Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Westar Gives Money to Habitat for Humanity's Home Building Programs at Three County High Schools

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Westar Gives Money to Habitat for Humanity's Home Building Programs at Three County High Schools

Article excerpt

The philanthropic arm of Westar Energy is giving a hand to Topeka Habitat for Humanity's home building programs at Washburn Rural, Seaman and Shawnee Heights high schools to the tune of $15,000.

"This gives students an opportunity to not only better educate themselves on the building process, but it also allows Westar an avenue to give back to the community that they serve," said Jason Klenklen, transmission maintenance supervisor for Westar Energy, and incoming president of Habitat's board of directors. On Monday, Klenklen presented a check to Topeka Habitat for Humanity on the Washburn Rural campus where students in the residential carpentry class are building their latest Habitat home.

The three Shawnee County high school home building programs have historically received about $9,000 annually in total from Westar Energy Foundation and Topeka Habitat for Humanity for the past several years to help partially cover the costs of building materials. Klenklen said this year's higher grant of $15,000 reflects the science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, aspects of the coursework.

"We always want to give our organizations more money," he said. "The reason we were able to see this increase is because of the tie to the STEM program. This is a huge tie-in for that and being able to encompass all of that in the mission and values of Westar."

"There isn't a lot of awareness about how special this program really is," added Michelle De La Isla, the outgoing executive director of Topeka Habitat for Humanity, adding that not all Habitat chapters have the same kind of corporate and school-related partnerships that exist in Topeka.

"This is a unique program that engages the whole community in benefiting low-income neighborhoods and families," she said.

Alec Stindt, 18, a Washburn Rural High School senior, said he plans to study construction management at Pittsburg State University. …

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