SHELTON VETERANS PROJECT GETS A BOOST FROM THE NAVAL CIVILIANS MANAGERS ASSOCIATION AND COMBAT VETERANS MOTORCYCLE ASSOCIATION
Early one Saturday morning in mid-January 2022, representatives from the Naval Civilian Managers Association and members of the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association met in Shelton, WA to present donations checks to Ms. Colleen Carmichael, Executive Director for Quixote Communities. Quixote Communities is a 501c2 non-profit that sponsors the construction and operation of housing communities for the formerly homeless. It currently operates two housing villages in Olympia and Orting. The Shelton Veterans Village Project received initial state legislative funding due to the support and efforts of Senator Tim Sheldon who had the vision of building a tiny home village for veterans experiencing homelessness in Mason County. More opportunities to volunteer time and energy will be abound to move this project along to fruition. Although a lot of work lies ahead, the community is coming together to bring all resources to bear to provide a much needed facility and sense of community in the services of those who served. Article by Walt Channell.
Orting Veterans Village
19607 162nd Ave E
Orting, WA 98360
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 10, 2021
Orting Veterans Village Opening to House Homeless Veterans in Pierce County
Orting, Washington – Quixote Communities will begin a phased opening of the Orting Veterans Village beginning May 10, 2021. At full capacity, this tiny home village will house 35 homeless veterans living in Pierce County. The village is located on the Washington Department of Veterans Affairs’ Soldiers Home campus. Quixote Communities will hold an online grand opening event on May 25th at 12:15 pm. The public is invited to participate and can RSVP for free at www.quixotecommunities.org or by scanning the QR code below. The Cowlitz Tribal Foundation Statewide Fund is the premier sponsor of the event.
Quixote Communities, a nonprofit known for its award-winning Quixote Village, a tiny home village supporting 30 individuals in Olympia, will operate and manage the new project for veterans in Orting. The Puget Sound Veterans Hope Center has been instrumental in developing the project and will continue as a supportive partner for the village.
“With hundreds of homeless veterans in Pierce County alone, we are thrilled to be able to provide permanent supportive housing to some of the homeless men and women who have served our country,” said Jaycie Osterberg, Executive Director of Quixote Communities. “Quixote Communities will provide our residents one-on-one staff support to help them determine and meet their needs. They will also benefit from a built-in community of peers surrounding them. We want to help Pierce County veterans get housed, stay housed, and have a better quality of life”.
Each tiny home is energy-smart, heated, well-insulated, and built to code with the quality required of a permanent dwelling. They are fully furnished and have a private toilet, shower, and sink. In addition to the tiny homes , there is a large community center with a spacious kitchen, dining area, multipurpose room, staff offices, computer area, as well as laundry facilities. There are three full-time staff including a Program Manager, Case Manager, and Volunteer Coordinator. Quixote Communities will continue its partnership with the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs and local community resources to provide a variety of services to the vets. This will include transportation, care coordination, behavioral health services, and life skills classes. The village uses the Recovery Housing model, which provides a clean and sober living environment to its residents
Quixote Communities received capital funding from the Washington State Housing Trust Fund, Pierce County, the Federal Home Loan Bank, and the United Way, and Project-Based Vouchers from the Pierce County Housing Authority and HUD-VASH to support its operations. They also received support and land from the Washington State Department of Veteran Affairs.
In addition to the funding partners, the project team includes Community Frameworks as the affordable housing developer, MSGS Architects as the architect, Buchanan General Contracting Company as the general contractor, JMJ Team as the civil engineer, and Carriage Houses NW as the modular manufacturers.
For additional information on the Orting Veterans Village and how to get involved please contact Jaycie Osterberg at (360) 808-3110 or visit www.quixotecommunities.org. Quixote holds digital Q&As on the second Wednesday of every month at 5:30pm. You can sign up through the Orting Veterans Village Facebook page.
