Keller Williams’ RED Day draws Eugene’s finest
Author: SVdP Staff
Date: Thursday, May 17 2012
The intersection of Echo Hollow and Dove Ln. was awash in patriotism May 10 as a red-shirted crew from Keller Williams Realty and a substantial muster of blue-shirted City of Eugene firefighters, paramedics and trainees made short work of a couple of home-rehab projects. Help came in droves with landscape tools, carpentry tools, fire trucks, and even a coffee van for quick energy.
It was the second phase of the Veterans’ Housing Project, a grassroots effort to rehabilitate existing homes for use by families that have a breadwinner reintegrating into the community following military service. The first phase, which took place in fall and winter 2011, produced two lovely homes, each in an established Eugene neighborhood.
Founders of the Veterans’ Housing Project include the City, Eugene Water & Electric Board (EWEB), the Homebuilders Association of Lane County (HBA), St. Vinnie’s, assisted by hundreds of businesses, service providers, families and individuals.
Partners in Vet Houses 3 & 4, from left, Greg Nelson of the Bethel School Board; Colt Gill, Superintendent of the Bethel Schools; St. Vinnie’s Terry McDonald; Project Supervisor Shallum Bivens of Nordic Homes; Eugene City Manager John Ruiz, Eugene City Councilor Pat Farr; and Ed McMahon of the Homebuilders Association of Lane County.
The Bethel School District owns the latest veteran houses and is making them available as part of its long-range facilities plan.
“The partnership with the Vet’s Housing Project is a perfect fit for Bethel,” said District Superintendent Colt Gill. “There are no current plans to use the properties so being able to improve the neighborhood through this effort, offer the home to a returning vet, and being able to welcome his or her family to our community is truly a blessing.”
The HBA is in charge of renovation, with Nordic Homes' Shallum Bivens serving as Project Manager. A citizen selection committee will screen candidates and recommend a family. St. Vinnie’s will provide ongoing property management.
But Keller Williams starred on RED Day, May 10, as associates sawed overhead and dug underfoot, restoring a lovely yard to its former beauty. The point was to “Give Where They Live” in this year’s RED project, RED standing for “Renew, Energize and Donate.”
They were assisted by colleagues from Acorn Property Management.
Down the block members of International Association of Fire Fighters, Local 851 had a more daunting task, pulling out flooring and kitchen cabinets, and installing a fence around the property.
Initially, off-duty personnel and 12 students from the Recruit Academy responded to St. Vinnie’s request for volunteers, said Craig Shelby who was supervising Battalion 2 that morning. It didn’t take long before they summoned backup: On-duty colleagues from Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) and the Bethel Station, and assorted equipment to run power tools.
“This was an opportunity to participate in our neighborhood, and it was a realistic means of providing on-the-job training for our USAR Team members, the shift firefighters, and the recruits,” he said.
The fence construction was supervised by John Lang of Premium Construction who joined HBA just a few weeks ago. “He heard about the project, and he’s out here donating his time and experience,” said Ed McMahon, Executive Director of the HBA. “There’s all kinds of volunteers here.”
His short list included Bonn Roof Care, Delta Sand & Gravel, Nations Mini-Mix, and Parr Lumber. They and the myriad volunteers kept the spigots busy at Café 2U’s shiny van, where owner Serena was offering free coffee and lattes.
When the houses are finished they’ll be rented at an affordable rate to veterans returning from active duty, and their families.
Said St. Vinnie’s Terry McDonald, it’s a way to give veterans a jump-start back into civilian life, with nice houses and affordable rent.
For Craig Shelby and his colleagues, who so often encounter chaos on the job, the groundwork and organization that went into RED Day was much appreciated.
“It was clear what needed to be accomplished, and the supplies were readily available,” he said. “This project provided a great deal of satisfaction to the firefighters. It was a privilege to assist our returning veterans. “
Added Superintendent Gill, “What a demonstration of the caring nature of our community. It was wonderful to see so many people and organizations volunteering their time to prepare these homes.”
The Veterans' Housing Project welcomes all hands. If you're looking for good work, call Volunteer Coordinator Kathy Wilson: 541-743-7147.