There’s been a lot of sawing and hammering going on in Lexi Haidar’s back driveway, because she and her best friend, Hannah Lane, are building a homeless shelter. There’s nothing fancy about it—no bathroom or kitchen—but it can be used to shelter one or two people from the winter’s cold and rain.
The shelter is being built as part of an assignment from New Tech High English teacher Kurt Kroesche. New Tech is a project-based learning method that’s taught at Los Gatos High School, where Lexi and Hannah are sophomores.
“In class we’ve talked about pursuing things you’re passionate about,” Kroesche said. “These girls had the brilliant idea to build something and give back to the community.”
Lexi said the idea came to her immediately. “When we got the assignment, the first thing I thought of was, ‘Let’s build a house,’” she said. “I’ve always been aware that homeless people need help and shelter.”
Hannah said, “I was shocked.” Upon reflection, however, she decided to jump in.
“We had to submit plans, and we thought it would be so cool to do this in two weeks and prove two teenage girls could do it,” Hannah said.
Part of the assignment involves engaging people. In this case, that meant multiple trips to the Home Depot on Hillsdale Avenue in San Jose.
“The manager thought we were dumb teenage girls,” Lexi said, “but he finally took us seriously.”
The manager eventually gave the girls a check for $275 to purchase materials for the little house.
“The hardest thing was getting the materials,” Lexi said. “It took three trips to convince Home Depot to give us a donation.”
Next, longtime Haidar family friend Gary Ragan joined the team. “I taught them how to safely use power tools and guided them through the process of putting it together,” he said.
But make no mistake: The grunt work was all done by Lexi and Hannah.
The 6-foot by 8-foot shelter is insulated and has been sealed to make it weather- and bug-proof. It has one tiny window, with battery operated LEDs also added. A hinged table and bench that can be folded up against the wall were built in, and when they’re up there’s room for two sleeping bags on the floor.
The shelter can be locked from both the inside and outside.
Now the question is who will take the shelter.
“We called Calvary Church and asked them who could help us with donating the shelter,” Hannah said. “They referred us to Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police Officer Wayne Boom. He’s been out of town, so we’re waiting to hear back.”
That said, Weekly-Times readers who know an appropriate place or person to take the shelter are encouraged to call Lexi’s mother, Katie Haidar, at 408.656.3294.
The girls estimate they spent about 70 hours each building the shelter. “I thought it would be hard, but it really wasn’t. It was simple,” Lexi said.
Hannah added, “Both of our families raised us to do this kind of thing, but I learned so much from this project that we want to build another.”
That may happen next spring, with plans tentatively set to auction off shelter No. 2 and donate those funds to an organization that serves the homeless.