About Quixote Communities
Quixote Communities is a 501c3 nonprofit organization incorporated under the name Panza. Its mission is to provide permanent supportive housing for people experiencing homelessness. Quixote Communities creates and manages tiny home villages that foster community, encourage personal growth, and promote access to care and services. It currently owns and operates Quixote Village in Olympia, which opened in 2013, and also working on another veterans village in Shelton, which is currently in the permitting process.
Hi all! We've got so much to talk about! Things have been busier than ever at QV. We just hired a new Resident Advocate, have had a few folks move on into their own apartments, and have welcomed some new members into our community. I am continuously amazed by all the hard work staff and residents put in to better themselves and their community as a whole. I am extremely lucky to be able to get to know and grow meaningful relationships with each and every one of the residents.
We hired Marissa Finn, the new Resident Advocate, at the beginning of March. Her and our Program Manager Amanda Eichelberger have become quite the team (which is essential when they are the only two staff on site)! Amanda and Marissa along with our intern Luca are working on ways for more community engagement. I am excited to see how they will continue to better our programs and quality of care. A solid and passionate crew is crucial for our community and I am extremely grateful for the supportive staff we have and their commitment to Quixote and the individuals that live there.
We are still in the development stages for our next villages in Orting and Shelton. For Orting we are dotting all of our i's and crossing our t's in order to have our Conditional Use Permit hearing. Once we have the OK we will then be able to build! We are hoping for a 6-9 months building period and will open right afterwards. The village will be for homeless Veterans in Pierce County and will be located on the Washington Department of Veterans Affairs' Soldier's Home Campus in Orting. After about a year of looking for land, we just signed a lease on city land in Shelton! This village will be for Veterans as well. We are now starting the process for the different land surveys and environmental reviews to get our Conditional Use Permit hearing ASAP!
We are looking for people who are interested in helping paint, landscape, or donate (appliances, toilets, fridges, beds, etc.). If you are interested please contact us! (360) 791-8999 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
I've been busy working in three different counties and am so thrilled that we'll be able to house more people. After the two veterans villages open, we will be tripling our homes! We've found that this community atmosphere with not only supportive staff, but supportive neighbors, has been life changing for our residents. We can't wait to build more housing! We couldn't have done it without all of the support from people like you.
Hi! My name is Luca Day and I have been fulfilling an internship at Quixote Village for a few months now through the Center for Community-Based Learning and Action at The Evergreen State College. Before working here I had plugged into other community service positions around Olympia, but had minimal experience working with folks who have experienced homelessness. Because of this I wasn’t quite sure what to expect of my time at QV and what the work would look like. I have come to be very grateful for my position here and all that it’s taught me.
The most rewarding aspect of my internship has been to build relationships with the residents here. It’s an usual situation to essentially go to work in someone else’s home. As you might imagine, it takes times to establish trust and comfort in a sensitive scenario such as this. It’s been a gift to have the residents share their stories with me, and to watch as we get to know one another a bit better each week. It’s also been a gift to learn from them as they constantly widen my lens of understanding and prompt me to explore the ways in which my experiences shape my perceptions and expectations.
Another aspect of this internship that really stands out for me is my broadened awareness of how difficult it is to transition out of homelessness and navigate living in poverty. Part of my role here is doing advocacy work, and it’s mind-blowing to me how many walls I come up against in trying to help people access the most basic resources. I am seeing firsthand the importance of Housing First principles and also seeing how it’s truly not enough to just be housed. The amount of time and energy people must devote to seeking assistance from social service agencies is exhausting and almost a full-time job in itself, depending on the severity of an individual’s needs. Not to mention all the barriers in trying to do this work - hours worth of commuting on public transportation to run a single errand (But where does the money come from for bus passes?); trying to find access to the technology that will help someone get to these resources (How do you afford a phone? What if you need to go to the library to access the internet but you have no money to do so and you are dealing with major disabilities?); the sheer frustration of navigating institutions and the seemingly esoteric knowledge one must possess to do this (we just had a training on Medicare insurance and I don’t know anything more about it than I did before - which was very little). My biggest takeaway is definitely wanting to broaden other people’s visibility of how complicated and taxing it is to reach some sort of baseline stability when transitioning out of homelessness. I want to expand awareness of how providing housing is just one step out of many, and how truly impressive and monumental it is for people to undertake this transitional process. As those of us who are more privileged and housed come to understand this, I believe we can learn to better support those experiencing homelessness.
