According to a report in the New York Daily News, the Probation Department has been bringing about 70 at risk teens to help rebuild the Gerritsen Beach community every weekend.
While the teens were all busted for skipping fares, fighting and stealing, they have found a positive outlet in helping clear damaged houses and tear down walls:
The program “is the first time any of them have ever held a tape measure,” [Steve] Cacace, [the probation administer] said.
That came in handy two weeks ago, when some of the teens showed up at Linda Vergara’s Astor Court home. The ground floor was destroyed when nearly three feet of water rushed into her home the night Sandy hit. The Brooklyn College secretary lost everything in the home once owned by her grandparents.
“Her house was literally wrecked,” said 16-year-old Trayvon, who worked on Vergara’s home. “It was so sad. It could happen to anybody.”
For the next several hours, the kids pulled up Vergara’s floorboards, pulled out rotted wall beams and removed portions of her ceiling. They built new wall frames for the living room and bedroom and began to install new insulation.
Reaction to this story has been mixed. One Daily News commentator, Lucille, was worried that the children, whose crimes weren’t serious enough to be jailed for, were being taken advantage of.
They will complete their community service, that’s the only accreditation they will receive. The kids won’t gain anything that will get them a job for what homeowners should be paying contractors for as FEMA (with our tax dollars) is supposed to paying for the repairs, at least eventually, of these homes. Meanwhile the homeowners will get every dime promised to them by FEMA while some of the work on their homes will have already been done by these kids for free and the kids get nothing as usual.
Um, sorry, but since when is construction not a viable trade?