“In My Neighborhood” is a 100-piece jigsaw puzzle designed for children ages six and older. In Maple Valley there is a 187-piece accumulation of puzzling construction materials. Children, teens, and a work crew of ten adults are assembling those pieces as a “Tiny House” in Homes for the Homeless, a summer project at Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church on SE 216thStreet.
The tiny home in our Maple Valley neighborhood was showcased on Celebration Build Date last Wednesday. The crew, the support staff, and the curious had dinner while listening to lyrics and songs by Work Crew Leader Steve Israel of Home Care Construction in Black Diamond. The workers are now completing the tiny roof. “We are celebrating success,” said On-Site Coordinator D’Ann Tedford. “If Tiny House takes two more weeks to complete, it has been a success: we connected, we communicated, we collaborated. That’s success.”
Tiny House is an 8’x12’ open space for bed, storage, and a locked door. It is a piece of the larger puzzle known as Homes for the Homeless. The community project supports the housing needs of homeless people in the Puget Sound area. The next local build date is Wednesday, Aug. 22 – arrive at 5:30, dine and build.
Community members cited a variety of reasons for how or why they committed to the local project of puzzling pieces. Doug Schlicter and his son, Conner, live in Wilderness Hollow. Dad works as office manager at Cedar River Elementary School; Conner is a 15-year old Tahoma High School sophomore. They had been taking construction classes and training but were stymied by projects with a requirement that one needed to be older than 16. Looking for about 50 hours of community service, a July 17 article in Voice of the Valleypointed in the homeless direction. They were met with open arms and they connected.
Ask John Lenertz where he calls home. “Pretty close to here,” he said as he pointed. “Here” was reference to the construction site in the parking lot of Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church. John said he read about the Tiny House project in the local newspaper and saw photos taken on July 18 at the Kick-Off BBQ. A lifetime tinkerer without formal education in construction, John built his first house at age 20. Upon joining the work crew at SVLC, his skill with all the tools, rules, and processes in creating a home was obvious. John is currently remodeling a two-bedroom home, bath, kitchen and attic designed as living space. His father, a 20-year machinist at Boeing, was also a handyman.
Jill and Mike Pace are 36-year members at SVLC. The Pace family is not missing pieces in their knowledge of home building projects, from very large to intricate. Mike, a Boeing jig builder, has constructed foundations to walls to ceilings. He recently completed a home entertainment center. He likes to use reclaimed wood and enjoys the detailing involved in creating bookcases and doing woodworking. Jill, a K-5 substitute schoolteacher in the Kent District, has been a role model in her understanding of construction needs and how to accomplish those with the tiny home. “This whole project works toward independence to those in need,” she said of her support. “As well as bringing this community together, it’s given others a second chance.”
The Pace’s introduction to Homes for the Homeless came from a new Maple Valley resident and SVLC church member, Mark Friesen. He initiated this unique service project that was immediately embraced by church council, the congregation, and the community. Mark is a member of LIHI who can’t quit smiling at how his dreams for Maple Valley, his church home, and for the homeless, have been pieced together. He encourages other churches, groups, neighborhoods and construction businesses to pick up the pieces to the puzzling and growing homelessness.