with urban flight in the 50’s and 60’s resulted in many row homes lying vacant or boarded up, which are a prime haven for squatters.  Enter Habitat.  Habitat started renovating the old shipyard worker properties starting in 2006, and since then has dedicated close to 50 homes to deserving families.

A typical renovation takes about a year’s time for Habitat, or roughly three times the duration of a typical professional team.  The added time is likely due to the thinly spread, virtually all-volunteer labor force.  It’s worth noting that Habitat does outsource the skilled portions to subcontractors, such as major structural work, HVAC, electrical, and plumbing to keep volunteers like us from royally screwing up the renovation!  That leaves volunteers the fun work like demolition, framing, painting, and landscaping to name a few. The following shots were taken from our volunteer day:

Frank and Josh prepping for dry-wall

Alexis painting ductwork seals

Brian cutting trim for a closet door

Habitat for Humanity also relies heavily on monetary donations to keep their operation running.  One recent house dedicated in Brooklyn was fully funded by the National Football League and Warrick Dunn Charities.  Here is a link to the video showing the family as they see the home for the first time.  While Key Tech didn’t work on this house directly (other than moving a port-a-john from the site!), the house is remarkable…a true testament to the Habitat for Humanity mission.  What a great story, and Key Tech was glad to contribute its small part in restoring Brooklyn.

Key Tech Habitat for Humanity Volunteers


Andy Rogers

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