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Builders give back

Posted by | Catholic Charities Communications

Volunteer team spruces up Kenton Women’s Village

Thanks to crew of about 30 employees from the local homebuilding industry, a tiny home community run by Catholic Charities of Oregon got a free spring update.

A team from the Home Building Foundation, RidgeCrest Custom Cabinetry and Brian Schmidt Builder LLC pose after working at Kenton Women’s Village.

The Home Building Foundation, which helped get Kenton Women’s Village constructed about six years ago, convened workers from RidgeCrest Custom Cabinetry and Brian Schmidt Builder LLC to fix muddy walking paths, repair rotted stairs and add a ramp and awning to the dining hall.

Victoria Waldrep, homeless and transitional housing services manager for Catholic Charities, said the Home Building Foundation has been an “instrumental” partner for years. She is particularly glad about the work on the paths.

“When it rained here it would get a little muddy,” Waldrep said. “You would need to put on your hip waders to walk to some of the pods.”

Stephen Hodgkin and Kayla Duckworth of RidgeCrest Custom Cabinetry, prepare to saw a board to repair steps to a pod at Kenton Women’s Village.

Brenda Ketah, executive director of the Home Building Foundation, is fond of the setup at Kenton.

“People have their own space and a locking door and also some community space where they can get together with others,” said Ketah, who shoveled and raked more than her share of rock on refurbished pathways.

She highlighted the generosity of builders.

“They are looking for a way to help out,” Ketah said.

Corey Heist of RidgeCrest sees tiny home villages as a good alternative to shelters.

“I believe that these villages really do help our community,” she said. “Everybody deserves a roof over their heads. This gives them a good opportunity to do that.”

Patricia Fox, a Central Catholic High School graduate, also works at RidgeCrest, which is headquartered in Ridgefield, Washington. Fox grew up in North Portland and was glad to return to lend a hand at a place like Kenton Women’s Village.

Patricia Fox, a Central Catholic graduate and worker at RidgeCrest Custom Cabinetry, builds new steps for a pod at Kenton Women’s Village.

“You have your group of neighbors who are close enough by, but you also have your own space you can do with what you want,” Fox said. “It’s like a tiny community; they have everything so nice and secluded. It’s like your own little group and nice space.”

Chief organizer of the day was Chris McDowell, project manager of the Home Building Foundation. He was here when the village was constructed six years ago.

“We are just here to help,” McDowell said. “We believe in the product that Catholic Charities has with the Kenton Women’s Village and we just want to keep it going. We know maintenance is a big part of taking care of a village.”

Staci Weston and Carly Tompkins of Brian Schmidt Builder LLC rake a new layer of rock placed to keep a Kenton Women’s path from getting muddy in the rain.

Brian Boggs, chief operating officer for RidgeCrest and vice chairman of the Home Building Foundation, said Kenton Women’s Village is a “great space” and a “really good model” that it would be good to repeat in the Portland/Vancouver area.

Boggs explained that helping others is an important part of the culture at his company and for builders in general.

“We want a team of members who feel like they are part of the community,” Boggs said. RidgeCrest has waiting lists of employees who want to help at work parties.

Brian Schmidt, principal of the Lake Oswego company that bears his name, is chairman of the Home Building Foundation.

“Everybody loves a chance to give back,” said Schmidt, leaning on a shovel he’d been putting to good use. “It’s a great way to say we are all here. It’s a good team building thing for us. We can get out and get away from the day-to-day. This is just what we do. We love to help, and this is a great way to put it on the ground.”