A+ Grade to a Construction Collaboration

holt helps reynolds
Carpenters pass on pointers

Reynolds Learning Academy’s Trades program students had only been in class about a month, but they plunged right into a challenging carpentry project. Fortunately, Holt Homes sent master carpenters Evan Schakols and Jake Childreth to guide them.  Reynolds had asked Home Building Foundation for a project at the beginning of this school year, and Holt Homes had offered to help. HBF delivered materials so students could build a mobile coffee cart and a trash can enclosure for homeless service provider Cultivate Initiatives.

Reynolds Trades program in Fairview focuses on exposing students to a wide range of jobs in construction.  The 2023-24 class of 22 students is one of their largest yet, so having extra sets of hands was helpful. Holt’s Schakols made sure he was showing instead of telling the students what to do.  For example, as they planned the top of their cart, he asked them to think about where they’d be drilling to make sure the screws were in the right place.  “We want to mark into the board…where do you guys think we should mark? Out here, or in here? In? ok…correct answer”. Schakols and Childreth patiently tried to work with each student through the process. Schakols warned “The screw will pull you around where ever it wants to go” as students struggled to get the hang of using power drills.  

HBF’s School Partnership Program

Sherwood High
Sherwood High students build benches

The coffee cart and the trash can enclosure were designed to coordinate with cedar benches built by Sherwood High, which are also being donated to Cultivate Initiatives. Sherwood students built the benches for HBF last spring. HBF featured them at the 2023 NW Natural Street of Dreams, and the annual HBF Trap Shoot to promote our Education Partnership Program. Through HBF’s two-year old program, students have built sheds, tent platforms, picnic tables, and even bee houses for service providers. HBF previously donated picnic tables built by Grant High School and Merlo Station High to Cultivate Initiative’s Menlo Park Safe Rest Village.

Hands on Learning

Reynolds students build
Reynolds students focus

The Reynolds students tell us, they had some jitters, but felt great after finishing the project. A student known as “E” told us “It was fun, a little scary but we learned from it. You have to keep trying”. Fellow student Nehemiah took the lead with the drill much of the afternoon, and told us he was exhausted. “It’s a learning experience, you have to move a lot”. He admitted, his back was hurting after focusing so hard on the project. The students weren’t the only first timers. Holt Carpenter Childreth says “I wasn’t sure what we were getting into it. It’s been fun bringing them up. They’ll retain the knowledge as they go”. Reynolds teacher Sean McFall tells us his students were more focused than usual with these industry experts in the room.

Reynolds delvers
Reynolds students deliver

Reynolds took the building lessons a step further by taking a field trip to Cultivate Initiatives East Portland headquarters to deliver their handiwork. The students learned the benches, coffee cart, and trash can enclosure will center a job waiting area for people leaving homelessness. Cultivate Initiatives runs an “Intern” program, paying the crew to provide trash and graffiti removal, as well as light construction in the community to help people re-enter the workforce.  Their “Intern” program is led by people who were once homeless themselves. After the student delivery, Cultivate Initiatives Matthew McCarl told us “Thanks a ton for making this happen! That was so much fun!”

Students visit Cultivate
Students learn about Cultivate Initiatives

HBF sends out Education Partnership Program information to all area high schools in the fall. Once a teacher expresses an interest, HBF secures lumber from industry suppliers such as IWP, Parr Lumber, Builders FirstSource and Sustainable Wood NW. HBF delivers the raw materials to the school, then the project is typically worked on at a teacher’s own pace.  Once projects are done, HBF or the schools deliver them to shelters. HBF pays for the program with grants and other fundraising, and our community partners that often offer discounted or donated materials. Please contact Workforce Coordinator Teresa Spangler at HBF, Teresas@hbapdx.org  if you’d like to be involved.

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