Issue #41 May 2021
Scott Thibert with his family's donated handwashing stations
Community Supported Shelters
CSS's Monthly eNewsletter for Volunteers, Advocates, & Donors
Welcome to our May newsletter!

It’s been an exhilarating month, with volunteers, staff and donors alike continuing to bolster our spirits, keep our accounts afloat and build the best transitional shelter program in the United States. The five new camps are extremely close to being fully constructed, laying the foundation for our Service Team to take center stage. We’ve been hiring accordingly, with new faces trickling in for the past couple weeks and training getting rolling. Kristin Fay and Trish have respectively stepped in to steer our Peer Support and Navigator teams; people who seemed like newcomers a few weeks or months ago are quickly becoming the old hands, including Carmen steering the shop, Binah and Plaedo facilitating camps, Dane and a couple of Daves busy out in the yard, and Kai wrestling with the HMIS data entry, just to name a few. Ryker, William, Jeff, MJ and Sarje have recently joined our ranks, along with Karissa, who’s already wearing at least two hats, and whom I’ll get back to a few pages from now.

Keeping up with all the outstanding support we get from our volunteers is an ongoing challenge; everybody deserves our sincere gratitude, but we at least try to slip in some joyous personal acknowledgements here and there. In this issue we’ll tell you about a three-generation family of volunteers who are awesome. You’ll also get to hear from Jim Schmidt, who has been an extraordinary leader of Hut builders in his own right. Jim has penned a beautiful, heartfelt homage to the volunteers he has worked with over the past six months, popping up Safe Spots throughout the city. Turns out he’s just as skilled with a keyboard as he is with a hammer.

Please enjoy the read.

Cheers,
Tod Schneider, CSS Executive Director
Feature Story
Three Generations of Support:
Getting the Next Thing Done for CSS
From garden vegetables to firewood to a common building in a Safe Spot to wood stoves to Hut construction to hand-washing stations, three generations of a Eugene and Corvallis family have left a deep and lasting mark on Community Supported Shelters.
 
It all started with grandparents John & Pem Winquist, spread to their son-in-law Scott Thibert, who got his sons Trevor, 19, and Brayden, 15, involved.
 
The Winquists met Kristin Fay de Buhr, CSS co-founder, on a tour of the Mission in the spring of 2015 and developed a friendship with her and CSS’s other co-founder Erik de Buhr. The Winquists were drawn to the vision that Erik and Fay had developed for CSS and the work that had already begun with Huts at churches around Eugene and Springfield and the first three Safe Spots in place.
Pem & John
“We have a real feeling that everybody should have a place to be, to sleep,” Pem says. “And to see a young couple take that on was just real inspiring.”
 
“We both have that strong belief,” John says. “It shouldn’t be illegal to live, to be alive.”
 
They took some of their surplus garden vegetables to the CSS office. Then, seeing the office heated with a wood stove, John took them a load of firewood. When he dropped that wood off, someone mentioned the camps could use some firewood, too. He laughs when he recalls the suggestion that his not-yet-offered next load should go to one of the camps. But, he says, he had a good supply that year so he took a load to the Roosevelt Safe Spot. While there, he saw the residents, most of whom lived in tents on platforms at that time, gathered outside around “a smoldering fire pit”—a less than ideal gathering place through Oregon’s cold and wet winters.
Brayden volunteers at Lot 9.
“I had noticed these metal shelters around town,” John says, “so I really believed they should have one of those.” After several phone calls, they got a lead on a place between Junction City and Harrisburg that could be a possible source. He and Pem stopped there on their way to Corvallis and found a yard out back with parts for the shelters and men who primarily spoke Spanish, which neither of them spoke well. But they managed to ask, “You guys want to give us one of these?” Which, John says “turns out to always be a great thing to say.” But it took a while to get the answer they wanted.

John’s question led eventually to a phone call to somebody in Arkansas, who, after hearing the intended purpose of the shelter, said “yes.” But it took several more trips before the deal was finalized and they got the parts for an even bigger shelter than they originally expected.
Spotlight On Our Volunteers and Staff
Jim Schmidt's Letter to the Tuesday Hut Crew
Jim Schmidt
Jim Schmidt is the long-time coordinator of the volunteer crew that assembles Conestoga Huts and led the Tuesday crew, one of three crews, through CSS’s recent expansion. He wrote this letter to that crew after the Hut portion of the expansion was completed.

The adventure started last fall, October 9, 2020, to be exact. I had been building Conestoga Huts for Community Supported Shelters since 2013 at a slow, steady pace. Working from the shop, we could complete two or possibly three Huts a month. Those first Huts were primitive affairs at best. You would see the family resemblance, but what we have now is the end result of refinement, change, and evolution. We had placed Hut #100 about six years after Hut #1. We had a small crew of dedicated people and we usually worked on Tuesdays. It was a great way to fill a void left by retirement.

The ominous meeting on that October day was called by Erik de Buhr. Erik is the Imagineer who designed the Huts and the Energy Source that got them built and placed.
Erik had some interesting news for us. With the pandemic gaining strength, the City of Eugene was worried that the Egan Warming Centers would not be operational in the winter. If they were to open, the Warming Centers could have become super spreaders for the virus. It would be nearly impossible to find volunteers to staff them. Unhoused people would be at extreme risk out on the cold streets. Major Tom Egan had frozen to death on a street in Eugene. No one wanted that to happen to anyone else. 
 
