Crew of Bedford High students provides turbocharge to big Habitat for Humanity project in Bristol

BRISTOL — Pemi-Valley Habitat for Humanity gave itself an ambitious task with the Hedstrom Way project. Long averaging the construction of one house per year, the nonprofit organization's new project is planned to see a cluster of four new homes built within two years. With such a task ahead of his organization, executive director Brian McCarthy said the three days of labor provided this week by a group of 15 students and chaperons from Bedford High School was a welcome jump-start for the second of four homes to be constructed.
"We got off to a flying start with this one," said McCarthy. When students arrived to the job site on Wednesday, all that existed of the second building was a concrete foundation. By the time they wrapped up their final day of work yesterday, the 1,100-square-foot home had its exterior walls in place, roof trusses installed and sheets of plywood nailed in place to close the structure to the elements.
The Hedstrom Way project, named after dedicated Habitat volunteer Reverand Doug Hedstrom, is funded in part by a $266,000 Community Development Block Grant. Pemi-Valley is thought to be the first Habitat for Humanity affiliate in the state to receive such a grant. The funds were used to purchase the 4-acre lot, located on Route 3A just outside of Bristol's village, and to complete the work necessary to make the site ready for four homes. All of the three bedroom, one bathroom homes will be built using volunteer labor.
The first of the homes was completed recently and will be occupied by the Gibbs family. The last two will be the homes of the Sprague and Minkewicz families. The building currently under construction is destined to become home sweet home for Patti and Jim Reynolds, their 10-year-old daughter Aislen, 3-year-old son Hayden, and daughter Paige, who was born eight months ago.
Patti, who was part of the work crew this week, said she hopes to be able to celebrate her husband's birthday in their new home. Jim turns 40 on October 2. The Reynolds family currently lives in an apartment in Bristol village, where lead paint concerns prevent their children from being able to play outside.
McCarthy said the crew from Bedford has done everything in their power to help provide the Reynolds family with what would be an ultimate birthday present for Jim. "It's been a tremendous group of young men and women," said McCarthy. "I can't tell you how pleased we are with the dedication, the commitment these kids have shown."
"They're awesome," added Patti Reynolds.
The helpers from Bedford — 13 students and two chaperons — are offering their labor as part of "Intersession," the three days preceding April vacation week in which students choose a non-traditional learning experience. Over the years that Bedford High School has observed Instersession, and including this year, students have assisted with building a dozen different homes. The students have been staying at the nearby Slim Baker Lodge during their visit.
The Bedford students said that the Habitat projects, of all their Intersession opportunities, prove to be the most popular at sign-up time. On their third day in Bristol, they could see why. "It's been a great learning experience," said Molly Burns.
"This is an awesome part the build to be a part of," said Elizabeth Eby. When they arrived, there was nothing but a bare foundation, she said. "Three days later, it's a house."
Gabby Scudder appreciated the opportunity to lend a helping hand. "We're fortunate to have what we have," she said. Helping to provide a nice home for another family, she said, "makes you feel good."
Courtney Moe often comes to the Plymouth region to go hiking. She said, "It's nice being able to help someone that's close to us." All of the other Bedford Intersession Habitat projects have been out of state.
Lauren Prince said the trip has proven to be educational. "You're learning something you've never done before. It's really cool to learn something new and help someone out at the same time."
"We just built a house. That's pretty sick," concluded Nathan Holt.
McCarthy said work on the house will continue on weekends. "We always need more volunteers, we definitely need more funding. We have four houses to build here, we're doing everything we can to raise funds," he said. Those who wish to lend a hand should contact Pemi-Valley Habitat for Humanity at 536-1333 or visit McCarthy said volunteers need have no prior construction experience. "Most people that come and volunteer have a blast," he added.
"I have dreams about building my house," said Reynolds, who gets to wake to a life in which her wishes are materializing before her eyes. "It's beyond description. My dreams are coming true with this house."

A work crew from Bedford High School spent three days this week building the walls and roof of one of the homes planned in the Hedstrom Way project in Bristol, being built by Pemi-Valley Habitat for Humanity. Bottom row, left to right: chaperone Kevin Munroe, students Gabby Scudder, Katie Wallace, Lauren Prince, Molly Burns, Elizabeth Eby and Courtney Moe. Middle row: students Tim Lavin, Suntosh Patil and Nick Brown. Top row: chaperone Michaela Nutting, students Nathan Hold, Jake Bauer, Justin Irvine and Ethan Widrig, and future homeowner Patti Reynolds. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Adam Drapcho)