Construction and Remodeling – Youth Award

Every year, Community Forklift joins reuse centers across the country to participate in The ReUse People Of America’s National Reuse Contest. Anyone can enter by submitting a project to their local participating reuse store (that’s us!) in one of two categories: Construction & Remodeling, or Art & Furniture.  We’re waiting to find out which 2017 entrants won at Nationals, but in the meantime – check out Community Forklift’s local winners!


Youth Award – Construction & Remodeling

Sabina Perry

Girl-Scout Silver Award

Finished check-in station

I am 13 and have been a Girl Scout since I was five. I am still in Girl Scouts because I enjoy doing community service as well as fun things like camping trips. My reuse project was my Girl Scout Silver Award.

I am also highly involved in my church, where my reuse project was installed. My reuse project addresses the problem that the check-in station for Sunday School was not functioning correctly. It was a trolley cart that had to be moved out each week and only fit one computer and a label printer. My church is currently renovating some of their spaces that are getting old and outdated, and my original Silver Award plan was to help with something from the renovation plan so the church did not have to pay for the manpower and they could put the money towards something else. I talked with Mr. Aaron Siirila, the director of facilities, and he suggested a built-in child check-in station. The idea had been on the church’s wish list for two years, but they had put their limited funds toward more urgent projects such as renovating the very outdated bathrooms. Mr. Siirila suggested that I could take this on as my Silver Award.

Working on the countertop

My reuse project resulted in a permanent counter that can fit two computer monitors, an iPad, and a label printer, with room for a Wi-Fi router, two computers, and other storage available in the secure cabinets underneath. My project benefitted my church, Silver Spring United Methodist Church, and all of its congregation.

As I began my project, Mr. Siirila and I discussed using recycled materials for budgeting and ease. My parents have encouraged me to reuse and recycle things whenever possible since a young age. For example, half of the furniture in my bedroom is from our local “Freecycle” listserv, including a huge shelving unit that stores my clothing, books, and desk. It felt good to be able to reuse and recycle materials for such a large and impactful project.

The Before space

I built a counter out of reused diner table tops with built-in reused wall cabinets underneath that required locks. I had to create a design plan that converted the wall cabinets into locked floor cabinets and the diner table tops into one counter. I also had to drill into the countertop for the electric cords, so my countertop materials were limited. My counter also had to fill a ten-foot space length-ways and had to be 18 to 24 inches deep to accommodate the necessary equipment and the space needs.

First, I cut down the diner table tops to fit the space correctly, and I caulked the crevices between each when I installed them to create a single counter. I then made a backsplash out of the trimmings. For the cabinets below, I repurposing four wall cabinets, but we had to buy new luan for the backing. This helped to maintain spacing, to help the structure remain sturdy, and to prevent children from crawling under the counter space.

Caulking the crevices

One of the last challenges I faced during my project was the problem that the table tops on top of the cabinets were not level and tilted forward. I had to detach the counter top so we could put wedges under the tops and then drive them with screws back into place. It was frustrating because it took me a long time to attach the table tops in the first place, then I had to completely take them back off and then put them back on. But a level countertop is important because you do not want items rolling off.

In these ten pictures, I have included all the steps I completed in order to create the counter. I included before and after pictures of the space as well as pictures of me creating the components of this project, the countertop, the cabinets and locks, and the installation. My dad helped me a lot with this project because he knows a lot about tools, construction, and building. I have included a picture of him and me at our (nearly) finished counter. I have to thank him a lot for supporting me throughout this project and for helping me learn and experiment with my building skills and techniques.

Sabina and her dad

Sabina’s project was so impressive and inspiring … we can’t wait until she’s old enough to intern with us!


While we wait on the results of the 2017 National Reuse Contest, check out the entries of past Forklift winners here! The submission form for 2018 is not yet live, so check back later in the year if you have a project you might like to submit. They say that the greenest building material is anything that’s being reused…we urge you to consider using salvaged or surplus materials for your next home improvement or creative project, and be sure to document your progress with lots of photos along the way!