How does this impact us, I asked? Erik then announced The Impossible Plan. The City would be underwriting a Hut-building surge. We would have five city-owned lots available. Each one would hold 18 Huts. We would be going full speed to build 90 Huts. We would be partnered with Essex Construction. They would build the major components, floors, walls, and decks. They would deliver them to our sites. We would have a large container on each site to act as a remote shop. Everything we needed would be stocked into the container. Extra staff would be hired to facilitate all the hundreds of details that go into building 90 Huts. 
I thought that he had lost his grip on reality. Ninety Huts in a few months? Where would the man (and woman) power come from? We would expand from one Hut Crew to three. Pujita had lists of potential volunteers. I started to work on those lists. Many people were no longer available for any number of reasons. Jobs, family, virus concerns. A few were interested and available. Slowly the numbers grew, and I was able to split the long list into three crews, one each for Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, about twelve people per crew. I knew we would need many more. 

Jim and a member of the Hut Crew place a Contesoga Hut.
A Community Builder: Plaedo - CSS Camp Facilitator
Daily life at CSS Safe Spots offers much needed relief from the challenges of living without a home. Having a roof over one’s head, a place to store belongings, and a community of folks to share common space and a kitchen can make a big difference for residents.

But life at the Safe Spots also comes with its own set of challenges. As with any group of people, conflicts can and do happen. A key component of the CSS culture is finding ways to deal with conflict constructively, before things get out of control.

The CSS service position of camp facilitator helps establish and sustain that culture of positive community dynamics at the Safe Spots. One of the first to fill this newly redefined position is Plaedo, who began his CSS service work with the Expressway Camp in 2019.
“A lot of what I do is help set the tone and atmosphere for community building,” he says. “If any residents are having a conflict, or there’s a problem with camp dynamics, then we find out what the situation is and help to de-escalate things.”  

Plaedo now runs monthly conflict resolution meetings at three Safe Spots--Expressway, Westmoreland, and Roosevelt. Residents are required to attend the meetings to air any concerns or disputes that have come up.

“If there's new rules or rules that need to be explained, or folks need a reminder, that’s one of the things I do,” he says. “A lot of it is setting the right tone at the meetings and the camps for people to solve whatever problems come up.” 

Plaedo works with two other CSS service team members at each camp to help residents establish and pursue personal goals for reentry to life after their residency time has elapsed, generally one year. The two other positions are service navigator and peer support worker.

Everyone Needs A Place by Lee Farren
One of our new supporters shared that due to staying at home during the pandemic, she started an art class. She was inspired to create these drawings from the unhoused she witnessed on the streets. Thank you for sharing your artwork, Lee!
Giving Gratitude to Our Supporters
The Collins Foundation Helps CSS in Welcoming Karissa
The Collins Foundation has been a delightful surprise, enthusiastically supporting us in key ways over the past few years. They bankrolled a major retooling of our shop not too long ago, bringing joy to all our carpenters, and hence dozens of Huts to all our new camps.
Most recently they’ve stepped up again, providing funding that allowed us to hire Karissa Moden. Karissa brings infectious enthusiasm and boundless energy to CSS, with experience and interest in both the Volunteer Coordinator and Development Assistant roles. It was hard to decide which reins to hand over, so we gave Karissa both. Welcome, Karissa!
Hut-Warming Celebrations: Teresa Parker and the Back House
The Back House, a group of friends dedicated to political and community action, has raised over $500 in cash donations and that much again in new sleeping bags, socks, shirts, kitchen supplies, and other goods on the CSS camps' needs list to support new residents who are transitioning into their new Safe Spot communities. 

Spurred on by the Affordables, a group focusing on solutions to affordable housing and homelessness, the Back House introduced Hut-warming celebrations to wish new residents a successful year ahead and to acknowledge the hard work and commitment it takes from everyone to make real change, saying, “Welcome Neighbors to your new Hut homes and the CSS community. Thank you for stepping up to the challenge.”
The Back House Crew outside CSS Headquarters
Teresa Parker, the partner of Barr Washburn, coordinator of Safe Spot Community builds and this CSS shop, initiated this fundraiser for CSS.
Donor Opportunities
Firewood and Firewood Rounds
CSS is again building capacity to collect firewood from people's wood lots. We can once again get crews out to wood lots to collect downed wood to supply firewood for the camps.

If you have firewood for pickup (including downed wood for collection), please contact Erika at headquarters by calling 541-683-0836 Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday between 1 or 4. Firewood can also be dropped off to our Grant Street headquarters.
Adopt-a-Hut Program
Do you want a personal and lasting symbol that represents your support of Community Supported Shelters?

Participate in the CSS Adopt-a-Hut Program because it is a meaningful way to support our work and to create memories.

Here’s how it works:
Any individual, group or organization that donates $3,000 or more after April 15, 2021, has the option of having a Hut dedicated in their name or the name of someone that they choose. The Adopt-a-Hut Program includes:
  • A plaque to be placed on an existing Conestoga Hut in a CSS Camp.
  • The option to arrange a brief ceremony that involves the placing of the plaque and a photograph to remember the occasion.
  • The option to be highlighted in our CSS newsletter.

Adopting a Hut is a meaningful way to 
  • Recognize your financial contribution to CSS.
  • Honor a significant birthday or other milestone of a CSS supporter.
  • Honor a loved one who has passed away.
  • Give a meaningful gift for any occasion.
  • Publicize support from an organization. 

Employment Opportunities
Service Team: Open Applicant Pool
CSS has opened a hiring pool for two positions that are part of the CSS Service Team. There may be multiple openings for each position. The positions include Camp Facilitator and Service Navigator.

Submitting application materials to this pool makes you eligible for either position. The CSS Service Team members play a critical role in supporting CSS clients as they stabilize and improve their lives.
This collaborative team works directly with clients to address individual needs and group dynamics, and helps them navigate critical services in the community. For more information on the position and how to apply, click here or contact c.s.s.eugene@gmail.com.
Community Supported Shelters is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization 
(EIN #: 46-2377054). All donations made to CSS are tax-deductible.

Thank you for your ongoing support!