FITCHBURG — Students at Montachusett Regional Technical School enjoy excellent college and career preparation, and this education would not be complete without an emphasis on community service. One of the hallmarks of the high school’s vocational programs is its commitment to giving back to area communities, according to a school press release.
Students from a variety of trades work on projects such as repairing municipal property, maintaining municipal vehicles, and building canoes for local sports programs.
Many Monty Tech stores also offer free or discounted services to local residents. Whether it’s providing subsidized veterinary care, meals for the elderly, or affordable car service, the school views helping the residents of north-central Massachusetts as a fundamental commitment. Students learn to see their growing expertise not just as a career path, but as a tool to strengthen their communities, according to the school.
One of the school’s best-known partnerships is building homes with Habitat for Humanity North Central Massachusetts.
Through this program, students from the school’s electrical, carpentry, HVAC, and plumbing programs help build homes for families in need.
“Habitat for Humanity North Central Massachusetts is proud to partner with Monty Tech instructors and students for our home building projects. Together we have completed three houses in the past two years and are currently working on a fourth. The partnership means families can get home much faster and we can strengthen, stabilize and empower more low-income families in our local communities,” said Carolyn Read, Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity North Central Massachusetts.
Jadiel Hernandez, a senior student at Monty Tech and carpentry, is also excited about the partnership.
“I appreciated being able to use my carpentry skills to help build a Habitat home,” Hernandez said.
Walking through the halls of Monty Tech, visitors often come across posters promoting various donation campaigns. This school year, efforts have included drives for food, clothing, blankets, sports equipment and toys for toddlers.
Some campaigns are run by particular student organizations — the Monty Tech Leo Club or the SkillsUSA chapter, for example — while others are run by particular professional programs. Students work together with local organizations to ensure that donations reach their recipients. A recent clothing drive benefited Fitchburg’s homeless agency, Our Father’s House, and a blanket drive was coordinated specifically to benefit Afghan families relocating locally.
With more than a quarter of Monty Tech students classified as economically disadvantaged, the school also recognizes the needs within its own community.
Counseling Service, ROTC Program and Catering Services staff spearheaded this year’s holiday dinner basket programs.
For Thanksgiving, 32 Monty Tech families received special meal deliveries. During the winter break, 46 Monty Tech families received special meal deliveries, as well as gifts and extra groceries for the extended school vacation. Both of these meal programs were aided by students from the school’s business technology program, as well as staff and faculty throughout the school.
Kathleen Hanson and Alicia Quinn are guidance office staff who have helped lead the meal drive efforts. They said they were paying; lucky to work with such a supportive group of educators who recognize that times are tough right now and want to get involved in something that makes life a little brighter for students.
Students also feel fortunate to be involved in service work. Elaina Sarsfield, a Monty Tech junior and health professions student from Fitchburg, serves as vice president of the school’s Leo Club.
Reflecting on her involvement, she said, “The Leo Club has provided me with many opportunities to do meaningful community service. The club is always open to new and creative ways to help the community. Over the past two months, we have provided people in need with meals, as well as coats and blankets. We have also worked with school guidance counselors to provide struggling students with stress relief kits. These service projects have ongoing impacts not only on the school but also on the surrounding communities, and being a part of them is something I am very grateful for.
For ideas on how Monty Tech can support the local community, contact Julie Blazar, Community Outreach Specialist, at [email protected] or 978-345-9220 ext. 5227. Learn more about Habitat for Humanity North Central Massachusetts at ncmhabitat.org.