NMCC construction students help neighbor

Posted Nov. 25, 2009, at 8:25 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 11:38 a.m.

PERHAM, Maine — Most college students spend the day before Thanksgiving traveling home to visit family or sleeping in.

That was not true for students in the residential construction program at Northern Maine Community College, however, as a number of those enrolled spent the morning assisting a neighbor in need.

Guy Jackson, residential construction instructor at NMCC, said that more than 20 residential construction students helped build outdoor steps for Kathleen Williams, a disabled Perham woman and the mother of a NMCC residential construction student.

Jackson said that Williams, who was recently widowed, had cement steps outside of her one-story home that were too dangerous for her to use.

“She fell down them a lot,” he said. “We build steps all of the time as part of the program, and her son approached me about building the steps for his mother’s home. The only thing was, they could not afford the materials.”

That prompted Jackson to secure an anonymous donation of materials, and students in the program took measurements and began building the steps out of pressure-treated lumber. Jackson said that he also received assistance from Janet Grieco, an English instructor at NMCC, who helped him coordinate the project.

When it came down to installing the steps, another residential construction student, Presque Isle resident Annie Cleveland, stepped in.

Cleveland said Wednesday that she contacted her father, Reno Corriveau of Caribou, the owner of Reno & Son landscaping company.

“He had the equipment we needed for the installation, so he came down and helped us,” she said.

Williams said that the result of the project was “unbelievable.”

“The students did such a great job on the new steps,” she said Wednesday. “They are gorgeous. I had the cement steps for more than two years, and I fell backwards on them many times. These steps are nicer and safer, and I was just overwhelmed by the generosity of everyone involved.

“Without the help of these students and the college, I would have never been able to afford to have the steps built and installed,” she said.

Jackson said that five students and several other volunteers helped with the actual installation. The group was at the site for three hours. He estimated that more than $2,000 in donations was secured for the project.

“The students who did the installation were so happy to help, as were the students who built the steps,” said Jackson. “I tell them all of the time that their work is not always about money. When you can help someone in need, it is great, especially this time of year.”

Cleveland agreed.

“It made me so happy to help out with this,” she said. “We all have someone who has helped us along the way, whether we realize it or not. So it is great to extend help to others.”