Pumped with zeal and strapped into a loaded carpenter’s belt, Jordan Castaneda greeted Salina Technical College classmates for some on-the-job learning.
“I’m ready to get this party going,” said the 18-year-old Salinan on Wednesday, aching for some construction work after spending weeks mostly in a classroom.
The budding builders were “chomping at the bit. They’ve been in the classroom since the start of the semester (Aug. 20),” said Kevin Watters, Salina Tech construction technology instructor.
His crew that ranges in size from eight to 11, was eager to join in the remodel of an Ashby House shelter at 158 S. Eighth.
“I love getting hands on, in the action. The days go faster. It feels like forever in the classroom,” said Castaneda, a 2020 Salina Central High School graduate, who credits his uncle, Mario Martinez, owner of a Salina construction business, for introducing him to the trade, and gifting him the passion to build.
Several departments at the technical college have joined in repurposing the 100-plus-year-old, two-story home that was moved to the Ashby House complex during the summer of 2019.
Salina-based Blue Beacon International’s hotels division, Lighthouse Properties, donated the house, moving expenses and some of the concrete costs, to Ashby House.
The old home had to go to create more room for the new downtown Salina hotel, Homewood Suites by Hilton.
Attached to a basement foundation, the house is undergoing a $400,000 transformation into a 30-bed primary shelter, said Andy Houltberg, Ashby House executive director.
The nonprofit organization that runs a shelter for women and families, and a number of other programs — Sober Living Program, Free Store open to the community, Transitional Housing, Toy Store and Career Closet — has raised about half of the money and services necessary to complete the work, Houltberg said, through grants