Reynolds Learning Academy students touring our latest project for HomePlate Youth Services also received a bonus lesson about how a building can be healing. HBF Project Manager Chris McDowell explained the basics of trauma informed design; “We are trying to use colors like blue and green -not colors that make people angry like red. Wood is a part of that too, because wood is soft, its natural, qualities that elevate things”.
HBF and Walsh Construction are remodeling a Beaverton church building for a drop- in center for homeless young people. HomePlate offers a variety of services, such as showers, meals, and counseling. Its current building is too small, and when the new center opens later this spring, HomePlate will triple its capacity. The Gresham construction trades students came out to see HomePlate’s remodel because they are volunteering to build some outdoor features, including a raised garden bed.
HomePlate Executive Director Bridget Calfee explained how they want the building to be a calm, soothing place. “Noises can trigger people if they’ve been in trauma situations like abuse, homelessness is a pretty traumatic experience. There are a lot of trauma informed practices organizations do to limit that, and ways to approach people… our staff, our volunteers, are not like in your face, abrupt. They gently let people come to them.” The finished building will feature soft corners, and lots of plants to create a tranquil atmosphere.
McDowell had the kids gather around the garden plans for a look. Because of his master’s degree in landscape architecture, he told the kids he’s most excited about the outdoor part of the project. “We have a lot of little opportunities where y’all can help us, and try to build out our space”. Depending on the final design, the students may also build a garden shed.
We connected with the Reynolds trades students when their director asked HBF to give the students some meaningful, hands-on projects. The dozen kids in the” Trading Up” program receive what Reynolds calls a” supportive and specialized applied learning program for kinesthetic learners”. The majority of the kids graduate high school and receive a pre-apprenticeship certificate from the Oregon Department of Labor.
We saw the high-quality work Reynolds students are capable of building back in December when they unveiled a picnic structure they built for Operation Nightwatch in Downtown Portland. Thanks to our generous donors, HBF will supply the materials for the HomePlate projects. Two crew members Shayna and Cleopatra tell us they look forward to getting started. “It’s fun, very fun, exciting, it’s cool to help people”.