June 22, 2017

CARTERVILLE —If community service was a sport, Mike DeMattei — who recently retired from John A. Logan College —  and Greg Walker would certainly be named co-MVPs.

During their 17 years as JALC’s instructors for construction management and applied technologies, DeMattei and Walker have overseen the construction of 32 Habitat for Humanity homes — totaling more than 41,000 square feet — within the College’s district. Calculating an average family of four, DeMattei’s and Walker’s efforts have been responsible for helping put a roof over the heads of 128 underprivileged individuals.

“You generally don’t hear much about the construction management program at John A. Logan College,” said Dr. Ron House, the College’s president. “But the work they quietly do each year speaks volumes about their dedication to our College’s district and to the construction industry itself.”

Hundreds of students have graduated from the College’s construction management program. Under DeMattei’s and Walker’s watchful eyes, students complete the framing of the Habitat for Humanity homes inside the College’s construction management facility, homes as large as 1,600 square feet.

Once the instructors are satisfied with the student’s work, the framing is taken apart board by board and reconstructed at the building site. Homes have been constructed from Marion to Murphysboro.

Hanna Jenkins was enrolled in the construction management program while playing golf for John A. Logan College in 2005. “It’s such a great feeling to know that while learning we are also doing something good for someone,” Jenkins said at the time. Jenkins and her classmates were constructing a Habitat for Humanity home along S. Holland St. in Marion.

“There is no way to duplicate the real world experience and sense of accomplishment our students get from building an actual house that will serve a family — and possibly other families — for many, many years to come,” Walker said. “In the completion of a construction management degree, many of our students have the opportunity to work on as many as four houses. These students take great pride in putting that on their resumes when they graduate.”

DeMattei said that when students get hands-on experience by actually building homes from the ground up, it’s experience that is basically priceless, both in a sense of accomplishment and a sense of giving to others.

“Our students do way more than just study a book,” DeMattei says. “They are allowed to get their hands dirty and see the completion of a project that means so much to the family that moves into it.”

A College lesson that will likely last for a lifetime.