Well, you read that right! Panza is changing their name to Quixote Communities! We wanted to keep the spirit of our first tiny home village that started it all. We will be building TWO more villages in Shelton and Orting (both in Washington). These will be specific to veterans. We feel our model of rich peer mentorship and community living will work perfectly with our community members that have served our country. Stay tuned for more info! We are hoping to break ground ASAP!
Hi everyone –
We just had an amazing experience at the United Way Day of Caring 2018! The United Way Day of Caring is the single largest day of volunteerism of Thurston County! We were graciously picked as a project site. We were teamed up with StraderHallett, a Certified Public Accountant firm in Lacey, Washington. They had 9 employees volunteer for a full day of work, and boy did we put them to work!
We are SO grateful for all they did for us.
One of our residents who recently moved into her own home received the Phoenix Award from BHR! BHR is Behavioral Health Resources in Olympia, WA. BHR is a multi-county provider for mental illness and addiction recovery services. They offer therapy, outpatient treatment, psychiatry, crisis management, medication management, and many other services.
As BHR states, “The Phoenix Awards are designed to celebrate those who have used their strength to rise from the ashes of mental illness and addiction, and, those who have helped them do so. By honoring and celebrating the achievements of these special people in our community, we hope to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness and/or addiction and to promote the understanding that mental illness and addiction is treatable. Sponsored by the BHR’s Community Mental Health Foundation and hosted by Olympia Federal Savings, this event celebrates lives made healthier through the skills and generosity of our community.”
Congratulations Arin. We are so proud of you!
Here is the nomination our Program Manager Raul Salazar wrote about Arin:
Arin Long was one of the original residents of Quixote Village. She was a resident when the village was just a tent camp. She moved into Quixote Village on December 24, 2013 and was a resident until June 30, 2017.
Arin had a long history of drug use, which was a major part of her life when she came to Camp Quixote. Many traumatic events in her life contributed to this addiction. As soon as she transitioned from the camp to Quixote Village, staff began working with Arin to provide her with the services needed to overcome her addictions. Arin struggled with the process of getting clean and sober, as many people often do. It was not easy and she was on the verge of losing her housing at Quixote Village on a few different occasions. Staff never gave up on her and Arin never gave up on herself. Despite going through not only her addiction to drugs, but also the loss of a close friend, Arin made the decision to enter a 60 day in-patient treatment program. She completed the program with flying colors and returned to Quixote Village, where her housing unit was being held for her.
Upon her return, Arin began to involve herself in activities that would benefit her and others in various ways. She received her high school diploma through South Puget Sound Community College, she paid off existing court debt to renew her driver’s license, she attended regular recovery meetings, she obtained employment, and she purchased a vehicle. Arin also became a member of the Quixote Village Resident Committee. A group of residents that are voted onto the committee by other residents. The committee assists staff with daily tasks, provide guidance to new residents, and plan various resident social events. Arin was a major contributor to the committee.
After all her success, it was clear to staff, that Arin was ready for life beyond Quixote Village. Although staff would have been happy to have Arin stay at the Village for much longer, she made the decision to move out and share a rental home with her significant other. Arin moved out at the end of June, 2017 and has continued to maintain her successful ways. She is excelling at her job and is enjoying the life she has created for herself. She maintains regular contact with Quixote Village residents and staff. It should be noted, Arin has been clean and sober for over two and a half years now.
