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PAA’s Mission Focused Learning Provides a Tiny House for a Homeless Woman

Four homeless people died in Portland during the record breaking winter. PC: KOIN6

Stories of cold-related deaths scattered the headlines during one of the worst winters in Oregon’s history. The weather, coupled with a nationally recognized housing-crisis, caused overcrowded warming shelters and serious problems for the homeless population.

Portland Adventist Academy and Hoodview Seventh-day Adventist Church joined the voices of concerned Portlanders and responded with action. Collaborating on a Mission Focused Learning outreach, they built a Tiny Home for Dignity Village, a homeless community sanctioned by the city of Portland.

Led by Pastor Brian Simmons of the Hoodview church and Jason Bibb, Vice Principal of Finance at PAA, a group of nine PAA students spent their entire spring break building a Tiny Home for a woman named Mary.

As an official non-profit organization, Dignity Village’s mission is to provide a place where people can have their basic needs met in a stable, sanitary environment free from violence, theft, disruption of peace, drugs, and alcohol. Homes in the village are small, sturdy, shed-like buildings. They are simple but can be life-saving.

The project was intimidating but exciting. “We were given a pile of lumber and some blueprints and they let us at it,” said PAA sophomore, Isabelle Koh. With the help of experienced adults, students learned to read the blueprints as well as to frame, insulate and dry-wall the 120 square-foot structure. They made many discoveries along the way. “In construction, everything is based off of 16-inch measurements,” said Matthew Hall, a freshman. “Oh! And you can move a house legally and without permits if it’s under a certain size.”

While construction knowledge was imperative to the project, it was meeting Mary and hearing her story that added to value their work. “I didn’t just learn and acquire new skills but I got to be a part of giving someone a second chance,” said freshman Jace Charbonneau. “I came to see that many homeless people are not on the streets by choice. The reasons are much more complicated than we realize.”

Charbonneau’s words affirm PAA’s goals to provide Mission Focused Learning. “Mission Focused Learning gives PAA students a purposeful approach to education,” says Bibb. “By coupling knowledge with compassion students are able to find meaningful solutions to big problems. It’s helping them to more deeply understand what it means to be Christ-centered and character-driven.”


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