Non-profit helps community while improving education

By Danielle Thomas – bio | email

PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) - A non-profit organization that combines education with community service wants to reach more young people.  South Coast Design Build held an open house earlier this week in Pass Christian. Officials said they wanted show what the program has offer to high school and college students interested in architecture.

Virginia Tech student Tray Strawhorn said he had only one thing on his mind when he decided to major in Architecture.

"To make money building big houses for rich people," said Strawhorn. "Now it's not why I'm doing it now."

Now Strawhorn is spending the semester at South Coast Design Build in Pass Christian studying under a professional architect. In the program, students receive college credit for helping Katrina victims design their new houses.

Architect Leah McBride is the director. She said, "Students have a desire to serve. This generation that's graduating in the next few years hungers for service opportunities."

"Learn a lot about details. How things come together. How buildings stand up," said Strawhorn. "In school, there's not a lot of that. Especially the emphasis is not on that. It's kind of these make believe buildings that will never be built and now I'm going to leave this program with built works."

Students said they're not just building houses. They're building lasting relationships with the people they serve. In today's economy, the students hope the experience they get here will go a long way toward making life easier after graduation.

"I think it will be pretty awesome to be like in my portfolio, this is a project that has been built," said Mary Sutphin, Virginia Tech student. "That I've been able to see the good and bad of that project. And I think that will hopefully give me a talking point and get me a job."

Since South Coast Design Build began last year officials said they've added construction manager to the staff. The non-profit is now partnering with three universities, Virginia Tech, St. Andrews University, and Oklahoma State University.

For more information on the design services call 228-452-7674.

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