Arin is a great example of what can be accomplished when someone obtains stable housing and access to services. She is also a great example of hard work and determination. Although the process was difficult, Arin never gave up. She believed in herself and what she could accomplish. Quixote Village staff appreciate the opportunity to nominate Arin Long for an annual Phoenix Award. We believe she is very deserving of this honor.
Blog entry by Melissua Rasmussen - Quixote Village Spring Quater Intern
Over the course of Spring quarter, two interns from the Evergreen State College, Melissa Rasmussen and Aaron Sauerhoff, met weekly with our Executive Director, Sean McGrady. They looked at the sustainability metrics of Quixote Village, how best to improve them, and how to design and build future villages to be even more socially and environmentally sustainable.
Aaron’s specialty is ecological building and construction. He ran a blower door test of the tiny house cottages and the community building to see their airtightness and airflow. Aaron discovered the buildings could use some help with ventilation and wasted heat. He is recommending future villages be built to PassivHaus standards, which require a sealed air envelope around the building with careful ventilation and attention to recapturing heat, which provides a healthier home environment and significant cost savings (80% over utilities costs in a conventionally built structure). Implementing this change could save Panza tens of thousands of dollars per year in operating costs at the Orting Veterans Village. For future villages beyond that, improving the design to include solar power, natural construction materials, energy systems integration, and a more social and efficient village layout, could improve outcomes and reduce costs even further, and make Quixote’s model one that can be proudly shared and replicated as a model for sustainability.
Over the summer, Aaron will be coordinating a Design Challenge for Quixote’s third community within a program at the Evergreen State College. Serving as Teacher’s Assistant (TA) to the Sustainability Director, Scott Morgan, Aaron will be in a position to further his work with Quixote Village while providing a real-world opportunity for students at Evergreen to engage in service to a community issue in a tangible way. A student at Evergreen himself, Aaron plans to graduate next year with a degree in Ecological Building and Community Development.
Melissa specializes in system design and ecological thinking, and has worked with the Center for Sustainable Infrastructure at the Evergreen State College. She turned her attention toward assessing the landscaping challenges at Quixote, which range from shade issues, increased heat in the summer, and little sanctuary for individuals outside of their cottage homes.. Melissa brought in several classmates from Evergreen to make specific recommendations for shade and permaculture tree plantings, fixes to the lighting system to improve residents’ safety and sleep, and a gazebo to provide social relief and make good on what was originally planned. With these in place, she recommends incorporating these improvements into the design of future villages, and adding features such as a greenhouse attached to the community building to provide cooling, fresh air, delicious food, and a lovely place to sit all year round, saving food and heating costs and providing valuable opportunities for meaningful work and personal respite for the residents.
Over the summer, Melissa will be working to formalize the team’s recommendations into a report, and to launch and run a crowdfunding campaign to provide Quixote with the funds necessary to invest in these improvements. She will also be continuing her studies at Evergreen in a context that allows her to continue her efforts in sustainable infrastructure development in Olympia and West Africa. She hopes to bring the evolved Quixote model to communities across the Northwest and beyond, providing the means for dignified, sustainable lives for all people everywhere – homeless, veterans, post-incarcerated, young families, youth, and seniors first. Melissa aims to graduate in 2019 with a degree in Ecological Design and Community Development.
The two have made friends with several Quixote residents, including Tony, Bruce, and Brad, who showed himself very keen on the design of the gazebo. The pair attended community dinners and asked for comments and feedback from the residents, in order to make sure their solutions were aimed appropriately to address specific needs in the community. (Lighting, for instance, turned out to be a big one – several residents hang multiple layers of curtain to block the light from the miniature streetlight along their sheltered paths – there are ways to fix this!) Aaron and Melissa are both exceedingly grateful for the opportunity to work with Sean, Jaycie, Jill, and all the residents of Quixote Village, and hope to continue their work in support of the mission of Quixote Communities for a long time to come.