Issue #33 Winter 2020
Beaming volunteers pose for a group picture after completing the first Conestoga Hut in Redding, CA.
Community Supported Shelters
CSS's Quarterly eNewsletter for Volunteers, Advocates, & Donors
Follow-up story from KOMO-TV in Olympia, WA
Dear Supporters,
We are so glad that you take the time to stay connected to CSS's activities by reading our quarterly e-newsletter. 

If you have been part of our community for long, then you already know that the work we do is much more than providing shelter to people in need. It is about building resilience, relationships, purpose, and hope. The Conestoga Hut is a vehicle that helps people change their perspective and direction in life. 

The work of CSS is continuing to build momentum in the Pacific Northwest region and beyond. This is largely because you continue to believe in us and continue to show that with financial and hands-on support. We set forth with new ideas of how to help people on the margins of society and you stepped up and continued to stand with us!

Much gratitude,

Erik de Buhr
Executive Director, CSS

PS: We hope to see you at our Annual Benefit Dinner in April!

Feature Story

Making a Hut Happen in Redding
It was a Eugene kind of day, gray and rainy, and one CSS staff member and two volunteers had trucked all the components of a Conestoga Hut the 323 miles from CSS's Eugene shop---but it was a thoroughly Redding event.
Guided by the CSS crew, fourteen students from California Heritage Youthbuild Academy (CHYBA) assembled the Hut in a large lot behind the school as a broad sampling of the Redding community gathered to observe, all protected from the weather by a huge tarped canopy.

In the middle of it all, with an enthusiastic smile and a steady stream of upbeat commentary on the virtues of the Hut, was Laural Park, the force behind this late January event. Laurel recognizes the potential for Conestoga Huts to be part of the solution to Redding's growing homelessness problem.

Laural, a retired social worker, became concerned about the lack of emergency shelter options during the devastating fires in the Redding area in 2018. She looked into available resources and services for displaced and homeless people and came to the conclusion that "our local communities are doing the best they can with what they have, but we need to do something better."
She first heard about CSS last September when, exploring what other communities were doing, she had come to Eugene to visit SquareOne Villages and saw a Hut at Opportunity Village. Intrigued, Laural and her husband Chuck came back a month later and met with CSS Development Director Kristin Fay de Buhr. They toured Safe Spots and the CSS shop. She saw the "something better" that could help fill the gaps in Redding's services for the homeless. She discovered that "the Huts are an affordable, transitional option to house people who are unsheltered," she says.
Around that time, Chuck, also retired, had his eye on a top-of-the-line 10-inch telescope for his astronomy hobby and asked Laural what she might want for a comparable splurge. "I told him," she says, "'I want a Conestoga Hut.'"
Her idea was that if decision makers and community members could see...

Upcoming Event
--- Save the Date ---
CSS's 6th Annual Benefit Dinner

April 2nd, 2020

1685 West 13th Ave

  • Lasagna dinner (vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options)
  • Dessert Dash 
  • Get your picture taken with a Hut at our dress up photo booth!
  • Spend your evening mingling with the CSS community of supporters
Tickets go on sale March 1st!
CSS Team Spotlight
Charles Castle, Jr.
CSS Workshop - Project Coordinator

CSS might be considered a bit unconventional in its approach to helping people create stability in their lives through the Conestoga Huts, Safe Spots, and support programs. 

This "outside the box" approach seems to attract "outside the box" employees.  Charles Castle, project coordinator for CSS, fits this pattern of being a little unconventional in the professional background and skill set he brings to CSS.
Charles directing the unloading of a Hut kit

Charles can be found at the shop on Grant Street two or three days a week. He is also on-call for possible emergencies.

Charles is the planner and coordinator for a multitude of hands-on projects, keeping things organized for constructing and refurbishing Huts, with more than 120 now in place around Eugene and Springfield.

And he does it with good cheer and a little whimsy. After all, his true passion, in addition to helping folks lift themselves up from being unhoused, is writing poetry.

Charles first came to CSS as a volunteer for the Hut crew in 2017.  He had been a licensed contractor and building site supervisor for Habitat for Humanity in Springfield, so came with plenty of talent for overseeing construction projects and managing volunteers. He was soon hired as project coordinator when a grant was secured to organize and upgrade the CSS shop.

Charles immediately started in on a "re-do" of the shop space to turn it into a more efficient site for building Hut walls, floors, and bed frames, and to develop systems for keeping track of the myriad tools and supplies. Those first few months brought a lot of dust and banging, as shelves and work stations were demolished, moved, or rebuilt, mostly by volunteers, overseen by Charles.

The space is now...
CSS Updates
CSS Purchases Property For New Office and Huts
New CSS administration & development office space
Thanks to generous funding from four local sources, CSS is expanding its operations in the West Eugene neighborhood with the acquisition of property one block from the current service office and Hut workshop. CSS has outgrown the facility at 1160 Grant Street over the last several years. The new location has a building that meets the need for additional office space and provides a site for a new Safe Spot Community to support people without shelter.

Conceptual sketch showing how a Safe Spot and CSS office would use the site
The concept for the new Safe Spot is twelve Conestoga Huts, a community space with wood heat, a common kitchen with running hot water, portable toilets, and garbage/recycling service. Before we can build and service this site we need two things: 1) funding to build and provide services to the Safe Spot, and 2) neighborhood and city council approval for the Safe Spot.

As CSS has grown, so has our service team that works directly with the folks in the Safe Spot Communities. Since 2014, one office space has housed the administration and service teams. With the new office space, a small house built in the 1940s, we will be creating a dedicated home for our administration and development team. The entirety of the office space at the Grant Street location will be dedicated to the service team and the vital work they do helping clients meet their goals.

We are excited about this new growth and very thankful to those who have made it possible!

Plaedo with Trinnia at the Expressway Safe Spot Community

New CSS Service Team Member: Plaedo
How To Build A Conestoga Hut - Second Edition!

Thanks to a grant from the City of Eugene, CSS has been able to hire a third action plan advisor, Plaedo! He is working with the Expressway Safe Spot Community and has jumped right into the scene at CSS. 
"He's been a great helper to the Expressway community, he even came and worked beside me at one of our work parties and he worked just as hard as us!" ---Trinnia, resident at the Expressway Safe Spot.
Over the last two months, our shop team and volunteer Hut crew have been working extra to improve the Hut manual. Here's what we did:
  • Updated graphics & photos
  • Revised & added content
  • Wall patterns option:  We now offer an option to bypass the need to make your own patterns for the curved plywood wall panels. These cardboard patterns are cut by a laser for extreme accuracy and help to streamline the Hut building process!
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!
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1160 Grant St. Eugene, OR 97402 ยท541-683-0836