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Congressman visits students renovating homes in Johnstown

A group of students working to remodel a house in Johnstown’s West End got a visit from Rep. Keith Rothfus on Tuesday (WJAC).

JOHNSTOWN — Hundreds of blighted houses dot the city of Johnstown, something a group of students is trying to change.

Robert Lamb has been working on a house in the West End for weeks, applying water-proof paint and fixing up the basement.

"I love doing this," he said.

It's all part of Goodwill's YouthBuild Johnstown program. Young people, like Lamb, who don't have a high school diploma work with a Goodwill team to fix up houses and apartments around Johnstown.

"It help me adapt to be with people again, because I was homeschooled for a while," Lamb said.

That's because the program isn't just about work: It's also about learning life skills.

John Page, the YouthBuild construction liaison, said he's seen changes in Lamb since he started working with the program.

"His self-confidence. He came to us and he needed an education... he blew right through that," Page said. "I think he knew he could do it all along."

But Lamb needed someone to kick-start him.

"The staff definitely helped me mentally change my life," he said.

YouthBuild also gave him other opportunities, like leads on jobs, and the chance to meet his congressman, Rep. Keith Rothfus.

Rothfus toured the program Tuesday, his second time seeing the work they do.

"This is a program that's been around for a number of years, and seeing it bear the fruit that it has, and turn young lives around... it's a very encouraging thing to see," Rothfus said.

And they're not just learning life skills and work skills; they're also helping to better their community.

"When we were over in Dale, we were finishing up some apartments, and it was a good feeling knowing that we were helping someone get an apartment," Lamb said.

Students with the program have remodeled almost 100 houses and apartments, and 170 students are currently enrolled in the program.

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