Principal Volunteers for Habitat in Portugal

Huntington Middle School Principal Jason Kurtenbach is absent from his office through Nov. 15, but he isn’t cutting class or playing hooky.
Instead, he’s helping to build a home for a family in Braga, Portugal, as a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity. He and 13 others will be installing the plumbing and roofing to an under-construction home, with his mother directing the team. Kurtenbach’s mother has volunteered since the ’90s.
“The second I went to college, she must’ve been looking, because she started right away,” Kurtenbach said last Friday, the day before boarding his flight. “I decided, she’s turning 69 this year and what better time to try the same experience and continue the family legacy a little bit?”
Habitat for Humanity is an international nonprofit that focuses on building homes for families in impoverished or disadvantaged communities. Volunteers have built more than 800,000 homes worldwide and the latest is the project in Braga.
“There’s someone from India,” Kurtenbach said. “There are people from Europe. There are people from the West Coast. It really is a global venture.”
Kurtenbach said part of volunteering included raising about $2,000 for expenses. Once he achieved that mark and set up extra summer prep time to facilitate being gone during this school year, all was good.
“Everybody’s just been amazing as far as supporting me,” he said, explaining that he took to Facebook to help gather the required money. “I think I had close to a dozen families say, ‘Here you go.’ I feel like I’m representing the people and the community.”
Already looking at next year, Kurtenbach said he’s considering volunteering with Lifetouch in its efforts to build schools internationally. He said he wants to help set an example for the kids under his tutelage.
“We’re in a community where we have the resources to keep doing more, so I want to show that,” he said. “I’m hoping this will inspire our kids to keep doing more for others.”
Kurtenbach said he will regularly post photos of the project on HMS’ website.

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