West Virginia nonprofit builds tiny homes for troubled youth

Hometown Heroes

LAVALETTE, W.V. (WOWK) — A West Virginia nonprofit organization that helps troubled teens — and their families — even as they transition into adulthood is still doing it’s good work, even during the pandemic.

Their latest project: building tiny homes for youth in their programs to learn independence.

“When I first walked in here, I thought it was just gonna be one of those actual little tiny homes, but it’s a lot bigger than you would actually think. I’m quite happy about that because you know I get more space…the more space, the better,” said Corey Dunn, first tiny home recipient.

Stepping Stones Incorporated is the group behind this idea, and representatives say it was born out of a need to help teenagers learn the stability and independence required in adult life.

“Over the years we’ve realized that one of the things that older youth need is more independent thinking and more independent opportunities to really experience being out on their own while also under the support system,” said Raymona Preston, Assistant Director, Stepping Stones, Inc.

To achieve that—thanks to the help of various grants and donations from local businesses and foundations — they’re building a complex of tiny homes for their youth to learn how to live on their own.

“We’re going to simulate, as much as possible, a real-life experience for youth as if they were leasing an apartment out in the community on their own,” explained Preston.

A true first ‘stepping stone’ for many; one that Dunn will soon get to experience.

“I think it’s awesome.  I can’t wait. It’s gonna be something completely new for me, something I’ve never done before. I’ve never really lived on my own, so I get to experience that,” said Dunn.

Preston says while the pandemic has caused them to have to change and adapt some of their plans, they’re still moving forward with this ambitious project.

Right now, there are two tiny homes in progress. Soon, they will add six more.

“Our next six, lets just start with that, officially started in October of this year, and we hope to have those six constructed and ready to be lived in within the next year,” said Preston.

These homes will give kids a chance to gain crucial life skills and independence — and for Dunn: a new roof over his head, just in time for the holidays.

“It’s gonna be an awesome Christmas present,” he said.

For more information about Stepping Stones, Inc., visit their website.

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