A New Meaning to Hands-On Training

Apprentices from Associated Builders and Contractors’ (ABC) Hawaii Chapter get to put their skills to work outside the classroom, but it’s not on an average jobsite. Through a partnership with Honolulu Habitat for Humanity, craft trainees get real-life experience, and local families in need get new homes. 

“There are so many causes that demand attention, so selecting an organization to get involved in came down to two basic criteria,” says Ken Wilson, education director for the ABC Hawaii Chapter. “First, we wanted to choose an organization that would effectively complement our primary function of teaching and perpetuating the merit shop construction industry. Second, we wanted to support a cause that provides a hand up versus a hand out.” 

Since the fall of 2013, 81 apprentices from the Hawaii Chapter’s carpentry, painting and roofing classes have volunteered more than 1,000 hours of labor and community service to build six homes in the Honolulu area. 



The trainees at ABC Hawaii, who are required to demonstrate their skills through hands-on assessments, are given the opportunity to use this community service program as a way to show their task knowledge on an actual jobsite. The instructors for each class accompany the students to ensure they are performing the tasks necessary for their training to be complete. 

Each piece of the most recent project corresponded with the specific labs the apprentices needed to complete. The carpentry classes (levels one, two and three) assisted with layout, trenching, concrete forms for footings, trusses and rough framing. They also installed flooring, baseboards and some cabinetry. The painting level one class worked with brush and roller primer and finish paints, and the level two and three roofing classes worked together on another project with Honolulu Habitat.

Plus, the apprentices got to work alongside the families for whom the homes were being built. 

“There is nothing better in life than giving out a helping hand to your brothers and sisters in Hawaii,” says apprentice Manny Crawford. 

While the community service program is coordinated through the chapter, the students that participated were there for much more than class credit. 

“Our apprentices learn firsthand that growth within themselves and their career is only part of being successful,” Wilson says. “Walking away from a project without any expectations of receiving anything other than the heartfelt ‘thank you’ from the families they impacted is a feeling they will never forget.”