GOOD SAM GIVES BACK TO VETERANS
This year, for Memorial Day, we wanted to give back in honor of the fallen. Our gratitude runs deep for all the individuals who bravely chose to sacrifice and put their lives on the line for the safety, freedom, and privilege of our country.
We collaborated with Do Good Multnomah, a non-profit organization that partners with the community to provide permanent supportive housing and low-barrier emergency shelter to houseless Veterans in Portland, Oregon. They emphasize relationship-building, one-on-one engagement, supportive services, and direct community participation, changing the way we serve houseless Veterans.
On behalf of the fallen, we wanted to create a space for their community of veterans that allows them to build relationships, practice autonomy, experience new hobbies, and feel at home. With the help of Do Good Multnomah, we identified one of their many programs that was needing and ready for this outdoor expansion. The Breitung Building is a new, veteran-focused, permanent housing development program. Their plans of an outdoor community space has been placed on hold for some time due to the pandemic.
Excited to get the ball rolling, we were able to put together a design plan for that specific community space. Within the vision were raised garden beds, lounge areas, lighting, landscaping, and venue style seating for outdoor BBQs and hang out sessions.
With 10 garden beds in mind and a big vision of transformation, it was time to source materials and tools. Do Good Multnomah was able to secure a generous donation of compost for all the beds and some Ikea outdoor furniture. Score!
We decided it was best to give our Good Sam Mobile a little rest, knowing that 6,000lbs of lumber, tools, picnic tables, and materials needed to be hauled from the home improvement store to location. To make sure that operations ran smoothly on the two days our volunteers came to help, we precut all of the lumber and pre-labeled all the materials the week before. We made over 300 cuts in one day; efficiency is our middle name.
Game day rolled around. We had 15 volunteers on Day 1 ready to rock and roll. Like our last Ocean Clean Up Event, we came loaded with sanitizer, pre-screened participants with COVID questions, provided work gloves, had temperature checks on-site, asked everyone to remain masked, and provided the group with safety rules and protocols. Grateful for the sunny, no rain, day, fresh air, and ample amount of work space.
Our volunteers went hard in the paint with zero hesitation to just get their hands dirty. There was a group of landscapers who were pulling up weeds, re-planting shaded and native plants, digging and creating flat spaces for the garden beds to rest on. We had a team of compost movers. Shoveling and wheeling thousands of pounds around the entire front of the building and working on filling garden beds that were finished being built. The heavy-weight lifters were putting together the wooden and steel garden beds. We purposely built higher raised garden beds to make sure it was ADA accessible for their residents. In between responsibilities everyone chipped in some extra time to put together furniture, outdoor game sets, hang lighting, and garden with some residents.
The sounds of the saw, shoveling, power drills, and laughter of the residents brought so much warmth to the day. Even while masked, you can see the smiles radiating through. The residents joined us outside, playing guitar, singing, and standing by encouraging all of our hard working hands. It was the driving motivation for all of us to get things done and feel a deep sense of purpose.
“I’m super impressed on how much we have gotten done in one weekend,” our volunteer, Kevin, shared. “I didn’t think we were able to get through the long list of things to do, but here we are. Everything is crossed off and it looks amazing!”
We were reminded by the residents and staff of Do Good Multnomah that this was more than just a beautification project. It was laying the concrete and foundational layer of what is to come for these Veteran residents: gardening, cooking classes, a space to invite their family and friends, a space shared with others, and so much more.
Here are some sound bites from our residents that just made our hearts glow: