Project REBUILD is more than bricks and mortar. It is about rebuilding lives. Founded in 1999, the program is an affiliate of the national YouthBuild USA organization and incorporates academic education, life skills and community service with on-the-job training.

The agency provides administrative, fundraising, marketing and business development programs that enable students to work on job sites and perform other community services. It is a rigorous pre-apprenticeship program offering young adults ages 16 to 24 an opportunity to earn a high school diploma, a nationally recognized construction training certificate and a stipend while learning basic hands-on construction.

“The majority of the young people who come to Project REBUILD failed to be successful utilizing traditional educational offerings,” said Carolyn Hess, executive director. “We try very hard to understand their challenges.

“Our program focuses on providing them with a sense that they can accomplish goals and experience some success,” she said. “The great thing with utilizing the construction trades is the opportunity for our students to actually be part of a team that transforms our community as they rehabilitate housing for low-to-moderate income individuals and families.”

Hess added that Project REBUILD’s commitment to using green building technologies provides the students with some cutting-edge knowledge and fosters a greater awareness of their roles to create a more sustainable community.

“It is hands-on, on-the-job type of experience that not only teaches marketable job skills, but also stresses leadership and service to one’s community.”

Project REBUILD was designed to involve the nonprofit, government, educational and business sectors of the Stark County community in a partnership to minimize the economic dependency and the incarceration of young people.

“We try to address the realities of high school dropouts, decaying urban housing, environmental waste, alternative educational options and community service,” said Hess. “A big part of the reality is that we cannot address those issues without working collaboratively in the community. We work with many generous individuals, businesses, organizations and governmental representatives in order for us to generate the resources we need to move our students from dependency to independency. We are always looking for more partners.”


WHO: Project REBUILD, 406 Shorb Ave. NW, Canton OH 44703; (330) 588-3205.

WHAT: Affiliate of the national YouthBuild USA organization.

BOARD MEMBERS: Tom Schervish II, Stark Management Services, chairman; Brent Fatzinger, Abbott Electric, vice chairman; Joanna James, R.G. Smith Construction, secretarytreasurer; Maureen Ater, The Repository; Donald Ball, Stark State College of Technology; David Besse, 415 Group; Michelle Casto, Ohio Operating Engineers Local 19; Matthew Cribbs, Business Interiors and Environments; the Rev. David deVries, Christ Presbyterian Church; Andy Leach, Regal Construction; Melissa Shelton, AultCare Corp.-Aultman; Mark Sirak, Sirak Financial services; Jeffrey Sklar, Jeffco Metals; Mark Sterling, Beaver Excavating Co.; Barry Stayer, Stark Metropolitan Housing; and Paul Van Nest, Superior Dairy. Advisory board members: Marsh Belden, Hortense Bobbitt, Steve Nielsen, Charlie Rohr, Lyn Sabino and Thomas Nesbitt.

PROCEEDS: Go to building projects.

DONATIONS: Send to Project REBUILD or donate online at

About The Author

Denise Sautters

“Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.” I have carried these words from Desiderada close to my heart since I started working at The Repository more than 40 years ago. The same holds true with my work for About. All of us have a story to tell. I want to be the one to tell it.

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