April Collier Habitat HCS

April Collier (seventh from left) and two of her children join the Building Construction program students at the Academy of Technology and Academics on Wednesday to raise the first wall on the frame of her new home. She is purchasing the home through a collaboration with Horry County Schools, Habitat for Humanity of Horry County, and the Horry Georgetown Home Builders Association. 

A unique collaboration between Horry County Schools, Habitat for Humanity of Horry County, and the Horry Georgetown Home Builders Association (HGHBA) will be giving April Collier a chance to own her own home.

“Thank y’all. You do not know how much this means to me and my kids,” Collier said at a press conference Wednesday. “I’ve been working on this for a long time.”

The HGHBA needed a hands-on experience for their student chapter that would teach all facets of the industry, and students from the Building Construction program at the Academy of Technology and Academics will be helping to build Collier’s home from start to finish.

“This workforce development … this ATA construction program helps develop our future workers,” said Jason Repak, with HGHBA. “The hands-on experience is something that … cannot be replaced.”

To combat the skilled trades deficiency in the area, HGHBA and ATA have worked together to help build the county’s workforce for a few years. The association and the school’s advisory board help to mentor the students, lead by their teacher, Bernie Davis.

Collier, who is a single mother to five children Dayshawn, Ashauna, Dashaun, Gicen and Jiyana, applied with Habitat for Humanity in 2021 while working two jobs to support her family. She has since gone through their vetting process and financial education program, gotten a promotion, and moved to only one job.

The step up also enabled her to begin nursing school.

“We will be able to be at peace,” Collier said. “We won’t have to worry about having to move.”

Collier also put in the required 300 hours of “sweat equity”, which included attending monthly meetings to educate and prepare her for home ownership.

ATA Principal Dr. Andrea Pridgen said they are “honored to be the only school to collaborate to build a house from the ground up.”

“We are so excited for this opportunity to partner … to help one of our community members,” Pridgen said.

Jason Faulkner, coastal division manager for Great Southern Homes and a member of HGHBA’s Workforce Development Committee and the ATA Building Construction Advisory Board, is chairing the project.

Faulker will be working with subcontractors and vendors to donate the materials and labor needed.

“When we learned about the Building Construction program at ATA, we immediately wanted to figure out a way to build that program up to where they could build a house,” Faulkner said.

Senior Lance Thompson and Junior Thomas Dicapua are excited at the opportunity this collaboration gives them to see every piece of home building.

“It will help us get certified for a lot more things in the future,” Dicapua said, saying they would be involved in HVAC installation, plumbing, electrical and more.

Thompson said he felt good about building the home for a family in need.

“I was happy … ready to do it,” Thompson said.

The home will be built on the ATA campus and will be ready to move to its permanent location by the end of the school year, according to HCS.

“Habitat for Humanity’s mission is to put God’s love into action,” said Habitat for Humanity of Horry County’s Assistant Executive Director Chad Charles. “This partnership is just so special to us.”

Collier said the first thing she plans to do in her home is to have it prayed over and anointed.

“We’ve been working on this for a long time,” Collier said of her family’s journey.


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